The Bonsai They are trees that live in shallow trays, and that remind us of landscapes rather than nature, since each one has its own defined style. This style is not forced; In other words, the designer has respected the movement of the trunk of the plant, making it look very natural. But what types of plants can we use as Bonsai? In summary, it could be said that all those woody plants can be candidates to become one of them.
Of course, the trees They are at the top of the list: their trunk is woody and the vast majority accept pruning well. But ... not all are suitable for Bonsai, and less if we do not have the necessary knowledge for its cultivation. We will exclude those that have some of these characteristics:
- large leaves (such as those of the Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) or those of some Ficus like the (Ficus elastica)
- excessively rapid growth (such as albizia procera)
- life expectancy of two to four decades (as Leucaena leucocephala)
Some of the best most used candidates for Bonsai are:
- All kinds of maples (either Acer palmatum, Acer ginnala, Acer pseudoplatanus, ...)
- Small-leaved ficus (like the ficus retusa o Ficus benjamina)
- serissa phoetida
The shrubbery They are exceptional plants to use as Bonsai, as most have small leaves, and very controllable growth. Without forgetting that many of them have very ornamental leaves and / or flowers. Some of the most used are:
- Japanese quince (Chaenomeles japonica)
Conifers, the most primitive type of plant existing today, have been used for many centuries in the Bonsai technique. Today, in the most prestigious exhibitions, specimens of two or three millennia old can be seen. All conifers can be formed as Bonsai. However, some of the most used are:
- Pinus silvestris
- propagating through a pine forest (Pinus halepensis).
- Pinea pine
- taxodium (Swamp cypress)
- Taxus (Yew)
- cupressus (Cypress)
Our climbing plants They can be used as Bonsai, but… they have a small added difficulty: they have to be pruned regularly to control their "climbing instinct", and thus concentrate their energy on the trunk so that it can thicken. Not all climbing plants can be used; only those that have a woody trunk. For instance:
- Jasminum nudiflorum (Jasmine)
- Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea)
- Parthenocissus tricuspidata (Virgin vine)
Now that we have an idea of which plants can be used as Bonsai, and which ones are better to leave for later, we can go in search of our nursery plant that will help us to learn and gain experience.
My advice is don't go looking for an expensive plant. In the nurseries there are usually many plants in offers or labeled as »Opportunity plant» which are very discounted, which can serve you. It is highly recommended that you acquire native plants to begin with. They are the ones that will give you the least problems, and with which you will enjoy the most. If you don't know what they are, ask the nursery staff any questions you have.
It is important that, whatever the price, look healthy. If you can, take it out of the pot and check that the root ball does not crumble. Take the opportunity to make sure that it has many roots and that they are in good health. Take a good look at the branches and leaves, the top and the underside. If they look yellow and / or have a lot of dryness, it is a sign that you are not having a good time.
Once at home, you can move it to a larger pot. This has to be big; For example, if the pot it is in is about 20cm in diameter, the new pot should be at least 35cm in diameter. The substrate to be used may be the universal one, or mixed with perlite. The location will have to be in full sun, except if it is a plant that lives in partial shade. Do not forget to water it abundantly and to pay it every fortnight, from March to October, always following the manufacturer's recommendations.
Last but not least: be patient. There are no »Bonsai express». During the first year it is best to leave the plant to acclimate to its new home. From the second we can start pruning and clamping only if necessary.