Bonsai/Getting a bonsai
Buying a Bonsai
Buying a young bonsai and then shaping it to your desire is probably the easiest way of achieving one. Most garden stores sell bonsai, but they usually carry only a small amount, to that of bad quality. If you wish to have a larger selection, I recommend that you visit a bonsai store. When you buy a bonsai, you should always check it for the following:
- Does it look natural? (It should)
- Are there any marks of wires on the bark? If yes, don't buy it.
- Is the tree sturdy? Do not buy a tree that looks like a branch stuck into the soil half an hour ago.
- Do you see surface roots? If there are none, that is not a neccesary minus, there could be beautiful roots underneath the soil.
- If there are wires, does it seem the branches will stay in place if the wires are removed? They should.
- Are there glued-on rocks? If yes, don't buy the tree, because it will be difficult to repot later.
If you are unsure of the trees’ quality, you should ask the storeowner or a worker if they can tell you its history. If they cannot, the bonsai is probably of mass production. Nevertheless, if it would be your first bonsai, it could be of use for practice.
Buying Nursery Trees
A cheaper alternative to buying a bonsai is buying a young tree from a nursery. You will find all sorts of trees of all ages. Buy a tree that is about as tall as you want your final result to be.
If you have decided against buying your bonsai, you might want to take out into the country and find your own tree. I advocate that you bring a few tools along. A shovel, a plastic bag, and large pruning shears always come in handy. When you are looking for a tree, look for a sturdy but not too large tree that has nice foliage. Try to find a tree with no or little fungus. Lichens, moss, and vines are okay. You can remove them later if you want to. If you see any part of the bark removed or damaged, there is a chance the tree will be infected with some disease. Once you have found a tree you like, check if you are on someone’s’ property. If so, go ask the owner of the land for permission before you dig. If you are in a national or state park, you cannot dig there. To start digging, estimate the size of the root ball. The roots’ span is usually two to three times the crown’s size. Then take the shovel and cut down into the soil at a reasonable distance from the tree. (You’ll be the one to clean up afterwards.) When you have your tree dug up, lift it out of the ground and place it in a bag. Be sure to leave some soil on the roots to ensure proper sturdiness of the tree.