Is bonsai something that anyone can do as a hobby? The short answer is yes. As far as I am concerned there are two types of bonsai artists. The professional bonsai artists and the hobbyists. The bonsai professionals are the individuals who gets the once in a life time opportunity to go to Japan and apprentice for well known bonsai masters. These are the few that can make a living from doing bonsai demo’s, selling their trees and traveling the world as honored guest speakers at bonsai gatherings.
Then there are the hobbyists. Well lets just say this is a special breed altogether. I would classify myself in the hobbyist group. Everybody wants to be a well known bonsai artist and wants to tell you what the best way is to style your tree. I really admire those type of people as they can talk the talk when it comes to everyone else’s trees but when it comes to their own trees they always have some kind of excuse as to why the tree looks the way it does.
I want to tell you today that bonsai as a hobby is for everyone that has the time. Bonsai is not like any other plant in a pot that you just have to water and it will take care of itself. You need to make time for your bonsai tree every day. It’s a lot like adding another member to your family. You will need to read up extensively before going out to buy a bonsai tree for you to take care of. It’s also an good idea to buy something that if it dies you will not feel the financial lost as a discouragement.
Here is a photo of one of my first bonsai trees. This photo was taken in 2016.
This tree is about ten years old. As you can see this tree does not look as great as trees you see in magazines and online when searching for bonsai trees. This is due to the fact that when I started with this tree I had no idea what I was doing. I read a lot of books and I had some kind of idea of what I needed to be done. In other word I was clueless. I have been trying to correct all the mistakes I made in the first few stylings of this tree ever since I realized that what I was doing was wrong. I just recently started to get buds on the inside of the branches closer to the trunk of the tree. I got these results by fertilizing heavily and defoliating the tree a few times every Summer. When using the correct techniques you can over time build a great branch structure. In the beginning I wanted quick results. I would repot trees out of season, wire branches with the wrong wire, prune the branches and leave ugly scares behind. All these mistakes can be rectified. It’s just very counter productive.
Here is a tree I styled in May this year (2018).
I wrote a blog on this trees styling a few days ago :
Juniper Nana full transformation from start to finish
As you can see the second tree looks way better than the first tree I styled when I started out. Ok, its not fair the first tree was a deciduous tree and the second tree is a evergreen. Deciduous trees gets build by regular pruning, defoliation and wiring. Where evergreens like Junipers get styled by making huge bends initially and trimming back new growth. I know its almost the same but styling Junipers are easier. Deciduous tree take more time (years). Anyway you get the point. What I was trying to show to you through the two examples was that as you improve on your skills and techniques the way your trees look will improve with it.
I like improving my designs and doing better today than yesterday. There are no short cuts! There are ways of getting the desired design faster but no way of getting to a end result by waving a magic wand.
Here are a few basic things that you need know to start your bonsai hobby career:
- What type of trees work as bonsai trees.
- How to water a bonsai.
- When to fertilize your bonsai.
- Where to place you bonsai.
- How far to trim back your tree and how often.
- Which type of soil mixture to use when replanting your tree.
These are the basics you need to master to be a bonsai hobbyist. As you can see there is a lot more to growing bonsai than the points I highlighted above. I just wanted to prove that anyone can take care of a bonsai tree.
Now go out there and share the good news!
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to leave your comments below.