- The most important
thing in Penjing is style. The cultivation of penjing must first be
based on the natural qualities of the plant and artificial training
should be kept to a minimum. Nature endows each species with special
qualities and too much artificial shaping would ruin the tree. Before
deciding upon the style and arrangement of a plant, the grower must
first study the species and, in the process of dwarfing, retain its
good points and remove the bad ones. Although there are variations in
style, two main styles of cultivation can be identified, i.e. those
with an ancient appearance and those with a graceful appearance. The
styles may also be classified as follows: (a) single-tree (b) two-tree
(c) multiple-trunk on one stump (d) the forest style (e) cascade plant
(f) semi-cascade plant (g) overlooking-the-water style (h) the reclining
style (i) the branch-out style (j) the dropping style (k) mother-with-son
style and (l) rock-clinging style. With regard to rock-clinging penjing,
it must be noted that the rock used must be suitable and the roots of
the plant should be embedded firmly in the cracks of the rock to give
the impression of an ancient tree growing out of the rock.
- Plants freshly
taken from the wild are best cultivated first in the ground so that
they may obtain nourishment from the earth, which will quicken their
growth. When the twigs and foliage increase, the tree should be potted.
- When a tree has
been potted, it should be shaped by pruning. In order that the trunk
and branches may have an aged appearance with "strength", the "Grow
and Clip" method should be used; when the first section of the branch
has grown to the desired size, it should be clipped so that a side-branch
may grow from it. When this side-branch has again been developed to
the desired size, it is again clipped so that a second side-branch may
grow. This process is repeated several times and a picturesque penjing
will come into being.
- Each species of
plant has its own soil requirements. Some species have to be re-soiled
each year, while others do not require re-soiling for several years.
The soil mix, whether it is of earth and quarry sand or mountain earth
or fertilised soil, should first be dried in the sun to kill any insect
pests before use. Fertilising and keeping will be different for different
- In winter it is
advisable to keep indoors those plants which cannot stand intense cold.
Alternatively, the container may be placed in holes dug in the ground
with the brim of container placed slightly above the ground, or transparent
plastic covers may be used to cover the plants, thus protecting them
from the wind.
- Just as some penjing
cannot stand intense cold or strong winds in winter, others cannot stand
the hot sun in summer. These plants should be taken care of accordingly.
- Insect sprays
should be used regularly to get rid of pests harmful to the penjing,
and the soil should be likewise disinfected. Special care should be
given to flowering and fruit-bearing plants.
- As regards flower-bearing
plants in general, their blossoming may be hastened or delayed by various
methods. If it is intended that flowers will come out earlier in winter,
plants should be placed under the sun by day and kept in a hot-house
by night, or, in the absence of a hot-house, plants may be kept indoors
and moisturised with the steam of a boiling kettle. If it is desired
that flowers are to bloom late, the plants may be placed in colder surroundings
where the winter cold and winds would delay the blossoming of flowers.
- Most penjing require
watering once a day in normal weather conditions. In hot summer and
dry autumn weather, watering should be done twice: once in the morning
and once in the evening. In very humid weather, watering should be regulated
according to soil conditions. When the plant is first potted or after
soil is first changed, the plant must be adequately watered immediately.
- Except for a few
species of penjing which need so much water that the plant should be
placed in the midst of water, most penjing species do not need too much
watering, and should therefore be drained so that the roots are not
harmed. This can be done by placing a piece of broken pot or wire mesh
over the drain hole and then, after sand is put into the bottom of the
pot, soil is added. In this way excessive water will drain away.
- When the soil of
a penjing has been changed, it takes some time for the roots to be firmly
planted in the new soil. Exposure to strong sunlight is to be avoided
and the plant should be placed in a cool, well-ventilated place for
about 10 days. Also fertilisers should not be used for a month. In rainy
seasons and severe, cold weather most plants are in a dormant state
and the soil should not be fertilised.
- When changing the
soil, care should be taken to remove about one-third of the soil while
retaining that part surrounding the taproot unless it is found that
the soil is unhealthy in which case all the old soil should be removed.
In any case, the taproot should be soaked in a solution of appropriate
insecticide to get rid of pests before the plant is re-potted.
- Any decayed roots
must be cut off. In any case, old roots should be trimmed so that new
roots may develop to give more nourishment to the plant.