The biggest mistake you wished you had avoided as a beginner

Shrimpaku

Seedling
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
To help all beginners I'd like to start a thread about the biggest mistake you learned from as a beginner. I've made so many mistakes it is hard to chose, but:

* Learn when, how and how often to repot. Pretty obvious, but when I first started I used to repot several times a year (!) or else I would repot in the summer or some other bad time. I killed more trees with bad repotting than just about anything else. My favorite was when I would repot and stick the tree out in full sun immediately afterwards. I've gone years now without killing a tree from repotting - even in emergency cases.
 

talumirage

Seedling
Messages
7
Reaction score
1
Location
Essex/Surrey (home/uni).
Hello, I'm new here, but I've been interested in bonsai for a long while. To get back to the point, I was bought a gorgeous Chinese Elm (around 10years) by my mum last Autumn. Everything was fine until just after Christmas. I had to go to a wedding, so I left said tree healthy, watered and happy for a weekend. When I returned, someone had put the heating up to max in my flat. Tree was most definitely dead. My horticulturally excellent granda tried his best to revive it, but to no avail.
I wish I'd known not to trust anyone but me with any aspect of my bonsai care!
I now have a lovely Serissa (approx. 8years) that seems to be doing fine. I control the heat in my house, so hopefully he should live a long and fruitful life! I hope...
 

Bonsai Nut

Nuttier than your average Nut
Messages
8,338
Reaction score
14,088
Location
OC, CA
USDA Zone
10A
Welcome talumirage!

My contribution to this thread:

LISTEN to the masters and DO what they do. When I started out I was always rounding corners - for example even though I knew what soil mix people recommended I was always going with soil mixes that were conveniently available at a garden center, or even though I knew what types of organic fertilizer were recommended, I was always using stuff that I could find at Home Depot. Then I would lose a tree to root rot (poor soil drainage) or fertilizer burn (from chemical fertilizers in a small pot). It is the easiest rule of all. Don't experiment until you have MASTERED what others have successfully done. Otherwise all of the hobby is one big experiment and you will never learn the basics.
 

plantaseed

Seed
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Location
Hot Springs, South Dakota
I love collecting trees in the wild, but had to learn some things the hard way.

1. Know the species before you bring it home. I actually collected some poison ivy one early spring before bud-burst one year. Painful discovery! Know what the tree's needs will be before you move it.

2. Practice by collecting ugly trees first. Make sure you have the knowledge and resources needed to keep newly collected trees healthy (before you move that potential masterpiece).

3. Collecting should be mindful. Don't collect a tree the first time you see it, and don't collect a tree when you don't have your tools and supplies at hand.

There are some excellent readings available on the web about collecting trees: Walter Pall, Andy Smith, and Wolfgang Putz have really great sites!
 

zelk

Shohin
Messages
408
Reaction score
297
Location
San DIego
USDA Zone
10a
My biggest mistake was to repot trees in the middle of summer which killed most of the trees i had back then. I lost several chinese elms due to blackspot because i did not know how to treat the fungus.
 

paddles

Yamadori
Messages
79
Reaction score
1
Location
Echuca, Australia
Think twice before you cut (Kinda hard to glue back on:eek: , Mind you, I'm getting really good at grafting) but once you make the decision to cut, cut away, just learn from it if you mess up.:eek: :cool:
 

Tachigi

Omono
Messages
1,201
Reaction score
27
Location
PA.
USDA Zone
6b
Its funny this thread came up as I am writing a book along these lines.

My advise to an entry level enthusiast would be...pick one master / teacher / mentor and follow that persons training and/or advise. In our world of bonsai there are more than a few conflicting bits of information. Do this don't do that. I know more than a few people that got out of bonsai because they were frustrated by this exact problem. Not to say that multiple teachers are a bad thing. This approach just should be put off till you have the basics in place, then branch out with more than one discipline. A perfect example would be a bonsai forum, (not this one of course). Where a relatively new person to bonsai, in the same thread gives conflicting statements regarding one particular subject.
 

rlist

Shohin
Messages
294
Reaction score
3
Location
Portland, OR
USDA Zone
8a
8 years before I participated in a workshop. Day 1 should have been join a club, become active, learn from the club members and visiting masters. I wasted a lot of time and trees...
 

Gnome

Mame
Messages
108
Reaction score
1
Location
Western PA USA
Following advice in books, particularly older volumes, too literally.

Specifically, when I started there was no Internet and I only had a few books which told me that bonsai were grown in loam. Well to me loam meant topsoil. It took many years before I realized that to the Japanese loam (at least in the context of bonsai) meant something entirely different.

Similarly, many books advise that new shoots should be pinched back regularly. This of course greatly slowed the development of my young trees. Another one would be removing all low branches on young trees according to the 1/3 rule, again slowing trunk development.

Norm
 
Last edited:

Aloha31520

Seedling
Messages
6
Reaction score
0
Location
Brunswick GA
Totally a mistake

I wasn't a beginner having been cultivating bonsai for some 40 years but....
Bought a house with a long deck on the west side. Perfect place to put my trees, So I erected a long platform of planks on cinder clocks and artfully placed my trees. Needless to say I watered them as required with the excess water dripping out on the deck. When I went to sell the house a few years later the inspector found the deck all rotted out. Had to have a whole new deck built.
Old Bonsai Bob
 

JasonG

Chumono
Messages
786
Reaction score
13
Location
NW Oregon
I would say that the biggest mistake I made was not understanding the relationship between roots and foliage. I killed lots of trees doing to much to soon.
Not joining a club was another big mistake....
And buying a ton of 1 gallon junk that I thought was bonsai or could become one......

Now I know better! Ahhh, to live and learn!!!

The internet has been a wonderful tool to learn from and get inspiration, ask questions and research specific species.

Jason

ps. I still have the very first tree that I bought and styled.... A little juniper that I will never get rid of but will put in the ground this year!!
 

John Hill

Mame
Messages
187
Reaction score
2
Location
oHIo zone 5b
Wow,
Let me see mistakes? There were so many of them and still to this day I still make them. But this is how one learns. Like Jason has mentioned not to do to much at one time. This is one big mistake that I have learned to control and one that I believe is the worst mistake I have done (Is to rush a tree into a bonsai pot!!). When I first started I wanted to rush everything to get that tree in that bonsai pot.

Of course I had bought trees already in bonsai pots at first and then I was scared to death to prune and re pot them.

So the poor little tree was going down hill year after year. It just seemed that it was dying. At the time there was not the forums that we have today, if there was that little tree may have made it.(oh forgot to mention,,it died!) Why? could of been from me over watering it thinking that this may help or could of been over fertilizing it. Or it could of been to much insecticide or the wrong type. The list goes on I did so many things wrong back then that I was killing the poor things out of sheer kindness. To much that is.

Then I found that there was bonsai club at the arboretum in Columbus so I went and check it out. Back then the best thing I have ever done. They were so eager to help me with my trees and it was a great place for me to get materials, pots, soil, wire and such to boot.
Remember back then, bonsai pots were a dickens to get hold of so you try putting trees in whatever you can find. Boy those were the good old days ;-) I remember finding some old crock ware that was oval shaped and shallow, Boy this is perfec,, but no drain holes. So I tried to drill holes in the dag burn things to no avail what a mess.

Well I have rambled on enough so I better get to the point.PATIENCE!! PATIENCE!! PATIENCE!! PATIENC!! PATIENCE!!
This is the first and formost thing that a beginner can learn from the start, I wish I had.

A Friend in bonsai
John
 

t.scope

Seedling
Messages
6
Reaction score
0
Location
athens, hellas, zone 9b
hello all! since i'm new to the sports i've done all the above mentioned and i have to do some more! but net is a friendly place where you can learn many things from illuminated people and so i'm doing as there isn't any club in my area...thanks all, criss
 

Steve

Seedling
Messages
15
Reaction score
0
Location
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
My biggest mistake used to be not leaving my trees alone. I was so scared my tree was going to grow out of shape that I constantly trimmed it to the point there was no new growth.
Other mistake was putting off joining a Bonsai club.

Steve.
 

BONSAI_OUTLAW

Banned
Messages
150
Reaction score
1
Location
Woodstown, NJ
I'd say starting off with crap material, sticks in pots, and seeds was my biggest screw up....

Do you want to do bonsai or do you want to grow trunks? Me...I wanna train trees and leave the growing to someone else. Over in Japan for the most part there are people that grow trunks and there are people who make bonsai from those trees. Now don't get it twisted.... I still have sticks and seeds, but the vast amount of my time and resourses goes to higher quality material..IE trunks from which I can start to train branches on verses having to grow them out some more.


ALSO SEE:
Walter Pall started a thread at bt called garbage it's what's for dinner.
Ron Martin (RIP) started a thread called crapola something or another.
Smoke aka Al Keppler wrote an awesome editorial awhile back about it as well.
 
Messages
21
Reaction score
0
So far, my biggest regret in bonsai has been, not taking Ron Martin up on his offer to come to his home for a day of free education. Still kicking myself...
 

Similar threads


Top Bottom