Growing a bonsai tree is a long, fulfilling process. Many trees take decades to mature, but this hobby is not about the end product. Nurturing and caring for these plants takes creativity and dedication, making it an extremely rewarding process. If you’re new to bonsai growing it might seem that this hobby is only suitable for those with the Zen mysticism and endless patience of ancient monks. Getting started in bonsai growing is easy, though, and opens up a whole world of enjoyment.
Choosing your first bonsai tree
If you want a perfect bonsai tree, that means growing it from a cutting (or even a seed). Doing this lets you “train” the tree from day one, so you won’t have to prune off large branches (which leaves unsightly blemishes on the tree). However, this takes a long time – several years, in fact. We recommend that for your first bonsai tree you purchase a “pre bonsai” instead. These are nursery-grown and ready to train, so you can get straight on with the more creative side of the hobby. Of course, there’s no reason why you can’t also try growing a few cuttings or seedlings yourself at the same time, and this would make a great side project.
Inside or outside?
One of the biggest decisions to make is whether your new bonsai tree will be kept in the house or the garden. It will have to survive in these conditions all year round, so you’ll need to carefully pick a species that is well-adapted to its surroundings.
Caring for a bonsai tree
This is where your creativity and attention to detail is rewarded. As your bonsai tree grows, you’ll need to carefully prune and wire it to achieve the right shape. This takes careful practise and good judgement; bonsai growing is as much an art as it is a science. There are plenty of style guides available, and how you handle your tree will depend very much on the tree and the end result you want.
Start growing today
Bonsai tree growing is not about the destination; it’s all about the journey. Your tree may not change shape for months at a time, and it can take years for it to start looking like a “real bonsai”. However, the joy of bonsai is all in the nurturing and care you provide to the plant, and there are many years of pleasure to be had.