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Playing With Tiny Trees


There are many hobbies that can come out of the world of gardening. Many people can enjoy bird-watching in their newly planted native garden. Maybe some will get out and put their gardening efforts onto canvas. You could photograph all the things you love in your garden. So, what is a hobby that is part art, part horticulture and can be addicting? It’s bonsai, of course. Myself along with many others around the world have gotten the bug. In recent years, this hobby has gained in popularity in the United States, and so many practitioners are modernizing this ancient art. Many people got their first exposure to bonsai through movies such as “The Karate Kid,” and in more recent times, from anime episodes, like Cowboy Bebop.

So, what is bonsai? Bonsai simply means plant in a pot. This art mostly uses trees and shrubs to portray an old tree that you may find in nature.

Bonsai trees are made from the skills of pruning and wiring, unless you’re using the clip and grow method. The tree along with the container is one composition. It does take a lot of thought to make these tiny trees. You will first have to get a few things, starting with what type of bonsai you would like to grow.


The Tree

The trees themselves can be either evergreen or deciduous. It is best to pick material that naturally has smaller leaves. With the restriction of the roots and pruning, the leaves have the potential of becoming even smaller and creating a more realistic “old tree.” You will want something that has a nice base or trunk, and plenty of healthy roots.

Pruning Tools

A bonsai pruning kit is a helpful thing to have. In the kit you will have different cutting tools used for tasks such as cutting branches or trimming the foliage.

Shallow bonsai pot.

These pots come in many different materials from glazed or unglazed ceramics to mica and plastic pots. For beginners, the selection and prices can be overwhelming. Just choose a container that not only works for your budget but the health of your starter tree. You have years to find a permanent container for your tree. Did I mention this hobby teaches you patience?


Bonsai soil is generally a very light, free draining mix. A good soil blend is important for the health of your tree.


If you don’t decide to do the clip and grow method, which is only using pruning methods to train the branches, then you will need wire. There are two types typically used: aluminum and copper. The thickness of the wire is dependent on the size of the branch you are working with.


Fertilizer will be needed; remember these trees will be in a very free draining soil. You will have feed to keep up with the demands of your tree to stay healthy.


Watering is another important thing you must do. The soil generally used is very free-draining, so you will have to water frequently. Never go on a summer vacation without a plan in place to make sure your trees get watered.

Are you still wondering if bonsai is for you? Remember the one word I mentioned earlier: patience. You don’t have to run out and buy the best kit you can find.

For a lot of pruning as a beginner, you can use bypass pruners. For the soil, you can make your own blend, where you can find recipes online. In some cases, you can grow them out in your favorite potting mix.

Need a tree? Check out the discount section at your local nursery. Listen out for people redoing a landscape, or just walk around in your yard. You may be surprised at what may have seeded and can be used for bonsai.


Before you start, do your research. There are many books and online resources. Going to a local club with like minds and more than likely the same growing climate can be a great resource. At club meetings, members can get you on the path of your own bonsai journey, but just remember that word patience.

Get out there and get your hands dirty and enjoy new gardening experiences.