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Bonsai

What is Bonsai?
The literal translation of bonsai is "plant in a tray”. Many
people think Bonsai is a species of tree, but it really is a
way of growing a tree in a way that it is small in size but
still has all the characteristics of a full-grown tree. There
are many styles to choose from to form your Bonsai,
imitated from the natural circumstances. Think about the
Cascade-style, imitated from trees that carry so much
snow on their leaves that the trunk bends to form a large
loop.

Where does Bonsai originate from?


The first known mention of a Bonsai was in an 800-year-old picture, discovered in
an ancient temple in China. So it’s very likely that the Chinese started growing
Bonsai. The Japanese learned the Bonsai-art later on and discovered new ways
to grow Bonsai. The first Bonsai trees were brought to Europe in the 20th
century. Ever since Bonsai has grown increasingly popular in Europe.
Hurting trees?
Some people think it’s cruel what we do to Bonsai trees, but they are styled and
cared for with much attention and love. Think about normal hedges; they are also
trimmed several times a year! While hedges aren’t really valuable or important to
people, Bonsai is an art form with great cultural significance. I hope that people
will learn to appreciate the art of growing Bonsai

Bonsai Styles

There are many standard styles used to


form Bonsai trees. These styles are normally based on the tree's natural
form and environment.
Use the menu on your left side to view the literal
meaning of the Japanese terms for Bonsai styles.

Hokidachi
(Broom style)
The broom style is suited for deciduous trees with extensive, fine
branching. The trunk is straight and upright and does not continue to the
top of the tree; it branches out in all directions about 1/3 of the way up
the entire height of the tree. In this manner the branches and leaves form
a ball-shaped crown which can also be very beautiful during the winter
months.

Chokkan
(Formal Upright)

The formal upright style is a very common form of Bonsai. This style
occurs often in nature, especially when the tree is exposed to lots of light
and doesn’t face the problem of competing trees. For this style, tapering
of the upright-growing trunk must be clearly visible. The trunk must
therefore be thicker at the bottom and must grow increasingly thinner
with the height. At about 1/4 of the total length of the trunk, branching
should begin. The top of the tree should be formed by a single branch;
the trunk should not span the entire height of the tree.

Moyogi
(Informal Upright)

The informal upright style is common in both nature and in the art of
Bonsai. The trunk grows upright in the shape of a letter ‘S’ and at every
turn branching occurs. Tapering of the trunk must be clearly visible, with
the base of the trunk thicker than the higher portions.
Shakkan
(Slanting / Leaning)

As a result of the wind blowing in one dominant direction or when a tree


is in the shadow and must bend toward the sun, the tree will lean in one
direction. With Bonsai, the leaning style must grow at an angle of 60 - 80
degrees relative to the ground. The roots are well developed on one side
to keep the tree standing. On the side toward which the tree is leaning,
the roots are clearly not as well developed. The first branch grows
opposite the direction of the tree is leaning, in order to balance the tree.
The trunk can be slightly bent or completely straight, but still be thicker at
the bottom than at the top.

Bonsai Shop

Kengai
(Cascade)

A tree living in the nature on a


steep cliff can bend downward
as a result of several factors,
like snow or falling rocks, for
example. These factors cause
the tree to grow downward.
With Bonsai it can be difficult to
maintain a downward-growing
tree because the direction of
growth opposes the tree’s
natural tendency to grow
upright.

Cascade Bonsai are planted in tall pots. The tree should


grow upright for a small distance but then bend downward.
The crown of the tree usually grows above the rim of the pot,
but the subsequent branches alternate left and right on the
outermost curves of the S-shaped trunk. These branchings
should grow out horizontally in order to maintain the balance
of the tree.

Han-Kengai
(Semi-Cascade)

The semi-cascade style, just like the cascade style, is found in nature on
cliff and on the banks of rivers and lakes. The trunk grows upright for a
small distance and then bends downward. Unlike the cascade style, the
semi-cascade trunk will never grow below the bottom of the pot. The
crown is usually above the rim of the pot while subsequent branching
occurs below the rim.

Bujingi
(Literati)

The literati style is the prime example of


trees that must struggle to survive. In
nature this style of tree grows in areas
densely populated by many other trees
and competition is so fierce that the tree
can only survive by growing taller then
all others around it. The trunk grows
crookedly upward and is completely
without branching because the sun only
hits the top of the tree. To make sure
that it looks even tougher, some
branches are “Jinned” (without bark).
When the bark has been removed from
one side of the trunk, the trunk is
referred to as a “Shari”. The idea is to
demonstrate that the tree really has to
struggle to survive. These trees are
normally placed in small, round pots.

Fukinagashi
(Windswept)

The windswept style is also a good example of trees that must struggle
to survive. All the branches and also the trunk grow to one side as
though the wind has been blowing the tree constantly in one direction.
The branches grow out on all sides of the trunk but will all eventually be
bent to one side.

Sokan
(Double Trunk)

The double trunk style is common in nature, but is not actually that
common in the art of Bonsai. Usually both trunks will grow out of one root
system, but it is also possible that the smaller trunk grows out of the
larger trunk just above the ground. The two trunks will vary in both
thickness and length, the thicker and more developed trunk grows nearly
upright, while the smaller trunk will grow out a bit slanted. Both trunks will
contribute to a single crown of leaves.
Kabudachi
(Multi-Trunk)

In theory the multi trunk style is the same as the double trunk style, but
with 3 or more trunks. All the trunks grow out of one root system, and it
truly is one single tree. All the trunks form one crown of leaves, in which
the thickest and most developed trunk forms the top.

Yose-Ue
(Forest)

The forest style looks a lot like the multi-trunk style, but the difference is
that it is comprised of several trees rather than one tree with several
trunks. The most developed trees are planted in the middle of a large and
shallow pot. On the sides of the pot a few smaller trees are planted to
contribute to one single crown. The trees are planted not in a straight line
but in a staggered pattern, because this way the forest looks natural.
Seki-Joju
(Roots over a Rock)

On rocky terrain, trees must search for good soil with their roots, and
good soil is often found in cracks and holes. The roots are naked and
unprotected before they reach the ground so they must be protect
themselves from the sun: a special bark grows around them. With Bonsai
the roots grow over a rock into the pot, so caring for this tree isn’t really
different from caring for any other style. The tree over the rock can also
have a style of its own, although the broom style for example looks
unnatural.

Ishisuki
(Growing in a Rock)

In this style the roots of the tree are growing in the cracks and holes of
the rock. This means that there is just not much room for the roots to
develop and take up nutrients. Trees which grow in rocks will never look
really healthy, thus it should be visible that the tree has to struggle to
survive. It is important to fertilize and water this style often, because
there is not much space available to store water and nutrients. The rock
in which the Bonsai grows is often placed in a very shallow dish, which is
sometimes filled with water of very fine stones.
Ikadabuki
(Raftstyle)

Sometimes a cracked tree can survive by pointing its branches upward.


The old root system is then just capable of providing the branches with
enough nutrients. After a while new roots start growing out of the side of
the fallen tree, and these roots will eventually take over the function of
the old root system. The old branches which now point into the air
develop as a result of this increasing influx of nutrients: The raft style has
been created! The new trunks form one single crown of leaves; just like
the Yose-Ue style. The difference between the Yose-Ue style and the
Ikadabuki styles lies in the fact that in the Ikadabuki style it is clearly
visible that the new trunks emerge from the older, fallen trunk.

Sharimiki
(Driftwood Style)

As time passes, some trees develop bald or barkless places on their


trunks as a result of harsh weather conditions. The barkless portion
usually begins at the place where the roots emerge from the ground, and
grows increasingly thinner as it travels up the trunk. Intense sunlight can
bleach these parts, forming a very characteristic portion of the tree. With
Bonsai the bark is removed with a very sharp knife and the barkless spot
is treated with calcium sulfate in order to expedite the bleaching process.
Bonsai Shop

Hokidachi
(Broom style)

The broom style is suited for deciduous trees with extensive, fine
branching. The trunk is straight and upright and does not continue to the
top of the tree; it branches out in all directions about 1/3 of the way up the
entire height of the tree. In this manner the branches and leaves form a
ball-shaped crown which can also be very beautiful during the winter
months.

Moyogi
(Informal Upright)

The informal upright style is common in both nature and in the art of
Bonsai. The trunk grows upright in the shape of a letter ‘S’ and at every
turn branching occurs. Tapering of the trunk must be clearly visible, with
the base of the trunk thicker than the higher portions.
Shakkan
(Slanting / Leaning)

As a result of the wind blowing in one dominant direction or when a tree


is in the shadow and must bend toward the sun, the tree will lean in one
direction. With Bonsai, the leaning style must grow at an angle of 60 - 80
degrees relative to the ground. The roots are well developed on one side
to keep the tree standing. On the side toward which the tree is leaning,
the roots are clearly not as well developed. The first branch grows
opposite the direction of the tree is leaning, in order to balance the tree.
The trunk can be slightly bent or completely straight, but still be thicker at
the bottom than at the top.

Kengai
(Cascade)

A tree living in the nature on a


steep cliff can bend downward
as a result of several factors,
like snow or falling rocks, for
example. These factors cause
the tree to grow downward.
With Bonsai it can be difficult to
maintain a downward-growing
tree because the direction of
growth opposes the tree’s
natural tendency to grow
upright.

Cascade Bonsai are planted in tall pots. The tree should


grow upright for a small distance but then bend downward.
The crown of the tree usually grows above the rim of the pot,
but the subsequent branches alternate left and right on the
outermost curves of the S-shaped trunk. These branchings
should grow out horizontally in order to maintain the balance
of the tree.

Han-Kengai
(Semi-Cascade)

The semi-cascade style, just like the cascade style, is found in nature on
cliff and on the banks of rivers and lakes. The trunk grows upright for a
small distance and then bends downward. Unlike the cascade style, the
semi-cascade trunk will never grow below the bottom of the pot. The
crown is usually above the rim of the pot while subsequent branching
occurs below the rim.

Bujingi
(Literati)

The literati style is the prime example of


trees that must struggle to survive. In
nature this style of tree grows in areas
densely populated by many other trees
and competition is so fierce that the tree
can only survive by growing taller then
all others around it. The trunk grows
crookedly upward and is completely
without branching because the sun only
hits the top of the tree. To make sure
that it looks even tougher, some
branches are “Jinned” (without bark).
When the bark has been removed from
one side of the trunk, the trunk is
referred to as a “Shari”. The idea is to
demonstrate that the tree really has to
struggle to survive. These trees are
normally placed in small, round pots.

Fukinagashi
(Windswept)

The windswept style is also a good example of trees that must struggle
to survive. All the branches and also the trunk grow to one side as
though the wind has been blowing the tree constantly in one direction.
The branches grow out on all sides of the trunk but will all eventually be
bent to one side.

Sokan
(Double Trunk)

The double trunk style is common in nature, but is not actually that
common in the art of Bonsai. Usually both trunks will grow out of one root
system, but it is also possible that the smaller trunk grows out of the
larger trunk just above the ground. The two trunks will vary in both
thickness and length, the thicker and more developed trunk grows nearly
upright, while the smaller trunk will grow out a bit slanted. Both trunks will
contribute to a single crown of leaves.
Kabudachi
(Multi-Trunk)

In theory the multi trunk style is the same as the double trunk style, but
with 3 or more trunks. All the trunks grow out of one root system, and it
truly is one single tree. All the trunks form one crown of leaves, in which
the thickest and most developed trunk forms the top.

Yose-Ue
(Forest)

The forest style looks a lot like the multi-trunk style, but the difference is
that it is comprised of several trees rather than one tree with several trunks.
The most developed trees are planted in the middle of a large and shallow
pot. On the sides of the pot a few smaller trees are planted to contribute to
one single crown. The trees are planted not in a straight line but in a
staggered pattern, because this way the forest looks natural.
Seki-Joju
(Roots over a Rock)

On rocky terrain, trees must search for good soil with their roots, and good
soil is often found in cracks and holes. The roots are naked and
unprotected before they reach the ground so they must be protect
themselves from the sun: a special bark grows around them. With Bonsai
the roots grow over a rock into the pot, so caring for this tree isn’t really
different from caring for any other style. The tree over the rock can also
have a style of its own, although the broom style for example looks
unnatural.

Ishisuki
(Growing in a Rock)

In this style the roots of the tree are growing in the cracks and holes of
the rock. This means that there is just not much room for the roots to
develop and take up nutrients. Trees which grow in rocks will never look
really healthy, thus it should be visible that the tree has to struggle to
survive. It is important to fertilize and water this style often, because
there is not much space available to store water and nutrients. The rock
in which the Bonsai grows is often placed in a very shallow dish, which is
sometimes filled with water of very fine stones.
Ikadabuki
(Raftstyle)

Sometimes a cracked tree can survive by pointing its branches upward.


The old root system is then just capable of providing the branches with
enough nutrients. After a while new roots start growing out of the side of
the fallen tree, and these roots will eventually take over the function of
the old root system. The old branches which now point into the air
develop as a result of this increasing influx of nutrients: The raft style has
been created! The new trunks form one single crown of leaves; just like
the Yose-Ue style. The difference between the Yose-Ue style and the
Ikadabuki styles lies in the fact that in the Ikadabuki style it is clearly
visible that the new trunks emerge from the older, fallen trunk.

Sharimiki
(Driftwood Style)

As time passes, some trees develop bald or barkless places on their


trunks as a result of harsh weather conditions. The barkless portion
usually begins at the place where the roots emerge from the ground, and
grows increasingly thinner as it travels up the trunk. Intense sunlight can
bleach these parts, forming a very characteristic portion of the tree. With
Bonsai the bark is removed with a very sharp knife and the barkless spot
is treated with calcium sulfate in order to expedite the bleaching process.
Bonsai Creation

Bonsai trees are grown in such way that they are small but look old. So
you do not grow or create a Bonsai: you grow a tree which can be
trained to become a Bonsai. In this part all information about growing
trees used for Bonsai can be found.
Use the menu on your left side to navigate
through the creation pages.

Growing Bonsai from Seeds


(Misho)

Misho is the Japanese name for cultivating a bonsai from a seed.


Growing bonsai from seeds takes the most time and effort of all methods,
but you can control the growth of your bonsai tree from start to finish
while keeping expenses very low.

The first step is to collect suitable seeds from the type of tree that you wish to grow, or
you can purchase them in a shop. Seeds like chestnuts and acorns are easy to find in
the forest, seeds from conifers can be found inside pinecones. Once you collect the
pinecones you need to store them in a warm place so they will come out easily from
between the scales. The planting of seeds starts in the early spring.

Before you actually sow the seeds you need to keep them in water over night so you
can tell which ones are viable. The seeds that sink to the bottom will germinate and
the floating seeds should be thrown away.

Step-by-step plan for sowing your seeds:

1. Choose a pot roughly 15 cm deep that has a hole for drainage.

2. The bottom layer of the pot (roughly ¼ of the total volume) should be filled with an
earth mix. Mix together fine gravel and akadama. (a type of clay you can purchase
from a bonsai specialist) in a ratio of ½ to ½.

3. On top of the bottom layer you need to put akadama, fine gravel and potting
compost in a ratio of ½ to ¼ to ¼ . This layer should come to roughly 3 cm below the
rim of the pot.

4. Lay the seeds on top of the earth placing them 2 to 5 cm apart, depending on the
size of the seeds (see photo 1).

5. On top of the seeds comes the last layer, made up from akadama and potting
compost in a ratio of ½ to ½ (see photo 2)

6. Rinse a considerable amount of water over the seedbed, but do this with a fine
spray nozzle and be careful that you lose no earth.
The Aftercare
Put the pot outside in a sunny place, protected from the
wind. The seedbed should stay damp but absolutely not
too wet. This you can test by putting your finger in the
earth. After one year the seedlings can be separated and
re-potted, but be sure that you use a portion of the original
soil.

Creating Bonsai from Slips.


(Sashiki)

Sashiki is the Japanese denomination for obtaining Bonsai from slips.


This method costs less time than growing Bonsai from seeds. The best
time of year to start growing slips is the Spring.

Step-by-step plan of Slipping

1. Choose a pot roughly 15 cm deep that has a hole for drainage.

2. The bottom layer of the pot (roughly ¼ of the total volume) should be filled with an
earth mix. Mix together fine gravel and akadama. (a type of clay you can purchase
from a bonsai specialist) in a ratio of ½ to ½.

3. On top of the bottom layer you need to put akadama, fine gravel and potting
compost in a ratio of ½ to ¼ to ¼ . This layer should come to roughly 3 cm below the
rim of the pot.

4. Almost every type of tree can be grown with slipping. The slip should be
approximately 5-10 centimeters tall and 2-5 millimeters thick. Best is to use the top of
small trees or the end of branches. See picture 1

5. Cut the end of the slip slantingly of to improve the water prerecording. It is wise to
remove some of the leaves when the slip has to much branches. See picture 2

6. Put the slips for approximately half in the ground. Leave enough space between
them so they won’t bother each other when they start growing. See picture 3

7. Rinse a considerable amount of water over the slip-bed, but do this with a fine spray
nozzle and be careful that you lose no earth.
The aftercare
Put the pot outside in a sunny place, protected from the wind. The
seedbed should stay damp but absolutely not too wet. This you can
test by putting your finger in the earth. After one year the slips can
be separated and repotted, but be sure that you use a portion of the
original soil. See picture 4

Collecting Bonsai from the Nature


(Yamadori)

Yamadori is the Japanese denomination for collecting trees from the


nature, intended for Bonsai uses. The best time of year to dig out trees is
the early spring. However, consider that digging out trees can be
prohibited in some areas, unless you have authorization of an
administrator.

Step-by-step plan for Yamadori:

1. First of all an healthy and suitable tree has to be found. Trees which have
remained small by nature (for example by severe natural circumstances) are often
perfect for Bonsai uses.

2. Digging out the tree must be done very carefully, make sure you don’t damage
the root system, do this by digging widely around the tree. Also collect some of the
original ground mixture to use for the soil mix later on.

3. Pack the root system in some wet sheets. This way the tree can be transported
safely, but don’t wait to long to put the tree in a pot. See picture 1

4. The pot, with a hole in it to create a good drainage, must be rather large,
because the tree must still be formed (the tree needs enough space to develop an
healthy root system so he will survive the Bonsai training).

5. The bottom layer of the pot (roughly ¼ of the total volume) should be filled with
an earth mix. Mix together the collected ground with fine gravel and akadama. (a
type of clay you can purchase from a bonsai specialist) in a ratio of 1/4 to 1/2 to
1/4. Remove the sheets around the root system and place the tree in the middle of
the pot. Fill up the pot with the ground mixture. See picture 2

6. Rinse a considerable amount of water over the tree, but do this with a fine spray
nozzle and be careful that you lose no earth. See picture 3

The aftercare
Put the pot outside in a sunny place, protected from the wind. The pot
should stay damp but absolutely not too wet. This you can test by
putting your finger in the earth. After one year the tree can be formed.
In the meantime, leave the tree unrestrained. Several examples of
forming trees to Bonsai can be found in the “Studies” part.

Creating Bonsai by buying Nursery Stock

Nursery stock can be found at local nurseries and in Bonsai shops.


Because they are formed at the plantations some of them have a real
good shape, so they can be used for Bonsai uses.

Creating Bonsai from a nursery stock has advantages and disadvantages. The
advantage is that a nursery stock can be formed directly after you bought it, so you
have a direct result. A disadvantage is when you are forming a nursery stock you
have to remove large branches, or even a part of the trunk, therefore you leave
ugly wounds. When you grow Bonsai from a slip you have the advantage to
remove branches at a younger age, so you don’t make ugly wounds.
Step-by-step plan for the selection:

1. First of all you should select trees on their trunks; the


tapering of the trunk is important (the trunk must be
thicker at the bottom and must grow increasingly thinner
with the height). The form of the trunk is also important.

2. After you have found a suitable tree you have to check


the root system, carefully remove the tree from his pot
and check whether the root system is well developed or
not.

3. Now you have to check the branch-structure, normally


a lot of branches have to be removed, so to much
branches does not matter.

4. Only buy a tree when it’s basic form is suitable.


sometimes you find a good nursery stock at the first
shop, sometimes you find nothing.

You can form the nursery stock immediately after you


have bought it. Do not repot the tree after you have
formed it, just wait till the next spring. Leave the tree
unrestrained after the first forming. Several examples of
forming trees to Bonsai can be found in the “Studies”
part.

Buying Bonsai from Shops

Many Bonsaists started with Bonsai after buying a small Bonsai tree from
a shop.

You can learn much about Bonsai just by caring for one little tree, in particular the
basic principles of Bonsai-care can be obtained in this way. Buying Bonsai from
shops doesn’t have to be very expensive, therefore you can experiment with what a
tree can and can’t handle; and this way gain some experience.

Advise:

1. Always place your tree on a bright position. Some


species don’t like to much direct sunlight, but a bright
position is always good for every species of tree.

2. Always ask what kind of species your tree is,


because it is important to know this when you want to
look up information about your tree.

3. Check the pot before you buy it, make sure it isn’t
damaged.

Creating Bonsai by Grafting


(Tsugiki)

By grafting you “meld” a stump (the root system and a small portion of
the trunk) and a graft (upper portion of the trunk, including branches)
together. This method of three growing is especially useful to obtain a
large number of the same species of tree, but is also used to add
branches to trees. It is not possible to graft two totally different species of
tree because the trees must be from the same botanical family. It is
possible, for example, to graft a 5-needle pine to a Japanese black pine.

There are two ways to graft, both with different goals; Side-grafting and Top-grafting.
The best time of year to graft is in the Autumn.

Side grafting
Side-grafting is used for two purposes: adding extra branches to existing trees, and
creating new trees. With side grafting you attach a branch to a trunk: when the graft
has grown together with the stump (the trunk) after a year, you can choose whether to
cut the rest off and use the new branch as the new tree, or simply to leave it as an
additional branch.

Steps to follow:

1. First you need to find a healthy graft to attach to the trunk, the graft should be about
5 cm long. See picture 1.

2. With a sharp, flat knife, make an incision into the bark about 1 cm deep. Make sure
that you cut only into the bark and not the interior of the tree. See picture 2. (It is not
necessary to remove the tree completely from the pot)
3. Cut the end of the graft at an angle. The angular portion should be 1 cm in length.
Place the graft into the incision, with the barkless portion facing the interior of the tree.
See picture 3.

4. Wrap some wire tight around the graft site, but take care that the wire does not cut
into the bark.

The aftercare
After about two months the graft will begin showing signs of life. the wire should be left
around the wound for at least one year so that the grafting site can heal completely.
If you are using the graft solely as an additional branch, our work stops here. When the
graft is to be used as a new tree, you must cut off the old tree right above the point at
which you grafted the new piece on, and after several months the graft will begin to
resemble a tree.

Top grafting
Top-grafting is only used for growing new trees. In top-grafting you graft the root system
and a short portion of the lower trunk with a new upper piece. You add two pieces
together instead of adding one piece to a tree, as is the case in side-grafting. In picture
2, above, the incision should not be made at an angle but the tree is simply cut straight
through.

Steps to follow:

1. First you have to find a suitable graft to add to the stump, and this graft should come
from an healthy tree and be about 7 cm in height. See picture 1. The stump should be
at least 4 mm thick and should also be about 10 cm high. Grafting thinner trunks is
possible, but more difficult.

2. Make an incision with a sharp, flat knife from the point where the stump has been cut
off. The incision should be about 2 cm deep. This incision should be slightly outside the
center of the trunk.

3. The bottom 2 cm of the graft should be carved to a point. The barkless side of the
graft should be pointed toward the inside of the trunk when the graft is inserted. See
picture 2.

4. Wrap some wire tight around the graft site, but take care that the wire does not cut
into the bark.

The aftercare
After about a year the graft has became one with the stump. Still it is wise to only
remove the wire after two spring seasons have passed. After about one or two years
the graft starts growing more rapidly and after three years it begins to resemble a real
tree. The point at which the graft was inserted will grow thicker than the rest of the
trunk, but after four years this will not be as visible.

Creating Bonsai by Layering


(Toriki)

Layering is an exceptional method of creating Bonsai: it involves forcing


the branch or trunk of a tree to form its own root system at a specific
point. When these roots are well-developed, the branch can be removed
from the tree and planted to grow intro a new Bonsai.

Two advantages of layering are that the time it takes for the branch to be ready to
become a Bonsai is quite short and the you have some control over the shape the
tree will assume because the branch is selected from a group of branches. It is also
possible to shorten the trunk of an already-existing Bonsai using this method.
This method is most effective if undertaken during the Spring season.

Steps to follow:

There are two ways to create a tree from a branch:


For evergreen trees the “Tourniquet method” is used.
For deciduous trees the “Ring method” is used.
The Tourniquet method
1. Locate on the branch the point from which you would like the roots to grow. At
this point wrap two wires tightly around the branch, with 1 cm between them.
Make sure that the wires are wrapped so tightly around the branch that they are
halfway into the bark. The thicker the branch, the thicker the wire should be.

2. Around the two wires you should place some moss. The moss should first be
placed in water to absorb moisture, then wrung out to remove most of the water
but leave the moss moist. Once the moist moss has been wrapped around the
wires, it should be covered in plastic or saran wrap. However, the plastic should
cover the underside of the branch but leave an opening at the top so that water
can be added. See picture 2.
When the branch grows thicker, the nutrient stream is slowly cut off. The branch
will, as a result of the lack of nutrients, form its own root system above this
point.

The Ring method


1. Locate on the branch the point from which you would like the roots to grow.
With a sharp knife, make two incisions in the bark: the cuts should be made in
the same direction the branch is growing. The distance between the cuts should
be at least equal to the thickness of the branch but no greater than twice the
thickness.

2. Remove the bark between the two cuts you made so that the greatest
distance between the two cuts is left bare. See picture 1

3. Around the incisions you should place some moss. This moss should first be
placed in water to absorb moisture, then wrung out to remove most of the water
but leave the moss moist. Once the moist moss has been wrapped around the
wires, it should be covered in plastic or saran wrap. However, the plastic should
cover the underside of the branch but leave an opening at the top so that water
can be added. See picture 2

Caring for and removing the branch

The tree from which you are removing the branch requires no special care,
you only need to keep the moss moist, but not wet!
Normally the branch you wish to make into a Bonsai has formed its own root
system after 3-6 months, but check before removing the branch whether the
roots are visible through the moss. When you have removed the branch
(with the moss still around the roots in order to protect them from damage),
place the newly created tree in a pot allowing plenty of room for growth.
Place the tree in the shade and out of the wind. Wait at least a year before
forming the tree.

Bonsai Training and Styling


In this section all the information necessary for forming a tree into Bonsai
is provided. There is a lot more to tell about training or styling a Bonsai
than just wiring and pruning: there are several techniques utilized to form
Bonsai trees in such a way that they are small but look old and natural.
Most of these techniques originate from Japan and China.
Use the menu to the left to navigate through the Training pages.

Wiring

Wiring Bonsai is an important method to position branches into the


desired shape. By wrapping wires around the branches you are able to
form the branches in any way you like. Wiring a Bonsai should be done
very carefully because damaged branches can easily die.

To wire branches of various thicknesses different wires are being used, thin
branches are wired with wire with a diameter of 1 or 2 mm. Thicker branches
need to be wired with thicker wires, variating from 2 to 8 mm thick. Special
cupper wire is normally being used, which can bended easily and remains
position and shape very well. Thicker branches are harder to bend, so in order
to protect the tree from being damaged the branch can be wrapped in raffia, a
grass type, so the wires can be wrapped over the raffia. Also trunks can be
bended, see “The trunk” for more information on this.

Wiring methods:

There are two ways to wire branches:


“Duo-wiring”: Wiring two branches, which have to be about the same thickness,
with one wire. (See picture 1).
“Single-wiring”: Wiring a single branch with one wire. The wire will first be
wrapped a few times around the trunk or a large branch. (See picture 2)

These two methods are often used simultaneously on one tree: first the most
branches will be wired with the first method. The other branches witch couldn’t
be wired with the first method will be wired with the second method.

How to wire a tree:

Duo-wiring

1. Find two branches with the same thickness, there has to be a height-
difference because the wire has to be wrapped around the trunk or large
branch, before wiring the second branch with the wire, for firmness. The height-
difference has to be 3 to 6 cm between the two branches (depending on the size
of the tree).
(See picture 1).

2. The wire which will be used has to be cut off at the right length, therefore
keep it next to the branches to see how long it has to be. Because the wire also
has to be wrapped at least one time around the trunk (or large branch) some
extra length is necessary.

3. First wrap the wire at least one time around the trunk, before continuing with
wiring the two branches.

4. Now the first branch can be wired, always wrap the wire at an angle of 45
degrees around the branches. This way the wire will not stop the nutrients-
stream when the branch grows thicker. When you want to bend the branch
downwards (see picture 1, blue arrow) the wire have to come from the bottom of
the branch. When the branch have to be bended upwards (see picture 1, red
arrow) the wire should come from above the branch.

5. You can start positioning the branches after wiring the whole tree. Younger
branches can be bend easily, but older and thicker branches can break. So be
very careful during the positioning of the branches!

Single-wiring

1. Wrap the wire at least two times around the trunk or a large branch, with an
angle of 45 degrees. (See picture 2).

2. Now wire the branch, again with an angle of 45 degrees. When you want to
bend the branch downwards (see picture 1, blue arrow) the wire have to come
from the bottom of the branch. When the branch have to be bended upwards
(see picture 1, red arrow) the wire should come from above the branch.

3. Try to put the different wires next to each other when several branches have
to be wired. (See picture 2).
The Aftercare
The tree does not need special attention after the wiring.
After about 6 months the wires need to be removed, otherwise the
nutrients-stream will be cut off by the wire (because the branches grow
thicker, especially during the spring and summer). Monitor the tree
carefully, and make sure the wires are removed in time.

Stretching

Stretching is a second method to bend and position branches. The


wire is not wrapped around the branches, but vertically stretched.
This method is safer for old or thick branches than wiring.

How to stretch a branch:

1. Cut off a small piece of a towel, this piece will be put between the branch and
the wire to protect the branch from being damaged.

2. Cut off a piece of cupper wire, and wrap the end of it a few times around the
branch, with the piece of towel between them.

3. Now stretch the branch downwards and attach it to the pot, or to the trunk.

4. Don’t stretch the branch to far in one time, wait a month and than stretch the
branch further.

Pruning

An important method to keep Bonsai small is to prune the tree on a


regular base. Pruning can be done to maintain the shape of a tree, or
to style a new Bonsai.

Style-pruning, is the pruning of larger branches to define the form or the style, of a
tree. The purpose is to form a natural and old looking tree. It is very important to
leave the right branches intact, and to remove those who do not fit in the desired
“design”. The best time to style a tree is during the spring season, so the tree can
form more buds on the remaining branches. Never remove large branches when
there is still a chance of temperatures beneath zero degrees Celsius
Pruning thicker branches can cause large wounds, so it is very important to use a
special “concave” cutter. A concave cutter has an half-moon shaped blade which
leaves an hollow wound in the tree. These hollow wounds heal faster and better then
“straight” wounds. Normally one style-pruning should be enough to define the main
branch structure in a tree, but sometimes it is better to not remove to many branches
in one time. Never remove more then half of all the green leaves/needles of a tree,
because healing all the created wounds requires much energy from the tree.

To heal wounds faster, better and safer a special Bonsai cut-paste is used to seal
the wounds. This paste is available at most Bonsai shops.

Every single tree is unique, so it is impossible to tell how to decide which branches
should be removed and which ones should not. In the “Studies” part of this website
many examples of Bonsai stylings can be found.

Maintenance-pruning, is the method used when the main structure of a tree is


already “designed”. No large branches have to be removed any more, only smaller
branches have to be pruned on a regular base to maintain the shape of the tree.
Maintenance-pruning can be done around the year.

Pinching

The pinching of trees is a different method to prune a tree, specially


used for pine trees. Deciduous trees should be pruned as described
on the “pruning” page.

When you would prune a pine just like a deciduous tree, (see
picture 1) the needles will turn brown and die. To shape a pine
just pinch the needles with your fingers. (See picture 2).

Defoliation

By removing all (or a part of) the leaves the tree has to produce new
leaves. This method is used for Bonsai to force the tree to grow new,
often smaller leaves. Defoliation should be done during the summer.

Defoliation can be applied for several reasons, like stopping or boosting the
growth of a specific branch, or forcing the tree to grow more branches and
smaller leaves. Defoliation should only be done when the tree is healthy,
otherwise (parts of) the tree can die. There is no set moment for defoliation,
remove the leaves on the moment when new buds just appear.
Almost all trees can be defoliated,
only some fruit-trees don’t respond
well to this method. Only remove
the leaves, not the branches.
(See picture 1).

When one branch in particular developed faster, or slower than the rest of the
tree it is useful to apply defoliation on specific parts of the tree. Defoliation
actually is the temporarily weakening of (a part of) the tree, so when you
defoliate a whole tree except for one branch, the branch that is not defoliated
will develop faster than the rest of the tree. When a tree has one branch
which is clearly more developed than the rest of the tree, which can look
unnatural, you can defoliate this specific branch, the rest of the tree will
develop faster.
Place the tree in a sunny place after defoliation, and out of the wind. The tree
will need several weeks to regain it’s growth.

Jin & Shari

Jin and Shari are two methods to make Bonsai trees look older and
more realistic. It is important when using this technique to maintain
the tree’s natural character.

Jin: baring and bleaching a branch

By removing the bark of a branch you can give a tree a “rougher” appearance, like
it has to struggle to survive. The tree will also appear older with a Jinned branch.
Make sure the whole Jin looks natural, which can be more difficult than it seems.
The summer season is the best time to Jin a branch.

Step-by-step plan of creating Jin:

1. First choose the branch to Jin, it has to be thicker than a pencil.

2. Now remove the bark of the branch. Use a


sharp, and flat (Jin)knife to do this. Make sure
the Jin looks natural, use a concave cutter to
shape and style the Jin. (See picture 1).
3. To fasten the bleaching process you can
treat the Jin with special Jin-fluid (available in
Bonsai stores).
Shari: baring and bleaching a part of a trunk

By removing the bark from part of a trunk you can create a dramatic appearance to
the tree and make the tree look older. The bare part of the trunk should begin on
the ground surface and should get smaller and thinner as it moves higher up the
trunk. Do not remove too much bark at once, because the tree or part of it could
die. The summer season is the best time to create a Shari.

Step-by-step plan of creating Shari:

1. First choose the part of the trunk to remove. You can mark this part with white
chalk to see how it would look like, before actually removing the bark.

2. Make an incision with a sharp, flat knife on both sides of the bark to be
removed. Now remove the bark by pulling it off, this way the natural style of the
tree will remain intact.

3. After baring the trunk you can choose to slightly hollow the trunk with a concave
cutter. Again, make sure the Shari looks natural.

4. To fasten the bleach process you can treat the Shari with Jin-fluid (available in
Bonsai stores).

The root-trunk

A very important issue to make a Bonsai look natural is the root-


trunk. The root-trunk are the visible roots, just above the ground
surface. There are several methods to create a beautiful root-trunk,
of which root-pruning is the most important.

1: The regular pruning of roots


Before forming a tree it is important to decide which side of the tree should be the
front view. To decide this notice the branch-structure, the trunk and the root-trunk.
By removing vertical growing roots every time you repot the tree, it will start
creating more horizontal growing roots and already existing horizontal growing
roots will be encouraged to grow faster. These horizontal growing roots together
form the root-trunk. (See picture 1)

2: The single-tourniquet method


The tourniquet method is a safe way to create a beautiful root-trunk. Wrap a
wire tight around the trunk at the point where you want the new roots to grow.
Now let the tree grow without pruning it for at least a year. After about half a
year the wire will slowly cut off the nutrients-stream as a result of the trunk
getting thicker. In order to survive, the tree will have to grow new roots above
the wire, which will create the new root-trunk. (See picture 2). The old root-
system can be removed when the new roots are developed enough.

The trunk

The trunk is a very important aspect of a Bonsai.


Notice the form of the trunk itself, the root-trunk, and the tapering of
the trunk, (it must be thicker at the bottom and must grow
increasingly thinner with the height).

1. The root-trunk
The root-trunk are the visible roots, just above the ground surface. It is important
that roots grow on every side of the tree, except for the front view. More
information about the root trunk can be found at: “The root-trunk”

2. Tapering
A good tapering of the trunk is very important for the natural appearance of a tree.
Make sure the trunk is thicker at the bottom and grows increasingly thinner with
the height before buying it, because it’s hard to make changes in the trunk-
thickness.

What to do with a to thin part of the trunk?


When a part of the trunk is clearly to thin, it is possible to boost the thickness-
growth by using a special pruning-method: Maintenance-prune the whole tree as
you would do normally, but except for the branch(es) just above the thin point of
the trunk. This thin part will grow thicker as a result of a growing stream of
nutrients to the branches which have not been pruned.

What to do with a to thick part of the trunk?


When a part of the trunk is to thick, it is harder to make it thinner. The only thing
you can do is to only prune the branch(es) just above the part which is to thick, the
remaining branches should be left unpruned until the trunk is tapering again.

3. The thickness
Bonsai trees often look older than they are when they have a thick trunk. A trunk
will only grow thicker when the whole tree grows: so best is to place the tree in a
large container, so it can grow a well developed root-system, and to not prune the
tree for at least a year. When you are satisfied with the thickness of the trunk,
place it in a smaller pot and style it again.

4. Trunk shape
Old or thick trunks are very hard to bend, so it is important to form a tree before
the point at which it is to old, or to thick to style. When you want to bend a thick
trunk, or branch, you can use a trunk-bender. (See picture 1).

Rock Planting

Trees growing in rocks are very common in nature, especially pine


trees live in rocky areas. Of course Bonsai trees can also be planted
in rocks, but since there is not much space to develop a root-system
watering and fertilizing becomes very important.

First a suitable rock needs to be found. It’s important to use a rock with cracks and
holes, so roots can grow in the rock. (See picture 1).

When you have found a suitable rock, the trees have to be selected. It is advised
to let trees grow in a large container, before planting them in the rock, so they have
long and healthy roots. Almost every type of tree can be used for Rock plantings,
but especially pine trees are often used for this style.

Use a ground mixture of 1/2 akadama and 1/2 garden mould.


The best time to create a rock planting is during the spring season.

Step-by-step plan for creating a Rock Bonsai.

1. First the rock needs to be prepared. Attach several wires with a strong, waterproof
glue to the rock. With these wires the roots can be attached to the rock. (See picture
1). Instead of using cupper-wires you can also use a material which will fare (like
cotton) before cutting of the nutrients stream from the roots (as a result of thickness-
growth).

2. When the glue has dried, place the rock in a bucket of water for a few minutes.

3. Now place the selected trees on the rock, make sure the roots are well spread
over the rock.

4. Now attach the roots to the rock with the wire. Don’t wrap the wire to tight around
the roots, as they can easily get damaged.

5. Cover the roots with the ground mixture, and put some moss over it to protect the
ground for erosion and desiccation. Wait for at least a year before styling the trees.

6. The rock can be planted in a flat scale, filled with water or fine gravel.

The aftercare
Place the rock for at least a month in the shade, out of the wind. Keep the ground
moist, but not wet. Fertilizing is important to provide the tree with enough nutrients.
More information about fertilizing can be found at: “Fertilizing”.

Group planting

Group-plantings are normally made up of an odd-number of trees, to


provide asymmetry. The trees should be planted randomly, it is
important not to put all trees in one line.

Group-plantings can be placed in a shallow pot or on a slate. Shallow pots can be


found at Bonsai shops, slates can be bought at local stone sellers. It is important
to create a good drainage, here fore carefully drill some holes in the slate or place
the slate at an angle.

For group-plantings both deciduous and pine trees can be used. It is also possible
to combine these two type of trees in one group-planting but this is not very
commonly done. It is important that the trees are healthy, so a developed root
system is necessary. Normally 5 till 15 trees are used, in odd-numbers.
The best time to create a group-planting is during the spring season. Use a normal
Bonsai ground-mixture (like 2 parts akadama - 1 part fine gravel - 1 part garden
mould) for the group planting.

Step-by-step plan for creating a group-planting

1. First the slate/pot have to be prepared, put some fine gravel on the bottom to
create a good drainage. Put some of the prepared ground mixture on the gravel.

2. Now the selected trees have to be styled: first remove the death branches and
the brown leaves or needles. Remove the lowest branches so a part of the trunk
will be visible.

3. Now take the trees out of there pots and remove the soil around the roots. The
long roots must be pruned, the thick downwards growing roots have to be pruned
as well. Never prune more than about 1/3 of the total amount of roots.

5. Now place the prepared trees on the first layer of ground. (See picture 1).
The biggest tree has to be placed just outside the middle of the pot/slate, the other
trees will be placed around this tree. When you are satisfied with the position of
the trees (See picture 2), the pot/slate have to be filled up with the ground mixture.
(See picture 3).

6. Put some moss over the ground surface to protect the ground for erosion and
desiccation. Wait for at least a year before styling the trees again.

The aftercare
Place the slate/pot for at least a month in the shade, out of the wind. Keep the
ground moist, but not wet. The group-planting can be formed during the next
spring season.

Bonsai materials & tools

Using the right equipment is very important to successfully


grow Bonsai. Make sure you have the basic-tools, like a
concave cutter, a leaf cutter and a knob cutter.
1. Leaf cutter, with al long handle. For pruning small branches.
2. Long shear, for pruning small and medium sized branches.
3. Butterfly shear, for pruning small branches and roots.
4. Small shear, for cutting of leaves (defoliation tool).
5. Small knob cutter, for making deep, hollow wounds
6. Large knob cutter, for making deep, hollow wounds
7. Small concave cutter, for pruning medium sized branches.
Leaves an hollow wound.
8. Large concave cutter, for pruning large branches. Leaves an
hollow wound.
9. Wire cutter.
10. Jin tool.
11. Rade.
12. Root-hook, tool for repotting a tree.
13. Copper brush, for cleaning trunks.
14. Cocos brush, for cleaning the ground surface.
15. Trunk benders.

Watering-can with a long neck and a


fine nozzle.
Bonsai turn table.

Coppered wire, the standard wire


every Bonsaïst uses to wire trees.
It bends smoothly, but lasts strong.

Bonsai Care
In this part all the necessary information to care for a Bonsai can be
found. Maintaining a Bonsai is different from ordinary plants because
Bonsai trees are kept in unusually small pots. People often think that
caring for a Bonsai is very difficult, but it is often easier than expected as
long as you pay attention to your trees and are familiar with what and
when to do this.
Use the menu to the left to navigate through the Care pages

Watering

Watering Bonsai van be quite difficult. The quantity and frequency of


watering depends on several factors, such as the: type of tree, size,
ground mixture, size of the pot, and climate.

Watering, when?
When to water a Bonsai depends on several factors, as explained above. Normally
a tree has to be watered a few times a week, water it more often when it is warmer.
Just keep the soil slightly damp, but nor wet. Especially in the beginning it can be
hard to tell when to water a tree, so it is advisable to put a rod in the ground, which
can be removed after 10 minutes. By the changed color of the rod you can see
whether you have to water the tree or not.
Watering, how?
Always water a tree from above, therefore poor water over the crown of the tree.
Keep watering until water flows out of the bottom of the pot. Bonsai trees placed
inside can be watered normally. Best is to use a Watering-can with a long neck
and a fine nozzle.
Never water a tree during the afternoon, because the water on leaves reinforces
the burning effect of the sun, and the ground will be cooled down too fast, which is
bad for the roots. The best time to water a tree is in the evening, so the tree has
the whole night to take in water.
Best is to water your trees with rainwater, therefore place your trees outside when
it rains. Tap water isn’t bad but the disadvantage is that file parts are added, like for
example calcium (which leaves behind a white color on leaves).
Fertilizing

Fertilizing Bonsai is very important because they are planted in very


small pots, with only few feeding substances. Fertilizing regularly and
in the right manner ensures a healthy and controlled growth of a
Bonsai.

File parts of fertilizer


All fertilizers provide a NPK value, which is very important for using the right type
of fertilizer in the right season. N is chemical denomination for nitrogenous, P for
phosphorus and K for potassium, these substances have special functions which
will be used for Bonsai. There are also substances such as sulfur and calcium
which have there own functioning’s. For fertilizers especially the NPK value is
important.

N (Nitrogenous) = General growth of the tree


P (Phosphorus) = Promotes the development of buds and fruits.
K (Potassium) = Very important for making trees hardy for the winter.

As you can see, N is important for growth, and K for stopping growth, in order to
make a tree ready for the winter season. During the early spring season a fertilizer
with a high N value needs to be selected. During the late summer and autumn a
fertilizer with a high K value needs to be chosen. So using a special “Bonsai
fertilizer” isn’t necessary, the only thing that is important is choosing a fertilizer with
the right NPK values! Some Bonsai shops sell special fertilizers for the spring and
for autumn, which can be useful.

When to fertilize
Normally fertilizing can be done from the early spring season until autumn. Firm
fertilizers can be applied monthly, liquid fertilizer weekly. Best is to use firm
fertilizer for the ground, and liquid fertilizer for the leaves.

How to fertilize
Fertilize Bonsai with half of the recommended quantity of fertilizer for normal
plants. A tree must not be fertilized until two months after it was repotted. Young
trees who will be styled soon can be fertilized more, or more often. Use the right
NPK value of fertilizer in the right time of year.

In the early spring and summer Bonsai have to be fertilized with a fertilizer with a
high N value, to stimulate the growth. Choose a value of about 10-5-5 (N-P-K)
Already styled and finished trees can be fertilized with less Nitrogenous: 4-3-2 (N-
P-K).

During the late summer and autumn the growth have to be stopped to stimulate
the growth of buds, to survive the winter season. Choose a fertilizer with a low N
value, and a high K value, like 3-10-10.

Leaf fertilizing
You can solve liquid fertilizer in water (use half of the recommended quantity of
fertilizer for houseplants) and spray this on the leaves of a tree to relieve the root
system, and so strengthen the tree. The leaves will grow bigger, so only do this
with trees who are still in training.
Repotting

Because Bonsai trees are planted in small pots it is


important to repot the tree on a regular base. It depends on
the type of tree how often it needs to be repotted, but
normally once in two years, during the early spring season.

The ground mixture


Using the right ground mixture is essential for growing Bonsai. Bonsai soil however,
does not exist, because different types of trees prefers different ground mixtures
there simply isn’t one mixture for all Bonsai trees. Generally there are two basic
ground mixtures: for pine trees and for deciduous trees, which can be bought at
several Bonsai shops.

Pine trees need a soil that is able to drain water easily. Therefore mix Akadama, (a
type of clay, available in Bonsai shops.) fine gravel and garden mould in the
proportion of 2-1-1.

Deciduous trees prefer a more nutritive soil. Therefore mix Akadama, fine gravel and
garden mould in the proportion of 1-1-2.
Repotting, step-by-step

1. Remove the tree from the pot, but be careful not to damage the roots. When the
tree is stuck in the pot you can use a root-hook. (See picture 1).

2. Carefully remove the ground from the roots with the root-hook. When repotting a
pine tree never remove all the sand, this could damage the root system. (See picture
2).

3. Prune the roots which grow directly downwards, so a nice roottrunk will develop
over time. Long roots can be pruned as well.

4. The bottom layer of the pot (about 1/5 of the height) must exist of fine gravel, to
provide a good drainage. Put some of the ground mixture on top of this first layer.

5. Now place the tree in the pot, just outside the center of the pot. (See picture 3).

6. Now fill the pot with the ground mixture, until about a few centimeters from the
edge of the pot. Make sure the ground mixture fills the pot completely, so no empty
spaces between the roots are left behind. (See picture 4).

7. Water the tree from above, until water flows out of the bottom of the pot. Put some
moss over the ground surface to protect the ground for erosion and desiccation.

The aftercare
Place the tree for at least two months in the shade, out of the wind. The tree
does not need to be fertilized for at least two months.
Choosing the right pot

The value of choosing the right pot is frequently underestimated.


Only with the right pot a Bonsai can look natural, and beautiful as a
whole.

General
Bonsai are planted in special Bonsai pots, usually imported from Japan or China.
Often Bonsai pots from Japan are more expensive, but also of higher quality.
Bonsai pots are made of special clay and are baked on high temperatures so that
they are hardy for extreme temperatures. Trees which are still in development and
not yet entirely styled are being planted in relatively large pots, to provide room for
a well developed root system. Trees should not be planted from a large container
into a small Bonsai pot in one time, because it takes time to let the tree grow a
more compact root system.

Size, form and color


There are several matters concerned finding the right pot for a Bonsai, like:
- Color of the tree, and possible flowers.
- The size of the tree (both height and length)
- The style in which the tree has been formed.

Choosing the right pot-size


There are a few “rules” concerned with choosing the right size of pot:
- The pot has to be something broader than 2/3 of the height of the tree.
- With high, slim trees the pot has to be something less broad than the width of
the branches.
- The depth of the pot must be equal to one to two times the thickness of the
trunk.
- The cascadestyle is an exception concerning the depth of the pot.

Choosing the right form and color


The color and form of a Bonsai pot are very important. There are both glazed and
unglazed pots, in several colors and sizes.
The most striking color of the tree determines the color of the pot. This can be the
color of the trunk, but also of flowers. A few tips:

- Dark green and dark blue: Trees with a striking color like yellow, orange or red.
- Grey or white: Trees with a striking color like blue.
- Brown and unglazed: Conifers and some pine-trees.

The pot should never be to striking, this way all the viewer’s attention is directed
to the tree itself. The form of the pot is very important as well, but no special rules
exist. It is mainly a matter of taste. Make sure the pot you choose has at least one
drainage hole in the bottom.

Composition
It’s very important to place the trees in the right composition during the repotting,
again this is mainly a matter of taste. An important rule however is that the trees
should be placed somewhat out of the center of the pot.

Plagues and diseases

Unfortunately Bonsai trees get ‘sick’ sometimes, most often as a


result of mistakes in caring for the tree. Newly bought or recently
styled trees have a higher chance of becoming sick. Many plagues
can be stopped, but best is to prevent trees from getting sick in the
first place.

By caring well for your Bonsai, it will probably not get sick in the first place, and
if it does get infected it will have a better chance of survival. When a tree does
get infected, the chance is big that something went wrong in the basic care for
the tree. The solution is to understand what went wrong and to prevent these
things from happening again.

Basic care mistakes, and the consequences

The position
Trees which are placed on the wrong place will sooner or later have problems.
A common made mistake is to place indoor-Bonsai outside, and outdoor-
Bonsai inside. Some trees can’t tolerate the full sun, or full shade. Also some
trees can’t stand to much wind. The solution is simple, place the tree on the
right position. But how does a beginner know where to place which type of
tree? The standard place is bright, but not too much full sun, and out of the
wind. Some trees need to be placed somewhere else. More information can be
found at: “the position”.

The weather
Many problems are caused by the weather, but in combination with personal
mistakes. A good example of this is unexpected night frost, when Bonsai aren’t
protected against frost, they will suffer. Especially recently styled or repotted
trees have to be extra protected from low temperatures. more information
about this can be found at “Winter Care”.
Besides low temperatures also high temperatures can be dangerous. Some
trees can’t stand to much sun, so place them in the (half)shade. Bonsai
planted in small pots have to be watered more often than trees planted in large
pots. Especially sun combined with high temperatures and wind can be
dangerous, because this way the vaporization from leaves is at maximum.
Also rain is an important factor. Even during low (freezing) temperatures trees
need water, so when it doesn’t rain for a while watering is still necessary. One
of the most common diseases is root-rot, caused by to much water, often
combined with a ground mixture which stores to much water. More information
about his can be found at “Repotting”.

When you take good care for your tree the chance of infections is small. Still it
is always possible that a Bonsai becomes sick. Best is to take the tree to a
local nursery, and let an expert look at it.

Position

It is very important that a Bonsai is positioned on the right place. This


place varies per type of tree, but the standard place is bright, but not
too much full sun, and out of the wind.

Some indoor-Bonsai can be placed outside during the summer, but other indoor-
Bonsai can’t. Outdoor-Bonsai can survive indoors, but the best is to place them
outside, also during the winter. It is very important to know what type of tree you
have, so you know whether to place it indoors or outdoors and on which position.

Vacation
Care

Normally a Bonsai needs more care than the average plant.


But when you go on a holiday this care can be simplified to
only watering, so someone else can care for your Bonsai.

Best is to try to find someone to water your trees on a regular base. Before going
away, place all your trees in the shade, and out of the wind.
There are also automatic watering systems, but there is always a risk of a failure in
the system. Some Bonsai shops can be paid to look after Bonsai, which can be
expensive.

Winter Care

Bonsai need, just like bigger trees, a rest period. So do not place a
tree the whole year in a warm room, it is important to let him get used
to the different seasons. Outdoor-Bonsai can stay outside the whole
year, indoor-Bonsai can be placed in a cold, bright room during the
winter.

The position during the winter depends on the type of tree.


Outdoor-Bonsai have to be protected from freezing temperatures, by placing them
with the pot in the ground, or in an unheated greenhouse.
Indoor-Bonsai will not survive freezing temperatures, so place them in a relatively
cold, but bright room.
Trees do not need to be fertilized during the winter season, make sure to water
them when necessary, but not to often.