How I started my Bonsai projects

As evidenced by their love for forest walking, it is no secret that the Japanese*are fascinated by trees. Bonsai is a part of that rich legacy. The art of Bonsai is the art of tree torture.

The Art of Bonsai is attributed to the Japanese. Today, however, Bonsai culture is widespread and quite popular in India. For example, in January India hosted the 10th Bonsai exhibition in Vadodara.

The Bangalore Connect

Bangalore’s relation to Bonsai culture has been scantly documented in stories like IT professionals turned to it as a stress buster. I am no exception. I picked it up from my neighbour who has several Bonsai’s. Interestingly enough, he too works a high pressure job in a startup. During many of our conversations, he mentioned some of the greats of this art from Bangalore. S Srinivas aka Bonsai Srinivas is one of them.

Bonsai Srinivas

This is a man is an inspiration and a force of nature. He gifted over a 1000 Bonsai’s priced at over Rs. 2.5 crores to the Lalbaugh Botanical garden in 2002. Today, there are less than 500 remaining with suspicions of the plants being illegally sold. On my recent supply run, I stopped by loved the Bonsai’s but the park’s upkeep is horrid.

Anyway, in this post, I am going to talk about how I got started on my Bonsai project. Bear in mind that I am a novice and my methods are not perfect but do work.

What you’ll need

  1. Bonsai pots
  2. Cocoa Peat
  3. Vermicompost
  4. Plant protein
  5. Neem Gold
Pro Tip: Please don’t buy a Bonsai if you don’t know how to maintain one

There are two ways to procure trees to get started

Buy a healthy tree from a nursery

In my garden, I have Phyllanthus emblica (Amla). This tree was procured from the aforementioned Lalbaugh Botanical garden, Bangalore. It is in its 4th week of development with strong root growth albeit with a fungal infection, photos below.

Pluck a naturally occurring tree

Bonsai in technical terms is a tree deprived of resources resulting in stunted growth. You will see a lot of them growing on the sides of buildings and bridges. I got my Ficus religios (Peepal) from the cracks in my own building.

Preparing the soil

The soil that we are preparing is going to be able to retain water, will be rich in nutrients & minerals and protected from pests.

The soil composition that I use is:

  1. Cocoa beat— 60%
  2. Vermicompost— 20%
  3. Neem Gold — 15%
  4. Plant protein—5% (twice a month)

If you want help plotting the plant, you can read my previous post on how to start a herb garden.

Once you plant the tree. You’ll need to keep in a place with adequate shade and water it 3 days a week.

Root development is key

Bonsai trees will take a lot of time to show outward growth like branches or leaves. What you need to keep an eye out for is the root development. Following are the pictures of my Amla tree’s branches & roots, the growth is strong. However, they are currently infected with a fungal root infection. Curable with home-remedies.

I welcome constructive feedback. You can leave a comment here or DM me on Twitter.

*When I say Japan, I mean as a culture. Don’t be a looser who talks shit like, “I know many Japanese who are nothing like that. The author knows nothing.” I don’t need readers like you, GTFO my blog.