how to

flowering bonsai

Flexible permanent Magnolia branches allow for easy manipulation into a decorative treelike formation.

Bonsai, which originated in China more than 1,000 years ago, is the art of growing potted trees that are dwarfed and trained to artistic shapes. The word “bonsai” is translated literally to “potted plant” in Japanese and “tray scenery” space in Chinese. With the Asian influence still strong in American home décor, bonsai is as popular as ever in the United States.

Here, the trendy look of bonsai is re-created with a single permanent Magnolia stem. The pliable wired branches are manipulated in every direction to create a rhythmic growth pattern of buds and blossoms. The “trunk” is arranged into a plastic-foam sphere, which is then covered with moss. The aged finish of the pot is a perfect complement for the look that is so steeped in history.

Experiment with shaping the stems into several configurations. Just as no two bonsai trees are exactly alike, customers will appreciate a selection of this distinctive permanent Magnolia style as well.

MATERIALS: permanent Magnolia from Autograph Foliages; Small Aged Leaf Planter from Campo de’ Fiori; wood base from Oriental Trading Company; Styrofoam® Ball from Smithers-Oasis; moss from Knud Nielsen Company; plaster of Paris from craft store; greening pins from favorite supplier.

Bore a hole through a plastic-
foam sphere, and insert a
permanent Magnolia branch
through the sphere. Shape
the base of the branch into a
spiral formation.
Mix plaster solution, and
pour it into the pot about half
full. Set the foam sphere into
the pot, with the base of the
branch in the plaster solution.
Cover the exposed portion of the foam sphere with moss, securing the moss to the sphere with greening pins.

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