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Starting a Bonsai
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Satish
New Delhi
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March 17, 2011 - 11:17 am
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To begin with the following questions come to mind:

1. Does a Bonsai have to be in a pot or can it be in the ground too?

2. Does it have to be a new plant or can an existing plant be converted into a Bonsai?

3. What types of plants are best suited for Bonsai?

4. Does one have to avoid feeding plants that are destined to be Bonsai with fertilizers and/or manure?

5. What type of pots & potting mix should one use for best results?

Please HELP.

Satish

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jamey
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March 17, 2011 - 3:50 pm

Cant wait for someone to answer the post. I'm very interested too... although I can answer the first question for you. It cannot be on the ground becasue you have to control its growth.

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AmitChugh
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March 17, 2011 - 4:17 pm

hi. i know a little bit. i am trying for first time after searching many sites. may this answers help u.

1. bonsai grow in pot. they have some special type of pots. but in my opinion it can also grow in ground. i do not test it. but will try after success of Ist bonsai in pot.

2. thats depends on you. existing plant with age of 2 to 3 years is best to convert into  a bonsai. if u grow it from seed, you have to wait for 3 years, then u can convert it to bonsai. i like starting from seed.

3. for novice like me, pipal tree (sacred fig) is best. as it is very drought and tolerant. cut it again and again, it will grow up again and again. they doesnt has some special needs. they just need simple soil and water, and no care. there are many other tree banyan(barh), mulberry (shehtoot), lemon, orange, pomegranate, apple, tamrind, guava, kikar, gulmohar, pine, devdar etc.

4. bonsai has a small pot, so it has small amount of soil. so it need regular water and fertilizer, as it cant store too much.

5. technical question. i dont know it. but in my opinion coco peat is best for bonsai.

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SowerGrower
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March 17, 2011 - 7:04 pm
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1. Bonsai is always grown in a pot. Since the roots have to be periodically trimmed. In the ground the roots would spread as there'd be no control.

2. For a bonsai it is best to take a plant which is around 3 years old and then train it. By this time the trunk and root system are well developed. Bonsai can also be grown from seed, but understanably it will take years to shape.

3. All ficus plants grow well as bonsai. You could try Pipal, Banyan, Gulmohar, Tamarind, Lime. Adenium and Jade too make good bonsai plants.

4. All plants need food. It is best to let a plant grow in natural conditions for 3 years in the ground and then convert it into a bonsai. You do need to feed the bonsai plants too. But not as much as your regular plants. I spray my bonsai with a water soluable fertilizer once a month. When the adenium is ready to flower I do feed it with a rose mix. But the amount of fertilizer has to be very less as the container is usually very shallow.

5. I've been growing bonsai without any formal training. I spread a layer of coal/ pieces of bricks at the bottom of the pot. Cover it with a layer of sand and soil…and top it with red soil. This helps with the drainage. Some nurseries sell a special potting mix for bonsai.

6. The containers for bonsai have to be shallow. I use both ceramic and earthen ware. There should be no water logging or drainage of soil. It makes sense to spread a mesh at the base of the pot.

Hope this helps

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geekgardener
Bangalore, India
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March 18, 2011 - 9:48 am
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Nice instructions.

SowerGrower, Why don't you post some pics of your Bonsai collection ? It will be an inspiration to everyone here.

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geekgardener
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March 18, 2011 - 9:48 am
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Nice instructions.

SowerGrower, Why don't you post some pics of your Bonsai collection ? It will be an inspiration to everyone here.

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jamey
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March 18, 2011 - 12:51 pm

@ SowerGrower how do you trim the roots? Wont the plant die if you do that? How do you know which ones to chop off and which ones to leave? Also have you tried cocopeat? I've read in US they use peatmoss instead of soil, can we not do something like that with cocopeat? I really want to try it out. I might try a peepal or jade tree.

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SowerGrower
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March 18, 2011 - 2:06 pm
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@ Jamey !

I've never tried cocopeat.

That's an interesting question you've raised. I had my fears too when I started.

There are a few things to be kept in mind when you trinm the roots.

1. The plant must have a good root system.

2. Snip off the roots in early spring or before the cold weather sets in.

3. When you trim the roots you change the soil too.

4. Keep the plant in a shade away from wind for a few days.

5. When you pull out the plant from the soil you'll see a network of fine roots. You must not touch the tap root...this is the main root extending from the trunk.

6 Snip off most off the fine roots and some of the aerial roots extending from the tap root.

&. The plant survives this butchering Laugh

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jamey
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March 18, 2011 - 2:17 pm

So you trim roots/change soil twice a year? I'm from Bangalore. We dont have extreme cold weather here like in the north. So does the snipping roots frequency rule still apply?

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SowerGrower
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March 18, 2011 - 5:00 pm
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Hi Jamey

The roots are snipped just once a year. Either in early spring or just before winter.

You have to leave some roots on. Don't snip off everything.

Posting a few pics. These plants are not too healthy. Will post more pics of some bonsai which I keep indoors at a later date  -

 

https://picasaweb.google.com/108209732437570738247/Bonsai?authkey=Gv1sRgCJ3q_86Zg_H2hwE#

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Satish
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March 18, 2011 - 11:08 pm
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Hi Amit & SowerGrower:

If it is not too much bother please provide some information on how to start a Bonsai from scratch. Questions that are coming to my mind:

1. How do I start with a new plant. I mean I do not wish to purchase the plants from a nursery. Is it so important to start with a 2-3 years old plant?

2. What if I start with a plant grown from a stem cutting?

3. What determines the size of the container?

4. Does the 'apex' of the growing plant need cutting to stunt its growth?

Thanks in advance for your kind help. Regards.

Satish

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AmitChugh
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March 19, 2011 - 3:48 pm

Hi satish.
Plants that are much tolerant can be trained early. Many plant cant tolerate cuttings, trimming, wiring at small age. And cant grow in small pot. After 3 years, it become tolerant to some extent and can be trained for bonsai. I think peepal can be trained early for bonsai.

Yes bonsai also can be started from cuttings. Mostly people start with cuttings becouse seeds take more time to grow.

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SowerGrower
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March 19, 2011 - 4:00 pm
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Hello Satish !

Bonsai can be strarted from cuttings too. The banyan I have was started from a cutting.

Trouble with cuttings is the roots take time to grow. I'm also new to this art form. Though I've been growing bonsai for years now...I'm still learning.

With older plants you can work with the roots. Cuttings take time to settle down.

The container size depends on the size of the plant.

Branches too need to be cut to train the plant...and stunt the growth. But the roots and the branches are not cut at the same time. I've lost a few plants because of this. The plants can't handle the stress.

If you're trying a banyan cutting, take a green branch.

Hope this helps.

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vasaviks
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September 18, 2011 - 6:29 pm
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This is very inspiring. But there is a starting trouble. Could you please explain the process in steps? This will help loads of people like me for sure. How should be the pot of the Bonsai? Cant we grow them in the normal pots?

You have mentioned that the roots should be trimmed regularly? How do we do that? Should we dig out the plant, trim and put it again (sorry.. I know its the dumbest question but I donot have an answer 🙁 )

I cant wait to start my Bonsai but please help me little with the basics.. Or please redirect me to some website which teaches the basics of this art.

Thanks,

Vasavi.

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BMBAlbert
Singapore
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November 24, 2011 - 2:05 pm
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Satish said:

To begin with the following questions come to mind:

1. Does a Bonsai have to be in a pot or can it be in the ground too?

2. Does it have to be a new plant or can an existing plant be converted into a Bonsai?

3. What types of plants are best suited for Bonsai?

4. Does one have to avoid feeding plants that are destined to be Bonsai with fertilizers and/or manure?

5. What type of pots & potting mix should one use for best results?

Please HELP.

Satish

Hi Satish,

To answer to your questions:

1] Well, if you have a nicely grown plant with big stem and you want to turn it into a bonsai plant. Yes, you will need to repot it onto a bonsai pot. During repotting you will have to trim down its roots so that it could fit into the flat bonsia pot. However, if you just get started you could propagate a nice thick stem through morcotting or stem cutting to start a new plant. After rooting you will have to grow this plant in your normal pot or even into the ground to let it grow strong but during this process you could trim its stem or bend its stem to suit your liking ,, etc. until which you feel that your plant has reached your expectation will you than dig the plant out from the ground or repot into a bonsai pot.

2] Either a new plant or existing plant - all could be use for bonsai.

3]This question is very subjective. Now, in Singapore we normally use wrightia plant - a] They are very hardy b] Very easy to root them from cuttings  c] It also have very fragrant flowers and have fragrance through out the day and night. d]You could also grow the plant from their roots etc...  

Another plant which I am now working on is adenium bonsai.

4]Yes, you need to feed your bonsai inorder to grow their stem and roots big.

5] Potting mix depends on type of plant you are growing but must have good drainage .

Hope my sharing for the above is useful to you to get started. Smile Laugh

 

Cheers,

BMB Albert 

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BMBAlbert
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November 24, 2011 - 2:40 pm
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I manage to take some photos to share with all of you.

 

1] My small adenium bonsai.

 

<img src="/forum/bonsai/starting-a-bonsai/http:/i296.photobucket.com/albums/mm175/bmbalbert/GGforum001.jpg" alt="" /> 

2] My wrightia bonsai.

 

<img src="/forum/bonsai/starting-a-bonsai/http:/i296.photobucket.com/albums/mm175/bmbalbert/GGforum002.jpg" alt="" />

 

3] Wrightia flower.

 

<img src="/forum/bonsai/starting-a-bonsai/http:/i296.photobucket.com/albums/mm175/bmbalbert/GGforum003.jpg" alt="" />

 

Cheers,

BMB Albert 

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geekgardener
Bangalore, India
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November 24, 2011 - 11:06 pm
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Just fixed the image links.



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BMBAlbert
Singapore
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November 25, 2011 - 9:43 am
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Thanks GG for fixing the image link for above pictures.

 

I will try again a photo of another adenium bonsai.

 

 

 

Thanks,

BMB Albert 

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AmitChugh
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November 28, 2011 - 10:39 pm

@BMBAlbert

 

 

this is just amazing. plz name the plant and how you did it ?

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BMBAlbert
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November 29, 2011 - 10:31 am
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AmitChugh said:

@BMBAlbert

 


 

this is just amazing. plz name the plant and how you did it ?

Hi AmitChugh,

Thanks for viewing my posting.

This is a wrightia plant and is grown from a root cutting. 

I do not know is wrightia plant common in your country. However,  if you could find one you could grow the plant big and can start growing smaller bonsai from that plant. Once you uproot that plant, you could find many nice shape roots which you could grow them from and turn them into bonsai. Pls note that the bonsai size I am doing is small size bonsai and meant for condo/flats living.

Just to give you an example. I took a picture of another plant which I am slowly turning this into a bonsai.

From above photo you could see a long root growing out of the soil on the right side.

A closer picture to show the root.

I will cut the roots from the plant stem and pull out the part of the root from the soil. As it is, the root is already have a curve shape and you could start to plant the root and let it grow first. 

Are you able to understand what I try to explain to you so far?

Happy viewing! Smile

Cheers,

BMB Albert 

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