Bonsai, literally "tree planted in a tray", are miniature versions of larger trees. Depending on the type of bonsai tree under consideration, their height can range from a few inches to a few feet. Like regular trees, bonsai trees can also bear flowers and fruits. There are two types of bonsai trees: indoor and outdoor.
While most bonsai are outdoor plants, certain varieties are adapted well enough to survive in an indoor setting. These would be the tropical or subtropical varieties. If you plan on raising these, be sure to put them in a spot where they can get some sunlight in the mornings and shade in the afternoon. Avoid exposing them to too much sunlight - many varieties of bonsai do not bear up well under intense heat.
Indoor varieties of bonsai include the ficus, baby jade, sago palms, serissa, fukien tea, pachira, gardenia, and some elm varieties. Outdoor bonsai are further divided into two groups. The first group consists of the evergreen trees, which include the pine, the juniper, and the azalea.
As the name evergreen suggests, these trees retain their foliage no matter what the season is. They usually undergo a dormancy period during winter, which creates a yellow tinge around their leaves. Deciduous trees include elms and maples. These trees shed their leaves during the fall and re-bud at springtime. Most elm species fall into this category, as does the apricot, hornbeam, and gingko.
Like evergreen bonsai, deciduous bonsai also go through a dormancy stage at winter. Deciduous bonsai are not well suited to being grown indoors - the levels of light and humidity are too different from those in their natural habitat. There are many types of bonsai trees, but they do have one thing in common. All bonsai trees, with few exceptions, need specific care if they are to thrive. You will need to protect them from both excessive cold and heat, depending on the climate in your area.
Also, levels of humidity have to be monitored, and as much as possible you should provide the specific humidity level that your bonsai needs to grow. As long as you know what you are doing, however, it shouldn't be a problem for you. Taking care of a bonsai tree is not a task for amateurs. Bonsai trees are unusual trees and they require unusual care.
Most types of bonsai are not particularly hardy, especially when compared to other types of plants. If you are considering acquiring your own bonsai tree, or if you already have one, you need to know what to do to increase your plants chances of survival. Taking care of a bonsai tree requires specialized knowledge. If you are serious about growing your own bonsai plants, you need to take time to conduct a little research.
But a few books and read up on the subject. If you know anyone who has had experience in raising bonsai, you should try to discuss the matter with him or her as well. Taking care of a bonsai is hard enough; being ignorant certainly isn't going to help you. Be sure to find a local bonsai nursery.
Avoid the bonsai trees sold in department stores and malls. Although they may seem to be in good condition and sell for less, they are often close to death and will not survive in your home for long. Retailers, after all, are interested only in selling the plant, not maintaining it.
It would be far better for you to find a nursery that sells seedlings or small bonsai plants. This will allow you to experience the joy (and hardship!) of raising your own plant. Additionally, you will be able to shape the tree the way you want to, which is not always an option with the more mature plants. Don't skimp on the tools that you need. For most people, raising a bonsai is more of a hobby than anything else.
This does not mean, however, that you should skimp on the tools that you will need to raise your plants well. One example of bonsai tool is a concave cutter. A concave cutter is a tool designed to prune the plant without leaving a stub. Shears, pliers, and branch bending jacks are common as well. For shaping the tree, you will need aluminum and copper wires. Taking care of a bonsai tree involves a continuous learning process.
While this article is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to bonsai care, it should give you the idea that there is much to be learned in order to be successful. However, don't be discouraged. If you truly love bonsai trees, learning will not be difficult for you at all! And once you've mastered the art of raising a bonsai, you can look forward to many beautiful days with your miniature tree.
Lee Dobbins writes for http://www.bonsai.garden-corner.com where you can learn more about bonsai trees and their care.