This is the time of year, late winter/early spring, when we get busy as bonsai enthusiasts. Mixing soils, cleaning pots, making sure we have enough wire on hand are all part of the season.

It is also the time of year when people who have said to themselves, “one of these days I’m going to try that bonsai thing” consider actually doing so. After all, Spring is right around the corner, and that’s the best time to start, right?


So for those who are thinking this is the year, here are some tips for getting started.

What are the characteristics of trees that make good bonsai material for a beginner?

  • Small leaves
  • Dwarf varieties
  • Good bark
  • Indigenous species (harder to kill a tree that grows naturally in our area!)

What types of one-gallon material should I be looking for?

  • Procumbens nana juniper
  • Olive
  • Caitlin Elm (small leaf Chinese Elm)
  • Hornbeam
  • Japanese Maple

What Makes a Good Bonsai?

  • Good roots, strong, balanced
  • Nice taper of the trunk from roots to top
  • Good branch placement
  • Healthy

For anyone wanting to learn bonsai joining a local club is the fastest way to gain knowledge quickly. The Virginia Bonsai Society has monthly meetings as well as regular workshops where members share their experience and work on three together. You can lean more by calling 757-255-7535.