Better to focus on a single species as a beginner ?

YAN

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Hello guys,

I’m a beginner, I’m new into bonsai as a hobby solely and i have a busy life and little space so i can take care of 5-6 trees max ( shohin size ).

is it better to focus on one species of tree?

if not is it better to go with native species?
-Cedrus libani ( lebanese cedar )
-Quercus libani ( lebanese oak )
-pinus pinea ( stone pine - umbrella pine )
-Olea europaea ( European olive )

I actually have a lebanese cedar for 2 years,very slow growth but excellent needle size for bonsai, I don’t know if oak and olive leaves can be decreased in size using some methods to be suitable for shohin size.

thanks in advance.
 

ConorDash

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Native species always better, beginner or not. Can't change nature, if it thrives in your climate, thats always a good thing.
If you have such limited space, I'd say get the species you want the most. You do a hobby for enjoyment, get the tree you'll enjoy. In time you'll learn about them.

I'd say only way to speed up your learning and experience, is having more space for more trees. In your situation, buy the trees you enjoy. Start cheap. Hurts a lot less to kill a cheap tree.
 

YAN

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Native species always better, beginner or not. Can't change nature, if it thrives in your climate, thats always a good thing.
If you have such limited space, I'd say get the species you want the most. You do a hobby for enjoyment, get the tree you'll enjoy. In time you'll learn about them.

I'd say only way to speed up your learning and experience, is having more space for more trees. In your situation, buy the trees you enjoy. Start cheap. Hurts a lot less to kill a cheap tree.
Thanks for your reply
 

Wires_Guy_wires

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I wouldn't go for pinus pinea, they're hard to control and it can be frustrating for beginners to work with them.
 
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Shibui

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Only 1 species might allow you to become proficient with that specie quicker but does not allow for much interest. I would try for several different species to maintain interest and variety. Try to get some faster growing species that can develop quicker. You are likely to lose interest if there are many months between being able to do work on your trees or maybe overwork the ones you have and set them back.
Olives are survivors so should be good for a beginner as they will tolerate most mistakes. However they are very slow to develop so will be frustrating when you cannot do anything for months at a time.
Cedrus have great short needles and nice, neat growth habit but are also very, very slow and can be difficult to shape.
@Wires_Guy_wires has already mentioned that stone pine can be difficult.
I have no knowledge of lebanese oak but many other oaks can also be slower to develop.

Introduced species that are suited to the climate can do as well, sometimes better than native species. Here, trident maple is the fastest growing species and is supremely suited to bonsai.
Many ficus species are also very hardy and grow fast. If you have frost free environment they can grow very well outdoors.
Chinese elm is suited to warmer climates as well as cooler. It is also a traditional favorite bonsai species and relatively quick and hardy.
 

Bonsai Nut

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I think your initial list of four species is a good one because it represents a little bit of everything. The deciduous oak will give you a little experience with deciduous trees, olives are a natural for your climate, and are extremely robust and easy to care for, and then you have a cedar and a pine to round out your conifer experience. The pine will be the most difficult and require the most care, and I don't have any experience with that species.

Personally, I think four trees/species are a light enough load that you should be able to care for / learn from all of them. In my opinion you want to have enough diversity that the hobby doesn't become stale.
 

sorce

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I reckon your climate will decide this for you.

Kill cheap things till you get it out of your system,, the need to work all the time.

By then you'll have it figured.

Sorce
 
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Leo in N E Illinois

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I would suggest going with Japanese Black Pine, Pinus thunbergii, instead of Pinus pinea, Aleppo pine. The reason is, the JBP will not keep reverting to juvenile growth on you. But if JBP is difficult to source, then Pinus pinea will have to do.

The rest of your list is quite good for bonsai.
 
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Adair M

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Your list is good with the exception of that pine.

Olives, would be excellent! I disagree with Shibui, I find they develop quickly!
 

YAN

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Thank you all for your replies,

this forum has been very helpfull and informative,

i’ll try to find some cheap samples of each before getting more decent ones,

I currently have a cedar and a boxwood I’ll keep you updated.

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AlainK

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is it better to focus on one species of tree?

No : when you begin, you make a lot of mistakes. Some species will just die, others will suffer, others will live a happy life. Watching them and learning from your errors, as we all did, as we all do actually, will help yopu get some skill and choose the best species not only for your climate, but for you.

if not is it better to go with native species?

It definitely is.

Of course, if I were Libanese, I couldn't imagine a collection of bonsai without a Cedrus libani. Yours seems to be well on its way. Take good care of it.

I suppose there are other species that grow naturally in Lebanon, I think you should focus on them : which part of Lebanon do you live ? By the coast, in the mountains ?...
 
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I like the question; it is thought provoking.

My strategy was always to start with a variety of cheap or free material and watch the survival of the fittest take place. I think a good strategy for a beginner as you are going to kill some trees as it is the price of bonsai tuition (someone’s signature on here. I like your sig as well).
Later on when you have some experience figuring out which species you like you could specialize. I have gone for one or two of many species for the joy of diversity, but I could see how that has led me to be more of a “jack of many trades, but a master of none”
 

YAN

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No : when you begin, you make a lot of mistakes. Some species will just die, others will suffer, others will live a happy life. Watching them and learning from your errors, as we all did, as we all do actually, will help yopu get some skill and choose the best species not only for your climate, but for you.



It definitely is.

Of course, if I were Libanese, I couldn't imagine a collection of bonsai without a Cedrus libani. Yours seems to be well on its way. Take good care of it.

I suppose there are other species that grow naturally in Lebanon, I think you should focus on them : which part of Lebanon do you live ? By the coast, in the mountains ?...
Well Lebanon’s so small that the mountains are actually by the coast 😁
I live in Beirut 500m above sea level 5 min away from shore, very humid.
 

AlainK

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I live in Beirut 500m above sea level 5 min away from shore, very humid.

Bon courage.
Like in bonsai, it's sometimes a long path to the light...
حظًا سعيدًا في المستقبل ، حظًا سعيدًا ، يجب أن نكافح من أجل الحرية
 
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Mayank

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Hello guys,

I’m a beginner, I’m new into bonsai as a hobby solely and i have a busy life and little space so i can take care of 5-6 trees max ( shohin size ).

is it better to focus on one species of tree?

if not is it better to go with native species?
-Cedrus libani ( lebanese cedar )
-Quercus libani ( lebanese oak )
-pinus pinea ( stone pine - umbrella pine )
-Olea europaea ( European olive )

I actually have a lebanese cedar for 2 years,very slow growth but excellent needle size for bonsai, I don’t know if oak and olive leaves can be decreased in size using some methods to be suitable for shohin size.

thanks in advance.
I suppose you could probably grow tropicals also like ficus, bougainvilea, willow leaf ficus, etc
Isn't the Lebanese Cedar the tree on your national flag? Nice!
 
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Mayank

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I would suggest going with Japanese Black Pine, Pinus thunbergii, instead of Pinus pinea, Aleppo pine. The reason is, the JBP will not keep reverting to juvenile growth on you. But if JBP is difficult to source, then Pinus pinea will have to do.

The rest of your list is quite good for bonsai.
Never heard of juvenile growth on a pine. What does it look like Leo?
 

YAN

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Bon courage.
Like in bonsai, it's sometimes a long path to the light...
حظًا سعيدًا في المستقبل ، حظًا سعيدًا ، يجب أن نكافح من أجل الحرية
Merci Alain,

it seems you’re aware of our political situation, are you lebanese?
 

YAN

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Isn't the Lebanese Cedar the tree on your national flag? Nice!
Yes it is, imagin being in pre school and asked to draw your national flag, you need to draw a bonsai first. 😃

I suppose you could probably grow tropicals also like ficus, bougainvilea, willow leaf ficus, etc
Thanks for your suggestions but I’m into shohin size or even mame And I can’t find small leaf ficus here, I would have liked to try the willow leaf ficus.

same for bougainvillea I don’t find the flower size to be realistic for miniature trees
 
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