New to Bonsai. Hi everyone!

Hi everyone! Just wanted to introduce myself. I am taking a private bonsai beginners class with my fiancé on Jan 3rd and couldn’t be more excited.

In the meantime I have been trying to do as much research as possible, especially since I will be starting my bonsai journey in the winter time. I am located about 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia and found that there is a bonsai club not far from me as well. Hopefully I will be able to be make it to some meets once things get back to normal in the world.

Any advice for a newbie who is looking to pursue this new hobby. I am trying to soak up as much information as possible, yet not knowing which species of trees I’m going to start with (Instructor said we will choose during the class what species we will go with based on my likes and circumstances) makes it hard to know exactly which information in the video archives I should be focusing on.

Once again, I am very happy to be here and hope to contribute to the forums as best that I can.


Welcome to the addiction, opps hobby. I suggest that you consider some trees that are native to your area and find attractive. Even if they are not the best for bonsai, they should grow well and you will learn. Acer rubrum, red maple, is a deciduous tree of your region that comes to mind. It is probably not the best maple to make into a bonsai, but it is hardy in your area and some very fine bonsai have been developed from the species.


Thanks for the reply! I will research trees that are native to my area, great suggestion!

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Hi @Bumps
Welcome to the long game!
Right now is a good time to visit garden centres for bargains. Go cheap, because it probably won’t all survive! We all started with a collection of sticks in pots. The Mirai beginners videos will give you all you need. Start getting ready for repotting.


@Bumps I started about this time last year. You’re going to love it! The Mirai library is some of the best and most complete information I have found thus far. I am glad I became a member. You can find some of the BSOP presentations on YouTube to see what it is all about. I would watch soil, water, and repotting/Nursery stock videos as a starting point to be ready for next spring.


Hi Gregory, I agree with all the comments above. When it comes to studying, practical is always best, but a great way to get inspiration is to look at trees in their natural environment. You will soon develop ‘Owls Neck’ when you are out and about allowing 360 sight! Though it’s always best to control it whilst driving…

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@Bumps One tree you start with is a small Dwarf Alberta Spruce. They are everywhere at this time of year, and cheap. There are a couple of videos in the Library on them, such as Nursery Stock Alberta Spruce (beginner level). Or Alberta Spruce Design (intermediate).

You would have to wait until spring to start working on a spruce, but you can get it cheap at this time of year.

Also, check out the Beginner Series: Material Selection video. It talks about what to look for in nursery stock bonsai candidates.

Welcome to Mirai. Enjoy the obsession! :smiley:

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@Bob_McCarlie are you saying that if I do buy nursery stock right now for the dwarf Alberta spruce all I should do is water it, nothing else, until the spring. Not even a clean?

@Bumps Hi… Spruce (and all North American conifers) are outdoor trees. The tree should be kept outside during the winter. If you keep it indoors, it will die.

By cleaning, if you mean removing dead or small twigs or shoots, crotch grown, downward/upward branchlets, yes. No root work until late winter… Same for significant branch removal.

This pm I just cleaned up an Alberta Spruce (3 gal. size) that I bought yesterday. I put it back in the garage until I can get out and find a sheltered spot to bury the pot for the winter. I could keep it in my unheated garage, but that’s already full of other trees.

@Bob_McCarlie That is exactly what I wanted to know.

Why the garage and not just on the ground in the yard or on a small table in the yard?

Welcome Bumps
Trees in pots - especially the roots - are susceptible to frost damage in cold climates.
Standard protection can be storing in an unheated garage or basement, or sinking the pot into the ground so that the roots are protected.
Bonsai on the ground benefit from the transfer of heat from the soil whereas bonsai on benches or tables can be more exposed to cold.

@Bumps It was dark when I finished cleaning the tree, and cold. It was just easier to put it in the garage until today. Here it is in it’s winter home. The soil just comes up to the rim of the pot. I put cedar mulch inside the top of the pot around the base of the tree and around the outside of the pot.


Patience, patience, patience grasshopper :wink:. Watch the Mirai videos in the library. You can over love a tree, give it too much attention and over work it all at once. Different types of trees need different care and techniques. These you will learn in time but cannot absorb all of them at once. Outdoor trees NORMALLY do not need watered nor fertilized except during the growing season. None need over watered even then. If liking Pines do not under water them as some seem to advocate. Once in good free draining substrate over watering is nearly impossible. Only repot in proper seasons! So many things to learn all at once! However First most important thing is to keep the tree alive. Basic watering and fertilizing most important thing to ask your teacher about. Once tree is dead NO technique is worth a wooden nickel. Best of fortune.