Grow Your Own Bonsai Tree – Whether you want to dip your toes into the vast world of bonsai or you impulsively picked up a cute little tree at the grocery store, you’re probably wondering how to handle your first plant.
In its most basic form, bonsai is a wonderful example of the intersection of art and horticulture. It is as much about growing plants as it is about creating an artistic image that captures the diversity of nature in a small way.
Grow Your Own Bonsai Tree
It’s easy to look at one of these hundred-year-old, award-winning trees and be overwhelmed by the possibilities. But don’t be.
Nature’s Blossom Bonsai Tree Grow Kit
Just remember that you’re working with plants like you would any other type of gardening, and it doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that. If you have the soul of an artist combined with a green thumb, even better.
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This guide will break everything down to its most basic parts so you can jump in without feeling like you’re in over your head.
Even if you’re new to bonsai – or even your first attempt at growing any plant – this guide is perfect for beginners, and we’re here to help.
Bonsai Tree Grow Kit
If you are brand new to growing bonsai, you may want to check out our Introduction to the Industry. It introduces all the basic concepts and explains the history of this ancient art.
Bonsai has existed as an art for hundreds of years, with monks bringing it from China to Japan, where it evolved into the practice we know today.
One of the earliest examples in Japan dates back to the 14th century, although it was probably in practice long before that.
This technique is not about growing dwarf plants, but about growing and holding full-sized specimens in small containers and keeping them small by pruning.
How To Take Care Of Bonsai Trees
Most species grown as bonsai should be considered normal plants, meaning they should be outdoors and have a dormant period.
However, there are some species that you can keep inside for part or all of the year.
When choosing a plant to start your journey with, you need to consider whether the plant can be kept outdoors or whether you will keep it indoors.
As we said, some plants require a dormant period with cool temperatures and low light, so they cannot be kept exclusively indoors.
Gift Republic Grow It. Grow Your Own Bonsai Trees
If you want to keep your plant indoors, choose a species that is commonly grown as a houseplant. They are often good for beginners as they are more tolerant of being potted indoors.
Many people prefer to start with plants that are not necessarily trees, but rather woody shrubs that can be trained into a small tree form.
They’re generally easy to grow and quick to mature, so you can start practicing your technique without risking upsetting the temperamental species or ruining a form that will take years to correct.
When choosing a plant, look for something with attractive bark. If you imagine an old bonsai, you will not see one with a smooth trunk.
A Beginner’s Guide To Bonsai Trees
As iconic as they are, I don’t recommend maple, pine, cherry blossom or cedar for beginners. Fruit trees, birches, sequoias and ginkgo trees are also in some demand.
You are welcome to try them. After all, it is an art and there are no set rules. But if you want something more forgiving, consider one of the following to start:
When I started bonsai, I killed my Chinese elder about a dozen times. At least I thought I did.
This species is a great option if you want a classic looking bonsai that can take some abuse. I think of it as a bike with training wheels. It protects you until you’re ready to start driving on your own
A Beginner’s Guide To Bonsai
The same hardiness that makes cotoneaster a reliable garden specimen makes it a great bonsai for beginners. But you don’t sacrifice beauty for austerity.
Beautiful umbrella plants are another good option for beginners and do well indoors. In fact, it is often grown as a houseplant.
This was my first bonsai and it’s still kicking after more than two decades, plus many mistakes on my part.
Should I Fertilize Bonsai? Can’t leave them in hot cars? Well, now tell me…
How To Grow A Bonsai Tree
Ficus is the first tree that I usually recommend to people who want to try the bonsai art.
There are hundreds of species to choose from and they can be grown indoors – although most do well if they spend a few months outside in good weather.
I think beginners use fuchsia less. It can be grown indoors or outdoors, it is fast growing and long lived. The biggest challenge is watering it.
Look for a cultivar or hybrid with smaller leaves and flowers. You can read more about fuchsia varieties here.
Bonsai Tree Care Guide For Beginners
They grow fairly quickly, so you can achieve the look of an older plant much faster than if you choose slow-growing plants like junipers.
Juniper is an excellent plant for beginners because it is incredibly tolerant of dry soil and drought conditions. It grows slowly, which some consider a bonus because it means less work and maintenance.
But it should be kept outside all year round. If you buy a juniper labeled as a houseplant, don’t trust the label. Although some kindergartens advertise them as such, they are not.
Lavender will never grow a huge trunk and these plants have a shorter lifespan than true plants, but choosing a lavender is a great way for beginners to practice bonsai care and design.
The Mini Bonsai Kit
I think it’s a good plant to practice techniques like pruning and wiring as it grows fast. You don’t have to wait years to see the impact of your decisions.
Wait, isn’t that just a garden herb? Rosemary is one of the best herbs for beginners, believe it or not. This is a great plant to start with if you want to practice shaping and see results quickly.
It grows quickly, tolerates drought and poor soil, and its woody stems age much faster than a real tree.
If you want to dive into this technique without obligation, pick some rosemary. These plants don’t live as long as some of the more traditional options, but they’re a great place to start.
Creating A Bonsai Tree
Once you’ve decided on a species, you have a few options for getting your first bonsai. Your decision depends on your budget and how involved you want to be in the process from start to finish.
At the more expensive end of the scale, many retailers and nurseries began selling bonsai. You can find some younger plants that aren’t too expensive, or you can buy older bonsai, but these will be expensive.
Another option, which is somewhere in the middle of the price scale, is to buy a seedling of the species you want to grow.
It’s a bit more challenging because you’ll probably have to trim the root ball to fit it into the container, plus you’ll need to do more shaping and pruning.
Bonsai Tree Seed Starter Kit
However, if you pay attention, you can find seedlings that are in pretty good shape to begin with. Junipers are a particularly promising option, so take a look next time you’re at the nursery.
Finally, you can grow your plant from seed or propagate it by root cuttings or air layering. This is the most demanding option, since you are fully responsible for the health of the plant, from breeding.
If you go this route, plant the plant in a large pot for the first few years instead of a bonsai pot.
With this method, you probably won’t be able to shape your plant over the years – apart from training the trunk – unless you choose woody herbs like rosemary or lavender.
How To Grow Your First Bonsai
I do not recommend buying pre-made bonsai available at home improvement stores or mall kiosks.
They are usually not properly prepared (see: rocks, eg stuck to the surface) and are likely to fail in the long term. Start with a good foundation.
The floor is undoubtedly the most important element under your control. A plant can tolerate a little too much shade or not enough moisture, but with so little soil available to anchor and nurture these plants, you have to get it right.
When you get a plant, you don’t really know what the existing soil composition is. But the substrate you use is a living thing. It acts as a host not only for your plant, but also for the microorganisms that help keep it alive.
How To Grow Bonsai Fruit Trees
Whether you bought a potted bonsai or are planting your own, remove as much of the existing soil around the roots as possible.
The easiest way to do this is to remove the plant from its pot and gently brush and tap.
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