Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bonsai from chain store home improvement centers

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.

$6.95 for a fosemary with a great trunk
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.

This juniper i found at a regular nursery
There are some drawbacks. First, when we look for plants at a big box store we are looking for the jewell. We want the cream of the crop. It may take time to find a suitable plant. Heck we might not even find anything that week. The second negative is the plant selection. Most of these plants are for landscaping. What that means is that the same plants will be sold in your general area. On the flip side those plants are happy in the climate in which you live.

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
When choosing a tree always remember that you will be reducing the size that you start with. If you want to end up with a twelve inch bonsai do not buy a thirteen inch tree. For a twelve inch bonsai you might have to start with twenty four inches. Sometimes none of the branches look like they will be helpful, but the trunk looks amazing. For that I lop all the branches off and start fresh. There is no point in keeping something bad just to try to fix it later. That's not to say that you should do that with all trees. If you are unsure of what to do leave it. As new branches and leaves grow you might get a clearer idea of what to do.
I cut all the branches from this pommegranet
Yes you can find material for bonsai at home improvement centers. You will have to look through some plants. I find that specific HIC have the best of one kind of tree. For example one might have great rosemary and another great boxwood. This probably has to do with suppliers in the area. Have a great time hunting for those trees. Cheers.  


1 comment:

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