Bonsai is a living miniature tree that will increase in beauty as it matures, with proper care from you. With this step by step guide, I will teach you how to start a bonsai tree.
You will want to select a tree with a little character already. The trees you purchase will most likely have been through a training period and you will only have to pinch and groom the tree to keep it miniature.
The tree we are using here is a Fukien Tea that was badly in need of some trimming. I couldn’t even see its very interesting trunk shape.
What you will need
Before beginning, you should decided on a bowl for your tree, one that will compliment its shape and coloring.
You will also need some very small clippers, some sturdy wire & wire cutters, and something to comb through the roots, I used an old screw driver, you could also use a fork.
Remove your tree from its old pot and shake the soil off of the roots.
Use something to comb through the roots, I used a screwdriver.
When the roots are clean and stretched out, you will cut off one fourth of the bottom and side root mass.
Re-pot your tree in its new pot using fresh soil. Typically you will do this every couple of years to keep your plant small and healthy.
You should place some screen over the drainage holes and add some small gravel before adding the new soil and tree.
If your tree is too top heavy you may have to run wire through the holes and around the tree trunk to hold it in place.
Water your tree well to be sure there are no air pockets around the roots.
Look at y our tree from all angles and decide what needs to be changed, trimmed or wired to improve its shape and beauty.
I started by clipping off all the leaves that were yellow, torn, too large, or out of place.
This leaf was growing out of the trunk and had to go!
This leaf was too large! Snip!
Remove any branches that are growing where you don’t want them. Also remove any dead branches and shorten others that are too long.
On the Fukien Tea you have to be careful because the scars will show for a long time so try to trim where the scar won’t show.
Also remember your tree needs it leaves and new branches so don’t remove too much or it will stress the tree, and it may die.
You will want to wire branches that are not growing in a way that does not complement the tree, or please your eye. You may want to attend a Bonsai meeting to see beautiful examples and how others are training their trees.
Leave the wire on as long as possible so the branch will retain the shape once the wire is removed. Do not let the wire damage the bark, watch your tree to see if the branch is getting thick and the wire is digging into the branch. Remove the wire before that happens.
You will wind the wire at a 45 degree angle from where the branch starts at the trunk out to its tip.
Make sure the cut ends are not digging into the plant it might scar or kill your plant.
There was only one branch growing straight out from the trunk, that I felt needed to be reshaped, so I wound it with copper wire.
Because these trees, Fukien Teas, don’t take kindly to reshaping I had to use the edge of the pot to hold the branch down, I will leave this for at least a year, or maybe more. It is hard to tell from this photo, but the branch now has a gentle downward curve.