Bonsai trees are not genetically dwarfed plants. These are any tree or shrub species, grown and kept small by crown and root pruning. In fact, any tree species can be used to grow bonsai trees, though usual bonsai plants in Japan are species of juniper, pine, camellia, maple, beech, bamboo, plum and azalea. A philosophical aspect of Japanese bonsai art is to create a unity of aesthetics, care and patience, applied to a tree growth or as the Japanese express it "heaven and earth in one container". Japanese bonsai trees, properly grown and aesthetically shaped, evoke an essential spirit of a plant being used and bonsai trees look natural and never reveal an intervention of human hands.
The styles of the bonsai art are different. They commonly include formal upright, informal upright, cascade, semi-cascade, raft and literati. These styles have numerous branches and varieties, and in fact, the only thing, limiting a bonsai tree design, is a vision of a bonsai artist.
The formal upright style suggests tapering a trunk and balanced branches, while the informal upright is quite similar to the formal one, but there can be slight curves and bends. However, for an aesthetic quality a tree should never lean away from a viewer. Cascade and semi-cascade bonsai trees are designed as real trees that grow over water or on the sides of mountains. Raft style bonsai trees give an illusion of several trees, but they are actually the branches of a tree, planted on its side. A small number of branches, typically placed higher up on a long, contorted trunk, often characterizes the literati style.
Nevertheless, a simple growth of a tree in a pot does not make a bonsai tree. This genuine and sophisticated art demands specific techniques and regular care so that a tree would survive and become an actual miniature copy of its larger original. A small size of a tree and a dwarfing of foliage are maintained through a consistent pruning of both the leaves and the roots, while an improper pruning can weaken or kill a tree. Most species, suitable for a bonsai trees creation, can be shaped by wiring. A copper or aluminum wire is wrapped around branches and trunks, holding a branch in place or shape until it eventually lignifies and maintains a desired shape.
As intricate the bonsai techniques are, so difficult the bonsai care is. Bonsai pots are small and shallow; hence, they afford a little protection of roots and little water and nutrition supplies. Bonsai trees are commonly grown in a special bonsai soil that is usually a mixture of gravel and coarse sand, fired clay pellets and some organic components like peat or compost. A proper watering of bonsai is almost an art in itself. Some bonsai trees love short dry periods, while the others demand constant moisture. Most bonsai trees need a protection from such elements as sun, heat and wind, since they quickly dry the trees to the point of drought. Every few years bonsai trees are repotted and root-pruned that encourages the growth of new roots, absorbing moisture more efficiently.
The Bonsai art is very challenging, though a rewarding creativity, developing your artistic taste, patience and appreciation of the nature.