Most hobbies have their ‘tools of the trade’ and caring for Bonsai’s is no exception. However, don’t go running out to buy up all the special Bonsai tools that you can find – unless you want to of course There are some basic tools that you will need when beginning this hobby, which as you develop your skills you will no doubt want to add to. Shaping your Bonsai is more art than it is science, and there is a vast range of tools that are available to make your life easier. Many of these tools can be purchased in your local garden center or hardware store, as well as on the internet.
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. So, if growing Bonsai is a serious hobby of yours, or a hobby that you want to devote a lot of time to, then it may pay to purchase some quality basic Bonsai tools to begin with. These quality tools will serve you well over the years – remember that it can take anywhere from 3 to 10 years for your plant to become a fully mature Bonsai tree! If your tools keep breaking, or they lose their sharpness you will soon become bored, fed up and despondent with the whole thing! Anyway, just something for you to think about.
Most of the basic bonsai tools have been designed to perform a specific function. Again, it pays to buy tools that have been designed to perform one job rather than many – stay away from the ‘Swiss army knives’ of Bonsai tools for you will be wasting your money! Many stores sell their Bonsai tools separately, although there is an increasing number of retailers that are selling kits.
Here are the basic Bonsai tools that I would recommend;
– Bonsai wire cutters: Wire cutters are designed to remove the training wires that are used to shape your Bonsai. It is tempting to substitute standard wire cutters but don’t! Bonsai wire cutters are specially designed to remove the wire without damaging the tree – you don’t want to scar your tree because you used the wrong tool.
– Bonsai trimming shears: These shears are an essential addition to your Bonsai tool box. They are used to trim unwanted branches, roots and twigs cleanly and with ease.
– Concave branch cutter: This tool is designed to cut off a branch cleanly and as close to the main trunk of the tree as possible. This promotes healing and minimises scaring. This is an essential Bonsai tool – but beware they are very sharp!
– Root hook (or root rake): Designed to untangle the mass of roots that your tree will develop. This tool is used prior to trimming the root ball down before re-potting. For smaller Bonsai’s you can use a chop-stick or similar implement.
There are plenty more Bonsai tools that can be used to assist you in caring for your tree. What I have described above is just the very basics. As you become more involved in your hobby you will want to increase the range of tools at your disposal.