The Gift of Bonsai
Most people know at least one person (if not themselves) who has an interest in bonsai and occasionally talk about the hobby and how they would love to someday learn more about it. So one would assume that person would really appreciate a great bonsai gift.
A great bonsai gift indeed would be just the thing, but the problem is there are many bonsai gifts that are designed similar to a bad fishing lure. They are designed to catch fishermen not fish.
The sad fact is many bonsai items That target bonsai beginners, from pots to tools to trees will have the exact opposite of the desired effect on the unlucky receiver. These items will certainly end up frustrating, discouraging and completely turning off the person and potential bonsai master from this amazing, affordable and rewarding hobby.
The truth is, bonsai is a simple hobby that anyone can start with the right knowledge of a few basic elements. This article and it's links will tell you everything you need (and don't need) to get started on a role of success in this intriguing en devour.
Here are some prime examples of what NOT to spend your hard earned cash on.
1) THE BONSAI STARTER KIT ~ Many, (not all) bonsai kits contain:
A* A CHEAP CLAY POT ~ that will fall apart at the first sign of frost though they may be O.K in frost free environments. I wouldn’t know because any of these I’ve had fell apart during the first winter so I couldn’t see how well they would hold up in warmer environments.
B* A CHEAP BONSAI TRIMMING SHEAR ~ These bend around the branch rather than cutting through it.
C* A WEE BIT OF BONSAI SOIL MIX ~ Good or bad? Well bonsai soil mix you buy may be alright. But much of it will not drain properly and eventually kill your tree.
D* SEEDS!!! ~ O.K. seeds do have a purpose which they serve. They are an excellent way for a person (who owns bonsai trees) to mass produce many of the same species for very little expense or for the same type of person to gain access to a highly prized rare species that they couldn’t otherwise find.
Now having said that, for a person who is anxiously waiting to own their first bonsai tree, a seed takes FOREVER and EVER and EVER to grow into the tiniest little seedling and will probably not become any kind of a descent bonsai in the new owner's lifetime since it’s being raised in a tiny bonsai pot.
In all probability, the would be bonsai master will lose interest, and eventually neglect the wee little seedling to its certain demise and move on to less healthy hobbies such as home brewing.
AND THE NEXT BAD BONSAI GIFT:
2) THE MALSAI ~ A name I changed a bit from the original “mallsai” used by bonsai enthusiasts’ derived from shopping MALL and bonSAI referring to the mass produced bonsai trees sold in big box stores such as Wallyworld, or the HomeRepo. Anyways, I much prefer the term MALSAI derived from MALpractice and bonSAI, it seems much more fitting since they can be purchased many places other than the mall and also the mall in my area has a nice little Chinese lady that sells excellent quality bonsai.
So you wonder what’s wrong with a malsai? Well, there are several things:
A* Many of them came from a tropical 84F humid greenhouse environment or were shipped from an actual tropical environment on the other side of the planet and then they are dumped into a VERY dry 72F environment completely void of any natural light or even a decent light at all leaving them pretty well dead (though not yet showing it) before they even get to your home.
B* I have seen these trees with pretty little shiny tags hanging on them claiming them to be indoor species when many of them are not! Proper bonsai Placement is the first step to keeping a bonsai tree alive.
C* Many have rocks quite literally glued to their soils surface which will eventually and certainly, slowly suffocate and kill them.
D* Almost always, they are potted in a soil mix that will not drain and aerate properly which will cause them to slowly die in spite of the owners desperate attempts to nurture them back to health. As previously mentioned in number 1) C* Bonsai soil is critically important to the health of your tree.
AND SO... Where do I start? What do I buy? How do I make this happen?
Here is my advise:
1* If you're going to purchase a pot in a cold environment, make sure it has been high fired or baked at high temperatures, has drainage holes and certainly be sure the interior is un-glazed.
2* If you're going to purchase bonsai tools, a good way to get quality is to buy the Japanese made version. They are worth their weight in gold!
3* If you're going to purchase a bonsai soil mix, well it may be alright but the best and least expensive alternative is to make your own.
4* Just get an inexpensive Pre-bonsai. Learn what makes a good bonsai and take a trip to the nursery where you can find a small tree or shrub with the right characteristics to eventually become something amazing.
5* Or go purchase all of the above and put it all together in your own cool packaging to make your own high quality bonsai kit!
Whatever you decide, be sure and get or give good information such as a link to this site or a good bonsai book also makes a great gift. These will get you started on the right track for success in this fantastic and ancient hobby!