The first thing to look for when buying bonsai trees is that all the stock throughout the shop should be looking fresh.
- In the case of White Pine, are the needles healthy and 'crisp green' or are they brown tinged and looking a bit sorry for themselves?
- Are all the trees on show in clean pots, or are they in dirty, unkempt containers?
- Is the soil damp or very dry?
If the soil is damp, check the needles are not brown from over watering. If the soil is very dry, look closely at the needles and twigs to see if they are dried up and wrinkled, a sign of dehydration.
Don't buy a pine that has deep wire marks or where the wire left on is biting into the bark. In addition: Buy from a specialist supplier and not from a car boot sale (they may well be stolen).
- What conditions must the tree have; what aftercare does it require and what guarantees does the seller give if the tree dies within the first few months? (Get this written down just before you agree to purchase the bonsai tree).
- What after sales service does the supplier offer (repotting, winter care, holiday care, etc.)?
- Will the seller give a discount for cash?! (Please get a receipt as proof of purchase in all cases this is very important).
Check that the soil is not clay mud. Professional growers would have removed this soil and replaced it with soil more suited to western conditions.
How to choose a Bonsai Plant
There are two types of indoor bonsai - tropical and semi-tropical.
Tropical plants need to have a constant temperature. Temperatures shouldn’t fall below 60 F and fluctuate more than 10 degrees between night and day.
Semi-tropical bonsai want a distinct two-season year. A nice warm, bright growing period April through October, followed by a bright cooler period November through March. Another consideration is whether you want to have a flowering plant or one that you grow for it’s leaves.
The choice of plant type and shape is highly personal.