Bonsai tree supplies and bonsai trees - Bonsai of Brooklyn
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Tip of the Week  #25

Getting Started: Too Much Too Soon?

Welcome to our next installment of  “Tips Of The Week”.

This feature is for the benefit of visitors to this site, I would be happy to hear from you. If there is something you would like to see covered here in future weeks, please direct your E-mail to

Please let me know if I can include your first name and city if your topic is chosen.

Interested in past articles? There's a list at the bottom of the page.

Patrick from Greenwood Indiana wrote:
I plan to begin the art of Bonsai.  I have had one bonsai, that was given as a gift a few years ago, that quickly died, so I want to make sure to make educated decisions with my purchases so as not to get discouraged this time.   I plan to purchase two pre-potted bonsai, maybe the Dwarf Japanese Juniper and Japanese Maple.  I'd also like to get some pre-bonsai material to pot my own.  I am considering, Kingsville Dwarf Boxwood, Chinese Elm, Mt. Fuji Serissa, Chinese Sweet Plum, and Japanese Maple.  I live in Indiana, where the winters can get cold.  Any advice you could give me as to if these trees would be appropriate to my area, size of pots I'd need, etc. would be greatly appreciated.  Also, if there are other trees that would be better suited to a novice, I'd appreciate the advice.   Lastly, if you could recommend any books that would be good for me, I'd appreciate that also.
Thank you for your help.  I look forward to doing business with you and getting my new hobby started.

Often, a beginner will go overboard, and purchase either too much, or the wrong things. This sort of enthusiasm can lead to problems or total failure. My response to Patrick was as follows:
My first suggestion is to just get the finished bonsai you mentioned, but not any of the pre-bonsai you listed for right now. I'm telling you to spend less money, so you should strongly consider my reasons.
Our bonsai are in their pots for 3 months or more before being offered for sale. The "transplant shock" period is 4 to 6 weeks. We like them to be strong before offering them for sale so we hold them for a longer period of time. The routine daily care described in the specific instruction sheet we send with each bonsai purchased is sufficient for its health & survival. A little deviation can be tolerated without harm. A newly potted bonsai is in moderate to heavy shock, depending on what was done to its roots in the process. That same deviation from its environmental needs can be damaging or fatal to a newly potted bonsai. In addition, potting a bonsai in mid June is dangerous unless you have experience and an understanding of what you can and can't do to the roots of a given species of tree. It's much wiser to get used to the day to day care with strong established trees. Once you get comfortable with them (perhaps as soon as the fall) you can try making your own, a very rewarding endeavor. That time of year offers more "room for error" on your part, and a greater chance for the tree to recover from the repotting shock. Your chance of success will be greatly improved, and that's good for the both of us (not to mention the trees.)
One of the things I've learned from my almost 40 year (OH MY GOD) association with bonsai is that there are things which can not be rushed. The learning process is one of those things. PLEASE go slowly, do it the prudent way, and avoid another discouragement. As for wintering, our "Tip of The Week" articles # 17, 18 & 19 deal with wintering temperate (outdoor) trees, and #11 deals with artificial light for sub-tropical (indoor) types. Please take a few minutes to read through them before deciding which way you want to go.
As for a recommendation of a book, we currently offer over 3 dozen titles, and there are a good selection of books recommended for beginners only, beginners to intermediate or beginners to experienced hobbyists. Read the write-ups, and see which deals with the areas in which you think you might be interested. They all carry our recommendation. For every book on the list, 2 or 3 others were rejected. If it's on the list, we think it's a good & worthwhile book.

Interested in past articles? Click for your choice below.

#1-Things to do in the spring

#2-Forest Plantings

#3-Planning a trimming schedule

#4-Trimming Japanese Maples (And other trees with opposing Buds)

#5-Trimming Chinese Elms (And other trees with alternating Buds)

#6-Trimming Conifers (Such as Pine, Juniper and Cypress)

#7-Improving Your Bonsai Skills

#8-Things to Remember During the Winter Months

#9-Some Thoughts About Tree Roots. Their Strengths & Weaknesses

#10-Potting Medium: The Foundation of a Bonsai

#11-Growing Bonsai Under Artificial Light.

#12-The Importance of Moss, How To Get It & Put It On a Bonsai.

#13-The Right Tool For The Job.

#14-Root Over Rock Planting.

#15-Wiring - Copper or Aluminum?

#16-Wiring - Basic Techniques

#17-Using A Cold Frame, Garage, or Tool Shed For Wintering

#18-Making A Cold Frame For Wintering Temperate Bonsai.

#19-Wintering Temperate Bonsai Indoors.


#21-Sunlight - Some Further Thoughts.

#22-Is It Really A Tree?

#23-Repotting a "Department Store" Bonsai


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