Bringing up bonsai
BONSAI in Japanese means a tree grown in a small pot. As its usually said its not a dwarf species or sapling shaped as a tree but its a craft where love and hard work, over the years, combine to create a work of art, resembling a mature aged tree in nature. The culture of Bonsai started in the 3rd century in China and came to Japan in 10th and 12th centuries through Buddhists monks.
There are four basic classes of bonsai: (a) Mame upto 15 cm only. The pot can comfortably rest in the palm. (b) Small 15-30 cm. (c) Medium 30-62 cm. (d) Large more than 62 cm.
A beginner, in order to have a "potential bonsai" plant, should:
Select a one or two- year-old plant with a flexible, main stem.
Select species with smaller leaves and short internodes. Leaves of large plants can be reduced considerably in size over several years only in some species.
In fruit plants, select a variety with small fruits as the size cannot be reduced by training.
The plant should have profuse branching starting within 3-4 inches of the root base and should have vigorously growing foliage.The plant should have a uniformly spreading root base, free from disease.
The three mixes are prepared separately and to one bucketful (15 litres) of each add
Bone meal 2 handfuls
Tracel 1 tablespoonful
Themit or Furaden 2 tablespoonfuls.
The compost should be mixed thoroughly, moistened and kept in a shaded area covered with polythene for two weeks. The Furaden or Themit fumes kill any nematodes or their larvae. If leaf mould is not available, highly decomposed cowdung manure can be used. The cowdung manure should be sterilised and seived with Furaden or Themit fumes for 2 weeks before use.
No fertilising is done for four to six weeks after repotting till the plant shows free growth. A highly diluted fertiliser feed is to be given at regular intervals. Bonsai fertilisation is started in spring before the bud outbursts. Here the plant benefits form a dose of bone meal application. Bone meal is scattered on the surface of the soil after a watering. Fertilisation of plants is done throughout the growing season. No fertilisation is done during the monsoon rains. In winters, if due to warmer climate the plant is containing its growth, then an application or two maybe made. Always give fertilisers in dilute doses.
Pruning and wiring: