How To Properly Ask For Bonsai Advice

Updated: Mar 14

Welcome Back To Bonsai-En

Today I am going to show you how to get the best and most accurate advice for your trees when you are asking for help.

When starting out in Bonsai we all have 1000 questions and as time goes on it seems like we have 1000 more. Usually people take to Youtube to watch how to videos, Go on Bonsai Forums, Head to social media groups and venture out to their local Bonsai Club. These are all fantastic ways to gain information but there can be a few problems you run into with each of these.

Lets start with Youtube.

Youtube is a great method of learning Bonsai as it ads an element of visual demonstration that you just don’t get from books, Books have pictures but that picture is just 1 second in time and you have to imagine what the rest looks like. The problem with youtube though is generally you are watching someone work on their trees in their environment and unless you live locally to that person what they are doing or teaching might be entirely useless to you and your collection, Here at Bonsai-En we try our hardest to try and expand on points to cover most situations if possible but this can be difficult.

Ok so what about Bonsai Forums and Social media pages? Im going to lump these 2 together as they are much the same. Sometimes these can almost be the worst place for advice but they are the most accessible for most people so they are a mecca for people asking for and giving advice.

One of the main issues I see with forums and social media groups is Bonsai Bully's and Elitists.

I see it so often someone asking a question and they get flamed by some hero with a keyboard or maybe someone gives someone else advice and the elitists will go after them. 9/10 from what I have seen is people with this behaviour believe in only what works in their area or what they have read or being taught, They are ignorant to other environments, species, horticulture etc etc. I myself have been hunted down by these types of people and it makes me laugh every time they write something and I can see their tunnel vision. Don’t let these people ruin Bonsai for you.

So how do you go about getting some decent advice on these forums then?

The best way is to ask a proper question and to look at where the answers are coming from and if they took into consideration your situation. For example the most common question is see is “ What soil mix do you guys recommend” …. I usually follow this up with more questions such as, What species are you working with?, what type of container are you going into?, are you in development or refinement?, what is your environment like? Do you have a lot of humidity or is it arid?, what soil mediums do you actually have available to you in your area? How often are you home to water?