How to Grow a Bonsai Tree from a Cutting
All bonsai starts with a specimen plant material that the bonsai practitioner wishes to train into a bonsai form. so here is our guide to how to grow a bonsai tree from big plants.These specimen trees have several characteristics that make them ideal for a bonsai. How to grow a bonsai tree from a cutting is as mentioned below.
To display the aged look of a bonsai within a short time, the source plant is often grown on mature stock or is collected from the wild. A specimen may be selected based on the bonsai characteristics it already possesses like a specimen from the wild which has a great age or a nursery plant which has a taper and is scar-free or specimens which are known for its hardiness.
The distinguishing traits of a good bonsai material include factors like color, bark texture, branch and trunk structure, different leaf shapes and sizes etc. Reproducing trees that contain these bonsai characteristics through various means of propagation is essential in the art of bonsai and are as follows:
- Growing from Seed – The only way to grow a bonsai right from the start is to grow it from a seed.
- Growing from Stem Cuttings – Branches are cut from a growing tree and inserted into the soil to produce new plants.
- Growing by Grafting & Budding – A selected branch of the desired plant is attached to a potted tree and grown. In budding, only a single bud from the desired scion is used to attach to another plant.
- Growing by Layering – Here new roots are encouraged to form on a branch while it is still attached to the parent plant. There are 2 types namely Ground Layering and Air Layering.
- Purchasing from Plant Nurseries – Good specimens for making a bonsai are sometimes available in plant nurseries.
- Purchasing from Commercial Bonsai Growers – These growers sell mature specimens that are trained to some extent and display bonsai qualities or full-fledged bonsai which may ready for display as soon as they are bought.
- Collecting from the Wild –Here, a suitable bonsai material is identified in its original wild environment, successfully removed and replanted in a container for development as a bonsai.
Growing from Seed
The only way to grow a bonsai right from the start is to grow it from a seed, though it may take a long time for it to grow. The two advantages in growing bonsai trees from seed are that firstly, certain species of trees which are hard to be found can be grown at home at a relatively cheap price.
Secondly, once the seeds have germinated and the tree begins to grow, the grower can control each and every aspect of the tree, at every stage of its development and convert it into a quality bonsai. There is no “special bonsai seeds” available, as bonsai are created from normal trees. Sand should be the medium to grow the bonsai seeds and peat mixed with sand to grow a bonsai seedling. The potting mix should always remain moist.
GROWING FROM STEM CUTTING
Growing from stem cuttings is a popular method of propagating quality bonsai material and the trees that grow are genetically identical to the parent tree. Another reason for its popularity is that it is faster than growing bonsai trees from seed. In this method, part of a growing branch of a tree is cut and placed in a growing medium to develop roots.
Stem cuttings should be strong and healthy and should be around 2-4 inches long. They should be cut at an angle of 45 degrees and never in a straight line. All the leaves should be pruned to avoid dissipation of water. The pruned branch is then soaked in water for about 1 hour to let it absorb enough water.
This is required because the branch may not be able to absorb enough water for a period after being inserted into the soil. Cuttings will strike roots faster in a porous and well-aerated medium, which drains well and retains moisture. Sand, brick/charcoal pieces, rice husk or vermiculite can be used to make soil porous. The soil should be watered sufficiently in advance and the water should be allowed to permeate the soil. Newly planted cuttings must be kept in a shade to encourage faster rooting.
GROWING BY GRAFTING
Grafting is a commonly used method for propagating bonsai trees when propagation by cuttings or by seeds is not feasible. In grafting, the selected branch of the desired tree is attached to a potted plant. The species of tree to be grafted is called the ‘scion’ and the tree to which it is going to be attached is called the ‘root-stock’. Both the rootstock and the scion should be of the same species for a successful grafting to take place. Grafting techniques are often applied at nurseries for reproducing large numbers of desirable species. (Refer chapter 6.4 on ‘Grafting Techniques’ in my book “The World of Bonsai – Small is Beautiful”)
GROWING BY BUDDING
Budding is a grafting technique in which a single bud from the desired scion is used and is done just before or during the growing season. The scion and rootstock must be compatible. A healthy bud along with a small splinter of the wood underneath is cut off from the stem using an upward slicing motion. A ‘T’ cut is made on the stem of the rootstock and the bark is separated from the cambium.
The bark is then opened exposing a pocket into which the bud is slipped so that the bud fits into the pocket snuggly. The bark flaps are closed with the bud and wrapped with a grafting tape. Once the union has healed in 2-3 weeks time, the tape is removed. The upper portion of the rootstock is cut in order to make the scion bud grow vigorously.
GROWING BY LAYERING
Plants which cannot be propagated by any other methods, respond to layering, which is a method of encouraging new roots to form on a branch while it is still attached to the parent plant. The parent plant supplies the layered branch with water and nutrients. Once the branch has rooted, it is removed from the parent and grown as an independent plant.
Layered plants will fruit earlier than the ones grown from seeds. There are two types of layering namely ‘Ground Layering’ and ‘Air Layering’.
Ground Layering is a simple form of propagation which consists of bending a low branch down to the soil level, wounding the branch and then covering this portion with soil to encourage it to root. Once the roots have formed, it is cut from its parent plant to produce a new plant. (Refer chapter 6.2 on ‘Ground Layering Techniques’ in my book “The World of Bonsai – Small is Beautiful”)
Air Layering is a plant propagation method that involves encouraging roots to form on a stem of a plant while it is still attached to the parent plant and then removing and replanting the new growth once it has properly rooted. The same principle of ground layering is applied to air layering, the only difference being that it is done on the higher branches.
It is preferable to choose a rooting point which is close to the side branches so that the newly rooted tree has a thick trunk and low branches. One of the main attractions to propagating bonsai material through air layering is that a fairly large new tree can be created within a short time, as opposed to the other methods where it takes a long time, except collecting from the wild. (Refer chapter 6.3 on ‘Air Layering Technique’ in my book “The World of Bonsai – Small is Beautiful”).
PURCHASING FROM PLANT NURSERIES
A plant nursery is an agricultural operation where non-bonsai plants are propagated and grown to usable size. Good specimens for making a bonsai may sometimes be available in the nursery. Plants bought from nurseries are usually young but fully workable and have sufficient soil in the pots to allow them to survive for some time before it is transplanted into a permanent location. Because the nursery plant is already in a pot or a plastic bag, it can be worked on immediately.
The advantage of going to a nursery is that numerous plants can be viewed at a time, which allows the buyer to identify and choose a plant that has bonsai characteristics. One disadvantage is that most specimens have several feet of clear trunk rising from the roots without any low branches. It is difficult for a nursery stock to be trained as a bonsai if there are no low branches on the trunk.
PURCHASING FROM COMMERCIAL BONSAI GROWERS
Urban growth, where people live in flats and want to grow plants in their confined balconies, has created a demand for small potted trees like bonsai thus creating a boom in commercial bonsai growers market. These growers generally sell mature specimens that display bonsai qualities. They use various methods of propagation to obtain their source material and train them to a greater or lesser extent before sale.
COMMERCIAL BONSAI NURSERIES
Collecting From the Wild
Collecting specimens from the wild consists of identifying a suitable bonsai material, successfully digging it up and finally moving it and replanting it in a container. It is important that the tree is dug up with a large amount of soil surrounding it so as to avoid shocking the tree and should immediately be transplanted into a large training pot.
The main advantage is that these specimens are mature, displaying natural marks of aging, making them ideal for developing into a bonsai. Discarded mature landscape plants and hedge trees are excellent materials for bonsai.
So here is the guide to how to grow a bonsai tree but if you want more details to please check out the book below for easy bonsai technique.
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