A courious question for everyone

Kevster

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Being new to bonsai and now understanding the addiction I wonder how many bonsai (pre-bonsai to show quality) does everyone have?

I've only got a few nice bonsai but 18 that should amount to something in a couple years.
I'd have more if I had room but there is no place to put them unless I get rid of my shed.... Hmm, who needs a shed anyway?
 

Gene Deci

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A few years ago our club did a survey on the size of collections of the members. As I remember the average was around twenty trees but an interesting fact turned up. The most experienced folks tended to concentrate on fewer trees making those the best they could be. Too many trees can mean not enough time to spend on each one.
 

rockm

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You will find that Gene's post is VERY true.
More experienced growers tend to have fewer trees. I began culling trees as I learned and got more experience. Having over 15 trees or so, limits every one of those trees. Chances are the quality of each tree diminishes in direct proportion to your total number of trees. I started getting rid of dozens of trees about five years into the hobby. I began to notice that what I had wasn't great and would never be good. I sold those off and concentrated on a few of the best, as well as buying more select stock trees. I am probably going to purge some of those this spring, as I've taken some of them about as far as I want to.
 

Dav4

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You will find that Gene's post is VERY true.
More experienced growers tend to have fewer trees. I began culling trees as I learned and got more experience. Having over 15 trees or so, limits every one of those trees. Chances are the quality of each tree diminishes in direct proportion to your total number of trees. I started getting rid of dozens of trees about five years into the hobby. I began to notice that what I had wasn't great and would never be good. I sold those off and concentrated on a few of the best, as well as buying more select stock trees. I am probably going to purge some of those this spring, as I've taken some of them about as far as I want to.

Yup...the trees I routinely work on are the ones that will be show ready within the next decade. The rest are watered/fed and basically ignored, hopefully developing into something to work on in maybe another 10 years.
 

Bonsai Nut

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The most experienced folks tended to concentrate on fewer trees making those the best they could be. Too many trees can mean not enough time to spend on each one.

+1

The more experienced I get, the fewer trees I have, but the quality of the trees increases. About 15 years ago I went through the "throw everything out that came from a regular nursery" phase and cut the number of trees I had in half. Now I only buy pre-bonsai stock, or collect from the wild (including people's front lawns). I still have far too many black pines :) but that's because I enjoy working with them. I also find that if I only buy one or two trees per year, my budget per tree goes up exponentially :)
 

Stan Kengai

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The typical bonsai enthusiast begins by acquiring a lot of inexpensive material, and that's probably a good thing. It gives them a lot to practice on (not much to worry about making a mistake on cheap material), and it allows them to figure out what material they like to work with. As they learn more and become more confident in their skills, they buy less, but more expensive, material.

I started over in bonsai this past spring, after losing all of my plants 6 years ago. At that time, 10 years into the hobby, I had 18 bonsai, which was down from a high of about 45 in the first 3-4 years. I currently have 2 plants that will go into pots this spring, but even they need a lot of refinement :(
 

Attila Soos

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I am the exception. Several hundred bonsai, and loving it. After 20 years, I pretty much know my limitations and make sure that I don't go over my limit of one thousand trees. That's where I draw the line.:)

For now, it's not too bad, because the trees were in development (I moved to California and started my collection 15 years ago). But in the last couple of years, a few hundred trees have received their first bonsai pot, and they are rapidly approaching the final design. So, things will get busy in a hurry. I will start selling some of them, to make a little room for the rest.
The plan is to rotate them, from being show ready, to just routine maintenance. It will take about one season to get a tree from maintenance status to show-readiness. It is also good for the health of the tree, not to keep them show-ready at all times. They need a break from that, every other year.

But that's not for everyone. I agree that 15-20 trees are the right number for the average Joe.
 
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Ang3lfir3

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Vic and I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 100+ bonsai.... we acquire on average 5-10 per year [usually show quality or high end material] (this year we bought a few truck loads of 30yr old azaleas but that's another story). We expect our collection to grow in this way for some time. There are specific examples of tree species that I am still looking for "just the right one" of but we are being patient. I also have an addiction to landscape material and we often buy interesting or high quality landscape material when we find something marvelous.

With the two of us being bonsai artists it makes the work much easier.... we can work together on large trees that need extensive work and we often give away trees to new bonsai friends and club members ... this also helps when you need to spend the entire weekend working on trees.... the likelihood my spouse is already outside working on trees is pretty high :) :)

As was already stated however the quality of our trees has grown and we almost never buy bonsai material at nurseries... there are a few silly trees that we (mostly I) keep just to "show em" .... buts that's me being stubborn...
 

Ang3lfir3

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neither.... they were from a long time bonsai hobbiest who passed away.... all of them are garden azalea (i believe most are hino-crimson)... none are satsuki... they were all growing in an overgrown shaded yard so are getting used to our place.... you will see some in the coming years... others are good material for club workshops etc... he purchased them many many years ago from a nursery that was going out of business....

I should note these were all trees that he had never gotten into bonsai pots so are VERY raw...
 

Kevster

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Thank you everyone for your replies. It comforts me knowing I'm not the only one who has more than a few trees to say the least. I don't have anything worth showing so most of my stuff after their initial styling are left to grow as to thicken branches and such. Lol I just planted 6 into part of the area where our vegetable garden is. Oh well. I don't need all those tomatoes anyway.

But it's interesting how we all seem to follow the same path as I am now looking into "better" stock instead of looking for the cheaper deal.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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But it's interesting how we all seem to follow the same path as I am now looking into "better" stock instead of looking for the cheaper deal.

Also interesting how we have to find that path on our own, get there and say..."Ah-ha, now I get it!"...then start yelling at everyone who's not on it..."Over here!"

Although it becomes increasingly harder to cull the herd when the bottom trees are still decent.
 

bumblebee

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Here's a related question. I tend to stick lots of cuttings in pots as I go. When they root i've got more babies to do something with.
How long does it take to grow out of this phase? Or do some never grow out of it. There's just so many plants you can give away to people.

Libby
 

jk_lewis

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I do that all the time. You just never know . . . .

Most of them simply get tossed after a year or two.
 

rich415

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I currently have 30-40 in anything from four inch pots to bonsai pots. This is only my 3rd year in the hobby, so I'm trying to figure out what species I like the best and what I can keep healthy without pulling my hair out. I think it is actually good for us to go through this stage. after a few years we can figure out what we like and what we can keep in our areas. After that i think we can begin to limit our trees.

My biggest problem is that I live in the Bay Area where there is so many clubs and they each have sales throughout the year. I get really cheap decent material way too easy. This doesn't make it easy to stop buying.

Rich
 
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i just counted and i have 21 trees to this point and i ve been an addict for 1 1/2 years.I still have 2 or 3 to collect this upcoming spring then thats it :) for now
 

treebeard55

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I was already a confirmed "plant-o-phile" when a Christmas gift from my sister got me interested in bonsai. I too went thru the stage of buying left and right, not really knowing what to look for -- but enjoying myself anyway! :D

Gradually I began to realize that not everything that caught my eye would make a decent bonsai. I also realized that I was spending so much time simply keeping my trees alive that I had no time to enjoy them! That's when I began to cull, and to concentrate on the better ones, both among what I already had, and in new purchases. What helped refine my eye the most was reading David DeGroot's book Basic Bonsai Design. The book is excellent, and I recommend it to anyone, novice to advanced.

At one time I had over 200 intended-for-bonsai plants. Now I'm down to about 40 that are either already part of my permanent collection or will probably end up there. I won't gripe too much if that number gets winnowed a bit more in the next few years.

In addition, I have another dozen or so that "deserve to be bonsai," but that I don't intend to keep permanently. Trees like that I grow on, style (at least partway,) then sell or give away. One place where small trees are often welcome, I've found, is in school classrooms.

Libby, like you I'm one of those who can't stand to discard trimmings when they could be rooted! :) Most of those plants end up on the sale table at our club shows in May and October.
 

JudyB

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Seems like it's pretty universal with a few exceptions, I'm at 50, and working my way back down to what I hope to be 25-30 really great trees. But I have learned alot along the way back down from about 75. It's all in teaching your eye, and your mind what is important.
 

Kevster

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I wasn't counting my cuttings lol. I've got dozens of those of which I will give most away but I have saved a select few from ficus that I started on root over rock. I think the best root over rock bonsai are started with a very young tree when their roots are small and soft. They really grip the rock a whole lot better and it looks much more natural. Downside is it takes a long time to make a cutting into something you can even start to work with.

But bonsai isn't a race. I find it to be very relaxing and gradifying to see something that's nothing turn into a living piece of art.
 

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