Sunday, February 28, 2016

Azalea Bonsai Styles

There are many flowering bonsai species out there, but one stands out in particular - the azalea. When in bloom, the tree produces beautiful flowers which are probably the most outstanding and brilliant of all common bonsai trees.

What's particularly good about this plant is that it lends itself to many different styles and gives you lots of freedom to explore your creativity.

If you want a detailed intro into bonsai-ing your azalea, you can have a look here.

However, I want to cover the most common styles used for this flower (and ones I have tried myself):


This technique is not too difficult to execute, but will take a fair amount of time. Plants that don't have a natural tendency towards long roots will not be suitable specimens for this method. The idea is to have the azalea's roots grasping onto a rock such that the latter offers stability to the tree.


This one is similar to the traditional cascade style, with the exception that the end of the overflowing branch stays above the level of the pot bottom. This style brings out string roots in the azalea as the plant will need to cling harder to the ground to remain stable.


The idea is to have the branches of the bonsai growing on one side of the trunk and also have the trunk itself lean in that same direction. This gives an impression of the azalea having grown in a windy place with the wind constantly pushing the tree to one side. You can get an idea of how it looks on Ramesh Sinha's blog. Imagine having all those beautiful blossoms stick out on one side of the plant.

Informal upright

The tree is more or less upright, but doesn't have a straight trunk. The trunk is kind of curved in a zig-zag pattern and the branches stick out on every turn of the trunk.

The azalea bonsai can be styled into these and even some other styles and in this sense is a very flexible species.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Backyard Bonsai Garden

Rather than just growing one or two bonsai trees, one could start a whole bonsai garden in their backyard. The advantage of a bonsai garden over a classical one is that you can lots of different tree species on one small plot of land - these trees don't need much space!

Consider how magical it would be to have backyard garden full of tiny trees!

There are many things to consider though. It's better to give your backyard a good planning before diving into the actual creation. Some things you need to think about:

Climate: What climate zone are you in? Since your trees are going to be growing outside, you will need to find out which species prefer living in the type of climate you have.

Lighting: Some trees need lots of light, others prefer shade. Consider which objects in your backyard already provide shade, and also how the sun moves through the sky during the day.

Wind: If it tends to be windy in your area, you may need to think of building wind breaks, or using any natural ones.

Style: The plants will not be the only thing in your backyard. What kind of pots will the trees have? How do you want to landscape the plot? Maybe you want to put each tree on a column for better observation, or maybe you want to build some mounds of rock for them to sit on?

It will take some thought and some effort, but the result of having your own little bonsai garden will be well worth it!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Japanese Miniature Tree Growing

The Japanese art form of bonsai involves growing miniature trees in pots or other containers. This is a very old tradition, going back over a thousand years.

Why Bonsai?

There is no specific purpose in bonsai - first and foremost, it's an art. There is the creator of the bonsai tree on the one hand - who gets to exercise their ingenuity, patience and creativity while growing the tree. On the other hand, there is the viewer - just like with any other for of art - who gets to contemplate the miniature bonsai tree.


The Japanese form of bonsai stems from the Chinese penjing practice and migrated to Japan between the 6ht and 9th centuries AD, when small trees were brought from China to Japan as souvenirs. Over time, the practice has evolved both in its philosophy as well as artistic and creative approach.

How to Grow a Japanese Bonsai?

The bonsai is initially created from some source material - typically a seedling or a cutting of a tree. Not all species are suited for this. The plant is then shaped and cut to remain rather miniature in size. As the tree reaches the intended size, it is replanted into a pot that will from then on restrict the plant's growth.