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Tools of the trade

In growing bonsai, you will of course need tools such as shears, cutters, wires, gloves, and the like. Much like any hobby, you do need to spend some money for add-ons. Fortunately, they don’t cost much, and last a long time. The important thing is that you know how to use them, without which even the most expensive tools will not accomplish anything.

The formulation of the plan is essential; think hard about your end result and how you would want it to be. So get a pencil and piece of paper, and then sketch your vision out. Yes, bonsai is an art form, and you’re an artist, remember that. You can scan that image that you drew into your computer and burn it onto a DVD, ready to be referred to for the next 2 years or so. Without an end goal from the start, your bonsai tree is going to end up looking quite haphazard, so with that in mind, do have a plan of what you want to accomplish. Although you might find obstacles along the way, just give it time, and your bonsai tree will eventually bend according to your wishes.

gloves-and-shears.jpgTry to obtain quality shears as you will be using them for all manner of pruning jobs, and you will need them to remain sharp and not dull easily. A pair of gloves come in handy while you are busy pruning or digging the soil, affording protection to your hands. For delicate jobs though, bare hands are useful to feel the little twigs direction, the texture of the leaves, the state of the bark, etc.

You will need concave cutters to cut off branches and leave behind a concave-like wound, which heals faster and better than a straight one. What you want to do is to not leave behind any trace that a branch existed there in the first place.

Sooner or later you will want to wire your bonsai to shape the trunk and branches, in order to produce varying styles and variations within a style. Wire is essential for that purpose. But as mentioned earlier in the wiring section, you should avoid unwrapping the wire when you wish to remove it. Cutting is the wire is required, and for that you need wire cutters.

The best types of wire cutters are those that are able to cut at the end of their jaws. Wire is wrapped tightly and often covers a large portion of the tree. It needs to be snipped off in small sections without stabbing or snipping the trained branch.

You will find that after a couple of years growing bonsai, that you will actually begin to rely less on tools, and learn how to improvise based on experience. Tools are just that, and without the skill or experience, will be useless. Apart from the bonsai-specific tools, there are also stuff in your house that can be used as tools. For example, removing dead bark at certain areas using a sharp paper blade, or taking a piece of gauze or rag to drip-feed water into the soil. Experimenting a little does not hurt.

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