So another new year arrives and with it the reflection on your bonsai successes and the opportunities that await you.

Fortunately there is no such thing as been there, got the t-shirt in bonsai. There are always new things to learn and new things to try.

With many of the things to try or improve on having a short window of time to undertake, you are better to be prepared in advance.

If you are organised then you might already have a list of improvement opportunities or maybe just trials or experiments for the year ahead. For those who were not as organised, here is our list of ideas to get going on.

Grow from seeds

Bonsai is a patient art and in the main it is easier to get hold of starter material than to start trees from seed. However, there is something satisfying about starting trees from seed. This is especially true when the seed is collected locally but you will have to put this one on your list for October.

You are still just in time to purchase seed from a reputable online seller. It may be necessary to pre-treat or stratify them to get them to germinate, but most sellers will provide instructions.

As a rule, we use vermiculite to pre-treat seeds, this can be obtained from any garden centre.

TIP: Make sure that you write the seed name and the date prepared on the bag for future reference.

Try air layering

Air layering can produce some great bonsai material in a short space of time. It can be somewhat tricky to master but a little preparation can vastly increase your success rate. You will undertake the procedure in late spring but plan the air layer early to make sure that you are ready.

Start with a variety that more easily takes to air layering such as a Japanese Maple. This will allow you to get the hang of air layering and increase your confidence. Research other varieties to see what the success rate is amongst other tree species to see what else is possible.

You will need a good sharp knife, some rooting powder and sphagnum moss.

TIP: Keep the bags from soils and compost to use for wrapping the air layer. We use a clear bag for the first layer to enable you to see if any roots are growing. A darker outer wrap is applied to obscure the light. You only need to remove the outer layer to inspect the progress that way.

Improve your wiring

Unfortunately the only way to improve your wiring is to practice wiring, fortunately now is the time to get going.

As a rule, select wire that is approximately 1/2 the diameter of the branch being wired. If necessary, use two lines of wire to achieve the same the same result as a single thicker wire. When applying the wire try to maintain a 45 degree angle around the branch.

TIP: Use a good pair of bonsai wire scissors as they are designed not to cut or mark the tree as they cut the wire.

For more detailed instruction, we highly recommend the following courses from Bonsai Empire:

Bonsai Beginners Course – This 1.5 hour online course will teach you the basics of Bonsai including wiring.

Bonsai Intermediate Course – In this 3.5 hour online course, you will learn about the mechanics of wiring as well as  expanding your knowledge of Bonsai.

Well that’s it for our starter list, if you would like to send us your jobs then we will look to add them for reference.

You could also check out our January bonsai jobs for more to do at this time of year.