Bonsai Advice For Beginners | Bonsai Learning Center

Newbie Fundamentals: Creating A Bonsai For The First Time

This step-by-step pictorial is designed to information novices by the mechanical strategy of slicing, shaping and transplanting pretty easy bonsai materials for the primary time. It makes the idea that the reader has already finished some analysis and has a primary understanding of the elemental shaping ideas used within the artwork of bonsai comparable to:

1. Triangulation and asymmetrical composition.

2. Main, secondary and tertiary department identification and placement.

3. Choice of major viewing angle based mostly on trunk motion and rootage .

If you don’t perceive the three ideas outlined above, you’d be properly suggested to spend money on a bit extra analysis time earlier than starting this train. It is because the only most tough factor for novices to grasp is the flexibility to “see” the bonsai hiding contained in the mass of greenery from which they most frequently work. A agency grasp of the basics is of paramount to enhancing your capability to establish usable and non-usable parts of the plant materials. After getting that, the flexibility to “see” turns into step by step clearer with an increasing number of follow. For this train, we’ve got chosen a Dwarf Japanese Backyard Juniper (Juniperus procumbens nana). We’ve finished so as a result of, junipers are significantly good specimens for novices to follow on and since they’re extraordinarily vigorous growers with versatile branches and trunks. They like full solar, however will develop fortunately in all kinds of areas and circumstances. Additionally they have the added benefit of being a bit “forgiving” when newcomers make errors. Since you’re studying, we assume you can be making a couple of errors alongside the way in which. Its good to have plant materials which is keen to work with you. Junipers (significantly procumbens nana) are often keen to take action. The juniper chosen is a one gallon tree, about 5 years previous. Business nurserymen would usually promote this tree as a low rising floor spreader. Nonetheless, we selected this one from a bunch of about 75 at a neighborhood nursery, as a result of the principle trunk had been tied to a bamboo pole, inflicting it to develop vertically. This “pre-training” made it a superb candidate for bonsai cultivation.

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The picture at left reveals the uncut nursery inventory precisely because it was bought from the seller. The picture on proper was taken roughly two hours later and reveals the completed bonsai which was produced from this materials. Not all bonsai are as “immediate” as this instance. The truth is, really high quality bonsai might take years to develop.



Step One: Clear Up

It will likely be unimaginable to make any efficient selections in regards to the styling of the tree till is feasible to determine what the prevailing trunk form and department placement is. The primary process is, subsequently, to wash up the tree. Begin by eradicating the bamboo stake after which start cleansing out all useless needles and different particles from the inside of the tree. One of many issues which make junipers good materials for bonsai is that they readily develop new development on previous wooden. This can be a good attribute for any bonsai topic to have. Nonetheless, initially quite a lot of this rampant budding alongside the trunk have to be eliminated as a way to see the bushes form. Begin on the backside of the tree and start eradicating inexperienced buds and suckers which impede your view of the trunk. On the similar time take away inexperienced development from the inside of every department an inch or so thus permitting you to see the place of every department because it pertains to the trunk. After getting accomplished this process it is possible for you to to obviously see the form of the trunk and the place every of the branches emerge round it. Subsequent, dig gently on the base of the trunk and take away soil till you discover the purpose at which the roots start to flare outward. This would be the base of your new bonsai.

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The fabric should first be cleaned up so as to see the trunk form and place of branches alongside the trunk. Take away useless plant materials and sucker development alongside the trunk and about an inch out the bottom of every department.



Step Two: Wiring & Shaping

As soon as you possibly can clearly see the trunk line and branches you might start to make inventive selections relating to the ultimate look of your bonsai. As talked about earlier, these selections must be based mostly in your clear understanding of the basics of bonsai design and shall be utilized to every kind of plant materials on which you’re employed sooner or later.

Discover a entrance for the tree based mostly on the trunk motion and nebari. Choose its first, second and again branches. Decide an apex and the location of all secondary branching. Take away all others. In a phrase… Lower off something that doesn’t appear to be a bonsai.

5Begin by inserting a primary line trunk wire about 2 inches into the foundation mass to safe it.


Full the wiring course of for each department on the tree.Smaller branches will want smaller wire to safe them for bending.




Coil the wire across the trunk 



We all know that is straightforward to say and never really easy to do, however proceed slowly and punctiliously. Do not forget that it’s higher to go away a department on the tree, wire it and attempt to work it into the ultimate composition than to take away it first and later uncover that’s was wanted. Let the Japanese idea of “much less is extra,” information you on this. You are attempting to take advantage of dramatic assertion doable by utilizing the fewest quantity of phrases… or on this case, branches.

Within the case of this juniper we’ve got determined to maneuver the highest of the trunk to a unique location. We are going to regulate this and the department positions by utilizing wire. A primary line trunk wire of ample thickness to carry the bend within the apex is inserted into the soil about an inch or so to anchor it. It’s then wrapped up the trunk, cosy towards similar and at a couple of forty-five diploma angle perpendicular to the road of the trunk.

As soon as that is accomplished, branches could also be wired. At all times use one piece of wire to wrap and bend two branches. For the reason that branches are thinner, the wire used could also be smaller, however nonetheless of ample thickness to carry the department in place as soon as it’s bent.

Maintain the department securely between your thumb and forefinger and wrap the wire across the department. Then, with the second half of the wire make at the least one flip across the trunk (extra of vital) following the trail of the principle line trunk wire till you possibly can exit the second department . Repeat this course of till all branches remaining in your design have been wrapped in wire. Proceed from heavier branches and heavier wire to smaller branches and smaller wire. When going up the trunk, comply with the road of the prevailing wire and attempt to keep away from crossing wires at any time when doable.

When all branches are wired it turns into doable to maneuver them and the apex into the positions which you’re feeling are finest to your ultimate design. Go slowly on this course of. For those who really feel the department cracking or splitting away from the trunk… cease. Junipers are pretty supple vegetation and branches often transfer into desired positions with minimal issue. This isn’t so with all species of vegetation. Curiously sufficient, you can be much less prone to break and crack branches if the juniper’s root mass is allowed to go barely dry earlier than the wiring course of.

However, you’re certain to crack a couple of branches and scuff a bit bark throughout this primary try. If the crack or break is severe, making an attempt sealing it with one of many many tree sealers out there for bonsai. For those who don’t have any out there, attempt utilizing a bit Elmer’s glue. It’s not poisonous, drys clear and makes an hermetic seal. If the department doesn’t stay within the place you want it could be vital to use a second wrap round that exact department with one other wire… or just take away the primary wire and substitute it with certainly one of ample thickness to do the job.


As soon as wired, the tree’s apex and all branches could also be bent and moved to the required positions. Beneath: The tree, with all branches in desired place wants solely to have the size of every department adjusted to attain a triangular form and correct asymmetrical steadiness.

Step Three: Element Pruning & Shaping

After getting transfer all of the branches into the approximate positions to your ultimate design, trim again the size of branches to determine the general form of the tree. Do not forget that all bonsai have a triangular form. Normally, the most important and longest branches are positioned on the backside. Branches step by step get thinner and shorter as they method the apex.

After getting shortened the branches to the specified size and established a properly balanced composition, start to work on every particular person department. Take away all inexperienced development which emerges from the underside of those branches. (Timber don’t develop leaves out of the underside of a department) and reduce or pinch again foliage on the tops and sides of every department till they start to develop a pad like form. Sooner or later, because the tree grows and develops you will want to maintain these foliage pads pinched again and properly fashioned. They may turn into extra dense with inexperienced development and add drastically to it’s look of age and maturity.

Within the case of this specific juniper we’ve got determined to create an space of deadwood utilizing a stay department close to the bottom of the tree. Many bonsai, significantly these with needles comparable to juniper and pine, usually have deadwood included into their design by the artist. These deadwood areas (jin and shari) add to the bushes look of previous age as a result of they resemble forest ancients which have been damaged again by the burden of time and climate. It’s not obligatory to have deadwood on a bonsai, however it’s usually finished.

The method is easy. All of the foliage is faraway from the department after which the bark and underlying cambium layer are eliminated exposing the tree’s coronary heart wooden. A pointy knife works finest for this course of. It is going to, in fact, kill the department. Take care to not take away or harm bark and cambium which feeds the remainder of the trunk. As soon as that is finished you must carve pruner cuts and form the deadwood in order that it appears very pure and attention-grabbing . In a month or two, when the realm has dried out, you might apply a coating of lime sulfur which is able to assist to protect the deadwood and likewise give it a whitened, historic, climate overwhelmed look. This being finished, the essential shaping of our bonsai is full and it is able to be transplanted right into a container.




Step 4: Preparation For Potting

The method of transplanting a bonsai from its rising container right into a completed bonsai container will be in comparison with deciding on the suitable body for a portray. A smart and suitable alternative could make a dramatic distinction in how the entire composition is perceived.

Inexperienced persons must be conscious that it doesn’t matter what the scale, form or shade of the container they choose, it should meet one essential requirement. Containers should all the time present ample house for the expansion and well being of the foundation system. This can be a purely horticultural consideration and never a creative one, however it is rather essential. The container you choose might look fabulous with the tree, but when it fails to offer enough room for the wholesome development of the bushes roots, it’s going to very shortly not matter what it appears like. Be sure that the pot you select is large enough.

There are a variety of bonsai tips coping with the sizes, shapes and glazes on containers when utilized in mixtures with the varied varieties and kinds. As you examine the artwork you’ll turn into extra acquainted with which containers work finest for a selected tree. The juniper on this instance shall be potted into an unglazed rectangular pot of Chinese language manufacture.




All bonsai pots have holes reduce within the backside. These holes are often in regards to the diameter of 1 / 4 and permit extra moisture to flee from the pot. Plastic display screen is used to cowl the holes and comprise the soil. This display screen is held in place by a wire “hairpin” which is handed by the display screen and the pushed by the underside of the outlet. The protruding wire is then bent up on the underside and prevents the display screen from shifting off of the outlet through the potting course of.

As soon as this has been finished an extended size of wire is reduce and bent at two proper angles. That is then handed by the drainage holes from the underside of the pot and as near the within edges of every gap as doable. This “tie down” wire shall be used through the potting course of to safe the tree in it’s container.

The method, to date, is called “prepping the pot” and have to be finished earlier than any work on the vegetation root system is began. Likewise all vital soils and parts wanted within the transplanting course of must be prepared and instantly out there.

The rationale for all this superior preparation is easy. The basis system of any tree is it’s most delicate half. Nice care have to be taken to insure minimal harm to it. Pointless or extended publicity to the air may cause irreparable harm to delicate feeder roots. Subsequently, the target is to finish the foundation pruning and transplant course of in an intensive, however environment friendly method and decrease the period of time roots are uncovered to the air. Having the whole lot prepared and in place will assist accomplish this purpose. If roots ought to begin drying out, preserve a hand mister out there and spritz roots with room temperature water as wanted.

Step 5: Transplanting & Root Pruning

Rigorously take away the juniper from its rising container and take a second to look at the foundation mass of the plant. Studying how the plant grows and responds to totally different varieties of out of doors stimulus is without doubt one of the keys to your success in bonsai.

In contrast to the higher parts of the bonsai, the roots aren’t fairly, however holding them joyful and in good circumstances is vital to holding the remainder of the bonsai wholesome and joyful.

Most container grown vegetation produced for the trade are planted into a mix of bark chips and sand typically known as “growers combine.” This juniper isn’t any exception.

Search for tiny white root suggestions rising on the backside and on the perimeters of the foundation ball. These white root suggestions point out a wholesome, joyful root system that’s actively rising.

Subsequent, attempt smelling the foundation mass. If wholesome, it’s going to have the great odor of contemporary turned backyard earth after a spring rain. If the foundation mass has been too moist, it could odor a bit like rotten vegetation and you’ll encounter slimy or decaying roots within the mass. Dangerous roots must be reduce out.

The quantity of roots which can be eliminated through the preliminary transplant course of will range drastically based mostly on the number of plant materials getting used and the time of yr wherein the transplant takes place. The final bonsai guideline relating to root pruning states that: For temperate plant materials, transplanted within the springtime, simply because the plant is pushing out new buds, it’s all the time protected to take away a 3rd of the foundation system.


It’s a good rule, however you’ll rapidly study sure species will put up with much more drastic pruning if finished on the proper season. This juniper is an efficient instance. The transplant was made within the springtime, simply because the buds had been rising. Junipers are vigorous growers and so there was not hesitation in eradicating barely greater than 2/Three of the foundation system. If we had chosen the warmer months for the transplant we’d have solely taken half of the foundation system or much less. You need to just remember to don’t take away a lot root that the tree can have issues supplying water to the foliage.

Utilizing a chopstick, root rake or your fingers, start to softly take away soil from the roots. You’ll discover that a large number of roots shall be positioned close to the sides of the pot and on the backside, and that the inside of the foundation mass will comprise fewer roots. Water drains in the direction of the backside of the pot. The roots merely go the place the water provide is finest.

14Take away most, however not the entire soil. Depart some soil within the root mass close to the bottom of the tree. Utilizing a pair of sharp shears, take away about 2/Three to 1 half of the juniper’s root mass. Look at the roots. You will see that two sorts: 1.) Giant heavy roots used to anchor the tree within the earth, and a pair of.) Tremendous feeder roots used to take up water and nourishment. Feeder roots are our primary concern. You can be tying the tree into the pot with wire and won’t have want for the heavy anchor roots. Take away them. Keep in mind to maneuver swiftly by this course of. If high-quality feeder roots start to dry out to spray them with a bit water.












The soil into which you’ll plant your juniper must be of a kind typically used for bonsai. To the newcomer, most bonsai potting mixes resemble a composite of rock and gravel with little or no natural materials. Such a free composition is vital to the event of high-quality feeder roots essential to insure the plant’s survival within the restricted house of a bonsai container. Chances are you’ll acquire prepared made bonsai soil from sellers or you might select to do some analysis and put together a mixture of your personal selecting. In no case must you repot it utilizing the growers combine or with the heavy black soils offered by most nursery shops. The right mix must be very granular and properly draining with particle measurement starting from one quarter to 1 eighth inch in diameter.

Place a number of scoops of bonsai soil into the container, mounding it in a pile close to the middle. Subsequent take your freshly root pruned juniper, comb out the roots a bit, shake off any free soil chunks which can be clinging to it and place it on high of the soil mound within the pot.

It’s best, for inventive causes, to plant the tree barely off of middle. Rotate the soil mass left and proper and press downward. As you do that, it’s going to power soil up and into the below facet of the foundation mass. The bottom of the tree must be simply barely above the highest rim of the container. Be sure that the tree is positioned on the right angle and doesn’t look off steadiness within the container.


Subsequent, carry the 2 ends of the tie down wire throughout the highest of the foundation mass. Utilizing a pair of pliers, take out any slack within the wire and twist the ends of the wire collectively securing the foundation mass in place. Be sure that throughout this course of you don’t pull the drainage display screen off of the holes within the backside. Clip the ends of the wire off and bend the sharp factors into the soil mass. This wire is just essential to preserve the tree from tipping over for the primary few months. As soon as the roots have had the chance to determine themselves you might clip the wire on the floor and pull it out by the drainage holes.

Subsequent, comb out the roots a bit extra and start including bonsai soil to the container. The target right here is NOT to make a root sandwich, i.e. – a layer of soil, a layer of root and one other layer of soil. Slightly, you must use a chopstick or picket dowel sharpened to a degree and work the soil in and across the roots. The soil combine must be bone dry as a way to facilitate this course of effectively.

Chopsticking soil round roots will be tedious and time consuming, however it’s vital to the long run well being of the plant. There isn’t a room for air holes in a bonsai pot… solely roots and soil. Take care to fill all of the vacant cavities with bonsai soil. As you wiggle the chopstick forwards and backwards, press down together with your finger tricks to really feel the floor of the soil. You’ll uncover you possibly can really feel these areas within the container that want extra soil.

As soon as you’re feeling that every one air pockets have been eradicated and that soil has been correctly labored in between all of the roots, you might use a brush to brush remaining soil all the way down to the sting of the pot.

At this level any high-quality roots that are sticking up out of the pot must be trimmed off with a pair of sharp shears. If not, these roots will expirate water and desiccate the plant.










Step Six: Aftercare

As soon as the transplanting is full it is very important get the foundation mass moist as rapidly as doable. That is most successfully finished by filling a basin or tub with water and set – ting the tree within the tub as much as its rim.

Water will come up by the drainage holes and saturate all the root mass. Permit the tree to take a seat within the tub for about 15 minutes after which take away it. Chances are you’ll add rooting stimulants, comparable to Vitamin B-1, Superthrive or Dyna-gro KLN, to the soak tub, if you want. Such chemical compounds typically assist the foundation system to beat transplant shock and recuperate extra rapidly.

The preliminary transplanting course of is often the one time it will likely be essential to backside soak the tree. More often than not, bonsai are merely watered from the highest with a hose or a watering can. Ought to the tree by chance dry out you might backside water once more if you want. It’s an efficient option to insure that the whole root mass is saturated.

Take away the tree from the water and permit it to empty utterly. Tipping one finish of the container increased than the opposite will trigger it to empty extra rapidly and utterly. This can be a good trick to recollect as a result of it can be used on established bonsai to stop extra moisture construct up in a pot throughout occasions when seasonal rains are too heavy.


Your bonsai is now… for all intents and functions… completed. Bonsai are by no means actually completed, however the primary styling construction is now in place and given time to develop, your bonsai will start to mature and fill out.

Chances are you’ll make minor styling changes to the tree presently or you might select so as to add a bit moss or high dressing. Moss offers most bonsai a completed look and can be utilized to intensify and outline the floor roots. Watch out nevertheless, masking the floor of your pot with moss can stop you from observing the moisture content material of the soil. Additionally take care to permit nothing to develop within the pot which might develop a root system that competes with the tree’s roots. There may be treasured little rising house in a bonsai pot and your tree wants all of it.

Now could be the time for a bit intensive care. For the subsequent three weeks, this freshly transplanted juniper must be saved within the shade. Since a big portion of the foundation system has been reduce away, it’s vital to permit the tree some restoration time in order that it may start to develop new substitute roots. The method of slicing a vegetation roots really stimulates it to develop extra roots… however this doesn’t occur in a single day.

Within the interim, mist the foliage as usually as doable. A plant will soak up as a lot moisture by its leaves and bark as it’s going to by its root system. Freshly pruned roots shall be laborious pressed to produce foliage with moisture. Misting the transplant and holding it out of the drying solar and wind will assist drastically.

After about Three weeks you might start giving the juniper about half a day of solar and on the finish of a month it must be moved into full sunshine. You might also now start to feed the tree with a dilute fertilizer answer. For creating bonsai a fertilizer excessive is nitrogen is finest.

Keep in mind the target is to insure the soil mass stays pleasantly moist, however not continually soggy. Additionally attempt to water in such a approach that roots will not be continually leaping forwards and backwards between useless dry and drenched. A fair, reasonably moist soil mass is your purpose.

How rapidly your tree will dry out will rely on the circumstances in your again yard. Frequent sense is your finest pal. Use the top of your finger. Dig down into the soil a bit. If it feels dry… water. If it doesn’t… then don’t water.

There isn’t a historic oriental secrets and techniques regarding the watering procedures for a bonsai. Most individuals who kill their first tree accomplish that with kindness. They’re so frightened the tree will dry out that they over water and drown the poor plant. Junipers really want rising circumstances barely on the dry facet. Keep in mind… we stated they had been forgiving. That doesn’t imply you possibly can go away for per week and never fear about watering your bonsai.

Place your bonsai on a daily feeding and watering schedule and pinch new development to encourage growth within the desired areas. Time is now the aspect which is able to profit your bonsai probably the most. With its passage the tree will turn into an increasing number of stunning. Keep watch over the wire and if it begins to chop into the bark, take away it instantly… even when the department springs again to its unique place. Usually, junipers will set their branches into the specified positions after about Three or four months. The wire can then be eliminated. Different species of vegetation make take longer to “harden off” requiring that the wire be left on longer. The juniper will be left in its container for about two years earlier than it’s going to fill the pot with roots and require a transplant. At the moment, merely take away it from the container. Comb out the roots, take away a couple of third and repeat the transplanting course of as described above.


By Randy Clark – © 2000 Bonsai Studying Heart, All Rights Reserved102-25-2016 10-34-10 AM

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