Selecting a plant

The main characteristics to look for when selecting bonsai material are health, hardiness and lack of disease and pests. The most practical tree size to start out with is one in a one- to five-gallon container. If you are just starting out, keep in mind the hardiness; if a species is high-maintenance are you prepared to do the extra work to keep it trained and even more important - alive? The tree should be attractive to you - an important factor as your imagination forms the design your tree will soon take. Also consider the following:


The tree should have a well-shaped trunck, tapering gradually toward the top and having nice bark.


If the tree has not yet begun its training, it should have plenty of branches growing in all directions from the trunk. The lower branches should be strong and healthy.


Check under the surface of the soil and feel for well-distributed main roots, which should spread in all directions.


If deciduous, the tree should have small leaves. If a conifer (evergreen), the needle size is not important at this time.


The species of tree should be fairly fast-growing and do well in your area. The best results com from boxwood, buttonwood, crepe myrtle, cypress, elm, ficus, Fukien tea, jaboticaba, juniper, podocarpus, pyracantha Surinam cherry or other tree with small leaves or short needles. Click here for a photo of a variety of stock plants of these species.

What to avoid

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Bonsai Technique