Im intrested in bonsai...

Michael119September 29, 2011

Hi i was wondering how i should start bonsai. i spent a day looking at how to take care of a bonsai but i don't know exactly what to plant ( I plan on starting from a seed/seedling). I would like a indoor bonsai and something where u could easily find a seed for like a apple,lemon,maple etc. I don't want to buy seeds and my bonsai dieing.

p.s. im 13 and have a pet cat (i heard bonsai can be toxic to pets?)

Thank your for your time!

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

About 20-25 years ago, I felt much like you do. I was very enamoured of the plants and intuitively knew it could be richly rewarding. What I hadn't yet realized is that the only way to be reasonably satisfied with the fruits of my efforts, I'd need to become much more proficient at keeping my plants alive and healthy. A revolving door plant policy is costly in terms of both $ and frustration.

In other words, I failed due to insufficient knowledge. Not to be easily discouraged, I put the plants away and began to concentrate on the physiology of woody plant material, and things like soil science and nutrition. After several years of fairly diligent studying, I started getting back into the actual growing of plants and found I was able to keep them alive and healthy.

Many people test the waters, only to run up against the wall of frustration for the same reason I did - the inability to keep plants alive. Bonsai is a commitment. You might miss a feeding or watering or two with pets, but with a bonsai, missing a watering may be pivotal between life and death or serious damage.

If you're serious about bonsai, learn all you can about the science of growing as fast as you can. It will serve you very well in all your future growing endeavors, as 95% of what you'll learn about your woody charges will apply to ALL plants.

Bonsai isn't "A" type of tree, it's a way of manipulating trees to create something as close as possible to an old tree that Mother Nature might have sculpted herself. Some few bonsai may be toxic to pets, but since there are hundreds of potential species and cultivars suitable for bonsai, you can easily work around that issue with a little research.

The very young who are possessed of a great deal of enthusiasm have the potential to go very far in bonsai. Most people come to bonsai later in life. I fell in love with it as soon as I discovered it, and I've worked toward improving my skills ever since. I only regret that I didn't discover it with the same enthusiasm I have now, at your age.

I wish you lots of good luck & successes. Read read read, my friend, and put your hands on lots of trees. You'll be richly rewarded soon enough.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 9:27PM
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any suggestions to what i should plant? Something where u dont need to buy...

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 4:15PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Are you talking about planting in the ground to develop future bonsai, or planting seeds in pots & waiting, which will take much longer because trees grow slowly in pots compared to in the ground? Consider adding where you live to your user info (as in my z5b-6a mid-MI). That would be helpful for those wanting to help with advice.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 4:59PM
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well over the winter i want to plant something indoor then once spring comes i will plant outside. i live in the Chicago land IL (dont know what that is in numbers...) but i want a indoor bonsai. Any idea?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 8:40PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'm still a little confused about your use of 'plant' - try (buying) a Green Island Ficus or a schefflera. Both are pretty tough and forgiving plants that do reasonably well in dry indoor conditions. They like bright light ..... and be careful about how you water.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 8:48PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hi. Welcome to gardenweb. I am also glad you have an interest in plants at a young age.

If you want a plant to "practice on," that should be easy to find for free, get a cutting of Hedera helix (English ivy) rooted. Then remove the growth tip. This should cause new branches to start from the remaining nodes. Once the new branches develop a leaf, remove the leaf from the main stem at the base of that branch. Pinch the growth tips from the new branches when it will leave 2-3 nodes. Keep messing with it, removing leaves and keeping the branches as short and upright as possible. Within a year or so, you can have a plant with tiny 1/3" leaves crowded onto stiff little branches. Very cute and fast-growing so you get to mess with it a lot more often than a real tree. This can help you get a feel for basic bonsai techniques. I was not much older than you when I first tried this.

You can also apply the same bonsai techniques to coleus, which should also be easy to find a free piece of until there is a frost in your area. There's no reason not to try sprouting your avocado pits, which is a common "free house plant" that can be "bonsai'd."

There's no reason not to gather a few acorns or maple "helicopters" or seeds of whatever trees grow in your neighborhood. I think you'll have better success with them sprouting if you "winter sow" them by putting them in pots of soil and leaving them outside. There is a winter sowing forum on here if you want to go read about what and how people do that in more detail.

If it's free, it can't hurt to try it, so just start looking around your surroundings to find plants and seeds to experiment with. The one thing you can be sure of regarding gardening is that if you don't try, it definitely doesn't work. And remain optimistic. Imagine how much you can learn by spring, when the growing season is just starting again.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 3:02PM
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    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 9:02PM
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Another fun way to get into it is something called Bonchi, or bonsai chile peppers.

Basically, trees take years to grow big enough from seeds to make good bonsai, but pepper plants will grow big enough in a single summer. Not only that, but peppers are tough plants, once you get them growing good its very hard to kill one so its okay if you mess up on it once in a while. Plus, you get to eat the peppers it makes both before and after you turn it into a bonsai! I don't know about you, but I think plants that make stuff you can eat are a lot more fun than the ones you just sit there and look at.

This is the route I like to go, because it lets me grow all sorts of weird peppers during the summer, and then making bonsais out of them in the fall so that there's always something to do. And whats even better, you can get pepper seeds for "free" at any grocery store! Just find a pepper that you think looks good, buy it, and before you cook it up to eat it, just cut it open and take out the seeds. They'll grow great, and you won't have to go to any kind of special store to get them.

I put a link on the basics of how to do it all at the bottom of this post, check it out!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 19, 2011 at 2:52PM
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