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American Society for Horticultural Science

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
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Bonsai (tray landscape, potted scenery, potted landscape, miniature trees, and rockery) is an artistic horticulture practice of developing aesthetically formed trees and landscapes in miniature with appropriately aesthetic containers. This has been practiced over a few thousand years in oriental cultures, including the ancient Chinese tradition of penzai or penjing, from which the art originated; the miniature living landscapes of Vietnamese hòn non bộ; and the Japanese variations of bonsai and “tray planting” (Gustafson 1995). To produce bonsai plants that share similar shapes and styles of mature, full-size trees, cultivation techniques are used, including leaf trimming, pruning, wiring, clamping, grafting, defoliation, and deadwood techniques (Zhao 2012). This practice is distinct from dwarfing in that dwarfing is a process to discover, breed, or genetically create a plant cultivar that is a permanent genetic miniature of standard members of its species (Ferrero-Serrano et al. 2019). Bonsai can be created from specimens of woody source materials that include cuttings, seedlings, or small trees. The source specimen should be relatively small and meet the aesthetic standards of bonsai. Nearly any perennial woody-stemmed tree or shrub species is suitable for bonsai development (Owen 1990) if they produce true branches and remain relatively small in a container environment through crown and root pruning. Slow-growing plant species with small leaves or needles are popular bonsai materials.