Suitable Bonsai Material

For some traditional reason there is a mystique associated with bonsai. Many people are convinced that this obscure oriental obsession for miniature trees is governed by secrets difficult to learn and more difficult to apply. Why else ’they say’ would they be so rare and so expensive? Just one of a many myths that must be shattered before you embark on this fascinating hobby.

A common misconception is that the plants used for Bonsai are genetically 'dwarfed' plants. Bonsai trees are normal plants, propagated like any other, but trained using simple learnable techniques to keep them to a miniature size.

In truth, the principles of bonsai are easy to grasp; suitable plants are not expensive and you need neither specialist tools nor lots of time to develop good trees. You will learn far more than by going out and buying a ‘finished’ bonsai (and your mistakes will cost less). This is a fun, jargon-free guide to growing bonsai that will appeal to all readers, regardless of their level of experience.

When we begin start learning the art of bonsai, for several years we struggle with our trees; we often get very discouraging results. In today's world where Google and other media sites show us so many great bonsai, and we see our little trees struggling, we can get discouraged. We wonder why - is it just inexperience or did we make the right choice with the species of tree we chose to develop into bonsai?

First, if we must consider what you would describe as a suitable species for bonsai:-

  • one would immediately think about the small leaves
  • the seasonal changes in the colour
  • the bark characteristics
  • flowering species, etc

In Japan there are some 4,500 native plant species; from these only a tiny number have been used for bonsai. Why is this so? Clearly there are several reasons:-



Let us define what makes some species more suitable to this art and why. All these process are stressful to the trees, and depending on the plant's response, one can see how good it is for further investment of time.


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