The word ‘bonsai’ signifies a tree planted in a tray. It is also referred to as a living miniature tree that increases in beauty and value as it matures over the years. This form of art originated from China and gradually spread throughout Asia. Techniques such a cutting, pruning and pinching are used to manipulate the pattern of growth and the consequence is a magnificent tree that is a pleasure for the eyes.
The art of bonsai can be segregated into two main categories; indoor and outdoor. The different styles of bonsai incorporate formal upright, informal upright, cascade, semi-cascade, raft and literati. Bonsai trees range in size from miniature, small, medium, to average, and can either bear small flowers or small fruit.
Tropical and subtropical trees are believed to be the easiest types of bonsai trees to grow indoors. The placement of these trees should be such that they get the morning sun and the afternoon shade regularly. The indoor bonsai can be placed outside in late spring and summer; and when fall sets in, the bonsai can be brought indoors, especially when night temperatures fall. Some examples of indoor bonsai trees include Hawaiian umbrella trees, ficus, baby jade, sago palms, serissa, aralias, money tree, brush cherry, bougainvillea and some elms. The evergreen trees such as junipers and pines, and the deciduous trees such as maple and apricot; form part of the outdoor varieties.
The formal upright style is the most fundamental form of bonsai. It is generally advisable to commence the art with this particular style. On following this style, within very little time frame, a tree with good balance and form can be nurtured. The lower two branches extend further creating a good horizontal base for the tree. While the remaining branches fall the top to the bottom, with each row cascading a little further. Some plants that are perfect for upright bonsai style include pine, spruce, juniper and larch.
The informal upright is analogous to the formal upright style with only one exception. The top branch of the informal upright does not extend vertically; instead it bends a little bit to the front. This slant gives the image of a tree in motion. Some species that are perfect for informal and straight bonsai are Japanese maple, trident maple, and beech.
An extremely exclusive looking bonsai tree can be obtained via the slant style. In this style, the tree is inclined in one direction while the lowest branch slants out in the opposite direction. The style illustrates a balanced look. Nearly all trees can be used for the slant style. A sloping effect is possible with the cascade style. The trunk of the tree is trained to grow vertically and then, in turn, allowing the branches to extend below the surface of the pot, thus highlighting the cascade effect. For this style, a species of plant or tree that typically grows close to the ground are best suited. If you are looking for great cascade bonsai, then use flowering plants like jasmine, wisteria and junipers.
As in the case of the cascade style of bonsai, the semi cascade also extends over the pot, however, the trunk of the plant extends vertically then slopes gradually. Some plants for this type of bonsai are willow, jasmine and chrysanthemums.
The last style is known as the windswept bonsai. This has an exceptional look and personifies a tree has been blown by strong winds. The style could be any, however, the art of growing and cultivating bonsai trees is said to represent truth, goodness and beauty.
The reason for cultivating bonsai trees could have a spiritual significance or could hold an aesthetic value; nevertheless nurturing these miniature symbols of nature is a wonderful experience in itself.
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