Bonsai is, perhaps, the most delicate and time-consuming among all hobbies. It needs years of dedication, attention, care, and maintenance to grow an attractive bonsai from scratch.
However, as we all know, starting is the key since it is the most difficult part, particularly for newbies and amateurs. That’s why we have developed this guideline on how to start a bonsai tree to aid you with the cause.
The article had three parts to help you grow a bonsai tree without any problem and as smoothly as possible, even if you are growing a bonsai for the first time. The tutorial includes-
- Tips on choosing the right bonsai tree and soil
- Preparing a bonsai tree from its seeds
- Growing it to a tree and repotting it to a new pot
We will discuss these three steps with detailed information so that you don’t have to look to and for any required information.
So, let’s begin the journey towards a good bonsai plantation.
Tips On How To Start A Bonsai Tree
Although bonsai is a dwarf potted plant, you can plant, train and grow any tree or bushes to a bonsai. The only thing you will need is proper knowledge of the bonsai tree. When you first pot your bonsai, things can feel a bit tricky and confusing.
But, fret not….
We will help you remove all of your confusion regarding bonsai plant growth and care for beginners.
Step 1: What Type Of Bonsai Tree Is The Best?
Bonsai hobbyists may get overwhelmed with the increased number of bonsai tree types available. Thus, it would be one of the most enlightening experiences for bonsai lovers, to begin with instantly. Also, overwhelming numbers of bonsai trees mean that not all are similar and ideal for all temperatures and climates.
You have to realize the geographical location and properties right where you live. Then, you need to select a bonsai tree that fits your local climate better.
For instance, some bonsai species will grow better in tropical regions, and others will strive in cold weather. Thus, your climate and temperature need to match the biological properties of the bonsai tree.
Warmer vs. cooler weather:
First, decide where you want to grow your bonsai plant. Then, decide your trees wisely. However, you can still pick a tree from the opposite climate and weather. But for this, you will need to prepare a special environment.
For instance, if you live in a cold temperature and pick a tropical bonsai tree species, you need to protect it from sub-zero temperatures. Hence, the best practice for bonsai hobbyists is to get a species that easily match the local climate. It will make your bonsai tree maintenance easy and comfy.
Indoor vs. outdoor plants:
Outdoor and indoor bonsai plants are almost entirely different. Thus, their soil, light, and fertilizing requirements are different too. So, you need to decide whether you will grow bonsai indoor or outdoor and select the plant accordingly.
For instance, indoor plants will need less light and moisture. On the contrary, outdoor bonsai plants will grow better in enhanced lighting and moisture.
We considered these points carefully and listed the plants ideal for both indoor and outdoor conditions. It should help you to choose the plant quickly-
* You can choose Elm, Cedar, Juniper, Birch, Maple, etc., trees for outdoor bonsai locations.
* Ficus, Camellia, Gardenia, Hawaiian Umbrella, etc., plants are better for indoor locations.
Read more: 6 Best Indoor Bonsai Trees for Beginners
Also, if you choose a temperate species, you need to maintain winter dormancy to help the tree survive properly. These plants need to grow outside mostly, or else; they will die indoors if kept longer.
Pick the right bonsai size:
Bonsai tree plants are available in a variety of sizing options. The list includes-
- Smaller bonsais can be between 5 to 10 inches mostly.
- Mid-sized bonsais are available from 10 to 20 inches in size or even bigger.
- Larger bonsai trees can grow up to 3ft tall.
So, decide how large you want your bonsai to grow. If you want it to grow large, make sure the space has enough lighting, water, fertilizer, and soil requirements. So, it would be best if you grew them outside. Also, your bonsai tree size will determine the following requirements to start a bonsai tree.
- The size of the bonsai tree container
- How much space you will need
- How much sunlight and water you will need
Step 2: Picking The Right Pot For The Bonsai Tree:
Technically speaking, potting a bonsai tree is a prerequisite to calling it an actual bonsai plant. It is essential to display the bonsai tree. You have to repot the bonsai plant once every three to five years to help it grow better and thrive.
Planting the bonsai in a larger ceramic or plastic pot will hold more soil and fertilizer. So, the tree can reach deep into the soil, grow bigger roots and have thicker trunks. It ensures the healthier growth of the bonsai plant.
You will need to be carefully selecting the bonsai pot. Ideally, it should complement the bonsai tree growth and also boosts the aesthetics.
Type of bonsai pot:
Although you may not know it, bonsai trees are generally classified into two genders depending on their physical characteristics. So, you have to select the bonsai pot accordingly to match the tree’s style and gender properties.
1. Masculine bonsai trees: In general, they have a dense canopy, angular branching, and tapered trunk. Also, these are mostly deadwood plants.
2. Feminine bonsai plants: These species have thin trunks and canopy. It also features smooth branching with a smoother bark appearance.
Thus, these physical properties of a bonsai plant must match the pot style. You can choose from the following bonsai pot options-
1. Rectangular pots are associated mainly with masculine bonsai trees. You can choose it for conifer trees as these plants have mature bark along with a robust bark.
2. Oval pots will suit the feminine bonsais mostly. The delicate bonsai trees with smooth bark will look good on oval pots. Also, these pots offer more depth and are arranged in a row to enhance the bonsai outlook during display time.
3. Finally, round shape bonsai pots are also suitable for feminine bonsai trees. You can use it to plant deciduous and conifer bonsai trees for a delicate and attractive look.
Determine the texture and color of the bonsai pot:
The aim of growing the bonsai plant is to give it an artistic appearance. So, you can’t ignore the outlook of your bonsai pot which is associated with the texture and color of the pot itself. The texture and color of the pot will create harmony with the tree for a stylish and attractive appearance.
* For conifers, choose a non-glazed bonsai pot. It also represents a masculine look.
* If you transform a flowering tree into bonsai, choosing a colored and glazed pot will accentuate the appearance greatly.
* Finally, for feminine bonsai trees, choose an earthy-toned pot. It could also be slightly glazed for an elevated outlook.
Step 3: Start Your Bonsai Tree From The Seeds
If you want to experience the ultimate bonsai plantation, you may prefer to start from the beginning. Thus, you can opt for growing a bonsai tree from seedlings. However, you need to be extremely patient to grow the bonsai tree from the seeds as it may take almost three to four years to grow the tree 1-inch.
1. First, obtain the seed of your chosen bonsai tree. You should collect the seeds from a reputed gardening store to ensure their quality. Also, ensure that you choose the freshest seeds as it boosts the germination rate.
2. Next, create a proper environment for the seed to sprout. Depending on the species you have selected, the germination period and favorable environment will also differ. Most seeds can be germinated easily by just burying them in the soil. If you want to store the seeds for the next season, keep them in a refrigerator using a plastic-made ziplock bag. Also, ensure that you water and fertilize the soil accurately for the germination process.
3. When the seed has sprouted, carefully transfer it into a seed tray. You don’t need to use fertilizer for the next 5 to 6 weeks. The nutrients in the soil will be enough to feed and grow the seedlings bigger. When you bury the germinated seedlings, make sure that their taproot is buried downwards and that the primary sprout is positioned upwards.
4. When the plants start to grow, you need to take care of them carefully. You should ensure that it receives enough sunlight and water. If the pot is kept in too cold weather, it risks losing the young plants.
5. For the next few months, you have to take care of the young bonsai plants. You need to ensure proper watering and sunlight for the younger plants. As the tree starts growing, continue transferring it to bigger containers and apply adequate fertilizer.
Step 4: Learn The Technique of Repotting The Bonsai Tree
Those who can’t wait for three to five years to allow the bonsai tree to grow from seeds to a younger one may skip Step 3 and directly start from here. For this, you will need a mature bonsai tree. Also, once your germinated bonsai tree grows into a younger one, you can start repotting it.
Also, at this time, you have to apply the right soil and fertilizer for the bonsai. The processes include-
1. Irrespective of your bonsai tree source, you have to prepare it before transferring it into the larger container or display pot.
2. Before repotting the tree, prune and trim the tree. Once you lift it from the older pot, carefully cut off its excess roots with a bonsai clipper. Also, trim the tree branches so that it meets your desired shape.
2. Next, you have to prepare the new pot. The pot should contain fresh soil. It should be sufficient to hold the growing bonsai tree. The soil should feature excellent drainage and aeration so that the soil doesn’t hold too much water. You can also use perlite or gravel to ensure good drainage of the potting soil.
3. Apply a required amount of fertilizer into the soil of the new pot. Mix the soil and fertilizer properly so that it blends well and helps the bonsai plant grow better.
4. Next, put the trimmed and pruned bonsai tree into the new pot. Ensure that it has the right orientation and you don’t press it too deep into the soil.
Once you have repotted the younger bonsai plant, you have to continue caring for it just like any regular bonsai tree. Place the pot in a semi-shaded space for the next 2 to 3 weeks and ensure it receives proper sunlight, ventilation, and adequate watering.
This is our tutorial on how to start a bonsai tree. The actual steps are easier than you may have imagined previously. The key is to pick the right bonsai species, germinate it in the right environment, and continuously repot it through proper trimming and pruning.
Nonetheless, you need to be ready to pay your utmost attention and dedicate a good chunk of your life to take care of the bonsai plants. But when it grows old, and you display it on a beautiful pot, the labor behind it is worth any love and dedication.
Read more: Best Bonsai books Top Picks & Reviews