Basic Steps To Making Your Own bonsai Tree
Starting out in bonsai can be a scary thought but it doesn’t have to be, Today we are going to look at how to make a bonsai for beginners.
For the best success in bonsai it is best to do things in the correct order with some useful tips at each stage to help you on your journey. So today we will look at
- Selecting Your Material
- Growing Your Material
- Potting Your Tree
- Styling Your Tree
- Basic care
So lets jump straight into it
Selecting Your Material
This will be a very important first step because you not only want to get something that is appealing to you in terms of aesthetics but you also want something that will be happy in your environment. This is where a little extra research will come in handy for you when purchasing your first tree to find out if the conditions on your environment are suited to the tree you want. Some tree can withstand very cold frosts, while others are tropical species and don’t tolerate cold at all, some trees can withstand high temperatures while others don’t. Do some research on the particular species you want and pay attention first and foremost to its environmental requirements.
You will also want to look at how fast or slow a tree grows, there are some species that grow rapidly which is good for beginners because you will always have something to do, if you get a tree that grows slowly you may become bored of the hobby.
Good material for bonsai are trees that can a nice woody trunk and have interesting features such as nice foliage patterns, flowers or fruits or interesting features on the trunk such as hollows or deadwood.
I do recommend trying to seek out a Bonsai Nursery to purchase your stock as they will have selected the best material and can give you great advice for your particular area. They will have most likely also done some starting work on the trees from a young age so you will be 10 steps ahead already.
You can read our article here on some of the best bonsai trees for beginners.
Growing Your Material
Now this is a very important step that is often over looked. Now you can skip this step by purchasing some older established stock from a bonsai grower but it will be a lot more expensive. If you have bought younger material you will need to grow the tree in a stage we call Development. This is where you will grow the trunk bigger and thicker, start creating a nice root base, grow plenty of branching for options when it comes to styling and give the tree some over all character. After all we are trying to give the illusion of an old ancient tree and while we can do somethings that gives that illusion the tree will need a little bit of age in it to look the part.
When in development we want to grow with organic soils, inside a black plastic nursery pot. The organic soils will hold lots of nutrients to help the tree grow fast and the dense mix of organic soils helps grow bigger thicker roots which gives you bigger thicker growth on the tree accelerating the development process. The black plastic pot helps attract heat to the root system which helps it grow and also the height of the pot gives the root plenty of room to grow down rather then round and round the out side of the pot.
Keep growing your tree until you have a trunk size you are happy with, you may need to cut the tree back to a lower branch to create taper and new leader on the tree, once the new leader has developed and created taper you can then start developing some basic branch structure. Once this is all done we can move onto the next stage of “ Refinement” which includes putting your tree in a Bonsai Pot.
Potting Your Bonsai Tree
Once you have grown your tree and created some basic structure to your tree you can then move it into the next stage called “refinement”. This is where we will build our delicate branching on top of our big strong structure. Once we move into refinement we now introduce some big changes for the tree including moving from organic soil that promotes lots of nutrients and big strong roots for big strong growth to in organic soils which promote lower more controlled amounts of nutrients and finer ramified roots which promote finer ramified growth on the tree.
Your techniques will also change including watering, fertilizing, pruning and protection of the tree during extreme temperatures.
Potting up a bonsai is one of the more risky techniques we perform so its best to properly learn how to do it before giving it a go as there are a few things you will need to keep in mind including how much root mass can be removed, how to properly shape a root ball, how to anchor your tree properly in the pot, the proper soil mix to use, how to chopstick and more.
Styling Your Tree
Now you would have done some basic initial styling during your development phase including setting your first branching and trunk movement. But now you are in refinement you can work on ramifying your branching and reducing needle or leaf size on your tree. You may also want to do some other techniques like carving or deadwood. We do have an article on some of the basic styles of bonsai if you want to read more about them.
Once a tree is fully in refinement the tree moves into a stage of maintenance which can be pruning, watering and fertilizing. Every few years the tree will also need re potting but this will depend on the tree species and what kind of soil it is in to how frequently this is done. This allows you to give the root system more room to grow in the pot and after a successful repotting you should notice the tree will regain more vigor.
We have an article on Basic Bonsai Maintenance you can read.
I hope this has helped you understand the stages of bonsai we go through and has given you an idea on how to create your own bonsai tree. We do have more in depth lesson available on our Online Bonsai Course.
Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Bonsai Journey.