What Makes it a Bonsai?

A tree planted in a small pot is not a bonsai until it has been pruned, shaped, and trained into the desired shape. Bonsai are kept small by careful control of the plant's growing conditions. Only branches important to the bonsai's overall design are allowed to remain and unwanted growth is pruned away. Roots are confined to a pot and are periodically clipped. Bonsai may have a stylized or an exaggerated form, but it is always reflective of the tree as found in nature. The appearance of old age is prized, and in fact, bonsai may live to be hundreds of years old. The living bonsai will change from season to season and from year to year requiring pruning and training throughout its lifetime. As time goes on, it will become more and more beautiful.

Is It Torture ?

To maintain at a height of four feet or less a tree that would ordinarily grow to 50-100 feet may require creativity and patience, but it does not involve torture. Horticulturists are quick to point out that plants have no central nervous system and thus cannot sense pain.  Nor is it a question of starvation, which would soon sicken and kill the plant.  A well-cared-for bonsai gets ample water and nutrients and is protected from the vicissitudes of nature, including insects and disease. The result is that bonsai trees often live much healthier than their cousins in the wild.