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What type of tree should I use for my first Bonsai?

Picking the right tree to work with is the first step in being successful with Bonsai

bonsai-mark-givenselThe art of Bonsai requires years of practice before being able to create masterpieces worthy of Bonsai gardens and nurseries.  A question I’m asked from time to time is “what is the best type of tree to begin learning  how to create a Bonsai with?”  I’ll answer that question here and show you how to choose the best tree to get started in the art of Bonsai.

In choosing plant material for your first Bonsai, you want choose one that with the following characteristics. 

Small Leaves.  One of the main goals in the art of Bonsai is to replicate a large tree on a very small scale.  To do this, you must choose plant material with very small leaves.

Easy to bend and style.    When first starting out in Bonsai, it’s important to have flexible plant material when it comes to bending branches and styling.  Be careful not to choose plant material with brittle branches that break easily when bending and styling with wire.

Heartiness.  Caring for Bonsai trees varies by the difference species of plants.  When beginning to work with Bonsai, you want to choose plant material which is very forgiving when it comes to pest like insects, diseases and various climate conditions.

Readily available in your area.  When choosing what to work with for your first Bonsai you’ll want to pick plant material which is readily available in your area.  This makes it easier for you to acquire the plant material and assures it will thrive in your geographical area.  You will also be able to get a recommendation for the best fertilizer from the same place of purchase.

What’s the best type of tree to use for your first Bonsai?
The species of plant material which meets all the criteria and is the best type of tree to learn how to create Bonsai is the Juniper tree.  Junipers come in all types of different varieties and styles which will allow you to create different styles of Bonsai.  They are also very hearty trees with very small leaves and are pretty easy to take care of.  You’ll find them at most bonsai gardens and nurseries and they are usually pretty inexpensive to purchase.

At our Bonsai club, we teach our beginning students using small Junipers trees in two gallon pots for their first Bonsai

So if you’re just starting out in the art of Bonsai, and wondering what type of tree to use for your first Bonsai, I highly recommend the Juniper tree.  You’ll find it easy to work with and forgiving enough so you’ll be able to enjoy it for decades to come.

So have fun creating your first Juniper Bonsai.  To watch a great video which demonstrates how to create a Juniper Bonsai, check out a video by Bonsai Empire.  

Article By: Mark Givensel, BonsaiConnection.com
Mark Givensel is a Bonsai Enthusiast living on the island of Maui, Hawaii and is a member of the Valley Isle Bonsai Club.


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