Choosing Material to Bonsai

Bonsai StartersWhether you are buying a bonsai starter from your local nursery to train, or deciding which of your pot plants you are going to create your next work of art from, there are a couple of things you can look for that  may help speed up the process of achieving a much better bonsai sooner.

If you have read my previous post Bonsai, choosing the best tree for a beginner you should now have an idea of the variety of tree that will best suit your area, and if you have studied the 5 styles of Japanese Bonsai and have your mind set on a style you would like to attempt, it is best to then choose a tree that already has some or all of the characteristics of the style you wish to train your tree into.

It is easier to create a semi or full cascade style tree if the material already grows down over the side of the pot. A lot of varieties can be wired to create this effect but it saves the risk of breaking a branch if it already cascades naturally.

Choosing a front and back of a bonsai, and getting balanced branch placement is easier when you have several options. So choose material that has a substantial amount of branches to work with, this will give you more scope to work with.

Bonsai RootsWhen looking for good bonsai starters, also look below the surface of the soil to see how the roots have formed and see if this could be a feature of your new bonsai.

Training a trunk to curve or twist is much harder to do later, branches on the other hand can in most varieties be grown back down a trunk almost at any time, so choosing stock with a good trunk and root formation definitely helps get a better looking tree sooner.

A tree that has grown too tall to be a bonsai can be cut down to size and will usually make better bonsai much sooner than trying to get a small starter or cutting to grow into the sized bonsai you eventually want.


  • Choose material that has some or all of the characteristics of the style you want to create.
  • Choose material that has a substantial amount of branches to work with
  • Choose stock with good trunk and root formation
  • Find material that you can cut down to size rather than grow into bonsai proportions

Choosing good material to work with in the beginning can save you years in acheiving good quality bonsai.

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