Getting into the art of Bonsai development can be intimidating for a beginner. It can seem like there is so much to do. Although this is true, I think it is also one of the things that makes the art so beautiful. It is a process, a journey and every step of the way should not feel like hard work.
As a beginner it is worthwhile to note that you should be patient with both yourself and your plants. The art goes back more than 1000 years after all and it is impossible to become an expert in a short period of time.
To begin with and gain some confidence, I decided to buy a few plants during a sale at the plant centre specifically waited for a time when they were on sale so I could get them on the cheap. The leaves of my first tree started turning yellow almost as soon as I brought it home therefore I know how frustrating it can all seem. I never did find out why that plant died but I remember thinking to myself “well I guess killing off a tree is the worst that could happen and I have already done that….”
While trying to figure out what had gone wrong, I did lots of research online and found lots of good blogs and forums where I could connect with other people who had been doing this for a longer time. I am amazed by the good information that one is able to get at a click of a button online.
Although this article is about Bonsai trees that are good for beginners it should note that as Bonsai, they will still require some care and maintenance. There are some species that are considered more suited to beginners because they are easier to grow and hardy enough to withstand some of the mistakes we all make when starting out as beginners.
Juniper is one of the most common choices for bonsai in North America and Europe. It is an evergreen coniferous plant with up to 70 different species. Some of the common varieties used for bonsai include Chinese juniper, Shimpaku and Sargent.
The fact that it is easy to train and can survive lots of pruning makes it an idea tree for someone starting out in the art of Bonsai.
Another reason why this is an excellent tree for a beginner is that the branches and trunks of the tree are flexible enough that they can be shaped/wired easily.
It is best suited as an outdoor bonsai however when temperatures drop below -10 C it should be protected since it can succumb to the cold.
For movie buffs you might be interested in the fact that this is the bonsai tree that featured in the original Karate Kid movie. (It is sometimes called the karate kid bonsai or Mr Miyagi’s bonsai)
It should be noted however that a juniper bonsai is sensitive to having lots of leaves removed therefore care should be taken during pruning.
Chinese Elm (Ulmus Paravifolia)
Although this tree is a native of Eastern Asia, it is one of the most widely available and popular when it comes to Bonsai. It can be used for both indoor and outdoor bonsai. If being grown indoors, it requires lots of light and if outdoor is the preferred location, it should be kept outside during the warmer summer and spring months and brought inside during winter. Being either deciduous or semi-deciduous means that it will lose its leaves in the fall.
It is a beautiful tree that is favored by bonsai growers because of its appearance which consists of small leaves, a beautiful trunk that contains bark of varying color depending on the species. This color can range from a dark gray to a reddish brown.Its bark is also known for flaking.
It is recommended for people starting out because it is a hardy tree that is strong enough to survive different climatic and light conditions.It is also easy to style and trim.
This green shrub is a native to parts of Asia, Europe and North Africa. It is commonly grown as a shrub in urban areas. It flowers easily, with flowers appearing in late spring through early summer.
It’s small and bright fruits are attractive to birds from which they should be protected.
This tropical and evergreen tree is popular with bonsai enthusiasts. There are more than 300 species recorded worldwide. It is known by other names including Chinese Banyan and Common fig. Common species used for Bonsai include the Weeping Fig (Ficus Benjamina)
With good light, a Ficus can thrive as an indoor bonsai but it needs access to a lot of good light therefore should be placed near a window if possible.
Although Ficus bonsai are for the most part hardy and will tolerate some common mistakes that are bound to be made by beginners, they will lose their leaves when stressed. An example of stress could be moving the tree from one location to another.
JADE BONSAI TREE
Is a succulent plant native to Southern Africa. It is known by different names in various parts of the world including friendship tree, lucky plant and money tree. (Not to be confused with the Pachira Aquatica which is sometimes also referred to as the money tree.)
It has small, dark green glossy looking leaves
It is a good bonsai plant for beginners because it is durable and can be formed into bonsai easily. It should be noted that it does require a lot of light.
It requires less water in the summer that other trees.
This native of Eastern China and Japan is suited as a bonsai for beginners. It is attractive throughout the year but will lose leaves in the winter.
It has a fine root system which makes it ideal for bonsai
It can used for different styles of bonsai.
There are more than 300 species recorded. Potentilla fruticosa which is commonly used for bonsai is a deciduous shrub with small flowers.
It is an excellent choice foe Bonsai since it is interesting throughout the year even when the leaves fall off (it is a deciduous plant)
It is best as an outdoor plant since it requires a lot of sunlight.
This evergreen flowering plant is also sometimes known as the dwarf umbrella because of its shape. It is a native of Taiwan but is commonly used as a houseplant or as a landscape plant in milder climates.
It is a common choice for indoor Bonsai. Although it required a lot of light, it is capable of adapting to different light settings