Starter kit instructions
Congratulations on purchasing your bonsai starter kit! This page outlines everything you should need to know to create your very own bonsai.
NOTE: If you purchased the Starter Kit with Juniper, your tree and soil are provided. Otherwise if you bought a Starter Kit that does not include soil or the starter tree you will need to purchase these items yourself from a local plant store or nursery. Junipers, jade trees, serissas, cotoneaster, azaleas, chinese elms and figs are all great options for your bonsai.
1. Remove all items from the box, remove any packaging and lay the items out on a table.
2. Before beginning the bonsai creation process we recommend that you look at other bonsais on our site and trees in nature to get a sense of how you would like to style your tree.
3. Unwind part of your thick wire roll and cut a 35cm length of wire with wire cutters or pliers (not provided).
4. Your bonsai pot has two drainage holes. You will now bend the wire to fit through the holes. To do this, measure the distance from the centre of one drainage hole in the pot to the other hole. Ensure that the centre of the wire length is aligned with the centre of your pot and bend the wire so that it fits under the pot and comes through the drainage holes, with the wire ends pointing upwards.
5. Thread the centre of a piece of mesh over each end of the wire, so that the mesh sits on top of your bonsai pot. This mesh will prevent the potting mix from falling through the holes in your pot.
6. Place enough potting medium into your glazed pot to create a soil depth of roughly 2cm. This is to ensure there is space for the roots to grow into over time.
7. Set aside the pot.
8. Take your starter tree and remove it from the plastic nursery pot. Gently tease out 20% of the potting medium from the outer edges of the rootball. Take notice of the size of your pot and cut off excess roots to enable your rootball to neatly fit into your glazed bonsai pot.
9. Place your tree into the pot so that the base of the trunk sits level with the top edge of your pot. This may require some adjustment, additional soil or further root trimming to ensure the tree is in the right position in the pot. At this point there should be a piece of wire on either side of the tree. This is the time to consider the perfect placement and angle of your tree. Typically bonsais are place slightly off centre to create visual interest.
10. Bring together the two ends of the wire over the top of the root ball so that they meet behind the base of the tree. Pull the wire upwards to remove any slack and twist the ends together to increasingly tighten the wire over the rootball. Continue to do this until the tree is being held firmly in the pot by the wire (but not too tight that the wire begins to cut into the roots).
11. Bend the exposed twisted wire down into the soil, so that it isn't visible.
12. Take the remainder of the thick wire (i.e. 65cm worth that hasn't yet been used) and create a loop at one end. Bend the loop 90 degrees so that it is perpendicular to the rest of the wire.
13. Push the straight end of the wire through either drainage hole in the bottom of the pot, starting from the underside of the pot. Direct the wire at an angle up through the rootball so that it emerges at the base of the tree. Pull the wire through entirely until the loop is sitting firmly against the bottom of the pot.
14. You may now wish to remove some of the foliage close to the trunk and to selectively prune some branches to achieve the desired shape of your tree.
15. Hold the trunk with one hand and wrap the wire up and around the trunk at roughly a 45% angle in a corkscrew shape - from the base of the trunk to the apex (i.e. tip) of your tree. Don't wrap the wire too tightly as it will start to cut into the bark of your tree as the tree grows.
16. Now is the time to create some movement and shape in your tree. Do this by holding the base of the tree with one hand and using the other hand to gently bend the trunk into the desired shape (as you contemplated in step 2). For a beginner we recommend creating subtle consistent curves to the trunk. As your bonsai experience grows you will come to understand the limits of your trees and can then create more radical bends and shapes.
17. Next wire select branches of your tree as required. Use the fine wire provided (cut into appropriate lengths) to wire key branches in a similar manner as you have done with the trunk (i.e. wrapping the wire around the branch at a 45% angle in a corkscrew motion). It can be helpful to use one piece of longer wire to wire two branches, wrapping the wire around the trunk in between the two branches, in addition to along the branches themselves. This will provide greater stability for your wire bending efforts.
18. Apply roughly half of the fertiliser on the top of the potting medium surface and gently pat the fertilizer down so it don't move around and so that there is a smooth surface upon which to apply the top dressing pebbles (next step).
19. Apply as much or as little of the top dressing pebbles to the top surface of the potting mix as you would like, to enhance the appearance of your tree. These pebbles are purely aesthetic - use them only if you wish to.
20. Thoroughly water your tree once it is complete.
Well done! You can now sit back and enjoy your very own unique bonsai!
Be sure to read the care notes on the Chojo site to enable your bonsai to grow and thrive.