Resources for the N00b

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Hello! I am so excited to have found this forum as I have been working a tulip poplar into a tiny little pot and have a dwarf eastern pine that I would love to bonsai as well. I understand that I have no idea where to start— my first attempt at root pruning may have been an epic failure, and I have read the threads that caution against newbie mistakes with gratitude.

I am struggling to find specific resources for getting started, however. Many cautionary tales, but where is the step by step guide or reading list?? Perhaps I have overlooked it.

Any direction regarding guides and text to learn from would be fabulous.

Thank you in advance, and stay safe out there!
With gratitude,
Jessica
 

Wires_Guy_wires

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As far as I know there are no specific sources that fit your needs exactly.
But.. That doesn't mean there aren't threads that fit your needs approximately. If you look for threads on nursery stock, there's lots of puzzle pieces to be found but it's up to you to connect the dots and make the puzzle fit your situation.

A general understanding of the 'why' will teach you everything you want to know about the 'how' and 'when'. Many roads lead to Rome, in bonsai it's fine to take one road or many. But again, it the 'why' matters.

You're going to kill a bunch of trees in the process. Don't worry about that. We all do.

As for the pine: what is your goal for it at this time? Would you like to do a styling or a repot? This will aid in getting good advice. Posting a picture of it will help.
 

ShadyStump

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Adding your approximate location and/or USDA growing zone to your profile will also help up be more specific with advice for you.

We also like pics. There's never too many pics.

I kill so many trees I've taken up wood carving to ease my conscience. 😋
You learn allot from dead trees, like cadaver labs for medical students. Learn how they die, and then you know how to keep them alive.

This really is one of those hobbies where everything you'll get will be either very specific, or very general, not much in between. Share your failures as well as your successes so we can all learn from it.
 

sorce

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I doubt there is a better general understanding of Bonsai published than ...

Welcome to Crazy!

The problem is, any of these texts on bonsai can't convey the "when" without observing your trees.

So a healthy education of Dendrology is a must.

The difference, which isn't really a difference except for when it is, is the pot.

Sorce
 

MSU JBoots

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I doubt there is a better general understanding of Bonsai published than ...

Welcome to Crazy!

The problem is, any of these texts on bonsai can't convey the "when" without observing your trees.

So a healthy education of Dendrology is a must.

The difference, which isn't really a difference except for when it is, is the pot.

Sorce
This article about watering suggests not using water that goes through a water softener since it could have too much salt. Do you or anyone else have any experience or thoughts about this? My water is very hard with lots of iron so I’ve been using the tap water as opposed to the hose out back. However my tap water goes through a water softener.
 

sorce

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This article about watering suggests not using water that goes through a water softener since it could have too much salt. Do you or anyone else have any experience or thoughts about this? My water is very hard with lots of iron so I’ve been using the tap water as opposed to the hose out back. However my tap water goes through a water softener.

I don't know anything about water softeners but if you drink it.....

I'd use the cheapest source.

Sorce
 

ShadyStump

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This article about watering suggests not using water that goes through a water softener since it could have too much salt. Do you or anyone else have any experience or thoughts about this? My water is very hard with lots of iron so I’ve been using the tap water as opposed to the hose out back. However my tap water goes through a water softener.
Here in Colorado heavy metals in the drinking water is the primary concern for water treatment.
Not so much for irrigation. It's natural unmolested water going on every plant you eat. Alkali build up is the big concern there.
I suggest the hose for the plants, the faucet for you.
 

leatherback

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This article about watering suggests not using water that goes through a water softener since it could have too much salt. Do you or anyone else have any experience or thoughts about this? My water is very hard with lots of iron so I’ve been using the tap water as opposed to the hose out back. However my tap water goes through a water softener.
There are different types of water softeners. Some of them just swap out the calcium / Magnesium ions for e.g. sodium. So the soluted salts do not get removed, they are just replaced for a different kind of salt that does not reactie the same way, thus does not ruin you washer & leaves less stains. For your plant however, salt build-up remains the same as before.

Other softeners work on removing the salts, e.g., osmosis-type softening. Here pure water is extracted from your source, and water with higher concentration of salts are drained. That sort of water has the risk of being very low in natural minerals, so when fertilizing extra attention needs to be paid.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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@Blessica_Om - Oh Jessica, where are you? As in what city are you near. There are wonderful bonsai clubs scattered all over the world that make great resources for the newbie. The north American eastern white pine (EWP) makes a difficult pine to start with. I suggest any of a dozen other pines, Pinus sylvestris, Pinus thunbergii (JBP), Pinus mugo and others are much easier to work with.

I have also worked with tulip poplar, Liriodendron tulipifera, is also not an ideal species for bonsai. Big leaves, that don't reduce, long internodes, coarse branching, I would recommend adding an elm, any elm to your collection, for a deciduous tree that is easy to work with. If you want flowers add a flowering crab apple, Malus hybrid.

@MSU JBoots - if your household water softener is "charged" by adding salt every few months, you definitely want to avoid using the softened watered. For 5 years I had a part ownership of a blueberry farm west of Kalamazoo, our well water was probably similar to your GR well water. For horticulture, the lime and the iron in your well water is actually a useful nutrient. Use the water as is from the well. No treatment needed. The extra iron will make for better green in your leaves. The salt used in the water softener will slowly poison your plants. The salt build up will be slow, so if your trees and house plants are wilting today, and you won't be able to get to the hose until tomorrow, using softened water today will likely cause no lasting harm, but on the average, use your untreated well water from the hose tap, before it goes to the water softener. Our well tested at about 220 ppm total dissolved solids, 190 ppm as Calcium carbonate, which is about "medium" on the range between soft and hard water. For commercial nurseries, water up to about 650 ppm as calcium carbonate the water can be used "as is" without having to treat the water for most general crops.

So water away with your water that has not gone through your water softener.
 

MSU JBoots

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@Blessica_Om - Oh Jessica, where are you? As in what city are you near. There are wonderful bonsai clubs scattered all over the world that make great resources for the newbie. The north American eastern white pine (EWP) makes a difficult pine to start with. I suggest any of a dozen other pines, Pinus sylvestris, Pinus thunbergii (JBP), Pinus mugo and others are much easier to work with.

I have also worked with tulip poplar, Liriodendron tulipifera, is also not an ideal species for bonsai. Big leaves, that don't reduce, long internodes, coarse branching, I would recommend adding an elm, any elm to your collection, for a deciduous tree that is easy to work with. If you want flowers add a flowering crab apple, Malus hybrid.

@MSU JBoots - if your household water softener is "charged" by adding salt every few months, you definitely want to avoid using the softened watered. For 5 years I had a part ownership of a blueberry farm west of Kalamazoo, our well water was probably similar to your GR well water. For horticulture, the lime and the iron in your well water is actually a useful nutrient. Use the water as is from the well. No treatment needed. The extra iron will make for better green in your leaves. The salt used in the water softener will slowly poison your plants. The salt build up will be slow, so if your trees and house plants are wilting today, and you won't be able to get to the hose until tomorrow, using softened water today will likely cause no lasting harm, but on the average, use your untreated well water from the hose tap, before it goes to the water softener. Our well tested at about 220 ppm total dissolved solids, 190 ppm as Calcium carbonate, which is about "medium" on the range between soft and hard water. For commercial nurseries, water up to about 650 ppm as calcium carbonate the water can be used "as is" without having to treat the water for most general crops.

So water away with your water that has not gone through your water softener.
Thank you so much. All of this is spot on. I will switch to my hose water now. I was using it during the summer but stopped when I moved my ficus inside. Maybe that’s another reason why it’s be faltering the last month or so.
 

penumbra

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I intentionally bi-passed my water softener for my three outdoor faucets. When I moved in 30 years ago there was one post softener faucet. It was the first change I made.
 

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