Plainly put, bonsai (pronounced bon-sigh) is the horticultural artform of training plants to look like large, aged trees that appear in nature, but in miniature. Bonsai can be developed from seeds or cuttings, from young trees or from naturally occurring stunted trees taken from forests or elsewhere and transplanted into containers. The main definition of bonsai as an outlet for both art and horticulture is quite wide. There are many myths which are associated with bonsai. These not only provide confusion for budding enthusiasts, but gives the pastime a bad name for anyone not majorly experienced in the area.
A bonsai is not a genetically dwarfed plant and is not kept small by cruelty in any way. In fact, given an adequate supply of water, air, light and nutrients, a properly maintained bonsai should outlive a full size tree of the same species. The techniques of Bonsai are no more cruel than that of any other horticultural endeavour. It is also common belief that bonsai are only a few centimetres tall. This is untrue, although bonsai are small in comparison to their huge life-sized brothers, most are over 25 centimetres tall and up to 1 metre in height.
Most bonsai range in height from 5 centimetres (2 in) to 1 metre (3.33 ft). Bonsai are kept small and trained by pruning branches and roots, by periodic repotting, by pinching off new growth, and by wiring the branches and trunk so that they grow into the desired shape.
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