Chinese Elm from Schley’s Bonsai

I have wanted to buy a bonsai from a bonsai nursery for a while now to see what kind of quality I would get and to see what the shipping process is like. I started looking for bonsai nurseries in my area to keep shipping costs low, make sure the trees were already adapted to our zone, and to support the local bonsai trade. The closest to me is still about 4 hours away so shipping was my only option. Two really stuck out to me as far as quality and price. Schley’s Bonsai in Florida and Brussell”s Bonsai in North Mississippi.

There are three different trees that I have considered buying. A hornbeam (Korean or American), a Trident Maple, and a Chinese Elm. After looking around, I decided on a chinese elm from Schley’s would be a good compromise between cost and quality. It also helped that out of the people I contacted, they were the most helpful and sent me pictures of individual bonsai when I requested them.

The chinese elm I finally picked was perfect for a style that I don’t have in my bonsai collection, which is a broom. It has a nice start on some nebari (surface roots), a slightly slanting trunk, and some nice twiggy branching. It was sent in a small 6″ pot. I immediately repotted it without touching the roots in a bigger pot so I could encourage a lot of new growth. In the early spring, I’ll prune some of the out of place branches and cut back some of the growth. Here it is:

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Here it is after repotting.

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Fertilizing Bonsai

I tend to love fertilizing days. It seems like I’m nurturing the tree and providing everything that it needs. We all want our pre-bonsai trees to grow at their maximum growth rate and we want to make sure our bonsai trees stay at their best.

I have several fertilizer types that I use on my trees. For in-ground trees, I use all organic fertilizers. I love Plant-tone All-purpose organic which contains a mixture of organic components (blood meal, feather meal, manure, crab meal, etc.) to give your trees a complete nutritional buffet with a 5-3-3 nitrogen/phosphorus/potassium mixture. I also have started using Terraform worm pellets and Terraform liquid fertilizer. The worm pellets are pretty inexpensive if the recommended rates of feeding are right. One $8 bottle is going to last me a couple of years. The liquid version is the exact opposite. I spent one $8 bottle in one feeding.

For potted trees, I’m using a variety of inorganic fertilizers right now. Miracle-Grow Bloom Booster (15-30-15), All-Purpose (24-8-16), and Miracid (30-10-10). I know many people who use Miracle-Gro fertilizers on their bonsai and swear by them. I have compared them to other liquid fertilizers and they do tend to pack more micro-nutrients that the tree needs. I just haven’t been able to find another that compares. It’s immediate, I haven’t had any problems with it burning, and it’s very easy to apply once you get your system of fertlizing down. I am thinking of trying some of my organics with my potted trees following some advice that I got at a bonsai forum, and I’ll wait and see what kind of results I get out of that.

For a much more general article on fertilizing your bonsai, check out this article. Technorati Tags: , ,

Finding that perfect pot

Bonsai is a tree in a pot. A lot of people focus on the tree, and forget about a major component of the display, the pot. A mediocre bonsai can be greatly improved sitting the perfect bonsai pot. Where can you get those one-of-a-kind pots that everyone will ask about? I’ve linked a couple of American potters that are highly recommended by bonsai artists and a couple where you can get pots from the famous Tokoname region of China where they have been making pots for hundreds of years from the special clay there:

Sara Rayner’s Bonsai Pottery

Wild Things Bonsai Studio

Dallas Bonsai

Iker Pottery Works and Bonsai

From time to time, you can also find some really nice pots on eBay since it’s very easy for potters to sell their creations there.

Oriental Arts and Furniture

Maiban Bonsai

That should get you started. Pots can tell a more interesting story than the bonsai tree itself in some cases, so take your time while you perfect your bonsai tree to find the perfect pot.