The art of creating dwarf trees has the Chinese name bonsai, which literally means "grown in a tray" and perfectly characterizes the peculiarity of cultivation. The Buddhists who developed this art compared a man who grows bonsai to a god who creates his own garden.
According to legend, one old Chinese emperor ordered to build a miniature empire for his beautiful daughter with tiny palaces, rivers, forests and mountains. For this purpose, copies of trees were needed, completely imitating the creation of nature. For bonsai, ordinary trees taken from nature are used, which grow miniature due to the observance of a special growing technique. Bonsai cultivation technology involves:
- limited container size;
- the use of a nutrient substrate;
- mandatory drainage;
- constant cutting not only of the aerial part, but also of the roots;
- maintaining a proportional ratio of the size of the root system and the crown of the tree;
- creating comfortable growing conditions for a given type of plant, regardless of growth, observing the requirements for soil, lighting, moisture;
- frequent transplant;
- giving the required form.
The first question that a novice florist who wants to grow a miracle tree with his own hands inevitably faces is the choice of a plant. Plants with small leaves and a large number of branches are best suited: various ficuses, hawthorn, pomegranate. You can grow both maple and pine at home, but only then transplant them into open ground, since the periods of winter dormancy will be difficult to maintain.
Of all the varieties, Benjamin's ficus can be most often found, represented by various varieties with different sizes and color of leaves. In nature, it can reach a height of more than 20 m, while indoor species grow no more than 1.5 m, depending on the variety and conditions of detention. Ficus Benjamin is great for mastering the art of bonsai, as it has a number of necessary properties:
- has dense foliage on short cuttings;
- elastic, well-branched branches;
- small size makes it convenient for indoor growing;
- unpretentious, easily tolerates frequent transplanting and pruning;
- beautiful decorative appearance: it has gorgeous foliage and dark brown bark;
- slow growth.
A strong root system of ficus grows not only in depth, but also along the surface of the earth. If no earth is added to the pot with the growing ficus, the roots appear above its surface. This natural property can be beautifully used when wanting to form a bonsai from Benjamin Ficus.
Seed propagation for ficuses is practically not used. The easiest way to propagate ficus is to put a broken-off lignified stalk in the water. Rooting takes place very quickly, even from a single bud or side shoots. You should not try to get a viable plant from young, immature twigs: most likely, they will simply die in the water. When cutting, milky juice is released, it is enough to rinse it with running water or wipe it with a napkin. If the branches are thick or it is simply a pity for the plant flowing out with sap, you can close the wound with garden varnish, which is purchased in flower shops.
Tip: for faster rooting and creating a bizarre shape, it is advisable to make several longitudinal cuts at the bottom of the cutting and lay pieces of a match or toothpick between them.
Ficus can be rooted by placing it in water or planting it in a moist substrate and creating a greenhouse on top to maintain the microclimate and prevent the earth from drying out. After the stalk has roots, it is transplanted into a bowl of the necessary volume for growing bonsai.
If you wish, you can skip this step and start forming a bonsai from an adult plant. This may seem to be easier, since the plant has a significant mass of roots and branches. In fact, it turns out to be more difficult, because lignified branches will be more difficult to get used to a different arrangement. The pot for planting must be chosen low, but wide. For a small rooted plant, a bowl no more than 5 cm deep will be sufficient. Bonsai Growing Container Requirements:
- must be heavy enough so that the plant does not turn over;
- the presence of drainage holes;
- it is good if there are small legs at the bottom of the pot so that excess water flows out of the holes unhindered.
Planting ficus Benjamin is carried out step by step.
- Lay a grid on the bottom to prevent soil from spilling out from the drainage holes, fill in sand and expanded clay to half the height of the pot.
- Add some loose nutrient earth.
- Place the plant without burying it. Place the roots carefully so that they grow out to the sides and not down.
- Sprinkle earth on top and on the sides. Tamp lightly and spill well with water.
The appearance of young leaves after a while will tell you that the plant has successfully taken root.
Tips for Beginners
To grow a beautiful healthy ficus, you should follow the recommendations.
- If you want to grow bonsai in a group style or in a form with a double trunk, several plants are planted at once in one bowl. They can be twisted together or secured in another interesting way for splicing the trunks.
- It is necessary to maintain conditions for a young plant favorable for rapid growth: ficus does not tolerate drafts, lack or abundance of the burning sun. Timely watering is important according to the season: moderate winter, abundant summer. A common problem in growing Benjamin ficus is leaf dumping, which can occur if the earthen ball is overdried or if the lighting rules are violated.
- The transplant is performed once a year, preferably in the spring, while the plant is young, then less often. Before transplanting, the plant is not watered for several days. Carefully pull the bonsai out of the container by the trunk to avoid damaging the roots. Examine the root system carefully. If the earth crumbles easily, it means that the roots have not yet filled the old pots, and you should not change the container to a larger one. Long roots are cut off, tangled, strayed in one direction are gently straightened with a wooden stick. You can cut up to 1/3 of the total volume of the roots.
- After pruning, the ficus is planted in a bowl pre-treated with boiling water. Drainage layers are laid out, the plant is seated and fresh nutrient substrate is covered. Bonsai is held by a moist compacted earthy coma. If this is not enough, then it is secured with copper wire through the drainage holes in the pot.
- The main point of bonsai cultivation is its correct formation. There are several methods for this: cutting off branches, reshaping with copper wire, peeling off the bark. It is necessary at the initial stage to determine the desired form and strictly follow it. For a beginner, choose a simpler form in a formal or informal straight style.
- To form a bonsai, pruning of ficus branches is required. With its help, the growth of the apex is inhibited and the trunk thickens, the skeleton is formed. It is undesirable to touch the leaves: they will turn yellow and fall off. It is necessary to carry out pruning not only to create a shape, but also to constantly maintain it, since the plant inevitably overgrows and loses its decorative effect.
- Trimming the roots and branches of a ficus tree is traumatic and dangerous, especially when done on a young plant. There is a risk of infection, decay and / or death of the entire plant. To prevent diseases, the cut sites are treated with liquid balsam varnish or activated carbon.
For the features of Benjamin ficus bonsai, see the following video.