Create Stunning Bonsai Trees There's finally a quick and easy, Step by Step, A to Z guide to creating your very own Bonsai Trees...even if you're new at it and you're not exactly a "green thumb". Create Stunning Bonsai Trees

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Selecting Bonsai

When you decide to buy a bonsai, try to go to a reputable dealer, or bonsai nursery. Here they will be able to give you expert advice and will help you to buy the correct tree for your circumstances.

Furthermore you will be certain that your bonsai have been well looked after and were kept in the correct environment while staying at the nursery.

Try to buy bonsai in late spring or summer. In winter some trees loses their leaves, and you cannot be sure if the tree is actually in it's dormant period or if it is simply dead. In summer time it is easy to spot a healthy tree that is pushing out new growth.

Here is a few points to look at when buying a tree:
  • Look at the overall health of the tree. Fresh new growth in summer. Look for any visible diseases. Dead leaves or branches can be a good indication of pests lurking somewhere.
  • To determine if the tree has a good root structure do the following. Carefully try to wriggle the tree slightly backwards and forwards in the soil by holding it at the base. You will easily see if the tree is too loose in the soil.
  • Weigh up the price to the tree. A rooted cutting should be considerably cheaper than a tree that has had some training.
  • Choose a tree with a good shape and evident basic training being done. Branches should be well placed with a clear trunk line and leaves should be neatly arranged.

Another very important factor is the type of tree you buy. For beginners, I would suggest one of the following:

  • Any tree from the Ficus (Wild Fig) family that is sutable for bonsai. Almost all ficus are sutable for bonsai, except the ones with very large leaves, e.g. ficus elastica.
  • Elms is also good trees for beginners. Ulmus parvifolia (Chinese Elm) and Ulmus procera (English Elm) are both very suitable for bonsai. Although Elms are a little more sensitive to watering and light exposure, they are still quite easy to keep as bonsai.

Last but not least you must be happy with the tree you choose. You must want to see the tree every day and take care of it.

Monday, November 3, 2008


One very important aspect of bonsai is where and under what conditions you place your bonsai. The Japanese word for this place is Bonsai-en.

When placing your bonsai there are a few things to keep in mind:
  • Very few trees can be kept indoors. There are a few exceptions on this rule, e.g. the ficus. Most trees however needs to be placed outdoors.
  • Bonsai needs a minimum of 6-7 hour sunlight a day. Depending on where you live will determine if you can put the tree in direct sunlight or not. I live in a semi-dessert environment, so I need to place my trees under 60% shade cloth. If you don't have very hot temperatures, you can place your tree in direct sunlight, but dappled shade is best.
  • In winter one must be very careful for frost. Most trees is frost tender when planted in a bonsai pot, and must be place where it will not get exposed to frost in winter.
  • Wind can also affect the placement of your bonsai. A strong wind, hot or cold, can dry out your bonsai very quickly. Try to put your tree where it will be sheltered from the wind.
  • Something else to consider is pets. If you have a dog or cat, try to place the tree out of their reach.
  • At the same time you must place your tree where you can reach it, and where you will see it every day, and won't forget about it.

When your bonsai collection starts growing (and I can almost guarantee it will) you might want to find a bench to place your trees on. Benches must be high enough so that you can reach your trees easily without having to bent to low, or having to tip-toe to reach it.

You can also install a watering system above your bonsai for if you go away for a few days.

Keep all of this in mind, but if you need any more advice, let me know.

Bonsai Myths

Myth #1: Feeding bonsai a magical potion to stay small

One of the first things I get asked when discussing bonsai with someone wanting to start bonsai is: "What do you feed them to stay small?" This understanding is incorrect. There is no magical potion to feed bonsai that will automatically keep it small. There are other techniques on how to train bonsai into the shape and size you would like, but we will discuss this another time.

Myth #2: Bonsai are grown from special "bonsai seeds"

There are no special bonsai seeds either. Bonsai can be developed from any seeds bought at a nursery. Bonsai can also be developed from nursery stock, cuttings, and even plants dug up from your garden or the wild.

Myth #3: Bonsai is cruel to trees

Trees received exceptional care as bonsai. They are well fertilized and water to keep them looking their best and at the peak of their health. The technique of wire trees are not used to bind them us and restricts growth, it is used to redirect the growth to create the perception of age and beauty.

Myth#4: I am too old to start growing bonsai

You are never to old to start bonsai. We have a lady of nearly 60 that just joined our bonsai club. The art of creating a bonsai is to create an illusion of age. Within 3 years you can create a beautiful bonsai that looks much older than it really is.

Myth #5: Bonsai is indoor plants

There are a few exception on this rule, but bonsai is meant to grow outdoors. They need sunshine, air circulation and exposure to the seasonal changes to maintain good health. Some tropical species like the ficus can be grown indoors, but there are very few bonsai like this.

Myth #6: My bonsai died, bonsai is difficult to grow!

Don't give up if you don't succeed the first time. Most beginners don't succeed the first time, but it isn't always their fault either. Bonsai sold in supermarkets for example have probably grown in a greenhouse in a humid atmosphere for a long time where they receive foliar feeding, then they where relocated to the supermarket that might have a dry atmosphere. By the time you buy them, they have spend so much energy on trying to adapt that there is almost no energy left to adapt once again when you take it to your home. (In other words, be very careful where you buy a bonsai, but we will discuss that a bit later.)