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Starting a Bonsai

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This instructable shows my first real project in bonsai. The techniques used were learned through research in various book sources and with a visit to the Wichita Bonsai Club's monthly meeting. I open myself up to any criticism from people with more experience.

This project takes a landscaping bush purchased at Lowes for $16.98 and starts its training as a bonsai specimen in what's known as a "training box" to start to make the roots the right shape for a more shallow pot. It involves building the box itself, pruning (with root pruning), and potting the tree.

This bonsai will be kept outside year round unless there is some extreme in weather. According to many I've spoken to about bonsai the most common mistake is to try to get a plant which is meant for outdoors to live inside. There are some tropical species which can tolerate this, but most evergreen and deciduous trees need humidity, lots of light, and seasonal weather changes which are nearly impossible to replicate indoors.

I wanted to plug a couple of sites which have helped me out considerably:

The Helpful Gardener - Bonsai Forum:
http://www.helpfulgardener.com/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=1

- Very good (free) forum which has always given me quick, well informed responses from cool people.

Wichita Bonsai Club
http://www.wichitabonsaiclub.com/

"The Rules of Bonsai" - A set of rules that everyone interested in bonsai should read.
http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/rules.htm

 
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spylock1 year ago
You deserve no criticism and have done a fine job.
worrall822 years ago
nice red maple!!,,, i cant wait for spring to go collect a beech and a larch !!!!!
schefflera is a nice indoor bonsai too!
Do evergreen trees make good bonsia??
I heard they do. I will try.
Tell me how it works
It is pretty much the same concept as with this cherry, but with a juniper or pine tree. I would recommended the variety "Juniper Procumbens Nana". It is fairly common at garden centers.
pcastle-13 years ago
Thank you for posting this. I have visited many a garden center searching for bonsai tools and supplies, but I have been unsuccessful so far. Do you know where I can find these products? Thanks again!
wiggins8472 (author)  pcastle-13 years ago
Sorry for the slow response. There are a number of bonsai tool/soil merchants online. Also, most larger cities have a greenhouse with more of an Asian theme. If I were you I'd check Google Maps. Really, you can get by with just normal tools like a good pair of pruning sheers/fertilizer (commonly used at half the recommended strength). The only thing I usually order online is soil.
Foaly73 years ago
I'm totally doing this with an oak seedling.
 Oh, how beautiful!!! *o*

Congratulations! I'll try to do it later! ;)
r3nrut4 years ago
Thank you for the help! I went to lowes and started a bonsai about a week ago. I am not sure however whether I am supposed to cut of all of the foliage like shown above. Please reply.
hackinblack5 years ago
nice posting, bonsai is my other hobby,and here are a few tips... bonsai soil actually works better if the ingredients are mixed-up, not layered; by layering the ingredients the waterlogged area caused by heavy rain (or overwatering) actually just happens further up the pot killing off more of the roots... making the roots spread out instead of down is the biggest problem when using nursery trees,as they are grown crammed together to take up less space in the greenhouses; this makes their main roots grow straight down . in Japanese Bonsai nurseries, they even trim the tap roots off the seedlings! which explains how a 200yr old tree can live in a 2" deep pot... mmm i feel a Bonsai 'how to' about to be posted.....;)
Please do! I started a juniper in the fashion shown above, but most of the online bonsai literature has been mostly words and I am not sure some of the stuff they are talking about. We also don't have a bonsai club nearby. Any help especially with pictures would be greatly appreciated.
This is the way I've started training/developing my bonsai as well. I build the boxes from cedar boards, as cedar is fairly rot-resistant. When I mix bonsai soil, I use a clay product called Oil-Dri, sifted to remove particles that are too large, or too small...this is actually a substitute for akadama, a volcanic clay used in Japan. I find Oil-Dri more readily available where I live, and much, much cheaper. To this I add sifted fine fir bark as an organic component. The ratio of clay to fir bark varies depending on the tree species I'm using. The particle size for the mix I use is uniform - i.e. I don't use a drainage layer, as I've found some references in my bonsai literature that this will actually impede drainage. Oh - and I agree with some of the other posts about bonsai not being a type of tree. It's an artform, that happens to use trees (of a many different species) as the raw material. Great instructable! Thanks for sharing this.
Foaly75 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
unjust Foaly75 years ago
bonsai is a type of plant training, not a variety. google or wikipedia will explain.
Foaly7 unjust5 years ago
There is actually a type of small Asian (or African?) plant species reffered to as a Bonsai. Either that or it is just as you said. Either way, cool instructable.
pdub77 Foaly75 years ago
unjust is correct. the art of bonsai is about dwarfing tree and plant species, not a specific type. everything from oak trees to various grasses can be trained in this style.
CapnChkn5 years ago
Well, I see I have my chance to step in and save the day! Bonsai (Bone-sigh), beyond it's obviously sexual connotation in English, means Tray Plant. First developed by the Chinese to alleviate an Emperor's homesickness for his mountain childhood, we associate it with the Japanese whose Emperor had to pass laws against digging any of the naturally occurring dwarfs in the countryside to keep the wilderness from being destroyed. Plant growth hormone is found in the terminal buds, so severe pruning, rather than starvation as commonly believed, is what will dwarf a plant. Almost any plant can be dwarfed, I've seen masters grow marigolds in walnut shells. Here's a photo of my, now bursting, Red Maple (Acer Rubrum var. Rubrum) which is around 25 years old. I thickened the trunk by allowing 2 branches to grow out expanding the trunk and then chopping them off, with the unfortunate result of the bark dying, the heartwood rotting, and in general leaving an unsightly mess. The white twisty thing is a wire which is wrapped in strips of shopping "A shirt" plastic bag to keep from scarring the bark. Holding the branches in place for several weeks keeps them in the shape you want.
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finfan75 years ago
This is cool. I've been wanting to do this.