It’s a new year and you’ve decided this year you’re delving into the botanical bastion of bonsai. But with so many plants and pots to choose from, where do you start? Worry not and read on as we guide you through the process of pairing plants and pots for bonsai.
We’ll begin at the heart of bonsai with plant choice. Choosing the right plant can seem a daunting task, especially because any woody stemmed plant can be utilized. However, there are some plants that are more commonly grown as bonsai either for the aesthetic attributes like gnarled bark or small foliage, or because of their low maintenance care requirements. As you browse the following recommendations consider your personal connection to the plants as well. The more connected you feel to a particular plant the easier it will be to keep an eye on.
Stalwart and classic, junipers are tough and tolerant trees. Their small, scaly foliage lends well to the miniaturization that bonsai strives for. While they may struggle on for a few years when grown indoors, they live longest and healthiest when grown outdoors.
Needs: Part to full sun. Water when close to, or, dry.
A mainstay of bonsai due to their trainability, durability and beauty. Their flaky, gnarled bark belies their age making them striking bonsai specimen. These tough trees are not for the indoors.
Needs: Full sun. Water when dry.
Its vigorous rooting habit and easy going nature make for a popular bonsai. Great plant for beginners and ideal for growing indoors.
Needs: Bright, indirect light. Keep evenly moist.
A standard in low maintenance houseplants, any of the small leaved jades make great specimen for bonsai.
Needs: Direct light. Water sparingly.
A rising star in the bonsai world for its rapid growth rate and quickly developing caudex (thick stem).
Needs: Bright, indirect light to direct sun. Water often during the growing season.
Now that you’ve got a few plant ideas let’s move on to pot picking and planning. For the purposes of this blog we’re going to keep things as simple as possible (feel free to reach out if you’d like to dive deeper). There are two general styles of bonsai pots: low and tall. When to use what style will ultimately be up to you, but pot shape is generally determined by the shape of your tree. For a list of tree styles, check out this page from Bonsai Empire.