How to Collect Wild Bonsai

Written by mason howard
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How to Collect Wild Bonsai
Develop bonsai from a wild tree. (Stephen Schauer/Lifesize/Getty Images)

In Japan, trees lovingly shaped and kept at a human scale are thought to, in turn, be closer to people on spiritual and emotional levels. Practice the ancient art of bonsai sculpting on your own, using a tree collected from the wild. Form a bonsai tree from almost any small evergreen or deciduous tree or shrub. Always follow ethical tree removal practices, avoiding public parks or wildlife reserves, and obtaining permission when necessary.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Shovel
  • Pruning saw
  • Pruners
  • Compost
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Burlap sack
  • Twine

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  1. 1

    Look for a small tree or shrub that lacks adequate resources for maximum growth and thus has a squat and interesting shape. Wait for spring to remove the tree.

  2. 2

    Prune damaged or dead branches from the tree. Trim the outer branches lightly to shape the crown of the tree.

  3. 3

    Dig a deep trench around the tree, along the tree's drip line. Use a pickaxe to get through rocks. Cut any root ends cleanly with a pruning saw. Mix the excavated soil with a generous amount of compost and sphagnum moss and fill the trench. This will encourage root growth, and a healthy and thick root system is essential for a successful bonsai.

  4. 4

    Dig out the trench again the following spring. Going in from the bed of the trench, undercut the root ball with a sharp shovel. Pull out the tree, keeping as much soil packed around the roots as possible.

  5. 5

    Cover the root ball in sphagnum moss. Place the root ball in a burlap sack, cinching it at the base of the tree trunk with twine. Dampen the burlap with water. Transplant the tree into a pot as soon as possible.

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