Bonsai culturists nurture and grow "miniature" or '’dwarf'’ trees. After they have selected a suitable tree for bonsai, chemicals are added to the soil and the branches and roots are pruned to stunt growth. There are various types of bonsai trees; for example: chokkon (formal upright), mayogi (curved informal upright), hon-kengai (semi-cascade), shakan (slanting style), kengai (hanging style), sankan (triple trunk), yose-ue (multi-tree), to mention but a few.
Successful bonsai culturists are artists in their own right because they capture the feel of a tree and shape it accordingly. The Japanese have a dislike of even numbers (only the number two is acceptable). Bonsai shapes are influenced by symmetrical shapes, which again are not favoured by the Japanese. To be a successful bonsai culturist, one needs to capture the specific atmosphere of these trees. Beginners find group plantings great fun although, as time passes, it might become a problem caring for the trees, as each tree has an individual need and one tree may upset another.
Soils used for planting are granule chipping, fresh peat with grit and sanding loam. Slow growing bonsai, for example conifers and pines, do better in a dry soil mixture containing sand. Bonsai can be planted in rocks to form a natural looking unity. Rock bonsai with plants rolled onto the rock can become dislodged from the stone if not kept frost-free. A bonsai tree needs a lot of care and attention, but it brings the feeling of tranquillity to the minds of those who cultivate them.
Schooling & School Subjects
No specific schooling required
In-service training may be provided under the supervision of an experienced bonsai culturist.
South African Bonsai Association
Botanical Society of SA
Private Bag X 10
Tel: (021) 797-2090 Fax: (021) 797-2376