I keep seeing TONS of posts here "help my tree is dying", "Help save my tree". Almost EVERY ONE OF THEM are Chinese elms, Italian cypress, Fukien Teas and, of course, JUNIPERS, JUNIPERS, JUNIPERS!
I understand that most of these are new to bonsai so here are some things to learn that will help you in your quest to learn the art of bonsai. FIRST let me say that simply putting a plant or tree in a pot IS NOT BONSAI!
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT try to grow your trees INDOORS unless they are specifically an INDOOR SPECIES (ficus, jade, etc)! None of the above are indoor species! DO NOT rely on the seller telling you the truth. THEY WANT TO SELL YOU A TREE AND WILL TELL YOU ANYTHING YOU WANT TO HEAR!
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE get the name of the tree, GOOGLE IT and learn if it's an INDOOR SPECIES! If it says that it "can be grown indoors", just as a side note, then DON'T BUY IT FOR AN INDOOR TREE!
BEFORE YOU BUY A TREE ONLINE: Check you hardiness zone here - https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/Default.aspx#
Type in your zip code UPPER LEFT HAND CORNER and look below your zip code for the answer. THEN, look up the tree species and MAKE SURE THE TREE CAN GROW IN YOUR AREA (9-a, 10, 7a). If not, DON'T BUY IT!
You guys are killing trees by the THOUSANDS! That's not good! You are wasting your money and killing a living tree! As bonsai artisans we have a duty to preserve and respect nature and our trees and even make them live longer than usual. If you are collecting in the wild, please check out the season that species can be taken. Don't just take it without knowing when is the appropriate time to do so. You WILL kill it!
Find an honest seller. Here's a few signs that your "bonsai guy" DOES NOT know what he is doing...
1) His trees have glued in rocks on top.
2) His trees have little white river rock all over, a panda bear, mud men fishing, a peace mushroom, big round rocks on the surface (round rocks ARE NOT found in nature EXCEPT in the water) or other "decorations" on the top.
Bonsai is a living art of illusion! Your pot is ONLY the "frame". Your tree is the "picture" and your tools are your "paint brushes". If you need other items to distract the eye then your tree must be crap! YOUR TREE SHOULD BE THE FOCAL POINT, NEVER out-shined by the pot or surface decorations.
3) His evergreen trees (pines, junipers, cypress, etc.) are in glazed pots.
Evergreens should NEVER be in glazed pots!
4) His trees are right in the center of the pot.
(Remember the rule of thirds, back half of the pot/left or right, NEVER CENTER, except for literati style).
5) His trees DO NOT look like a tree (longest branches on the top).
In nature the longest (fattest) branches are on the bottom because they are the older ones. Shorter, skinnier branches are on the top, closer together.
Relation between the pot and tree...
1) If it flowers, has fruit, seed pods, the leaves change colors or leaves are colorful or shiny, it CAN BE in a glazed pot (can also be in an unglazed pot).
2) If it has only green foliage and brown bark it MUST BE in an unglazed pot.
3) Pot width should be 2/3's the height OR width (of the tree), whichever is greater.
The two MOST IMPORTANT design considerations are...
1) The rule of thirds
2) the asymmetrical triangle
Hope this helps you in your quest!