Bonsai as a Business

Bonsai is more than just a hobby. It can also be a business. While many people admire Bonsai trees for their beauty and elegance, very few people have the patience and skill to grow a bonsai on their own. There is a good market for readymade Bonsais. Bonsai trees command good prices based on the age, species and appearance.

Many customers, particularly companies like to have bonsai trees in their offices on a rental basis as they may not be able to care for the trees on their own.

Bonsai experts are also in demand for training classes.  The Bonsai publishing industry is also well established. Experienced Bonsai practitioners can publish books,blogs,etc.

Here are some easy steps to start a Bonsai Business

Approach Gift Shops with Bonsai. 
Many people may want to gift something different to their friends and loved ones.  A bonsai may be the perfect choice.

Get in touch with Interior Decoration Companies
Interior Decoration Companies may consider placing Bonsai trees  in their projects.  Talk to them about selecting the right type of tree for their clients.

Talk to Newspaper Editors and bloggers to publish your story
Write articles on Bonsai in your local newpaper and give out your address.  You will get enquiries and  potential customers.  Get a professional photographer to photograph your products and publish them in lifestyle magazines.

Put up your online store.
With the internet, it is now easy to get exposure for your business.  Set up an online store and upload details of your Bonsai Products.

Bonsai Clubs and Associations

The art form of Bonsai has grown in popularity around the world. Almost all major cities in the world have their own Bonsai clubs .

These clubs are places where hobbyists and professional practitioners of this art form can meet and share ideas and experiences among one another. You can check online for a club in your town or city.

These clubs also conduct competions and shows to encourage people in the art of Bonsai. Some clubs also conduct training programs to members on advanced Bonsai Techniques.

Artificial Bonsai Trees

Artificial Bonsai Trees are trees made of plastic or other synthetic materials. These Trees are used to decorate homes and offices. Since, these require no maintenance, they are often preferred. Seller claim that each tree is hand made and resembles a natural tree.

Replicas of trees of almost all species are available in their artificial forms. These plants are usually handcrafted and have a lifelike appearance.

The trunk of many artificial trees is made of natural wood. The leaves are made of silk which lend a lifelike appearance. The trees are UV resistant which prevent facing due to exposure to light.



Bonsai is an art form which deals with the growth and care of miniature trees. Practically any tree can be made into a Bonsai. The lifespan of a Bonsai Tree is the same as that of the tree in the wild. With proper care and nutrition, many trees last generations and are passed over as prized heirlooms within families.

There are specimens which are said to be 500 years old. In the wild, the roots of the trees can grow underground in search of water and nutrients. At home, in a Bonsai tray, the plant is entirely dependent on the owner for its nutrients and water. Thus, the Bonsai should be cared for like a pet. Trees which are taken care of are healthy and live longer. They can resist pests and diseases better. Temperature and Humidity are important parameters to be maintained.

Bonsai should not be exposed to frost or excessive cold.

Trimming of the Bonsai

Trimming plays a role in longevity by removing diseased or unhealthy branches of the tree. If a portion of the tree has been attacked by disease or a pest, it is better to remove the branch. 
The age of a tree cannot be determined from its appearance. This is because many trees are deliberately manipulated by twisting and pruning to give an aged appearance. 

Calculating the Age of the Bonsai

The Age of a Bonsai can be calculated by counting the tree rings in its trunk. It may not be possible to see the rings in the trunk. You can count the rings in any of the primary branches to get an idea of the age.

Bonsai Wires

Many people want their bonsai trees to take a particular shape. This can be done by guiding the growth of the tree by means of wires. Bonsai wires are wrapped around the trunk and the branches and then gradually bent in the desired direction.

The thickness of the Bonsai wires should be a third of the thickness of the branches.

Bonsai wires are made of two materials, anodized aluminium and annealed copper. Anodized aluminium is usually preferred over copper. Aluminium is cheaper than copper. However, aluminium is also weaker than copper. Thus, thickness of aluminium wire will be more than the thickness of copper wire of the same strength.

Copper, due to its colour, blends well with the color of the trunk and is not easily visible when used in trees. Besides, it is also thinner.

Aluminium on the other hand is more visible. Nevertheless it is cheaper and is the material of choice for amateur Bonsai enthusiasts.  Raffia, plant based material is sometimes used with wires to prevent damage to the trunk and branches from the wires.

Raffia in Bonsai

Raffia is a natural plant material. Raffia strips have the property of being flexible when wet and becoming rigid when dry. They are used instead of wires to shape bonsai trunks and branches.

The strands of Raffia are soaked in water for about 30 minutes. They are then wound around the trunks and the branches in the desired shape.  When the strands dry, they become rigid and support the branches. Raffia does not cause the scars on the branches unlike wires. 

Traditionally, used for making baskets and hats, these strands have come to used extensively in Bonsai. The strands are made from the leaves of a palm tree which is native to the island of Madagascar.



Selecting a Bonsai Pot or Container

The Pot or the container has a major role in the Bonsai set up. The pots serves to hold the soil. It also adds to the appearance of the tree.

The Pot or the container should be selected keeping in mind the tree species and the desired size of the final Bonsai.. The pot should be of sufficient size as to accommodate the root system and permit growth.

A rule of thumb is that the depth of the pot should be equal to the diameter of the tree trunk immediately above the ground. The width of the pot should be 2/3rd of the height of the tree.

A Bonsai plant will be housed in different pots during its growth. Young Bonsai Plants have to be trained. The Bonsai plant is kept is progressively smaller pots
The color of the pot should not be distracting. The colour of the pot should complement the tree and its foliage. The colour depends on the color of the tree. Try to find out how the tree will look during the different seasons of the year. Brown pots are ideal.

Glazed Pots are also available. These pots are particularly chosen for indoor installations.
Texture of the pot is another aspect to be looked at. The pot should have a flat surface. It should not rock. Pots should have holes which allow the excess water to drain.

Pruning in Bonsai

A Bonsai Plant needs to be pruned and trimmed periodically. Pruning refers to the removal of branches. Pruning is done so that the Bonsai retains its shape. Pruning can also be done if you want the Bonsai to have a particular shape.

Pruning is necessary so that the tree does not waste its resources in unnecessary growth. Pruning can be done with special tools or with any sharp scissors. 

Many trees tend to grow more at the top. In the wild, trees compete with one another for sunlight. Thus a tree dedicates more resource to grow taller and less resources to grow sideways. In Bonsais this can result in a lean tree. It avoid this, you may have to prune the top and remove the branches. This makes the Bonsai grow sideways.

Pruning also permits light to fall on the lower branches and gives them a chance to grow.  The extent of pruning is based on factors such as the rate of growth of tree, the tree species and the desired objective. 

Maintenance Pruning in Bonsai

Maintenance Pruning refers to the pruning done to maintain the shape of the Bonsai. As the Bonsai grows, it may lose its original shape. Many Bonsai which are not pruned may start to resemble a small shrub. Leaves and branches are removed to maintain the shape. Pruning should be done during the growing season which is late spring and summer. Do not prune the tree during autumn or winter as you may not have proper perspective. 

Aesthetic Pruning in Bonsai

Aesthetic Pruning refers to the pruning done to make the bonsai take a particular shape. This is usually done early on as the plants starts to grow into a tree. It can also be done later. Aesthetic pruning is done to make the plant grow in a specific direction. Branches can be cut to make the plant grow more bushy.

Useful Link
http://guide.makebonsai.com/how-to-prune-bonsai
http://www.bonsaiexperience.com/BonsaiStyle4.html

Height of the Bonsai

The name Bonsai conjures of miniature plants.  While bonsai trees are usually small, there can be bonsai up to a metres or a few metres high.  These are known as the Garden Bonsai.

Bonsai are classified on the basis of height.  It is a generally accepted rule of thumb that the height of the Bonsai should be six times or twelve times the diameter of the trunk above the ground.  
Thus the ratio of thickness to height should be 1:6 to 1:12
Bonsai are classified into the following categories based on their height.  

NameSize
Keishiless than 2.5 cms
Shito2.5 to  7.5 cms
Mame7.5 to 15 cms
Shohin15 to 20 cms
Kifu Sho20 to 40.5 cms
Chu40.5 to 61 cms
Dai61 cms to 101.5 cms

These rules are not rigid, It is not always possible to grow a bonsai tree to a specific limit. Thus, minor deviations are acceptable.  They factor is proportion.  They Bonsai needs to give an authentic appearance of a grand old tree. 


Bonsai Moss

Moss are small flowerless plants which grow in the soil. Moss grow in damp ground with indirect or little light. Moss belong to the division Bryophyta. Bryophytes are plants without roots, trunk or leaves. They adhere to the soil by means of structures called rhizoids which resemble threads.
In Bonsai, Moss is used to to cover the soil in the pot.

The benefits of Moss in Bonsai are
Moss gives an appearance of realism to the Bonsai set up. Moss on the soil gives the look and feel of a real forest floor.
Moss also prevents dehydration of the soil.
Moss prevents soil erosion when watering the bonsai
It prevents birds from digging up the soil in searching for worms.
Cultivating Moss
Moss is present in nature in almost all wet areas. You can remove the moss from a wet area and transplant it to your bonsai ground.
Some hobbyists dry the moss in sunlight. The moss disintegrates into a fine powder. This powder can be sprinkled on the surface of the bonsai floor. ‘
Keep the floor surface wet. The Moss will grow and spread until the entire surface of the Bonsai Tray is covered.

Sphagnum Moss

Sphagnum is a genus of a large number of Moss species. It is also called peat moss. It is a very popular type of moss in Bonsai. 

Sphagnum moss absorbs water many times its volume. This ensures that the Bonsai plant has access to moisture at all times. It ensures that there is no excess water in the soil which can cause damage to the roots of the Bonsai. 

In recent years, there has been concern that the sphagnum Moss carries a fungus which can disease in humans called sporotrichosis. Sporotrichosis is a fungal disease which affects the skin. In rare cases, the infection can spread to the bones, lungs and joints.

The Sphagnum Moss like other mosses reproduces through spores. The spores are produced in receptacles called capsules.

When the spores ripen, they are ejected into the air. Sphagnum spores are available at Bonsai stores. 

Sphagnum can also be collected from natural locations such as a swampy area or a lake shore.
The sphagnum collected from the wild can contain insects and infections. This sphagnum should be disinfected by means of an insecticide before being transplanted in the Bonsai floor.

Cultivating Moss in Trays

Moss are small flowerless plants which grow in moist soil. These plants do not have leaves, stems or roots like ordinary plants. 
Moss gives a realism to a Bonsai set up and are therefore planted by many Bonsai hobbyists. Moss can be collected from nature. Moss can also be cultivated in Trays in your own backyard from spores bought from hobby stores

Spores can also be prepared at home

Preparation of Spores for Moss

Collect Moss from the ground.
Dry the Moss in sunlight till it becomes dry powder.
The powder can be stored in Bottles.
You can make patches of moss in trays and then transplant them to the Bonsai setup.
Cultivation in Trays

Put a few cms of peat in a tray or shallow container.
Moisten the soil
Sprinkle the spores on to the soil.
Spray water on top
Keep the tray in a shaded area away from direct sunlight
Spray water daily to ensure that the soil is moist
Moss patches will appear in about four weeks. 
The patches can be transplanted in to the soil of the Bonsai Plant.




Growing Bonsai from seed

Growing a Bonsai Tree from a seed is a very rewarding experience. Almost all Trees can be grown from seeds. 

You can get the seeds for Bonsai at all hobby or gardening stores. “Bonsai Seeds” are seeds of normal trees. There are no special seeds for Bonsai.

Bonsai Seeds take time to germinate. In nature, seeds of trees germinate at a particular season. Many seeds remain dormant during winter. Seeds require the correct temperature, humidity and time of the year to germinate. Before your buy the seed, learn about the tree and its natural environment.

Seeds can be germinated naturally outside or they can be germinated artificially in a special tray or a glass house.  Place the seeds to be germinated in a tray. The soil can be a mixture of soil and organic soil. Keep the soil moisture. Do not overwater.

The Seeds usually germinate in the spring if they are allowed to germinate naturally. The seedlings can be allowed to grow in the tray for one year.  When they are one year old, they will be ready for transplantation.

When the seedlings are one year old, they can be placed in their individual pots or containers. From now one, you can style and prune them till they reach the required shape and size.
Related Links
http://www.bonsaiempire.com/basics/cultivation/from-seeds
http://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basics_Seeds.html

Flowering Bonsai

Bonsai trees which flower make a delightful sight. They can brighten an indoor space and light up their surroundings. 

Thus, not all trees which flower will become flowering bonsai.

Ensure that your flowering Bonsai gets adequate sunlight and water. Many flowering trees flower at a particular time of the year. If they are pruned at the wrong time, they will not flower. Make sure that the Bonsai plant gets adequate water. Excess fertilizer will also affect flowering. 

Common flowering trees are
The Fukien tea tree (Carmonella microphylla)
Pea Tree (Caragana Arborescens)
Japanese Quince (Chaenomeles japonica)
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
Pomegranate (Punica granatum)


Fruits in Bonsai Trees

Bonsai Trees produce Fruits like normal Trees. All fruit growing trees in their “bonsai” form will produce fruits. The fruits will be smaller in size. In many tree species, the male and female flowers are in the same plant. These trees are called dioecious. In other trees, the gender is separate. That is, there will be male trees and female trees. These trees are called monoclinous. In these species, while both the male and the female trees will flower, only the female will bear fruit.


Flowering and Fruiting absorb a lot of energy and nutrition from the plant. Plants which flower and fruit heavily will soon become weak. In nature, not all the flowers and fruits mature. Wind can knock away many of the flowers and fruits. Squirrels and Birds take their toll on the flowers. This limits the resources the plant has to allocate for fruit production.

While choosing fruit trees, you must select trees which suit your climate. Fruiting in trees depends on the time of the year, the season and the weather. 

In your Bonsai, sometimes it is necessary to prevent flowering. Flowering can be prevented by limiting the lighting. You can also remove a few flowers and permit only a few flowers to mature and bear fruit.

This ensures that your Bonsai is healthy.

Fruit trees require adequate nutrition. Ensure that your tree is fertilized adequately

Can we eat the fruit from Bonsai ?

The fruits produced by the Bonsai trees are small and similar to normal fruits. They can be eaten. However, the prime reason for having fruits is to admire their appearance. The sight of a tree laden with bright fruits is a sight to behold. Apple Trees, Pomegranate trees can all be made into Bonsai. These plants will produce miniature apples and pomegranates.

Growing Bamboo Bonsai

Bamboo Bonsai is a Bonsai made using Bamboo. Bamboo can be made into a Bonsai using the same techniques and processes for the regular bonsai. 

The Bamboo plant is planted in a shallow pot or a tray with holes for drainage. It is placed in a place with plenty of moisture.  Bamboo bonsai can be placed both indoors and outdoors. The Bamboo plant should be repotted and the roots pruned regularly.

Bamboo Plants reproduce by means of rhizomes. These rhizomes will give rise to shoots which can develop into other bamboo plants. These shoots which originate from the base of the plant should be periodically removed. 
The soil can be made of clay, sand and compost. 



Watering your Bonsai

Water is vital for any plant. Your Bonsai needs water at the right amount. It is important that the correct amount of water is given. The two mistakes which can happen are overwatering and underwatering.

Overwatering is adding more water than is necessary to the Bonsai. Overwatering can drain the nutrients from the soil. Overwatering does not allow the root to develop as the plant can access moisture easily without sending roots into the soil. In extreme cases, overwatering can damage the roots and cause them to decompose. 

Underwatering 

Underwatering is adding less water the soil. Underwatering can cause the plant to wilt. This is easily noticeable by observing the leaves. Always ensure that Bonsai plant has adequate water.  The water requirements of the Bonsai change with the seasons of the year and the climactic conditions. 

Before watering the plant, check the soil for moisture. By looking at the color of the soil, it will be possible to identify whether it is wet or dry. Add water in small quantities only if the soil is dry.
It is not necessary to water the plant every day.  Ensure that all bonsai plants have a drain for excess water to flow out.

Watering Bonsai during vacations

Watering Bonsai during vacations when you are not at home is an issue for almost all hobbyists. Bonsai can stay without water for a few days. However, if you are planning to go out for more than a week, you may have to make arrangements.


If you have the plant in a pot or container, you can hand over the bonsai to your friend or neighbour with instructions on watering it.
If you have a planted bonsai in your garden, you can ask someone to come over once in two days and water the plants.
Special timers which can be connected to sprinklers are available which can release small quantities of water at regular intervals.

Fertilizers for Bonsai

Fertilizing the soil in which the Bonsai plant is grown is very important. All plants and trees require nutrients. In nature, trees and plants are able to send their roots deep in search of nutrients.  However, in potted bonsai plants, the soil is limited. Over a period of time, the nutrients in the soil get depleted.

The growth of the plants stops. Some plants become stunted. Over time, the bonsai plant dies.
Hence, it is important that the soil is properly fertilized. 

Bonsai plants do not need any special fertilizer. Ordinary fertilizers used for gardening will do. 
The main components of any fertilizer are Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. Nitrogen is necessary for the growth of leaves. Phosphorous is required for the growth of the roots while Potassium in the form of Potash is necessary for flowering and fruit formation.  All fertilizers have the Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium contents indicated in the packaging. 

Fertilizers are usually mixed with water and poured into the soil. The drainage holes in the bottom of the container will drain the excess fertilizer. The mixture should be in the proper proportion according to the instructions in the packaging. 

Traditionally, Bonsai plants have been fertilized by means of natural fertilizers such as fish meal cakes. These cakes were placed on the top of the surface.

When the bonsai plant is watered, the cakes release the nutrients which seep into the soil. 

Slow release Bonsai Fertilizers are available at most Bonsai stores. These fertilizers release the fertilizers slowly over many weeks or months. 

Do not add excess fertilizers. Excess nitrogen in the soil can burn the roots. It is important to understand the specific need of the different tree species. Some tree species may require different fertilizers at different times of the year. 



An Introduction to Bonsai

Bonsai is an ancient art form which originated in Japan.  Bonsai deals with growing and maintaining miniature trees.  The trees can be made to grow into very small versions of adult trees by special techniques of pruning the branches and the roots.

The Bonsai Trees look like perfect miniature replica of the original trees.  Bonsai trees can be placed  in homes or outdoors. 

Sometimes wires are used to direct a branch in a particular direction.  A Bonsai tree can be accommodated in a small pot or a tray. Though originally from Japan, the art of Bonsai is hugely popular around the world.

It is a very rewarding hobby , particularly for those with an artistic bent of mind.  Bonsai trees take many years to grow.  However, many shops and hobbyists also provide sell bonsai which is a few years old.

Tools for Bonsai

It is only natural that a specialized art form like Bonsai will have its own set of instruments ad tools.  The tools developed for Bonsai are intended to make the process of cutting and pruning easier.

These tools are specially designed so that the plant is not damaged and there are no unsightly scars or other blemishes in the tree.  There are special tools available for making special cuts on the bark of the bonsai tree to give it an aged appearance.

The roots of a Bonsai plant need to be carefully handled especially when moving the plant from one pot to another . Special rakes are available to prevent the roots from getting entangled and to separate them from the soil.

Special tweezers may also be required to remove dead tissue and debris.

The list of Common Bonsai Tools are

1. Bonsai Scissors


2. Concave Cutters to Trim branches closely


3. Root Cutters to Trim roots when repotting


4. Wire Cutters to trim the Bonsai Wires


5.  Bonsai Knife


Selecting a tree for Bonsai

While any tree can be made into a Bonsai it is necessary to choose a species of tree keeping the following factors in mind.

Climatic condition. 

Trees should be chosen keeping the climatic conditions in mind. Try to locate a tree which can survive in your particular temperature. Certain trees cannot withstand heat while still others will not tolerate cold. Some trees may be vulnerable to pests and insects.  Such trees are best avoided.

Appearance
Look at the adult tree of the species from a distance and see if you like it. Personal preference is important.

A Bonsai is an investment of a great deal of time and effort.  Select the tree you like after observing all its features such as the trunk, the branches and the leaves.

Outdoor Bonsai

Bonsai are usually placed inside homes. Some people feel that having a bonsai inside the home brings a piece of the wild forest home. Another reason is to protect the small plants from the elements. Bonsai plants may not be able to withstand the temperature and climactic variations if placed outside.

However, keeping bonsai carefully arranged in a garden outside the home has an aesthetics and charm of its own.

When placing a Bonsai outside the home, it is necessary to check the ability of the particular species to withstand the maximum and minimum temperatures throughout the year. You must also check if the bonsai can withstand snow or rainfall or wind.

In summer, outdoor Bonsai trees may have to be protected from excess sunlight. 
Bonsai Trees can also planted in terraces or balconies. 

Bonsai Soils

Selecting the right soil is very important while growing a Bonsai Plant. The soil provides the nutrients to the growing plant. It also serves to retain water so that the plant can absorb. Each Bonsai species has specific requirements and hence requires the proper soil.
The soil in a Bonsai plants should retain water so that the plant may absorb
provide nutrients for the plant to absorb

Provide aeration for the roots to absorb oxygen
The Bonsai soil should not get compacted. This can prevent the free flow of water and air within the soil and can damage the plant. The soil may be turned periodically to prevent compaction. 
The soils used for Bonsai Plants are classified into two main categories. 

Organic soils and Inorganic Soils. 
Organic soil contain components formed by the decomposition of natural plant matter. Examples are leaf litter, peat and bark

Inorganic Soils are materials which are materials such as fired clays, volcanic lava. These soils do not contain any organic matter. 

Organic soil materials have the advantage of containing the nutrients required for plants. However, there are significant disadvantages of using organic soils. Excess water retention can damage the roots. Organic Soils tend to break down and compact. This can prevent water flow from reaching specific regions of the roots. 

Inorganic soils do not “break down”. They retain their original granular structure. This ensures that the water drains and no excess water remains. Aeration is better.

Organic soils specially composed for different bonsai species are available at most hobby stores.



Budgies are beautiful birds that make nice pets. They require relatively less maintenance and therefore are ideal for beginners. These lovely birds are intelligent, extremely social and bond well with humans. With training they can be taught a variety of tricks.
The budgie or budgerigar is a native of Australia. They belong to the parrot family.. The scientific name of the budgie is Melopsittacus undulatus. The natural habitat of the budgie is arid, semi-desert. Budgies, like other members of the parrot family tend to live in large colonies. Their diet consists chiefly of seeds.

Buying your Budgies

Budgies can be bought from almost all pet shops. It is important to check that the shops maintain the birds in good and hygienic conditions. See that the birds are active and healthy. It is good to buy the birds in pairs as they will bond. Most pet shops will put your budgies in a box for the journey home. Ensure that the box has adequate means of ventilation.

Setting up the Bird Cage

A good cage for your budgies should be at least 18 x 18 x 20 inches. Wire cages would be ideal as the birds will be able to climb the sides. Alternatively, if you are using cages with metal bars, ensure that the bars are horizontal to enable climbing. Provide adequate perches for the budgies. Ensure that the cage provides enough space for the budgies to fly from one perch to another so that they can exercise their wings.

Budgies are very inquisitive and active creatures that require a lot of stimulation. Hence, it is good to provide toys such as plastic rings, small balls, etc for the birds to play with. The cages need to be kept  away from direct sunlight. The cage must also have a removable litter tray to enable cleaning the cage without opening the cage.

Feeding and Diet

Budgies have a diet that consists mainly of seeds. You can occasionally treat your budgie to a meal of fresh fruits. However, certain foods such as avocado, lemon, and potato, chocolate can be harmful to your budgie. Besides their base diet of seeds and occasional fruits, budgies may require supplements of substances such as calcium to augment their dietary intake. This is particularly true of female budgies who need more calcium to form the egg shells. Cuttlebone, which is available at almost all pet stores is a good source of calcium.

Besides food, a permanent supply of clean drinking water should always be made available. It is recommended to replace the water every day as budgies sometimes tend to dirty the water.

Breeding

Budgies can be bred as soon as they attain sexual maturity at around 8 months. In budgies, it is possible to visually tell apart the sexes by the color of the ceres, located below the nostrils. The males have blue ceres while the females tend to have pink or brown ceres.

For the birds to mate, they must bond with each other. Bonding occurs when the birds start feeding and preening each other. The female budgie lays a clutch of about 4-5 eggs with an interval of a day between each egg. The female then sits on the eggs during the incubation period of around 18 days.

The chicks are born naked and blind. Both male and female birds share the responsibility of raising the chicks. The chicks grow fast and are completely covered by feathers by the end of one month after which they leave the nest.

Budgies are beautiful birds that are easy to care for. They are also highly social and are ideal for beginners. They bond well with people and are easily handled.

image courtesy: http://www.petsworld.co.uk/budgies.htm


Tips for Purchasing Budgies

 When budgies are purchased, it is necessary that they are healthy.  A sick budgie can cause problems once you bring it home.  It can spread disease to other healthy budgies in your cage.  Hence, it is important that you buy only healthy birds from your petshop.

Following are some of the things you need to keep in mind when you are going to buy budgies.
  1. Always go to a shop which is clean and the cages are well maintained.  
  2. Check carefully for any deformity or disease. 
  3. Select the Budgie which is active and alert.
  4. Check that the budgie's vent is clean.
  5. There should be no nasal discharges.
  6. The beaks and toes should be clean and well-formed.
  7. The feet should be perfectly aligned.
  8. Do not buy budgies which have their eyes closed.  While they may be sleeping.  It is also possible that they are sick.  You can ask the shopkeeper for a closer inspection.
  9. After you select a budgie, always ask the shopkeeper to be allowed to inspect the bird closely.
  10. It is better to buy younger birds as they adjust easily and can be trained.
  11. If possible arrange for a vet to inspect the bird.
After you buy a budgie and bring it home, it is better to quarantine it in a separate cage for a week and then introduce it to the main cage.  This ensures that the bird is healthy and diseases if any are not transmitted to the other birds.

While these checks may appear excessive, the consequences of introducing a sick bird into a population of healthy birds can be catastrophic.  Diseases can spread fast amongst birds leading to deaths.

Feeding Budgies

The staple food of budgies in the wild is usually grass seeds. However, in captivity budgies thrive well on a diet of seeds, millets, whole grain breads and sprouts. A varied diet provides all essential nutrients and keeps the budgies well nourished. A varied diet also prevents obesity as opposed to a diet exclusively on seeds.

Place the seeds in a flat dish so that it is easy for removal The feeding can be done once a day. Seeds which have not been eaten by the budgies can be reused. Just blow over the feeding dish to remove the husk and then top up the remaining seeds. 

Budgies also love coriander leaves and greens. Beetroot, spinach, lettuce and cabbage may also be given. Put these leaves into the cage and watch the budgies tear them up into little bits as they eat them. Give only fresh leaves as old or refrigerated leaves may cause digestion problems for the budgies. Remove any leftovers from the cage.

Foods NOT to be given

Do not give Avocados, chocolates, apple seeds, coffee, tea, tomato leaves, peach seeds, eggplant, peanuts, etc to your budgies as these contain substances which can prove to be toxic to the budgies.
Water for Budgies
Budgies need fresh water everyday. Keep a constant supply of water in the cage. Replace the water if it has become soiled. Special water dispensers suited for birds are available. This prevent the water from getting soiled.

In the wild, budgies descend in large groups over water bodies. They love to bathe. You can keep a shallow bow of water and watch them bathe. Bathing water can be provided twice a week.

Night Fright in Budgies

Night frights are situations which occur in the night when budgies become suddenly agitated, flapping their wings and flying erratically around the cage while making loud noises. A night fright may involve all or some of the budgies in a cage. The budgies may sometimes fly into the cage bars and thus injure themselves.

Budgies can injure themselves during a night fright. This can result in broken wings or in blood feathers which can cause excessive bleeding in budgies and, in some cases, death. Night fright in budgies is contagious. A budgie which experiences night fright may induce night fright in others.

What causes Night Fright?

The exact cause of the phenomenon is unclear. It is supposed the budgies get "night fright" when they are suddenly startled from their sleep. The causes which alarms the budgie can be a cockroach which enters the cage, a sudden light from a vehicle which may disturb the darkness of the night,a barking dog, even a sudden gust of wind can unsettle the budgies and cause night fright.

Some believe the night fright are causes when budgies have a bad dream a human equivalent of a nightmare. Well, while that is probable, we really do not know for sure as to what goes on inside their tiny heads.

Preventing Night Frights

Night frights can be prevented by providing a dark environment for the budgies in the night without any disturbance. You can cover the bird cage with a dark cloth to protect them from outside stimuli. When a night fright does occur, switch on the lights at once. Try to calm your budgiesvby talking softly to them. Once they have calmed down look into cage and inspect the budgies for physical injuries such as broken wings or bleeding feathers. Some pet owners suggest having a night lamp in the room where you have your budgies cage. The birds apparently find this reassuring.



Choosing a cage for you Budgies is extremely important. The following are some of the tips for someone searching for a suitable cage for their budgies. Budgies are extremely active birds. When choosing a cage it is important to ensure that the cage is wide enough for the birds to fly across the cage and exercise themselves.

Place two perches on either ends of the cages for the birds to perch themselves. The perches should be at least an half an inch thick to prevent damage to the budgies' feet.

The bars of the bars should be spaced not more than 1/2 inch apart. A larger spacing can cause budgies to stick their heads out of the cage with the risk of the head getting trapped between the bars.
There should be sufficient number of horizontal bars as budgies are avid climbers and love to climb the cage walls.

The cage should ideally be rectangular in shape. Avoid circular cages as they make budgies a bit insecure. The cage should have a removable tray at the bottom to remove waste and keep the cage clean.

The cage should have doors which can be secured effectively. Budgies are clever birds and will soon find a way to open doors that are not adequately fastened.

Nest for Budgies

In the wild, budgies nest in holes in the tree trunk. In cages, budgies will accept any box or container with an opening small enough for them to enter as a nest.

Ideal boxes for cages are made of cardboard or wood. The cage can have one opening on the top with a removable cover for you to inspect the nest and the budgie chicks inside. Make an entrance of approx. 1.5 inch in diamter in the side of the cage for the budgies to enter. 

The female incubates the eggs. You do not line the cage with any thing as budgies do not use any nesting material such as cotton, twigs, hay etc. 

The floor of the nest should preferably be concave to prevent the eggs from rolling around. Earthen pots can also be used as nesting boxes. 

Special earthen pots of around 5 inch diamters with an entrance in the front are available at most pet stores.

Toys for Budgies

Budgies are intelligent and playful creatures. They love to play with toys, bits of paper and whatever they can find. It is good to provide your budgies with toys they can play with. The adage "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" holds true for Budgies too.

A wide varieties of toys are available for your budgies. Rings, steps, geometric blocks and a whole lot of designs. Budgies love climbing and toys such as a block of steps provide endless entertainment to budgies. Bells are another great idea. Rings and hoops hung from the ceiling of the budgie cage provide interesting perches.

Beads also make good toys for your birds. Beads can be used individually or strung up into beautiful shapes which can also look decorative.

A mirror placed in the cage also provides entertainment for your budgies

When designing or buying toys for your budgies you must take some precautions. The toys should not be painted as paint can be toxic. Do not use metals such as zinc or lead in the toys. Wood if used should be untreated. Do not use glue.

Toys should not have small holes or cracks/splits in which the feet of the birds can get caught.
Check the toys for sharp edges which can injure the bird.

Lighting for Budgies

Light plays an important role in the health of all birds including budgies. The amount of light determines the natural clock of budgies and controls many aspects from alertness to reproductive behaviour. Light also plays a direct role in the health of budgies.

When budgies are provided with light, their bodies produce vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 helps the budgies absorb calcium from the food. Hence, it is essential for budgies to have access to sunlight for 12 hours each day.

Natural lighting is ideal. Leave a window open to allow in sunlight. However, there are regions where the length of the day may vary with the seasons. In these locations, it is better to have a lamp such as fluorescent lamp to provide light. 

Budgies are natives of Australia. Hence, they are used to the tropical variations of night and day. In tropical regions of the earth, the sunlight passes through the least atmosphere. The light which reaches the native habitat of budgies undergoes very little filtering as it passes through the atmosphere. Hence, any artificial light should be as close to sunlight as possible. 

This is determined by the Color rendering Index (CRI). The colour rendering index indicates how closely an artificial light resembles natural sunlight. Sunlight has a CRI of 100. Hence, any artificial light should be as close to sunlight as possible. A CRI of more than 90 would be ideal with a colour temperature close to the colour temperature of the sun which is 5500K.



Medical intervention by a veterinarian may be critical to your budgie's life in emergency situations. Hence, you must locate a veterinarian in your locality before any emergency befalls your budgie. Once you move to a new locality it is better to look up the telephone listings or the internet to locate a suitable veterinarian for your bird.

Vets best suited for your budgies are usually Avian veterinarians who specialize in treating birds. Avian veterinarians are specially trained to treat birds .

Check out the vet's accreditations and qualifications. These can be obtained from the local Professional association for Avian veterinarians.
Talk to your vet about his experience with treating budgies in particular, his fees and his schedule (whether he will make house visits and emergency calls, in the night, for example).
It is good if the vet has budgies at his home. Such vets may be better accustomed to the needs of budgies.
Check out the ambience of the clinic and the approach of the staff to the birds brought to them. Birds should be made to feel comfortableAlso enquire about his fees for different procedures.

Splayed Legs

The term "Splayed Legs" refers to a condition in Budgies in which the legs of the bird are distorted away from the normal position. The legs are seen to be pointed sideways instead of forward. The bird struggles to walk. In severe conditions, the bird may not be able to stand at all.

The Exact reasons for splayed legs is not fully known. A wide variety of causes are suspected such as a mother sitting too heavily on a chick, calcium deficiency, slippery nest floor, etc.

Preventing Splayed legs

Give your budgies plenty of calcium. Calcium strengthens the bones and prevents them from getting splayed. Calcium can be given by putting a cuttle bone inside the cage for your budgies to chew on.  You can also give them calcium supplements your vet may prescribe.

It is important to ensure that the floor of the nest is not slippery. An ideal nest surface would be concave. It is a good idea to put wood shavings in the nest floor to prevent slipping.

Another idea would be to put a pebble in the nest floor, between the eggs, so that the mother budgie does not sit too tightly over the chicks.

Splayed legs can be corrected when detected early. A popular method of correcting them is by putting splints which hold the legs straight in very young chicks. Intervention at later stages does not help. Hence, it is important to identify the problem early.

Prognosis

Splayed legs result in reduced quality of life for the budgie. Budgies with splayed legs may not be able to fly as they cannot "take off". Neither can they land. They usually have to be content climbing the bars of the cage to reach their perch.

In cases of severe splaying, the breast bones may have to carry the body weight as they legs are spread wide apart. This can be make it difficult for the budgie to breathe.  This can eventually cause death.

However, there are survival stories as well. I had a budgie which was born splayed.  She grew to be a happy bird and a successful mother who raised many chicks. A born survivor, she would climb the walls of the cage holding on to the bars with her beak.

Cuttlebone for Budgies

Budgies, especially female, need calcium as they lay eggs. Calcium deficiency can cause a dangerous condiction called egg binding in female budgies where the eggs, having soft shells due to lack of calcium, get stuck in the vent, causing death.

Hence, it is vital that the diet the budgies eat contains lot of calcium. The Cuttle bone is a common source of calcium. Cuttle bone as the name suggests comes from the cuttlefish. It is available in all pet stores. The cuttle bone may be placed inside the cage. Some pet owners prefer to crush the cuttlebone into powder and add to the budgies' food. 

You can also provide other sources of calcium for your budgies such as broken eggshells and commercial calcium supplements which are available in the market.

Another alternative would be to use mineral blocks. Mineral blocks are supplements which contain calcium as well as other ingredients such as phosphorus, zinc, Iron, Magnesium, etc necessary for the health of the budgie.





Setting up your Origami Business

 Origami can be more than just a pastime. There is a great demand for elegant and well made origami products around the world. Origami can be used to decorate a show case and in interior decorating. Origami Wall hangings command good value in the market.

If you are an Origami enthusiast who wants to launch their product, the following steps would be helpful.

Approach Gift Shops and business near your locality
Gift Shops may give you shelf space for your products so that customers may buy them. Origami can be very appealing gifts. Business may be in need for gifts to their customers and employees.

Approach Interior Decoration Companies
Interior Decoration companies are always on the look out for wall hangings and mountings for their projects. They may be interested in your products.

Get a Website.
You need a website to showcase your product. A website also gives you credibility and helps in branding

Get good photographs of your products
Engage a professional photographer specializing in product photography to take pictures of your products. You will need good quality photographs to show your online customers.

Get an online store
An online store helps customer buy your products and pay through paypal or through their credit cards. Set up an online store on your website or through website like amazon.com or ebay.com Be more innovative Think of new designs and patterns to increase your range and to stay ahead of the competition.


Types of Origami Paper

 Throughout its history in Japan, special paper was made for Origami. A variety of papers are available for the enthusiast.


Kami
Kami or Koi paper is the most common. It is commonly used in schools. The Kami paper is thin and is usually available in square shapes of 3, 6 and 9 inches. Kami is colored or checked. Paper backed foil Paper backed foil is shiny and origami made with this appears attractive. The foil is pasted to a thin sheet of paper. Creases are easy to make in paper backed foil. The foil can be silver colored or gold colored. It can also have geometric patterns.

Washi

Washi is a type of origami paper which is textured and soft. It is also thick which makes making creases difficult. Duo Paper Duo paper has two colors on either side. This makes the finished product more colorful and distinct with different colors

Chiyogami
Chiyogami is traditional Washi Paper with traditional Japanese design on one side.



Origami - Getting Started

 Getting started with origami is simple. You only need a piece of paper and a folding surface. While any paper can be used for origami, paper which is thin and easy to hold . Ordinary printer paper is a good choice.

Gift wrapper, florist paper and even paper from magazines can be used. Special origami paper which is pre-cut into various sizes are also available. You then need a flat surface to work on. A table or a book can be used as a flat surface.

The folding instructions for most origami patterns can be found online. Congrats on Starting! You will find Origami a truly rewarding and fulfilling hobby.


Types of Origami


Over the centuries, Origami has grown increasingly sophisticated and complex.  Simple shapes have given way to multilateral origami.  Today there are numerous types of origami such as modular origami, panel origami, action origami and so on.

Following are some of the types of origami

Wet Origami
Wet Origami is made by first moistening the paper.  This gives a more textured and natural look to the final piece.  The final piece will have curves and bends in the paper.

Modular Origami
Modular Origami deals with making identical modules which are then joined together by means of flaps and pockets to form a completely different design  such as a octahedron.  Both flat and three dimensional shapes can be made from Modular Origami.

Action Origami
Action Origami is the making of origami which can move such as a bird which can flap its wings or a frog which can jump.


Origami - Tools Required

 While basic origami requires just a sheet of paper and a flat surface.  Specialized tools are available which make origami much more easier and the finished work appear more distinct and professional.

A bone folder is used to make sharp folds in the paper.  Bone folders were originally made of bone.

Nowadays, bone folders are made of wood and, even, plastic.  If you do not have a bone folder, simple house hold articles such a metal spoon, ruler or an unused credit card can be used. 


Origami paper is special paper which is used for origami.  It is colored on one side and white on the other.  It is available at most hobby stores.  It comes in sets of 25-50 pieces.  Origami paper comes in many sizes.  Ordinary printer paper or recycled paper can be used as substitutes.

Symbols used in Origami

 As origami grew increasingly complex and specialized, distinct notations were developed to describe the folds involved.  The method used almost universally to denote folds in origami is the Yoshizawa-Randlett System.  This sytem has distinct notations for folds, movements and repetitions.  This helps the artist to follow the instructions in a design book.

Following are some links to the methods of notations.