Working on Some Goals: Bonsai

One of the best things about setting goals instead of making resolutions is goals seem less tied to a specific date. We can set them anytime we want to sit down and make some plans.

Those darned resolutions seem so "tied" to January 1st that the pressure is on to come up with some good ones before that magical date, if indeed you are going to make some resolutions for the new year.

Well, no pressure here, I'm working on P.L.A.N.T.S. goals! And I'll take my sweet time about it, as we still have January and February to get through before much outside gardening is going to happen here in Zone 5.

But already I know that one of my goals is going to involve bonsai.
(Bonsai on display at White River Gardens in 2006)

I've always admired bonsai and wanted to have a few bonsai of my own. I've even made a few feeble attempts to have one. I've looked at mature bonsai for sale, but they always made my wallet hurt. Then last year I purchased a tree seedling that had been grown to become a bonsai tree, but it didn't make it through the winter, or more likely, it didn't make it through the cold spring.

In spite of these failed attempts, I know I'd like bonsai partially because of all the tools that seem so essential for caring for bonsai, or at least I would make them essential! Special pruners, scissors, brooms, rakes, tweezers, wire cutters. I love the idea of all these special tools and using them to care for these special plants.

And now I have new motivation to learn about bonsai.

One of my nephews has decided that he wants to grow some bonsai and has been asking me a lot of questions about them. He plans to start with ivy because he read somewhere that it is a good plant to start with, that you can get it to look like bonsai relatively quickly. On Christmas Day he showed me his tiny ivy start, planted in a tiny bonsai tray. He said in a few years, maybe we could compete against each other in a bonsai competition. My! He's read a lot about bonsai.

It would just not do if I was not able to answer his questions and speak with some assuredness on this particular gardening topic. I have a reputation as the family gardener to maintain! Plus I've always wanted to have some bonsai, so I'll use this little 'competition' as my motivation.

So, that's my first P.L.A.N.T.S. goal, to learn more about bonsai this year, and have at least have one bonsai plant that I am successful with.


  1. I've always been drawn to Bonsai as well but have killed off what few I tried. My neighbor that grows Bonsai successfully said the key is in grow lights. Of course as you no doubt know since the soil surface is so little it requires frequent watering.

    The conifers are especially difficult to grow indoors because they need a period of dormancy. I've heard Bonsai growers say that they leave their confers in an unheated but protected space with light, such as a basement window.

    Good luck, this could be the start of something BIG !

  2. I will enjoy your bonsai endeavors from afar...which you will appreciate since bonsai seem to give up the will to live when I'm nearby. This way I can play along at home without endangering any plants.

  3. I wouldn't mind trying bonsai using bamboo as a plant material. I've seen it done in bamboo books. Curioushow well it would work.

  4. I like your goal oriented mindset. No time limit, anything is possible. A garden book gift received recently shows amazing bonsai at the Ediburgh Botanical garden in Scotland. Inspiring enough to make one give it a go.

  5. I'd love some Bonsai, but I already worry enough about the dogs when I go away. Where would I find a Bonsai Sitter?

    I did have some very nice Juniper Bonsai when I lived in California, but I gave them to a neighbor with a green thumb when I moved. I was afraid they wouldn't survive the cross-country trip.

  6. Good luck on the bonsai! It's 1 of my pipe dreams to have a bonsai Wisteria standard. Have you seen the bonsai at the Chicago Botanic Garden? Pam/Digging had a post about them about a month ago.

  7. All... it sounds like we all want some bonsai, but are all somewhat hesistant or something? Let's go for it this year, make it the year of bonsai! Who's with me on this?

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  8. Oh Carol, I had to giggle when you said you like the special tools needed for bonsai culture. I can SO relate to that mindset. It's kind of like when I walk through the kitchen gadget section at Walmart. I want one of each of those nifty little things. The only difference between those and special garden tools is that I actually garden.

  9. Carol, I realy like the idea of bonsai. Like you I look at it every opportunity I get and I love the ones that have a landscape. Especially the ones with tiny statuary or some beautiful rocks in it to enhance the plantings. To actually do it. Hmmmmm Just don't know if I could take the plunge. Maybe your nephew has the right idea. Try something simple like ivy to start. I wouldn't feel too bad killing an ivy. However I would feel bad killing a tiny tree. I think a lot of sun is a key to this too. I have little sun to use. Hmmmmm I always like the opportunity to purchase new tools. :)

  10. I like Bonsai too, but so far I'm a killer. I have most all the cute little tools though, and I'm gonna keep trying. The problem I've had is the watering-I just can't keep up with it properly. So now I'm trying to "bonsai-prune" the tops of a few things growing outside with normal root systems and see how that goes. Not exactly the "real deal", but baby steps, y'know? From my online research, it seems that sclefflera are easy candidates for beginners

  11. Most Bonsai should be kept outside , year round unless they are tropical and you live in a zone that is too cold for what you are growing.


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