Creating Privet Bonsai By Using Deadwood Techniques

In this tutorial you will see how to transform an ugly hedging material to a beautiful bonsai by using a deadwood carving techniques and some branch wiring.

We’ll be using Privet Tree, scientific name Ligustrum ovalfolium which is a  plant that is widely used for hedging. It has been in this pot for about 4 years.

During that  time, it has been pruned very frequently resulting in a dense branch structure. Natural habit of this tree is very long and straight branches. In order to create a bonsai from it, we’ll need to do some wiring.

Despite looking like a promising material, this tree is not as great as it looks. There are several long unattractive trunks that are all coming from one base. If you rotate this tree, it looks flat from any direction. There is no depth since all of these trunks are coming at you.

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Styling Buttonwood Bonsai Tree

This large Buttonwood Tree, scientific name Conocarpus erectus, has been growing for about 10 years. Since the trunk looked weak, it was placed over the rock to give it more support and to create root over rock style.

There are a few new roots that are growing over the rock making this composition more balanced. In this tutorial you will learn how to style and clean up this bonsai.

We will re-position the rock, defoliate the tree, clean up the bark, trim branches, and apply the wire.

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How to Repot Root Bound Water Jasmine Bonsai

In this post we will be working on a  root bound Water Jasmine Bonsai, also known as Wrightia religiosa. Root bound is when the roots of the tree are so dense and so full, they are lifting the tree out of the pot and growing out of the holes at the bottom.

Bonsai needs to be repotted and root pruned in order to absorb major and minor elements from the soil mix. If tree is not root pruned, it will develop long roots that will take up most of the space in the pot.

Root bounded trees have troubles getting all the nutrients and will start to decline despite perfect growing conditions and good quality fertilizer. The frequency of repotting and root pruning depends on the species of the tree. Some grow faster and need to be repotted more often than once a year.

The challenge with this root bound Water Jasmine bonsai is to reduce the roots and get it into a new smaller pot.

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How To Repot Moreton Bay Fig Bonsai

In this repotting tutorial you will learn how to repot a Moreton Bay Fig, scientific name Ficus macrophylla. This bonsai was sold in a nursery pot and needs to be repotted into a bonsai container.

Bonsai are often mass grown in a farm and are planted into the container right from the field. If you don’t purchase a bonsai from a reputable bonsai nursery, it might be grown in a very poor soil that has low water absorption and slow drainage. In that case, you should repot your bonsai with a good quality soil mix as soon as possible.

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How to Grow Bonsai Indoors

Many beginners think that bonsai is this little cute indoor plant. They couldn’t be farther from the truth. Bonsai are naturally outdoor trees that are grown in small containers. And like regular trees they need to grow outside. Some of the tropical or subtropical species need protection from cold and can be brought inside during winter months, but even they should be taken outside when the weather is warm.

In the magazines and books you will see photos of bonsai that are taken indoors. Understand, they’ve been brought inside temporary for the photo shoot or bonsai show and will be returned outdoors for recovery.

Deciduous and coniferous trees should be grown OUTDOORS for a few reasons. First, climate trees need a period of rest, or you can also say “dormancy”, during cooler season. That is when trees stop growing and start saving all their energy for Spring. It is VERY important for the trees to have that rest period. Without it they will be forced to continue to grow and then will go into a forced dormancy which can be DEADLY.

Another reason is that providing perfect growing conditions indoors is very challenging. It is hard to arrange your house in such way that trees would get enough light, humidity and air circulation. And how would you artificially make it cool enough for the trees to go into dormancy without freezing yourself?

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Your First Bonsai Tree

Bonsai can be overwhelming especially for beginners. There are so many techniques, rules and varieties of trees available today, that it is easy to get lost.

If you are new to bonsai and don’t know where to begin, start by learning how to keep your tree alive and take care of it. After learning the fundamentals of bonsai, you can try more difficult techniques.

Where to buy bonsai

Most of the beginners get their first bonsai from a shopping mall or a large home improvement store like Home Depot. Some get it as a gift, which was also probably purchased at the mall. Very few get it from a reputable bonsai nursery. I can’t even call those inexpensive plants a bonsai.

They are so cheap for a reason, very little energy or training was put into them. I can only call them “bonsai material”. Of course, with proper care and training they could become a bonsai, but it is NOT a bonsai.

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Brazilian Rain Tree Bonsai Propagation By Air Layering

Air layering is a way to propagate the tree without growing it from seed or cuttings. Air layering is when you take a tree that is already established,  remove part of the bark and surround it with peat moss. After a while, the roots will develop in that location allowing you to separate that part of the tree and plant it separately.

This method is great not only because you can get a new tree to establish pretty quickly, but also because you can choose the best part of the tree for your bonsai.

A lot of times you’ll find a tree that has a great movement and curves at the top and you know that this top part would be perfect for bonsai. With air layering you can take just that top part and grow it independently creating  a beautiful bonsai.

For this air layering tutorial we are using Brazilian Rain Tree, scientific name Pithecellobium tortum.

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What Is The Best Bonsai Soil Mix

In the nature, trees are able to extend their roots deep into the ground to get water, air and nutrients. Since bonsai grow in small pots, they need to get all the water, air and nutrients from the little amount of soil.

It would make sense to use the same kind of soil that trees grow in. Unfortunately, potting soil has multiple problems when used for bonsai. It locks too much moister, has poor drainage and is too compact for the oxygen to get in.

Most of the bonsai masters use soil mix that consists of fired clay, river rock and some organic component like pine bark. It might shock you, but there is NO SOIL in a good bonsai soil mix. This soilless mix is designed to provide trees with fast drainage, good aeration, and high water retention.

The quality of soil is directly responsible for the health and vigour of the tree. Poor soil drainage can easily lead to ill roots and to root rot. For bonsai, the soil should be extremely fast draining to the point where you can watch the water coming out of the bottom of the pot.

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