Bonsai trees are becoming more popular as people begin to try their hands at gardening, they are a fun plant to have in the home and make having a tree much more obtainable for many. I’ve come across several bonsai tree kits and will be reviewing
several of them here to help you choose the right kit for you, but first lets talk about how to care for a bonsai.
Bonsai trees are generally fairly easy to care for as long as you follow a few key care instructions. Bonsai are unique because they are trees planted in small pots, this restricts their root so they can only grow so large and when cared for properly become lovely little miniature trees. Since bonsai trees are in small pots its not only their roots that are constricted they also have a smaller reserve of water and nutrients.
There are a few basic things you need to do to care for a bonsai, these are watering, fertilizing and tree placement. If you are able to take these into consideration when caring for your tree it should thrive.
Watering is probably the most important of these for your tree, but there are several factors that need to be considered when watering your tree; the species, size of the tree, size of the pot, time of year, and climate all need to be considered when watering your tree. All these factors make it hard to recommend a one-size-fits-all watering schedule so what you will need to do is observe your tree regularly. You will want to water your tree when the soil begins to dry out a little, you can check the moisture of the soil by putting your finger in the dirt about 1cm down. You don’t want to ever let your tree dry out completely though, when you do water your tree it needs a thorough soaking. You will want to observe water draining out of the pots drain holes, after you do this you should repeat the process a few minutes later, this will ensure the entire root mass gets wetted.
Fertilizing your bonsai during the growing season is very important, since bonsai are planted in small pots they don’t have the ability to extend their roots in search of food. The growing season for trees is generally from early spring through mid autumn, the frequency and amount of fertilizer your tree will need depends on which species you have and how old the tree is. There are lots of different fertilizers available but many people prefer to use a balanced fertilizer through the growing season, a balanced fertilizer will have equal parts Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium.
Tree Placement is the next thing to consider for your bonsai, this can be tricky as there are many factors that come into play here like the local climate and time of year. The first consideration to make is if you are going to have an indoor bonsai or an outdoor bonsai, if you decide to grow your tree inside the best place for it is going to be in a south facing window that gets lots of sun. Many indoor bonsai are a subtropical tree they also require humidity, this can be obtained with a humidity try placed under your tree.
If you decide on an outdoor bonsai you will need to do a little research on what kind of care is important for your tree species in your climate. Outdoor bonsai trees do need to be exposed to winter weather but will likely need some protection for their roots in order to survive the cold. Outdoor trees should be placed in a bright spot with lots of sun, and if you get very hot summers some afternoon shade might be beneficial.
Popular Bonsai Species
There are lots of different bonsai tree options to choose from some of the most popular are:
Indoor: Ficus, carmona, and Chinese elm
Outdoor: Juniper, pine, and maple
Bonsai Tree Growing Kit Reviews
Now that we’ve covered some of the most important things to consider when caring for you bonsai and know what the most popular species of bonsai are lets get into finding a growing kit that is right for you.
Nature’s Blossom Bonsai Tree Kit
Where to buy: Amazon.com
Overview: The Nature’s Blossom Bonsai Kit contains materials to grow four different bonsai from seed, this includes soil discs, seeds, biodegradable pots, plant markers, and an instruction manual. The trees included in this kit are a Jacaranda Mimosifolia this is a subtropical tree native to south-central South America and has become popular due to it’s light indigo flowers. The Pinus Aristata is included, this is a long-living Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine. Ficus Religiosa or sacred fig is included, it is native to the Indian subcontinent and is tolerant to a wide range of climates. Picea Mariana is the last tree included in the growing kit, also known as a black spruce and is native across North America.
Review: Overall the Nature’s Blossom Bonsai Kit provides everything that it says it does, and if you have a problem a direct message to the company seems to be answered in a very timely manner. The biggest complaint I’ve seen is that the kit really just provides seeds and the instructions to get them into the dirt and sprouted. People are disappointed that there aren’t further instructions on how to get your seedling to be a true bonsai. There are lots of resources on bonsai on the web or in print, and if you’re truly interested and want a bonsai tree I highly recommend doing some research for yourself. Bonsai Empire is one of the sites I’ve used to merely scratch the surface of bonsai care.
Sower’s Source Bonsai Tree Starter Kit
Where to buy: Amazon.com
Overview: The Sower’s Source Bonsai Tree Starter Kit includes all the materials to get the trees planted and on their way to becoming a bonsai. These materials are five different seed packets, ten peat pellets, five plant markers and five biodegradable pots. The trees included in this kit are maple, bodhi, elm, juniper and yew, which are all considered to be good for beginners.
Review: The Sower’s Source Bonsai Tree Starter Kit gets slightly lower review across Amazon, the primary problem people seem to have is that their seeds aren’t sprouting, even after they carefully follow instructions. This is really disappointing since you want to buy seed that have a high germination rate. Overall this kit seems good but since the germination rate of their seeds is quite poor your money may be better spent else where.
Planters’ Choice Bonsai Starter Kit and Tool Kit
Where to buy: Amazon.com
Overview: The Planters’ Choice Bonsai Starter Kit and Tool Kit includes all the materials to get your trees growing, four types of seeds in seed safe vials for better germination, seeds included are the Rockey Mountain bristlecone pine, black poui, Norway spruce and the flame tree. There are four peat pellets, biodegradable pots, and bamboo plant markers. Along with the plant starter materials it also includes bonsai tools, these are a pair of clippers and tweezers, a bamboo rake and a brush and a small pair of scissors, as well as an instruction booklet.
Planters’ Choice also offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee, they offer help if you are having problems or give a full refund if you are not satisfied with the kit.
Review: Overall this kit seems to get good results, the seeds have a good rate of germination and you’re provided with everything you need to get started. The biggest complaint with this kit as with the others is there is no information about growing and caring for a bonsai past the germination of your trees. It really is just a starter growing kit, you will need to research and find more information about the care of your bonsai to go further.
Small Living Trees
Where to buy: Amazon.com
Overview: If growing a tree from seed isn’t really your thing there are options for buying living trees from Amazon as well. If you decide to purchase a tree generally what is included is the bonsai, a decorative container, soil and care instructions, each tree is several years old. Brussel’s Bonsai on Amazon has several bonsai trees available for purchase.
Brussel’s Bonsai also offers a 30-day warranty, so if you’re unsatisfied with your bonsai you can contact them with your complaint directly and they will correct the situation to your satisfaction.
Review: Buying a live bonsai seems to be a mixed bag of reviews. Some people were very happy with their tree while others were very disappointed with what they received. I noticed in the reviews that the reason many people were unhappy with their tree upon receipt is because their tree didn’t resemble what was pictured online. Part of this is because every tree is different, and the pictures of the trees when making a purchase are likely to be much older than just a few years.
Since Brussel’s Bonsai offers a wide variety of bonsai to choose from I’d recommend choosing an easy to care for bonsai to begin with such as the Fig or Juniper. By choosing an easy variety to grow your chances of keeping the tree alive will be greater as long as you receive a healthy tree to begin with.
Choosing the Right Kit for You
There are several bonsai starter kits to choose from, and they all have mixed reviews. From the three I reviewed the Planter’s Choice Kit seems like the best bang for your buck as you not only get the seed starter kit but you also get the tool kit. These kits’ seeds also had a good germination rate and many people were able to get at least one of the seeds from each tree species to grow.
If starting a tree from seed isn’t what you’re interested in buying a young tree might be more what you’re looking for. Amazon has young bonsai for sale, these also had mixed reviews. Some people received really nice looking trees where others were less than impressed with the state of their tree.
Bonsai are a complicated plant to grow as you’re essentially growing what is usually a full size tree in a small pot, constricting its roots so it will become a bonsai. Doing additional research on bonsai care is going to be needed as it’s not included in any of the kits listed above, but there are lots of resources online and in print, you may even be able to get the help of someone face to face at a local greenhouse.
Overall I think a bonsai kit can be a great gift for someone that enjoys gardening or for someone that is looking for a new hobby. Bonsai require attentive care but with this you will be rewarded with a lovely little tree.