Christmas Bonsai

Ever since Ryan did a beginners stream on a nursery Christmas tree last year, I think I’ve been more excited about buying a Christmas tree to bonsai than I have been about Christmas. For most of our marriage my wife and I have prefered to buy living Christmas trees and planted them when we’re done (assuming we were living somewhere we could do that), but being new to bonsai, I’m excited to repurpose our tree for bonsai. Let’s just say I’ll be a little more picky about the tree we choose this year.

Anyone else thinking about giving this a try this year? Did anyone try this last year and have any advice to share? What species of tree do you plan to use or have used? I remember lots of places sell a variety of spruce that looked like they’d be good.

My wife just bought an Italian Stone Pine as decoration for our house, so I’m sure I’ll subject it to something eventually, but I may field grow it for a while to let it thicken up.


Lot of noble firs and grand firs around here for Christmas Trees.

Last year I grabbed a Dwarf Alberta Spruce Christmas tree (roughly shohin sized) on clearance from a grocery store after Christmas last year and worked on it. It’s not doing so great, but at least I learned a bit.

My winters are so mild, that I hardly ever get 1 frost, let alone a night of freezing temps. I don’t have a lot of available species that I can grow, but I’ve managed to keep a Stone Pine alive for a few years. It’s about a foot tall, but I’m going to put it through some styling paces this year, see how it does. With several dead trees on my experience column, I’d recommend trying this smaller tree out before investing too much time/effort on a larger specimen.

There was a pinus pinea thread around here that was worth the read, too.

Same. They all died, but they weren’t in great condition when I got them and I think I over worked them too soon. Should have given then a season to recover. I’m sure I’ll do better this year.

Found that thread, thanks for the recommendation. The good news about using live Christmas trees to experiment on is that we were going to buy the tree anyway, so anything that becomes of it is a bonus.

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I ended up with 5 in the sales :grinning:. Two spruce and three fir. I’m pleased enough with all, but I wasn’t careful enough in selection of one of them. It had inverse taper at the first whorl. I chopped it and fashioned a first branch and new leader. Will grow it on a little to balance out the taper.

I’ve done this infrequently. The stone pines do not appear to be resilient. Do not put them out into the freezing cold after Xmas. Transition slowly.
The 16" soft needle weeping juniper-ish xmas tree I bougt several years ago got planted in my flower garden, forgot about it. 10 years…Its 12 feet tall now. Still bonsai-able? :rofl:

I have been thinking the same way @Tac. Last weekend I was buying outdoor string lights at my local orange box store and was happy to see the “live x-mas tree” inventory. Ill be back in the days just after Christmas to claim a tree or two. With Christmas being on a Tuesday this year it may be a soooooper Wednesday!

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Hi, i am a “beginner” and I just tried this year and finished it today. The tree is a Colorado Blue Spruce. Here are the pictures before vs after. There are still room for improvements in the defining branch and apex but did not want to remove too much foliage (…already a lot removed). Now fingers crossed to see new growth in Spring. Thanks Ryan for all precious advice in this stream particularly! image|374x500


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Nice. I just picked up a few small spruce Christmas trees on clearance and am looking toward to doing the same. We also got a 4 foot Scots pine as our living Christmas tree which I’ll style over the course of next year.

We got this 4 foot Scots pine as our living Christmas tree this year (it’s my first Scots pine). I’m actually pretty excited about this as raw material. I’ve taken some pics and annotated them. Because of the inverse taper half way up and the long straight internodes above that, I think I need to trunk chop it half way up (which is unfortunate because it has pretty good taper all the way up). It will end up being about 2.5 feet with the new leader. The only down side is that the new leader isn’t very think (the whirl that caused the inverse taper had 8 branches and none of them were that big). This will make a nice project throughout next year so this winter I’ll go back and rewatch all the old Scots pine streams.