Curious about Bonsai, but unsure where to start.

Qomsday

Sapling
Messages
33
Reaction score
24
Location
Kennesaw GA
USDA Zone
7b
Hi all, I've been stalking around the forum for a little bit now, and I've become increasingly interested in the art of Bonsai! A little bit of info before I start asking questions, I live around Atlanta, Georgia, a bit north. Right now I'm in Kennesaw (7b), but I could be moving somewhere else in December. I have a move coming up, so I'm not sure I want to start immediately. Now for my questions:
  • I've been looking mainly at junipers, but is this the best type of tree for a beginner in my area?
  • I have some trees in my yard at home, like a Japanese red maple and a birch my Dad has always called a paper birch. Are these okay for Bonsai? Understanding that cuttings take a very long time to become what can be a bonsai.
  • I'm planning on going to a local botanical garden with some bonsai, would it be appropriate to ask them questions about their bonsai?
  • What is the best time of year to start the hobby?
Any and all answers, even to questions I didn't ask, are welcome. I'm wanting to learn before I kill a tree, so the more info the better!
 

StoneCloud

Omono
Messages
1,314
Reaction score
1,897
Location
North Carolina
USDA Zone
7b
Welcome to the forum! and welcome to the hobby.....almost! :)

Your thought process is in the right direction so that is good. Don't fear the trees. You will kill them. The only way not to kill a tree is never to own one. But you will learn and with time become better. But don't get frustrated even the best kill trees.

You have a move coming up, which is important.

Don't go buying 20 trees just yet, but you should get a tree to start with. Learn to make it thrive first. Before cutting, wiring etc.......

I personally wouldn't suggest Juniper as your first bonsai, I feel there are more forgiving species out there to start with.

May I suggest a Chinese Elm? Super hardy, grow nicely and are not too difficult to take care of in your zone.
 

GrimLore

Bonsai Nut alumnus... we miss you
Messages
8,502
Reaction score
7,380
Location
South East PA
USDA Zone
6b
I've been looking mainly at junipers, but is this the best type of tree for a beginner in my area?
Hard to say if your moving... Zones vary greatly and plants vary greatly in different Zones. You might consider the small junipers from a Nursery or big box store to start with, 2-3 each and learn how to and how they grow in pots for you.
I say the same to all starting - get a few of a plant type you are interested in and learn. There is a lot more to it an keeping any plant alive without killing expensive ones and is a far nicer way to enter the challenges.

Grimmy
 

Qomsday

Sapling
Messages
33
Reaction score
24
Location
Kennesaw GA
USDA Zone
7b
Welcome to the forum! and welcome to the hobby.....almost! :)

Your thought process is in the right direction so that is good. Don't fear the trees. You will kill them. The only way not to kill a tree is never to own one. But you will learn and with time become better. But don't get frustrated even the best kill trees.

You have a move coming up, which is important.

Don't go buying 20 trees just yet, but you should get a tree to start with. Learn to make it thrive first. Before cutting, wiring etc.......

I personally wouldn't suggest Juniper as your first bonsai, I feel there are more forgiving species out there to start with.

May I suggest a Chinese Elm? Super hardy, grow nicely and are not too difficult to take care of in your zone.
I'll definitely consider a Chinese elm, and where would I get one, if not online? The only Bonsai nursery near me hasn't got any for sale I don't believe.
 

Qomsday

Sapling
Messages
33
Reaction score
24
Location
Kennesaw GA
USDA Zone
7b
Hard to say if your moving... Zones vary greatly and plants vary greatly in different Zones. You might consider the small junipers from a Nursery or big box store to start with, 2-3 each and learn how to and how they grow in pots for you.
I say the same to all starting - get a few of a plant type you are interested in and learn. There is a lot more to it an keeping any plant alive without killing expensive ones and is a far nicer way to enter the challenges.

Grimmy
I am likely moving, but not very far, and likely inside the same Zone. I should have mentioned that in the OP, I apologize. Thanks for the advice!
 

milehigh_7

Mister 500,000
Messages
4,581
Reaction score
5,306
Location
Chandler, AZ
USDA Zone
Hot
My advice will be this, spend your time learning until your living arrangements are settled. Once you move put your location in your profile so we can give you accurate advice. A very important part of what we do is tailored to the environment in which we do it. I live in Las Vegas and there are very few people that can relate to my environment. So my normal advice to get some "good" resources to learn from. The folks on here will recommend them don't just go searching google or youtube or you may have to unlearn things.

I always tell people to start out here:
This is a set of articles kindly provided by a first class vendor that you can trust named Brent Walston. Read everything until you remember it.
https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/articles.htm

Here is another great site for you to study:
http://www.bonsai4me.com/

You know what? Go look at Walter's trees for a while and be inspired:
http://www.walter-pall.de/
 

Qomsday

Sapling
Messages
33
Reaction score
24
Location
Kennesaw GA
USDA Zone
7b
My advice will be this, spend your time learning until your living arrangements are settled. Once you move put your location in your profile so we can give you accurate advice. A very important part of what we do is tailored to the environment in which we do it. I live in Las Vegas and there are very few people that can relate to my environment. So my normal advice to get some "good" resources to learn from. The folks on here will recommend them don't just go searching google or youtube or you may have to unlearn things.

I always tell people to start out here:
This is a set of articles kindly provided by a first class vendor that you can trust named Brent Walston. Read everything until you remember it.
https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/articles.htm

Here is another great site for you to study:
http://www.bonsai4me.com/

You know what? Go look at Walter's trees for a while and be inspired:
http://www.walter-pall.de/
Thank you so much for these resources, and I'll probably go get a small tree soon to learn! Thanks a bundle!
 

milehigh_7

Mister 500,000
Messages
4,581
Reaction score
5,306
Location
Chandler, AZ
USDA Zone
Hot
I'll have to go home and check, but I'm pretty sure its a bit too large to be trained :p
Red maples are not the best choice in any case. Yours is likely the southern variety with smaller leaves than the northern but even so, there are MUCH better trees to learn on.
 

GrimLore

Bonsai Nut alumnus... we miss you
Messages
8,502
Reaction score
7,380
Location
South East PA
USDA Zone
6b
I am likely moving, but not very far, and likely inside the same Zone. I should have mentioned that in the OP, I apologize.
No worries! The Elms are a good suggestion. I brought a couple here from Mobile, Al a few weeks ago and they are quick growing. Another thing about them is you can grow a couple of small leaf varieties - I brought home a Weeping Chinese and a Winged. The day after we got home a standard Chinese ELM arrived at the door from another grower in AL bare rooted. They ALL are doing good.
Don't ignore Bald Cypress either - good fun to grow and tough!

Grimmy
 

Qomsday

Sapling
Messages
33
Reaction score
24
Location
Kennesaw GA
USDA Zone
7b
Red maples are not the best choice in any case. Yours is likely the southern variety with smaller leaves than the northern but even so, there are MUCH better trees to learn on.
It was mostly a joke for that particular tree, It's a fairly large tree, planted in the ground for years!
 

Qomsday

Sapling
Messages
33
Reaction score
24
Location
Kennesaw GA
USDA Zone
7b
No worries! The Elms are a good suggestion. I brought a couple here from Mobile, Al a few weeks ago and they are quick growing. Another thing about them is you can grow a couple of small leaf varieties - I brought home a Weeping Chinese and a Winged. The day after we got home a standard Chinese ELM arrived at the door from another grower in AL bare rooted. They ALL are doing good.
Don't ignore Bald Cypress either - good fun to grow and tough!

Grimmy
Cypress seems very interesting, as I've got a keen interest in evergreens. Thanks for that suggestion! You mentioned a tree arriving on your doorstep, is online a good way to get a tree?
 

GrimLore

Bonsai Nut alumnus... we miss you
Messages
8,502
Reaction score
7,380
Location
South East PA
USDA Zone
6b
Thanks for that suggestion! You mentioned a tree arriving on your doorstep, is online a good way to get a tree?
Varies greatly by vendor but starting out there I would Strongly recommend TYTY in GA this coming early Spring. Get 2 - 3 each of some smaller trees bare root from them. They arrive as sticks with roots and you will be amazed at how fast they grow while you learn. After a few seasons kept cut you could also land up with a few keepers to cut down for Bonsai. There are reputable places that sell pre-bonsai and some developed but I am pretty certain people should learn how to keep less expensive plants alive first... I get a few plants that are new to me every year the same way - to learn them and more so if I can even grow them here...

Grimmy
 

StoneCloud

Omono
Messages
1,314
Reaction score
1,897
Location
North Carolina
USDA Zone
7b
I'll definitely consider a Chinese elm, and where would I get one, if not online? The only Bonsai nursery near me hasn't got any for sale I don't believe.

Check the trees for sale section here. And of you buy online stick to the vendors recommended by other members.

Grim knows a lot. Follow the path :cool:
 

GrimLore

Bonsai Nut alumnus... we miss you
Messages
8,502
Reaction score
7,380
Location
South East PA
USDA Zone
6b
I'll definitely consider a Chinese elm, and where would I get one, if not online? The only Bonsai nursery near me hasn't got any for sale I don't believe.
The Chinese Elm I described putting in the pot after we got back from Vacation was from TYTY in Georgia not Alabama(typo) Post #13. They also sell Bald cypress and some other cool bare root sticks... Check the shade tree section and do not ignore Fruit trees :cool: Bare root should be planted sooooooooooooooooooon if you choose that route.

http://www.tytyga.com/Default.asp?matchtype=e&network=g&device=c&adposition=1t1&keyword=nursery at ty ty&gclid=CM6xodn2qdQCFZONswodE0YNAg

Grimmy
 

Qomsday

Sapling
Messages
33
Reaction score
24
Location
Kennesaw GA
USDA Zone
7b
The Chinese Elm I described putting in the pot after we got back from Vacation was from TYTY in Georgia not Alabama(typo) Post #13. They also sell Bald cypress and some other cool bare root sticks... Check the shade tree section and do not ignore Fruit trees :cool: Bare root should be planted sooooooooooooooooooon if you choose that route.

http://www.tytyga.com/Default.asp?matchtype=e&network=g&device=c&adposition=1t1&keyword=nursery at ty ty&gclid=CM6xodn2qdQCFZONswodE0YNAg

Grimmy
Thanks for the guidance, I appreciate it! Do you recommend I wait until next spring to get any trees to start with? Edit: I didn't realize cypresses were deciduous! Amazing!
 
Top Bottom