What You Must Know About Bonsai Trees

Bonsai is the art of cultivating miniaturized plants. The plants themselves are normal sized plants; they are not grown specifically for bonsai. The miniaturization is what makes bonsai such a great hobby, as enthusiasts prune the roots and shape the leaves of normal trees and shrubs to restrict them to a miniature bonsai scale.

Bonsai trees are generally divided into two categories of trees: deciduous bonsai trees, which lose their leaves seasonally, and evergreen bonsai trees.

Deciduous Bonsai Trees

The Trident Maple Bonsai (Acer Buergerianum) is an outdoor deciduous bonsai highly desired for its blazing autumn foliage. Leaves are three lobed (thus the name Trident) and drought resistant. Foliage will drop during the winter.

The Japanese Red Maple Bonsai tree (Acer Palmatum "Atropurpurea") is another popular deciduous tree. This tree has deep red leaves in the late fall, making it a collectors' favorite.

The Japanese Wisteria Bonsai (Wisteria floribunda) is a miniature version of the familiar spring vine. The Bonsai version has the same shiny green foliage and fragrant clustered flowers.

The Winter Jasmine Bonsai (jasminum nudiflorum) is native to China, with its bright, glossy leaves and the inch-long yellow blooms that appear at the tips of the stems before the leaves follow.

Evergreen Bonsai Trees

Among the most popular plants is the dwarf Juniper from Japan. This is the plant that comes to mind when most people think of bonsai. The trees are hardy and tolerate adverse conditions.

The Gold Thread Cypress (chamaecyparis pisifera 'filifera aurea' nana) has bright yellow threadlike leaves and produces half-inch-long cones in season.

The White Pine Bonsai (pinus strobes 'stonebrook') has fine needles that give the impression of a soft, feathery texture. This is an outdoor tree that earns its keep in the wintertime, when it stands out against drab backgrounds and bare deciduous branches.

Beginner Bonsai Trees

If you are new to bonsai, you probably want to find out for sure that you enjoy the art of bonsai before you spend hundreds of dollars on bonsai plants. Don't worry; there are bonsai trees at budget price points, and you can purchase a small juniper tree, a Hawaiian Umbrella bonsai tree, a red Anthurium, a White Rabbit's Foot Fern tree and many other bonsai trees for less than $30.

Another option for the bonsai newcomer - and a particularly great gift idea - is a bonsai starter kit. For about $25, you can purchase everything you need for your first bonsai: a glazed ceramic container; a 3-year-old juniper tree; training wire; a soil mix; drainage hole covers; textured rock; instructions for potting, training, and caring for the tree; a miniature ceramic figurine; and a humidity tray.