One of the unintended consequences of our economic difficulties is that many who enjoy gardening and cultivating plants are moving into apartments and condominiums where access to open earth is limited, or nonexistent. Despite their changing living arrangements these folks still want to spend time around growing things and are exploring options such as window box gardens, container gardens, and bonsai cultivating.
Bonsai is the art of cultivating miniature trees by growing them in containers and controlling its growth by carefully pruning the roots and branches. Many people make the error of thinking that bonsai trees are naturally small and this isn’t the case at all. The beautifully formed mature bonsai trees are the result of years of careful attention to train plant to assume a desired shape. If grown normally, these same trees would grow too many 10s of feet high
The Japanese word “bonsai” is what most people think of when they see a miniature trees. But the practice first came from China where it is known as “penjing” and became popular in Japan only later. The art is also practiced in Korea where it is known as “bunjae”. While there are cultural and other differences between the three, they all produce the trees that we in the west know as “bonsai”.
In fact, our calling them “bonsai trees” is not at all correct. There are easily more than 250 species of trees that are successfully used to create bonsai. These range from the common Ficus to the more exotic such as Okinawa Holly and Chinese Juniper. Some fruit trees are also good choice like the Dwarf Pomegranate and the Flowering Pineapple
People who want to experience bonsai generally acquire their trees either by purchasing a young plant that has been started from someone else, or by scouting the outdoors areas where they live and find a suitable candidate on their own. Very few beginners or experienced practitioners start their trees from seeds. While this was once an option because of costs, today there are many other inexpensive options available to start a new tress available.