If you want to start a hobby then why not think about bonsai, it is fun, rewarding and their are few limits to what you can create, but first here are a few simple principles to think about initially.

  1. Work out where you can keep it
Tropical Ageneral

Inside (Window sill, Conservatory, heated Greenhouse) 

  • Tropical / sub tropical trees – Figs , Pepper trees, Cuphea, Citrus, Eugenia, Jabotica
  • Mediterranean trees – Olives, Myrtles,
  • Succulents – Jade plant, Crassula, Pachira,


Trees in the snow_1

Outside without protection – ie trees that are hardy to UK climate

  • Native or naturalized trees to UK – Beech, Birch, Oak, Sweet Chestnut, Horse Chestnut, Scots Pine, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Yew, Larch, Spruce, Hornbeam, Box, Cotoneaster, Privet, Honey Suckle, Maple, Juniper etc

Outside with winter protection (unheated Green house / cold frame) ie frost sensitive trees

  • Semi hardy trees -Styrax, all shohin trees due to size, Chinese elm


  1. Select your species wisely

 Prunus mume_2

Flowering trees

Roses / Forsythia / Styrax / Lilac / Hawthorn / Azalea / Firethorn / Jade plant / Cuphea / Citrus / Jasmine


Evergreen trees

Yew / Pine / Cypress / Box / Cotoneaster / Most tropical trees / Lonicera / Podocarpus / Giant Redwood


Deciduous trees

Oak / Beech / Hornbeam / Birch / Ash / Elm / Ginkgo / Larch / Dawn Redwood / Hawthorn / Styrax

Joint 2nd place, RA Crab Apple

Fruit or seeds

Maples / Firethorns / Cotoneaster / Citrus / Apples / Vine / Styrax

KH_Autumn 2011

Autumn colour

Maples / Ginkgo / Korean Hornbeams / Stewartia / Ivy / Larch / Cryptomeria / Dawn Redwoods / Katsura / Beech


The winning Mame
  1. Choose the size of the tree you want to end up with
  • Small (2.5-25cm) Mame up to Shohin
  • Medium (25-60cm) Katade mocha up to Chuhin
  • Large (80-200cm) Omono or Bonju up to Imperial Bonsai
  1. Choose a style to shape your tree into
  • Formal upright
  • Informal upright
  • Slanting
  • Windswept / Literati / Bunjin
  • Broom
  • Cascade / Multi trunk cascade / Semi cascade
  • Exposed root / Root over rock / Clinging to rock
  • Twin trunks, 3,5,7,9 or multi trunks
  • Clump / Raft / Group / Forest
  • Free style / Other
Baobab seed germinating
  1. What age of bonsai do you want?
  • Seedlings / Saplings
  • Air layering
  • Cuttings / Grafting
  • Nursery stock
  • Collected material
  • Starter bonsai up to mature bonsai
Lodders Holland_Edo bonsai
  1. What to look for when buying nursery stock
  • Healthy material – live, green or correct colour, free from pests and disease
  • Taper or movement in the trunk
  • Trunk thickness if required
  • Good roots – ie roots not circling in the pot, live roots (ie not black) & not pot bound
  • Buds formed or flushing if in Spring
  • Healthy leaves if in summer
  • Good branch work if viewed in winter


  1. Good species to look out for


Botanical name Common name Botanical name Common name
Acer palmatum Japanese Maple Malus Apple/Crabapple
Amelanchier canadensis Amelanchier Metasequoia Dawn Redwood
Berberis Barberry Olea europaea Olive, European olive
Betula Birch Parthenocissus Creeper, Boston Ivy
Buxus, including Buxus microphylla and Buxus harlandii Box, Boxwood Picea Spruce
Camellia, especially Camellia japonica Camellia Pinus mugo Mugo Pine, Mountain Pine
Carpinus Hornbeam Pinus parviflora Japanese White Pine
Celtis sinensis Chinese Hackberry Pinus sylvestris Scots Pine
Chaenomeles Flowering Quince Pinus thunbergii Japanese Black Pine
Chamaecyparis obtusa Hinoki Cypress Podocarpus, including Podocarpus macrophyllus Podocarpus, Yew Podocarpus, Kusamaki
Cornus Dogwood Prunus serrulata Japanese Flowering Cherry (櫻)
Cotoneaster Cotoneaster Prunus mume Flowering Apricot (梅)
Crataegus Hawthorn Punica granatum, including Punica granatum ‘Nana’ Pomegranate
Cryptomeria Sugi Pyracantha Firethorn
Elaeagnus Elaeagnus Quercus Oak
Euonymus Spindle Rhododendron, including Rhododendron simsii, Rhododendron indicum, Rhododendron obtusum var amoenum Azalea, Satsuki azalea, Kurume azalea
Fagus Beech Rosemary
Fuchsia, including Fuchsia fulgens hybrids Fuchsia Sorbus Rowan and Whitebeam
Forsythia Forsythia Styrax japonicus Japanese Snowbell tree
Ginkgo biloba Ginkgo Taxodium distichum Baldcypress
Hedera helix Ivy Taxus Yew
Jasminum nudiflorum Winter Jasmine Ulmus minor Field Elm
Juniperus chinensis Chinese Juniper, Shimpaku Ulmus parvifolia Chinese Elm
Larix Japanese Larch, American Larch, Tamarack Wisteria floribunda Japanese Wisteria
Ligustrum Privet Wisteria sinensis Chinese Wisteria
Lonicera Shrubby Honeysuckles Zelkova serrata Japanese Elm

NB: Look for cultivars of the above species too and try trees, shrubs or climbers

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