Many people put down big box stores or even regular plant nurseries as potential bonsai sources. I say, nay. Are these places the best place to pick up bonsai material? Of course they are not? Then why visit these places? The reason to visit them is because they are more convenient than a bonsai nursery. On a google maps I searched bonsai and got seven listings in the greater Los angeles area. I searched Home Depot and got 12 listings, then I searched Lowes and got 5 more listings. Just by my house there are two Home Depots and 1 Lowes with in a 4 mile radius. There are no bonsai nurseries within that radius, but there are three plant nurseries. Another reason to visit these places is the price. I have bought some trees with amazing trunks for six dollars and change. These trees at a bonsai nursery would easily sell for three to four times as much.
I think it very funny that people who badmouth trees bought at these stores highly prize wild collected trees. These wild collected trees are very difficult trees to work on because they grew however they wanted. It's much easier to work on nursery raised plants than wild plants.
|$6.95 for a fosemary with a great trunk|
|This juniper i found at a regular nursery|
I have been to bonsai nurseries where they sell lantana for landscaping. These are beautiful 3 gallon plants. I walk to the bonsai section and the same lantana are in a bonsai pot. The new price is eighty five dollars. I am for cutting the middleman out if I can. I need to pinch those pennies.
If you have more time than money than you should look at the big box stores. So, what should you look at when buying plants? That will probably depend on your taste. I will tell you what I look for. First, the plant has to be healthy. There is no point in buying something that will die no matter how great the ramification is. The rest is arbitrary. I love to find plants with great trunks. It takes time to get a thick trunk. If the plant starts with a nice trunk you can invest time on other parts of the tree. Price is important to me. Plants that are around seven dollars are gold. Also, the plant species is important. To me some species are more desirable than others.
|A dwarf olive with incredible potential bought at a home improvement center|
|I cut all the branches from this pommegranet|