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Starting a Bonsai Buybonsai®

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The five basic styles of bonsai include formal upright, slanting, semicascade, and informal upright. Additional themes are illustrated in bonsai references. Beginning a new bonsai is best done in early spring before the plant breaks dormancy. It can also be done in fall, but the plant must be sheltered for the winter.

1.Materials for beginning. Pot, bonsai soil mix, wire, root rake, branch pruners, scissors, wire cutters, pliers, and chopstick.

2. Prepare the pot. Cover the drain holes with mesh and secure with wire. Add another long loop of wire up through the drain holes for anchoring the root ball.

3.Root pruning. Ease the tree from its pot without pulling too hard on the trunk. Gently tease apart the roots at the edges with a root rake or metal hook. Then untangle the roots on the underside. Mist the roots mass occasionally to keep moist and clear away excess soil. Cut back the thick roots at the edges by 1/3 to1/2. If there is a large mass of fine roots, remove up to 1/3. Try to leave as many of the fine feeder root as possible. There should be ½ to ¾ inch space around the edges of the pot to allow for growth.

4.Planting. Place a layer of soil in the pot with a slight mound under the trunk. Place the plant in the pot. Once the plant is in the correct position, secure with the wires from the drain holes. These wires can be cut off in 23 months. Fill the remaining space with soil. Soak the plant and place in a sheltered area.

Remember these are only suggestions for starting a bonsai, your experiences may differ, but this will be helpful if you have never done it before. ENJOY!