'Growing Bonsai Trees'
A Word of Warning - A Lesson Learned

Better Known as the "Stuff Article"

It’s been over 40 years since I began growing bonsai trees.

During those years I found it necessary to buy many plants (just to make sure I didn’t miss out on anything) ... species I had never tried, specials I saw at garden centers and bargains at club auctions. It was seemingly endless.

Somewhere along the way, I also decided I should have one of every tropical with any bonsai potential and I expanded my hunt.  Of course, not all the plants I bought were even good beginner bonsai trees, but I could grow them on.

After a few years of growing bonsai, I started selling some of the plants I had gathered and rejected. The selling became a business. The business grew and so did my habit of buying.

I sold lots of the ‘stuff’ and watched others make decent bonsai out of it.

growing bonsai trees, tamarind bonsai, bonsai tree pictures

It took about 15 years to discover I had lots of plants, I had very few bonsai.

The Tamarind (Tamarindus indica) shown here, was one bonsai I managed to style and maintain for many years. (I eventually removed the first branch.)

Where did the time go? After 30+ years of growing bonsai trees, I finally figured it out.

I had so much ‘stuff’ I had no time to develop it or even take care of it properly.  It was not an easy habit to break, but I finally managed to do it.

A few years after Hurricane Andrew I closed the business. I then had a little more time.  Things changed.

growing bonsai trees, bougainvillea bonsai, pixie bougainvillea

I began to use one of the bonsai how-to-lessons I teach ... taper, taper, taper ... and cut off the huge branches on the old Bougainvillea, shown above.

I root pruned several small Ficus and placed them in the shallow pots I always recommend.

I tossed or sold everything without a decent trunk as per bonsai lesson number one. I also narrowed down the number of plants. (Ask any of the old timers about my auction and many sales.)

I cleaned up the dead wood and painted lime sulfur on my favorite Conocarpus (buttonwood) bonsai. Even the weeds were almost under control.

A Final Note
about Growing Bonsai Trees

For those of you just getting started in bonsai - and some of you old-timers who have similar buying habits - discipline yourselves!

After many years of neglect your ‘stuff’ will be nothing but ‘old stuff’.  ‘Old stuff’ does not go to shows nor end up in magazines.  It's still just ‘stuff,’ no matter how old it is.

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