"I’ve read all the bonsai books printed in English." Yes, I said that . . . back in the 1970s! Today, it’s difficult to keep up. There are more legitimate bonsai artists, more techniques and overall better exposure.
The print quality is better, the photos are in color and the sources are plentiful. It’s a whole new bonsai world!
Some of the books on this page are recommendations I've enjoyed over the years and they remain in my personal collection. Others are new and exciting contributions.
Giving a bonsai (even to a bonsai person) may not be a good idea.
However, a good book? Now, that's a great idea!The World of Bonsai
sits on my coffee table at all times. (It is not a how-to-do bonsai book.)
The photographs of bonsai, people and places are unbelievably powerful and the wording is beautifully done.
I highly recommend it as a gift for bonsai people and anyone who enjoys the visual arts. As a gift, I suggest the hardback version.
When you see book that seems too pricey, check it out! There may be a used copy available!
Used books can be terrific bargains. Maybe it’s just luck, but when I've ordered a book in “good” or “excellent” condition, that’s what I got.
Maybe not for coffee table types, but certainly for reference tomes this is a real option. If you don’t mind a spot on the cover, a couple of turned down pages or just a “little worn” look – think about purchasing used books.
These are probably the most important plant reference books I own. (I have a 2 volume set.) Originally these books were published as hard back and ran about $100. Today, they are a bargain and often available "used."
If you are a garden writer (including bonsai) Hortus is a must.
Don't miss the 'Index of Common Names' consisting of over 10,000 entries and the Glossary of Botanical Terms including a page of leaf illustrations.
No excuse not to know what a connate-perfoliate leaf looks like!
(Just in case you would ever need to know.)
"The Biology of Trees Native to Tropical Florida"
If United States tropical plants are your interest, the botanical illustrations by Priscilla Fawcett are clear and close-up!
The title is a bit of a misnomer because there are more than 'natives' included . . . which is a good thing.
Click on picture.
Most how-to bonsai books are not written for tropical climates. In you live in a tropical area, for the most part skip the chapters about types of trees to use, times of year to plant and many soil mixes (unless you’re just curious.)
Find a local bonsai club for more accurate instructions for your zone.
If you live in Miami, Florida a white pine won't survive. However, tropicals won't live in more temperate zones unless they are grown indoors or wintered in a greenhouse.
Always consider the climate where you live when selecting bonsai books and especially before deciding on a species to grow.
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Know the basics? Ready for more? Watch these amazing Colin Lewis bonsai class videos.
Craftsy sent me a copy of this class to review. Very impressed, we became an affiliate and receive a small commission on purchases. (Which helps support this site.)