If you are thinking of getting into bonsai tree cultivation, then you will no doubt have done a little research before now. Because of that, you will know that bonsai trees are fantastic additions to your home, and they can be grown either indoors or outdoors. For the beginner however, indoors is always best.
Once you have planted your bonsai, either by seed or by cutting, you will need to begin styling it as it grows. You can achieve several different styles with your pruning efforts, but there are two different types of pruning you need to know about first – maintenance pruning and structural pruning.
Maintenance pruning is basically about getting rid of any brown or dead ends, and keeping a general check on the growth of your tree. On the other hand, structural pruning is more about the design you are trying to achieve, and encouraging the growth in that direction – this includes clipping any branches which are going astray.
Deciding which design you want to go for will take some research, so it’s a good idea to look into some of the more popular bonsai styles.
To give you a few suggestions, take a look at the following basic bonsai styling techniques.
As the name would suggest, the shape is literally like a broom, albeit an upside down one. This is a very easy technique to carry out, which makes it ideal for beginners. You basically need two basic tools – a concave cutter and a pair of small shears. You will then trim the small branches and twigs until you achieve the shape you want. You don’t have to use a wiring technique for this particular design, which we will describe in a little more detail shortly, which makes it a very simple style to go for.
Informal upright style
This is an inexpensive technique to master, and again, great for beginners or those who have a little knowledge of bonsai styling. You will be able to achieve the informal upright style by simply clipping and pruning, so again, no need for wiring techniques which are a little more in-depth. The lines in the trunk can also hide a few growing irregularities, which is also what makes this style good for beginners.
This is a not the best style to go for if you are a beginner, but it is something you can work up to. A literati bonsai style basically means a tree that looks like it has had a hard life but is still standing strong and surviving. If you are on a budget with your bonsai designs, this is a good option, because you don’t need many tools, although you will need to know about wiring techniques, which we will touch upon next.
Bonsai wiring techniques
This particular technique is one of the hardest to master, but it is the one which will give you the best results in terms of the design of your bonsai tree. You will begin shaping your bonsai when it is in the early growth stages, bending the trunk to the way you want your design to look. You will then move onto the branches, one by one, and you will use wires to do this, in order to hold them in shape until they are ‘trained’.
There are two different types of wire – copper and aluminium. Copper is the stronger of the two, however it isn’t as malleable as aluminium, so this is something you will need to adopt a trial and error approach to.
There’s no denying that designing and nurturing your own bonsai tree is an art form, and it is something which is going to take a lot of time and effort to get right. Checking out advice on forums and sites online is a good place to start, over at Balcony Bonsai you will find informative videos offering some great advice and information for beginners who need to know where to start, as well as intermediates looking for inspiration and guidance.
Patience is something you will need with this hobby, and growing a bonsai tree can take anything up to three years, especially if you plant from seed. This is really what makes a bonsai tree an important part of your household however, because you invest so much time into the proceedings!
Do your research, follow advice, be creative, and nurture your tree as though it was a part of your family – the final results will certainly be more than pleasing.