The first step after selecting a good specimen of Bonsai from a nursery or from forests or rocks, is to prune the branches and roots sufficiently to give it a particular shape and direction, writes Swathi. V

Just like the beauty of a painting depends heavily on its initial sketch, appearance of a dwarfed tree depends heavily on the idea the grower has in her or his mind.

One cannot simply bring a plant home, put it in a tray, and keep pruning it randomly to make a Bonsai. One ought to know which branch to prune and to what extent, to give it a particular shape and direction.

The first step after selecting a good specimen of Bonsai from a nursery or from forests or rocks, is to prune the branches and roots sufficiently.

sThe amount of pruning depends on the species in hand. Soft stemmed plants can be pruned heavily whereas woody stemmed plants have to be handled very carefully since the time of uprooting, says M.M. Hussain (Ph: 9848024654) from Plants Land Nursery.

It goes without saying that the roots of the woody stemmed plants have to be pruned but very lightly.

After pruning, the plants have to be shifted into big pots or poly-bags. Alternatively, they can be planted on the ground if there is sufficient open space. One should be careful to see that the roots are spread horizontally by keeping a brick or a tile of stone beneath the roots before planting.

“It will help when the plant is transplanted to a Bonsai pot in future. Otherwise, the plant will throw its roots deep, and find it difficult to survive in a shallow pot or tray,” says Mr. Hussain.

Later on, one should allow the plant to grow freely and robustly, so that more branches grow with good vegetation. The stem and branches should be let to grow long and thick, which is not possible if the plant is directly put in a Bonsai pot.

Pre-determined shape

“After allowing good growth, one can pick the branches to be retained or removed as per the pre-determined shape. The branches to be retained need to be trained horizontally, vertically or into curvy shapes depending on the image one has in mind,” said Mr.Hussain.

For this, a soft Aluminium wire or any soft metal wire with plastic insulation may be used, he says. The wire can be wrapped around the stem or branch and bent into the required shapes. Alternatively, the branches can be tied with a weight to get a downward bend, or supported with a strong stick for straight growth.

The shaping has to be maintained for a period of three months to one year, till the desired positions are there to stay.

Simultaneously the branches have to be pruned from edges to the required heights or lengths.

The ideal shape for a Bonsai is triangular. The main stem or trunk has to be the tallest and the thickest, whereas the length and thickness of the branches should narrow down from bottom to the top of the tree.

A lower branch has to be always thicker than its immediate upper one.

“In case a particular branch is thinner than its upper counterpart, stop pruning the same. Allow the branch to grow as much as possible for it to attain thickness faster. Pruning can be done after it achieves the required thickness,” Mr.Hussain says.

One should be careful to see that no two branches are at the same level on the stem, or grow parallel in the same angles.

A branch on the right at a particular level should be complemented by another branch on the left placed a little higher or lower. And also, one more branch on the right side should grow a little off the angle from the former one, so as to break the monotony in growth and shape.

“One branch should not cover or shadow out the other. In fact, each branch should be retained as a separate plant with its own canopy. Together, all the branches should be seen in different tiers, clearly visible from the presumed frontal view of the tree,” Mr.Hussain cautions.

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