Help for beginners


I am very new to bonsai. I recently bought a tree thinking it was just a regular house plant requiring little to upkeep. After almost killing the tree I had bought, I started researching like crazy to keep it alive (Embarrassingly, I admit it was mainly so I wouldn’t lose the money I had just spent on it). However, in doing so I have become completely ENTHRALLED AND CAPTIVATED by the art of bonsai. I am absorbing any information I can get my hands on to learn more: everything from the history of the art form and how to actually begin do it myself.

I am looking for guidance as to how I can begin learning and developing in this beautiful art form. Any tips, advice or thoughts would be very appreciated. Thank you!!

Very good question! One of the best starting points is finding a good teacher. How can one tell if a teacher is good? Look at their trees. If their trees are healthy and beautiful, that’s a good place to start.

Local clubs can be another good resource. A quick search may turn up a local resource - if you let us know your general area, someone might be able to provide a recommendation.

As for books and online advice, it can hard to sort through the many available resources. Colin Lewis’ Bonsai Survival Manual is good for tips on keeping trees healthy.

Forums like this or the Bonsai Study Group are good for specific questions about your trees.

I can also add a note about a common stumbling point for new enthusiasts. It’s pretty common for people to try to do a lot of work on trees to the detriment to the tree’s health. In general, full and healthy bonsai are beautiful bonsai.

I appreciate the response and the advice! I am in Oklahoma City, which presents multiple weather issues but I’m not finding many other people interested in bonsai to learn from. If anyone has any advice for finding a teacher I would love to find one.

Thank you!

The Central Oklahoma Bonsai Society might be one place to start. Although it’s a bit of a drive, there’s an active bonsai community in the Dallas Area. One of the best resources there is Bonsai Smiths. The Smiths are great teachers and fun to work with.

Hi tstrum
A very useful book that has recently been published ( Bonsai - techniques-styles-display ideas) by Peter Warren (2014). Readily available through Chapters. $25 US.

Thank you everyone for your responses! I went to the local bonsai club chapter and have met some great people who are all helping me learn. It has been a great experience and extremely beneficial. I would highly recommend to any beginner to join the local club.

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A very active forum in the USA is Bonsainut - lots of activity there & helpful people like Brian van Fleet.