10 things you should know BEFORE buying a tree

Graydon

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Hi all - I am hoping to start a discussion parallel to this thread about the 10 best species for beginners. My hope is that we could start a great generic advice list to aid a beginner in the basic horticultural skills needed to grow, style and keep bonsai alive.

As I stated on the thread linked above I believe there is a basic level of horticultural skills that one needs to possess before venturing in to bonsai. Having these skills would greatly increase the chances of success with the first tree.

Let's try to keep it short and sweet. I know there is a wealth of information out there and available. For example Brent at Evergreen Gardenworks has countless articles that would apply. I'm not trying to bog a newcomer down - just to point out a few pearls of wisdom.

I would like to submit these:

1) If your tree's natural habitat is an under story tree than you will need to provide shade for the tree. The shade could be natural or it could be shade-cloth.

2) Bonsai need to be rotated to expose all sides of the tree to the sun. This will promote even growth and will help prevent weak areas that do not receive adequate sun exposure as well as help promote interior budding. Several full rotations per growing season should be sufficient.

3) Resist the temptation to handle freshly potted trees day after day. Just like a tree planted in the ground those new developing roots need time to grow and get stronger.

4) Proper watering is one of the keys to a healthy bonsai. Watering requirements vary from species to species (just like in ground trees) as well as zone to zone. Small pots dry much faster than larger ones. In some areas watering twice or three times daily may be needed. Automatic timers work well and can take the hassle out of being there several times a day.

5) If the tree will not grow in the ground in your area the chances are strong that it will not grow well in a pot.
 

irene_b

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(6) Keep your soil mix free draining.
Do not get bogged down in trying to find out what everybody else uses.

(7) Keep your ferts simple as well.
Osmocote works great.

(8) You do not need every tool to start out with.
Concave and snippers.

(9) Before you buy a tree, research it first!
And yes that is reading everything you can find on it.

(10) Be respectful when seeking help.

Mom
 
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11) Be respectful when receiving help.

12) Study everything, not only on bonsai but also on trees, shrubs, pest, diseases, container gardening, etc.

13) Seek out and join a club, if none are nearby seek out other bonsaists and form a study group.

14) Plan for and go to major shows or collections, there is no substitute for seeing quality bonsai live.
 

Steve

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13) Seek out and join a club, if none are nearby seek out other bonsaists and form a study group.
Lots of good advice. No.13 that Will suggested should be the first thing you do as a beginner if you can. A lot of the other advice listed here will well and truely be covered if you can join a club. The learning curve is so steep and amazing, it's the quickest way to get good knowledge, meet some amazing people and have some fun at the same time.

Cheeers,
Steve.
 
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15.Plan on killing your first tree. I know this sounds harsh, but it might live then it's a real positive. Besides this will help you decide how much to spend on your first tree.
16.Do not plan on having a good looking bonsai in any less than 1 year, if starting with regular nursery stock.
17. If possible, own the tree for one full year before dong ANY work on it. This willl give you good a idea of the watering and feeding needs of this species in your climate.
 

bretts

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18 After reading about all the bugs disease and 101 other things that will kill your bonsai and wondering how anyone can possibly keep them healthy.
Put all the books away go out in the garden and enjoy giving it a go.
 

Attila Soos

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19. Keep your hobby secret from your boss, co-workers, and your dates (unless she is into Gothic). If you tell them, they will think that you are weird.
 
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LOL , Will. Which one did YOU make the mistake of telling ?
I made (continuosly make) the mistake of telling EVER BODY.
 

Fangorn

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20. Don't spread yourself too thin. Instead of trying to learn the nuances of many different kinds of trees, focus on just a few favorite species
 

Bill S

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Rick, you are dead on there, one of the most often seen issues I think. Many beginners will try to constantly try to give thier baby a haircut to keep it neat. How come those trees never get any bigger???

Watering/Fertilizing, and Soils are stand alone chapters, and need to be understood before buying.
 

Attila Soos

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Rick, you are dead on there, one of the most often seen issues I think. Many beginners will try to constantly try to give thier baby a haircut to keep it neat. How come those trees never get any bigger???
Yes, this is probably the least understood secret. The constant urge to prune and pinch young trees is just irresistable. That's why those trees don't get any better for a long-long time.
 
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LOL , Will. Which one did YOU make the mistake of telling ?
I made (continuosly make) the mistake of telling EVER BODY.
Me too...and then there are those phone calls from a friend of a friend of your niece or some co-worker about a bonsai they bought that isn't doing so well.... "I hear your a bonzai guru, maybe you can help me..."


Will
 
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Yes , and you end the conversation by saying "So take your juniper off the top of the T.V. and,..."
 

irene_b

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Graydon is the list complete or do you feel it needs more?
Mom
 

Bill S

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Jeremy, respectfully, the purpose of this list is to eliminate the tree killing. Typically killing the first and subsequent tree comes about from lack of growing knowledge, and BAD care instruction. Unfortunately, many we see here are researching what to do about thier dying baby( before any research is done at all), that part will be tough to get around, but at least if this thread takes off we can have a really good " go check there section to tell them to read read read.
 

irene_b

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Bump this thread up...
Graydon is this one finished?
Mom
 
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