Bonsai Starter Kits

Bonsai Starter Kit

“Bonsai” usually calls to mind an image of an artfully shaped little tree in a pretty box with some stones. But Bonsai is much more than just a decorative tree that adds an Asian accent to a room. The name bonsai is Japanese and simply means planting or growing in a tray. In practice, bonsai is much more. Bonsai gardening, to its practitioners, is an art. Its purpose is cultivating life and the space around it which can actually include a wide range of plants, trees and stones. Bonsai trees and their care grew out of a combination of Chinese penjing (the art of landscaping) and Japanese suiseki (the study of stones as objects of beauty). Originating in China, Bonsai was exported to Japan where it was perfected and given the form by which the rest of the world knows it today.

Beginners are often intimidated by the long history and the complicated process involved in getting started and finding a balance between the art, theory and actual practice of bonsai gardening. While anyone can begin to practice the art of bonsai, it does take work, daily attention and thoughtfulness that requires a concerted effort by the gardener, especially a beginner. So while intimidation is unnecessary, focus is essential. A bonsai is a potted miniature tree that is made to look like a fully grown outdoor tree after being the subject of various arrangements and discipline. The full desired aesthetic can only be attained with an evenly applied attentiveness to visual appearance and horticultural health and wellness.

The bonsai gardener is always trying to improve the aesthetic and to personalize it to effectively express some element of himself. The personal aspect is evident in the form of the tree and the arrangement in which it is presented. But for the beginner, there are many other concerns as well. They must not only plant their tree and shape it accordingly. A bonsai gardener has to approach the tree from a holistic approach, paying close attention to its needs and reactions. In order to grow a tree into a certain shape in a more shallow pot and with great emphasis on its appearance, the health of the tree must be robust and all of its environmental conditions optimal. Time has to be put into the bonsai before it is ever even planted. A type of bonsai tree that fits the gardener’s climate, time, space and light conditions is the kind that will suit them the best. Research is required to find the best breed of tree that will suit the physical conditions and still be able to conform to the bonsai gardener’s ideal image of the tree that will represent their moods and awareness.

For easily accessible research, books and videos allow the user to pause and refer back to sections while choosing a plant, while potting and for any questions. Here are some of the most helpful reference books and videos for beginners.

Bonsai Video Instructional Guide VHS format

This instructional guide from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s experts helps beginners from selection through shaping and pruning with exhibitions and helpful details. Easy to use and refer to repeatedly.

Bonsai Basics by Christian Pessey and Remy Samson

This book is aimed right at beginners. It has elementary and easy to follow instructions for everything the beginner knows plus plainly stated explanations of the tradition and theory on which bonsai is based. It contains over 200 pictures and additional instructional drawings.

Indoor Bonsai for Beginners – Selection, Care and Training by Werner M. Busch

This book is perfect for beginners because it starts with selection, which can be the most important decision a gardener just starting out makes. It fully discusses soil and soil selection too plus many other health and shaping basics.

101 Essential Tips on Bonsai by Harry Tomlinson

This book is like a compilation of the answers to all of the questions beginners and even intermediate bonsai enthusiasts have. It is broken down into quick to read and grasp bullet points and over 100 color photographs.

Bonsai Workshop – Styling and Training by Herb L. Gustafson

This book is a thorough through and through guide for beginners to intermediate bonsai gardeners. It gives clear instruction for creating, caring and displaying a bonsai tree.

How to Create Tree Sculpture – Wire Bonsai Sculpture Book

For beginners who want to jump right into training and shaping after they have learned about and repotted their tree, this book is a fully illustrated step-by-step guide that teaches basic styles, the tools needed and exactly how to get that shape in the type of tree. It is a very clear manual for starting to use wire right from the beginning through the final product of the molded tree.

How to Create Tree Sculpture

Once the basics are down and the tree is selected, the beginner bonsai gardener has to start investing time and openness. This means after the book learning about potting and the type of tree, the general water and light needs and soil, the gardener must get to know his own tree. This takes attentiveness to the tree’s reaction to the actual application of light, the amount of water required and the effect of the temperature. The soil can also be a trial and error effort as the gardener finds the exact mix of elements that makes their tree thrive. And patience is another important trait for the bonsai gardener to practice as they must wait to see the effects of alterations or changes, and wait for the tree to be healthy enough to trim and shape into the expression they desire. Risks have to be assumed as well, as the gardener adds or subtracts water or minerals, or makes root or branch adjustments that can possibly change the shape or progression of their tree.

In all, Bonsai is an art, a practice which has to be undertaken with a great deal of openness and a willingness to learn. First, the gardener must learn about all of the physical details that will make their tree thrive and grow into the shapes they desire. Second, the bonsai gardener must embrace the mindset of bonsai and the character traits it requires to be successful and fulfilling as well as achieving the aesthetic the art requires.

A starter kit is a great way to get the tree growing in the right direction and help the bonsai gardener get right into both the physical and metaphysical aspects of the art of bonsai.

STARTER KITS

Japanese Kingsville Boxwood Make Your Own Bonsai Tree

This kit includes everything a beginner could need:

  • Glazed ceramic imported container
  • Japanese Kingsville Boxwood Bonsai Tree
  • Annealed training wire
  • Multi-colored textured rock
  • Decorative pebbles for the soil
  • Ceramic miniature figurine
  • Humidity/drip tray
  • Traditional bonsai shears
  • Slow release fertilizer pellets
  • Book: 101 Essential Tips on Bonsai

Juniper Procumbens Make Your Own Bonsai Tree

This starter kit gets the beginner going on their own juniper:

  • Glazed ceramic imported container
  • Juniper Procumbens Nana (3 years old)
  • Annealed copper training wire
  • Bonsai tree soil (conifer mix)
  • Fiberglass drainage hole covers
  • Multi-colored textured rock
  • Separate typewritten instructions for potting, training and maintenance
  • Ceramic miniature figurine
  • humidity/drip tray
  • Plastic plant marker

Shimpaku Juniper Make Your Own Bonsai Tree

Another juniper kit to get the beginner started, includes:

  • Glazed ceramic imported container
  • Shimpaku Juniper Bonsai Tree
  • Annealed training wire
  • Multi-colored textured rock
  • Decorative pebbles for the soil
  • Ceramic miniature figurine
  • Humidity/drip tray
  • Traditional bonsai shears
  • Slow release fertilizer pellets
  • Book: 101 Essential Tips on Bonsai

Chinzan Azalea Make Your Own Bonsai Kit

This is for getting started with a more flowery shrub-type bonsai and includes:

  • Glazed ceramic imported container
  • Chinzan Azalea Bonsai Tree
  • Annealed training wire
  • Multi-colored textured rock
  • Decorative pebbles for the soil
  • Ceramic miniature figurine
  • Humidity/drip tray
  • Traditional bonsai shears
  • Slow release fertilizer pellets
  • Book: 101 Essential Tips on Bonsai