Pristiadi Utomo

MAKING BONSAI (The Art of Making Small Trees Look Big, Not Big Trees Look Small)

In Art, film, Guru, Media Ajar, Motivasi, Pendidikan on 23 March 2009 at 5:01 pm

imaeesby Pristiadi Utomo

Ladies and gentlemen, let me, in this time to give the presentation about Making Bonsai.

The Japanese word bonsai translates to “dwarf tree”. The making of bonsai is among the most time honored of all peoples forms of gardens, and specimens are known to live hundreds of years under the care of a master. The bonsai is a miniature form of gardening that reflects the beauty of nature on a tiny scale. Bonsai trees are favorites of city people because even if there is no space for a garden, all of you still tend their bonsais on balconies, and window sills.

True bonsai uses just one living element of nature, the tree. It is first planted as a tiny seedling in a very small pot. Over many years both the twigs and roots of the young tree are carefully pruned to force the tree to an abnormally small stature while retaining all the characteristics of a full grown specimen. This art of bonsai is a difficult craft and due to the many years of patience required to create a high quality plant, these trees are very expensive to buy.

True bonsai trees have a very tiny root system, which means they must be watered nearly every day, and are highly vulnerable to excessive heat, sun and wind. The root ball is so small that it can completely dry out in no time, and just one act of negligence can spell the demise of the tree. Bonsais are traditionally grown in very sheltered courtyards where they can be protected and appreciated up close.

The most popular and easy bonsai to make is the very gnarled single specimen, which inspired by the wind burned pines scattered along the rocky coast. It is bent and twisted, rarely upright, and appears ancient while still relatively young. Sometimes a beautiful rock is integrated into the root system or set beside the tree for a more rugged appearance.

The surface of the soil above the roots is often planted with moss for a more attractive surface, and it also acts like a mulch to reduce moisture evaporation. You can create scenes with stones, tiny wooden bridges arranged in scale with the bonsai tree.

The ideal plants for this bonsai are low growing woody shrubs, such as groundcover junipers and other creepers, you can also use plants with long tendrils such as wisteria vine and weeping willow, which cascade down the side of the pot. These are faster growing and require a lot more clipping, but they make large dramatic specimens in a very short time.

Next choose a pot. You can use a real bonsai pot but these are expensive. The purpose of this tutorial is to give a choice for the bonsai keepers that live in places where bonsai pot are not sold or easyly obtained. The materials needed are,

· Wood (Triplay) or hard cardboard.

· Knife.

· Cement.

· Paint.

· Plastic container.


1. Think the size of the pot you want. Then make a box with cardboard or wood.

2. Mix the cement with water in the plastic container till you get a smooth mix (If is to liquid we can leave it some time in the sun).

3. Empty out the cement mix in your box.

4. Live the box with the mix one night and early in the morning carve with the knife the center or the cement block to make the space for the compost.

5. Make the drainage hole(s) with the knife or screw driver or a power tool.

6. Finally give some time to the cement to get dry and paint your pot.

To plant your bonsai you’ll need a small amount of potting soil, a few pebbles, and sturdy pair of scissors, clippers or wire cutters, and a small piece of window screen.

STEP 1 : Cut the screen in a circle larger than the lay it over the top. Then scatter the pebbles on top of that to increase drainage.

STEP 2 : Slide the plant out of the pot, shake off some of the soil to get a view of the root ball.Gradually prune away the smaller roots at the bottom until you have a mass that is able to fit in the bonsai pot.

STEP 3 : Fill the gaps with potting soil and try to avoid any air pockets underneath. Firm the plant down so the surface of the soil will be about 2 cm below the top edge of the pot.

STEP 4 : If you can get moss from tree trunks or shady parts of the garden, skim it off with a little soil and pack it around the base of the bonsai to cover up the soil. The moss will liven up every time you water.

STEP 5 : Set your new bonsai pot on table and sit down so you are at eye level. Have your wire cutters, clippers or scissors on hand and study the shape. Are there some twisted branches underneath that can be revealed ? If so, clip away the foliage so you get a glimpse at them, but don’t over do it. For a single long branch cascading off one side, head back the competitors and shave the edges to make it more attractive. Take your time because once you cut something off it can never be glued back on again !

Once it’s shape you can give your bonsai away as a gift, or keep it for yourself. It needs watering almost every day and would appreciate some mild liquid fertilizer now and then. Since these plants grow slowly they don’t need a lot of high powered plant food. Provide the bonsai with moderate sun but no direct hot afternoon rays.

If you enjoy success making and caring for your first bonsai tree, branch out into other dwarf shrubs and practise your creative art often.

For anyone who lives in the city and dreams of a garden, consider the miniature art of bonsai where all of nature is represented inside the confines of a tiny pot.



Gilmer, Maureen, Creating American Bonsai, Dobbins : Mo Plants, 2000.

Rigg, Stephen, Yamadori Bonsai, USA : Bren Teck, 2000.


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