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Bonsai literally means trees in trays. The miniaturised trees should resemble, in most details, the features of a full-grown one.

For Starting a Bonsai, you could begin by planting a seed of a tree and let your patience grow as it grows. Of course, it is faster and easier to buy a sapling from a nursery. But, usually, it is more adventurous to uproot a wild sapling growing in a park, roadside or the woods. Uprooted saplings need to be protected from wind and direct sunlight till new roots develop. So, if you find one and want to pull it out, it is safest to do so in the rainy season. And there is also the possibility of using cuttings. Once sown, simply let the plant grow in a pot for around one year.

Training the Bonsai Tree

Here is where art and technique comes in and there are different styles. Upright, curved upright, slanting, multiple trunks are some of the styles you may choose. Each requires a different treatment. You could also make a "Bonsai, Group Planting," where several trees are clustered in a shallow container (round or rectangular) to resemble a grove.

Begin by cutting the stem of the year-old sapling, at a height of 6 to 12 inches, to limit the height of the trunk and to encourage branching. This must be done in the beginning of spring when new shoots begin to grow. The roots must be pruned to about half the original size. For pruning, let the soil dry a bit so that you can easily pull out the sapling with the soil mass. Tap off a bit of the soil from the bottom and cut off part of the roots.

Now, repot the plant in a slightly bigger pot where it will remain till the coming spring. It is now, after a further pruning, that the sapling may be transferred to a bonsai dish. The soil in the dish should consist of equal parts of charcoal particles, sand, manure and garden soil.

Note: You will occasionally have to trim away extraneous and big leaves. Keep only a few branches that don't overlap into each other, unless you want a bushy crown. Often strings are used to' bend branches to bring the bonsai to the desired shape. With passing time, the branch will maintain that position without the help of the string.

Perhaps after 5-7 years of patience, care and grooming, you will get the first semblance of a real tree. Keep in mind the shape the tree is expected to take.

For Quick Bonsais use quick growing trees with small leaves like kikar, tamarind, subabul. These can be trained to give a tree look in three years or even earlier.


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