Common Questions About Bonsai

What kind of trees can be bonsai?
Does anyone teach beginner bonsai classes?
Where can I see bonsai?
Why did my bonsai die?
How can I identify my tree?
Where can I discuss and ask questions about bonsai?
Where can I buy bonsai?
Where can I find a bonsai club?

What kind of trees can be bonsai?

There are many different species of plant material that can be used for bonsai. Just have a look at any book or website.  Typically you want to select material where the leaf or needle is in scale to the size of bonsai you wish to create, such as boxwood, junipers and elms. Using specialized horticulture techniques you are able to reduce the size of the leaves or needles of selected species of trees such as Maples, Japanese black pines and Scots Pines so that the leaf or needle is in scope with the bonsai tree.

Does anyone teach beginner bonsai classes?

RBS conducts occasional workshops which may be appropriate for beginners. Watch our web site calendar in the spring and early summer for dates. You may also find these at the other clubs or bonsai nurseries. Come to a club meeting and the members are always available to assist you with getting started in the art of bonsai.

Where can I see bonsai?

The National Arboretum in Washington, DC is an excellent place to view bonsai trees of various species and “styles.”  The National Collection is located at the arboretum and houses a rotating collection of trees that were gifts to the United States from other countries, including Japan and China as well as from distinguished collections within the United States. A list of monthly events related to the Arboretum is located on their website and special events related to bonsai will be located within the schedule. Here’s a link to their virtual tour of the bonsai collection. Every spring the National Arboretum hosts a Bonsai Symposium open to the public.
http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/collections/VirtualTours/index.html

Why did my bonsai die?

There are many reasons that a tree might not survive, but the most common mistakes are keeping outdoor plants indoors, over watering and under watering.  In addition, bonsai are susceptible to various diseases and pests that affect trees in nature. A healthy bonsai is not difficult to maintain with a little preventative maintenance.  The best place to learn how to care for your tree is by joining a club and drawing on the experience of the club members.

How can I identify my tree?

There are many different books, web pages, and apps for identifying trees, but you can also being it into a local nursery or to a bonsai or other horticulture club for help identifying your tree.

Where can I discuss and ask questions about bonsai?

Of course, you can do this at any club meetings. There are also quite a few forums where folks are always discussing bonsai issues and posting pictures of their trees and their works in progress.  You will find that in the world of bonsai, people are most happy to share information and get you started in the art. Here’ a few forum links. http://knowledgeofbonsai.org , www.bonsaivault.com , www.internationalbonsaiforum.com.

RBS conducts regular classes, meetings, and occasional workshops which may be appropriate for beginners. Watch our web site calendar in the spring and early summer for dates. You may also find these at the other clubs or bonsai nurseries. Come to a club meeting and the members are always available to assist you with getting started in the art of bonsai.

Where can I buy bonsai?

First, in Richmond, there are several stores that sell designed, finished bonsai.  However, the vast majority of bonsai start as regular nursery stock. You get the experience of designing the bonsai yourself. Be sure to choose quality plants from a quality nursery. Less reputable stores sell plants that may not be well cared for and may be weak or unhealthy. Many books and web sites have instructions on how to get from the nursery plant to a bonsai tree.   Second, there are some bonsai nurseries and growers around the state.  You can usually find them by doing an internet search or look for links on other bonsai web sites.

Where can I find a bonsai club?

Clubs are great organizations that provide invaluable knowledge for everyone form the novice to expert. The American Bonsai Society (www.absbonsai.org )  provides links to clubs, grouped by state. In Virginia, there are currently several active clubs in Arlington, Hampton, Richmond, Lynchburg, Roanoke and Norfolk.  In addition to the clubs provided on the website, there are additional clubs located in northern VA.