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To Buy Bonsai or Not?

So you want to buy bonsai trees.

There are many bonsai myths and misconceptions about these little plants.

If you're serious about giving it a try, please consider the following before you decide.  The list is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but oh so true.

Top Ten Reasons Not to Buy Bonsai

10. There's and empty spot on the bookshelf.

9. The kids want one.

8. You thought your dead cactus never needed water.

7. Your vacations are frequent and lengthy.

6. You have no "luck" with other plants.

5. You would never commit to having a pet, not even a goldfish.

4. It seems like the perfect gift.

3. You're interested in Oriental culture.

2. You've always loved the Karate Kid.

And the #1 reason not to buy bonsai:

You think they're cute!

If you said "That's me!" to any of the above, think twice -- no, make that three times -- before you go shopping.  If you're still determined, here are some things you should know.

Tamarind bonsai created by Gede Merta in Bali.Tamarindus indica by Gede Merta - Bali, Indonesia

Beautiful bonsai, such as this, make the hobby tempting!

These Plants are Not a Species

Bonsai is what we do to many different kinds of plants. The goal is to make them look like small old trees in a container.

Each type requires somewhat different care. Some like lots of water, some like to dry out a little. Others, especially those in small pots, may need water every day. Many like sun, others prefer shade. Some will grow indoors, others will not.

None will grow indoors in a dark room or on a bookshelf without good light.  Where they grow and how much water they need are only two considerations. Since they are live plants, growing bonsai trees will include fertilizer and trimming.

Your bonsai tree needs to be checked daily. Is it too dry? Does it have insects? Did the cat knock it over?

For your first bonsai, consider easier varieties such as Ficus for indoors and juniper for outdoors.  Ask for advice. Know what species you have. Get thorough care instructions. Read books, join a bonsai group.

Read about What to Look for When you buy bonsai trees!

It could be many, many years before your 'starter' bonsai looks like the ones in books and magazines.

The most beautiful bonsai trees are grown outdoors and have taken many years to acquire their exotic appearance.  Is this starting to sound like work?  Maybe you need a little patience. Although, there's an old Japanese saying "You only need patience for things you do not love."

Growing bonsai may not be as easy as it first sounds; it is a commitment. There is no magic, they're just plants in containers!  It's what we do to them that makes them very special.

If you're ready ... with a willingness to learn from mistakes, a sincere effort and lots of passion, bonsai can become an enjoyable lifelong hobby!

Where to Go From Here

 What to Look for when you Buy Bonsai

Bonsai Tree Articles

Types of Bonsai Trees

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