Bonsai Tree Buying Guide

Whether you're a beginner, an intermediate hobbyist, or an expert collector,  the Bonsai Shop offers you a variety of choices from pre-bonsai, to bonsai, to top-notch specimen trees. In other words, we make certain you will find the perfect bonsai tree to suit your needs.

If you are unfamiliar with these terms and in order to define them, it may sound funny but, perhaps it is best to start with the basics and ask: What is a tree?

By definition: a tree (when mature) is a plant having a permanently woody main stem or trunk covered by bark, ordinarily growing to a considerable height, and usually developing branches at some distance from the ground.


A "pre-bonsai" can loosely be defined as a tree or shrub that is living in a larger non-bonsai pot and has already undergone some preliminary training. That is to say, some or even many of these techniques may have already been brought to bear and the initial 'rough' less definitive framework for what the tree may eventually become has already become apparent.

Florida Privet (Forestiera Segregata) Pre-BonsaiFlorida Privet (Forestiera Segregata) Pre-Bonsai

Chinese Elm (Ulmus Parvifolia) Bonsai TreeChinese Elm (Ulmus Parvifolia) Bonsai Tree


A bonsai by our definition then, is in fact any tree or shrub that has the appearance of a mature tree while at the same time kept small enough to be healthy while growing in a pot.

As a matter of course, such a tree would have undergone various (sometimes drastic) training procedures and techniques to have arrived at this miniature tree state.

Normally, and with almost every species, this takes a period of several years!

In addition, careful attention would have been paid along the way to insure that each developing bonsai, adheres to various time honored standards and principles normally associated these days with the art world.

Like any creator of any "masterpiece" in fine art for example, any serious bonsai artist knows the ultimate purpose of his or her tree is simply...that it is meant to be viewed.

As such, a good bonsai like other works of art should convey a sense of balance, eye movement, a point of interest within the overall composition, and careful attention should be paid (in particular) to the relation between line, form, and shapes. As trees take years to grow, so then, do these principles to apply!

Specimen Trees

Finally, a specimen bonsai is one that has reached a level of refinement (and likely, excellence) that the various techniques used on younger trees are either no longer needed or in fact, no longer apply at all.

To see more specimen trees, visit our Photo Gallery!

Ficus Retusa Specimen BonsaiFicus Retusa Specimen Bonsai

Bonsai Tree Buyers Beware!

Many so called dealers, who operate on-line, or those in big-box store chains for example, often carry "bonsai" that are little more than inexpensive garden variety plants, saplings, or even barely rooted cuttings that are quickly and carelessly stuffed in a fancy pot.

Their accepted notion of this ancient art form in which carefully grown miniature trees are revered and handed down for generations seems instead, to be one of buy low and sell high all the small "trees" they can get their hands on.

The same generic soil mix is used for every single plant regardless of each species growth habits, nutrient requirements, or actual soil needs and off they go!

Unfortunately for the buyer, such less than forthright time and money saving misrepresentations do not necessarily reflect in the price. These impostor "bonsai" can and do receive a very hefty mark up evidently despite the fact that they are --NOT-- miniature trees at all. Be very wary of those willing to cash in quick with these and similar shortcuts.

All the unsuspecting buyer really gets as a result of these assembly line methods are substantially weakened juvenile plants that somehow managed to live through the initial transplant shock. That is all!

These mass produced remnants potted in a one-soil-fits-all mix sold on- line or rushed off to hundreds of store locations nationwide can only decline! When they do, more often than not, their explanation/excuse will be that YOU did something wrong since YOU were sold a "healthy" bonsai tree.

Sadly, the story does not even end there...

On-line, the buyer will face the daunting task of randomly picking somebody hundreds, maybe thousands of miles away, blindly buying their plant in whatever state it may be in and then paying enormous overnight shipping charges. At the giant chain he or she can fully expect that it employs minimally paid workers right off the street with no background or experience in plant care whatsoever.

In other words, getting sound or sensible advice for your already stressed little plant they're calling a "bonsai" will be highly
unlikely, if not completely impossible.