Tips on Choosing Your First Bonsai Tree

There is so much satisfaction and enjoyment that can be got from growing Bonsai Trees. However as any one who practices any  form of art will tell you it takes time and patience to get things right. And by right I do not mean becoming an expert. I think it has more to do with becoming confident in your abilities and knowing where to look for information or help.Healthy Bonsai Trees

I can still remember how over whelmed I felt when I acquired my first Bonsai Tree. In fact it took me a really long time to even get it because I kept putting it off.As a beginner, it seemed like there were so many things that I had to do and get to take care of my plant.

In fact I spent hours online finding out more information about them. Luckily I stay near a library so I was able to get some more resources as well. If you are reading this and all the talk about libraries and books and research is putting you off getting yourself a plant then please do not be alarmed. As usual I went totally overboard. I wanted to know everything before I started. Which off course is both impossible and not advised.

just started the process and learned as I went along

The best thing to do is to learn as you go along. There are so many online resources and communities , great books(When I started I preferred actually still do prefer books that have loads of pictures)

Below is an example of the numerous resources you can get online

Bonsai tree life span

One of the first things I wanted to know about Bonsai Trees was how long they could live for. Bonsai trees have been known to live for a very long time. How long a tree lives depends on a number of factors including the care it receives, the conditions under which it grows and also how long the species of the tree normally lives for.

Average life span of the tree would most likely be the same as the parent tree or even higher since bonsai trees are protected from the harsh conditions that their parent trees would face in the wild.

The oldest bonsai in the world is believed to be a tree in the Tokyo Imperial Palace collection called Sandai-Shogun-No Matsu it is considered a national treasure in Japan and rightly so. It boggles the mind to think that while Martin Luther was preaching sermons in  Eisleben, Germany, this tree was being cultivated by craft masters in Japan. (Anne of Cleves who became the fourth wife of King Henry VIII was also born around this time.)

The best Bonsai trees for beginners

There is no such thing as a bonsai tree that will require no maintenance however there are some trees that will do well with relatively less care and are more suited for the beginner. Here is more information if you are looking for one to keep inside.

ficus oriental bonsai tree is a good starter tree

ficus oriental bonsai tree is a good starter tree

Good starter trees

For a beginner it is recommended that you get a tree that is easier to take care. Different trees will do better in different regions therefore it is a good idea to do some research on what Bonsai trees will thrive in your region/location.

The type of tree that you choose will also depend on whether you want to grow your tree indoors or outdoors

Common trees for a beginner include:

For indoor trees, a ficus is a good because it can adapt to low lighting outdoor. Other good choices include juniper for example the Chinese Juniper (juniper chinensis) and Japanese maple. Chinese Elm (ulmus paravifolia) is also another good choice since it can thrive in a wide range of climates and locations.

One of my favorites however would have to be the dwarf Dwarf Hawaiian Umbrella Tree simply because it does well indoors, requires lower lighting conditions and is very forgiving of beginner mistakes.

How to get your first Bonsai

Acquiring your first Bonsai can be daunting. There are different ways you go about this. Although it is possible to grow Bonsai from seed, from my experience as a beginner, it would be better to get your plant from a nursery or garden center, or buy one online. I actually prefer the first option since at a nursery or garden center you will find plants that will do well in your local area and also get expect advice. If for some reason you cannot make it to a specialist nursery, you could always talk to them on the phone. I am sure they could still advise you this way and then you could go ahead and buy one online.

Tips on choosing your first Bonsai tree

When choosing your first tree consider the following;

The climate of your area since different species will do better in different areas.

The conditions under which the tree will be grown; will it be indoors or outdoors. Secondly what are the sunlight conditions? You might need to consider getting grow lights if it is an indoors plant.

When it comes to choosing the tree itself, you will want it to be as healthy as possible from the beginning therefore should spend some time looking at the stock available.

Below are some tips for choosing a healthy tree.

Make sure that there are no pests or bugs on the tree (look at the leaves, branches, trunk, soil and the surface roots.)

The tree should have good strong branches and the position of the branch is also important specifically the point where the branch and the tree trunk meet.

The trunk of the tree should be thicker than the branches.  Since most bonsai trees are rarely straight, the trunk should not be very straight up and down unless the style that you are going for is a formal upright where the trunk of the tree will be straight up and down.

Roots- One way of checking for root health is to make sure that plant is firm in its container.

Here is a video about choosing your first bonsai


I hope this article is helpful to someone starting out with bonsai. I will update it when I think of other things that could be helpful.