Basic Guide to Create Bonsai

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Prepare the Container of Bonsai Tree

Prepare the container by covering the holes of the pot with piece of fiberglass screen about an inch larger than the holes. Next, put in a layer of small stones (about ¼” in diameter) to cover the bottom of the pot about 3/8” deep.  On top of this, place a layer of your prepared soil mix about the same dept.

Adjust The Container With The Bonsai

As a general guide, Juniperus procumbens nana looks best in brown terracotta containers that are oval or rectangular. The one-gallon nursery stock usually comes in a round growing container approximately 7 ¼ “tall and 6” wide. The bonsai pot you will put the raked-down tree in will be about 7” long, 5” wide and 2” deep.
bonsai containers
Bonsai Containers
image source:

Most bonsai are designed to be asymmetrical. The tree will appear more natural if placed slightly back of the center and slightly to one side. Choose the side that allows the heavier foliage to be over the wider expanse of soil. If the longest branch of the tree is on the right side of the tree, place the tree slightly to the left side in the container. This position allows the tree to look balanced in the pot; otherwise, the tree will appear to be falling out of the pot.

How to Place the Plant in the Container?

After the tree is properly placed in the container, cover the root ball with the abundance of fresh, loose soil. Take your slightly sharpened bamboo chopstick and starting at the outer rim of the container, work the new soil gently under the root ball. Use the chopstick to fill in the soil around the root ball and to tamp new soil into the pot. While chopsticking, be sure to hold the trunk of the tree in the proper position so the tree doesn’t walk across the pot.

Chopsticking should be done with a light, quick touch. Each time you pull the chopstick out, the hole will fill with soil. Continue to work the soil gently under and around the root ball. After a few minutes you will feel resistance to the chopstick from the added soil. Continue until the root ball is covered and the tree sits securely in the container.

Proper chopsticking of the soil is important for a number of reasons. First, it provides new soil for the fine feeding roots to grab onto as they grow. Second, chopsticking eliminates air pockets that allow for water accumulation and eventual root rot. Third, chopsticking firms up and stabilizes the tree in the pot. When a tree trunk moves in the pot, the roots are torn and new roots are not allowed develop. Proper potting of the tree ensures its health and growth.

Place the potted tree in a deep tray or saucer, and pour in enough Superthrive solution to fill half of the pot. Make sure the water used in the solution is tepid. The tepid water will be absorbed by the soil through the drainage holed in the pot. You will know it has been absorbed when the top of the soil is moist and dark. Remove the pot from the tray and let the excess water drain.

Place the potted tree on the upturned nursery pot and lay collected moss on the moist soil. Use thin moss, piecing it together and firming it onto the soil with the spatula end of your tweezers. Roll the moss in along the edge of the pot so the moss complements the tree. In addition to making the tree look good, the moss prevents the soil from washing away when the tree is watered.

Now is the time to continue refining your design. At this point you must be sure that enough top growth has been removed to compensate for the amount of roots pruned.  At the same time it is important to leave enough foliage for the newly trimmed tree to photosynthesize and manufacture food.

Photosynthesis is the process by which a plant manufactures sugar and starches to nourish itself. The leaves of the plant, through their pores, take in carbon dioxide during daylight hours and give off oxygen at night. Sunlight falling on the green leaves of plants is absorbed by chlorophyll in the leaves, and water and carbon are converted into the sugar that feeds the plant. Photosynthesis is continuous as long as sunlight falls on the plant. Roots supply water and essential minerals. Transpiration is the process by which leaves give off excess moisture, it too occurs during daylight hours. The processes of photosynthesis and transpiration enable trees (and humans) to live.
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