Growing your own Bonsai tree can be a lot of fun. Taking a cutting, planting it and pruning it into a perfect shape, then watching it grow for years is a rewarding hobby.
Today you will learn how to make a Bonsai on your own, how to prune and plant it and create something to admire for years on end.
8 Tips For Growing Bonsai For Beginners
We thought we would kick off our post with this excellent infographic from Small Garden Ideas. They suggest using hardy clay pots for your Bonsai Tree and it’s important to remember that your Bonsai will require 2 types of pruning.
The first is structural which involves wiring. This will hold your Bonsai in place and assist with creating the desired shape. The second type is maintenance pruning as required.
Step 1 Choosing Your Bonsai Plant
Bonsai can be grown with a number of different plants and trees. People have made bonsai out of bushy shrubs and tall trees, as well as flowering trees and even fruit trees are very popular.
There are, however, a number of important things to consider when selecting your tree.
Will Your Bonsai Be Indoors Or Out?
The first big question is will your Bonsai Tree be residing Indoors or Out? Traditionally tropical plants are used to grow Bonsai.
You need to take into consideration your local climate when selecting your plant. If your plant requires lots of sunlight and warmer temperatures, you may need to bring it inside in winter months. You’ll also need to think about where it can reside in your home to get the most sunlight and be free from drafts.
Do You Want Fruit, Flower, or Leaves?
Over time, Gardeners have made their Bonsai Trees out of many types. Traditionally, Japanese Maple and Baobab Trees have been popular choices. Wisteria also makes an incredible Bonsai and miniature fruit trees are also a sight to behold.
In the end, it all boils down to personal choice and also how much time you are willing to dedicate to your Bonsai and also the maintenance factor. All of this should be researched prior to selecting your Plant. Now it’s time to pot your Bonsai.
Step 2 Potting Your Bonsai Tree
If you’re starting your own bonsai and not buying a pregrown one from a nursery, you’ll need a good pot.
Ideally, it should be shallow and small so that the tree’s roots don’t spread out too far, causing it to get too big.
As mentioned earlier in our post, a clay pot is an excellent choice. You’ll also need to use a good soil mixture made specifically for Bonsai. You can buy this or make your own.
If you choose a homemade version, you can use a mixture of potting soil with peat moss, pine bark, sand, and perlite. Mixing any of these with potting soil should give your Bonsai the proper drainage that it requires to stay healthy and dry.
Step 3. Styling Your Bonsai Tree
As you can see from the infographic above from Alawda, there is no shortage of Bonsai styles that you can choose from.
It’s important that the style is sympathetic to the matches plant that you have selected. Once you have settled on a preferred style, it’s time to get pruning and shaping.
Helpful Bonsai Styling Tips
Research is key when it comes to this stage. Google a few images or head over to Pinterest. The more inspiration, the better. Look at the plant from every angle and plan prior to pruning.
You want to encourage your plant to grow in a certain way. Don’t be impatient, it is unlikely that your plant will immediately look like the photos. This is one of the many joys of Bonsai Gardening and it does take time to achieve the absolute best results.
Take into account the way your plant already grows and what branches you’ll need to remove to achieve your ideal shape.
Common Beginner Bonsai Mistakes
Of course, there are a number of traps for beginner Bonsai Gardeners and here are some things to avoid.
A common mistake that beginners make is to leave too much foliage on the tree. This will cause your bonsai to become more of a shrub than a miniature version of itself. Don’t be afraid to use your snips.
Initially, you will want to cut the top off your plant so that it restricts the height that it grows. Once this step is completed, you can start trimming branches. We have included a video at the bottom of our post that will show you how to correctly style your Bonsai.
4. Wiring Your Bonsai Tree
If you’re not happy with how some of your branches are growing, you can use a technique called wiring. Many Bonsai gardeners say it aids in training branches to grow in a certain way.
For this technique, you will need quality gardening wire. You’ll need to be gentle and wrap tightly. This will force the branch to move every few weeks. Once your Bonsai has achieved the desired shape, you can remove the wiring.
5. Caring For Your Bonsai
Now that you’ve planted, potted and styled your Bonsai, you need to ensure that proper ongoing care is given.
Each individual type of plant or tree will have its own needs. There are however some general guidelines that you will find helpful.
Basic Care Tips For Bonsai Gardeners
Watering Wait until the soil is slightly dry to water your Bonsai and avoid overwatering.
Temperature Be sure to keep your bonsai out of direct sunlight when the temperature is hot outdoors. Most Bonsai can’t tolerate much cold or any cold drafts. In the colder months of the year, they’ll need to be moved indoors or reside in a greenhouse.
Repotting It is likely you will need to repot your Bonsai over a few years until it gets to the size you’d like. If the leaves look yellow, or the roots dried, the pot should be changed to a larger one.
Maintenance Once your Bonsai has grown into your desired shape, you’ll need to prune it a little every year. Be careful to not remove any additional branches when you are pruning.
Styling Your First Bonsai Video
via Peter Warren, Youtube.
In this video, Bonsai professional Peter Warren shows how to style your first Bonsai Tree. He demonstrates how to dig for roots, prune, clean and plant it. To watch, click Play above ^