Bonsai supplies and accessories are available by the hundreds (perhaps thousands.) You will not need them all. Many are true assets and conveniences – others are nothing more than novelties. You may not need them all.
Start with the necessities. Even before tools and supplies, a good place to begin is with a good teacher and a good book.
There are several of my recommended books on the bonsai book page.
Bonsai Soil – When it comes to bonsai supplies, soil is one of the most difficult to determine.
There are many formulas. One thing they all should be is coarse and fast draining. Read about bonsai soil.
Mesh – People have experimented with many things to cover the holes in bonsai pots … pottery shards, fabric mesh and window screen to name a few. None of them were as good as the black plastic mesh packaged specifically for bonsai.
Why? The holes are easy to put wire through, to secure a bonsai in the pot, large enough to give good drainage and not clog. The mesh can be washed and reused for many pottings to come. White versions deteriorate faster.
Bonsai Wire – is essential for styling bonsai, wire comes in many sizes and several types. Most bonsai artists use either copper and/or aluminum wire.
Chopsticks – are in almost every bonsai tool box, and for good reason. They are helpful in many ways: discovering nebari (roots which often flare under the soil), poking around for borers in soft wood, and checking for soil pockets when re-potting to name a few. Take them home from your favorite Oriental restaurant.
Bonsai Pots -There are many sizes, shapes and colors of bonsai containers. At one time, most bonsai pots were imported. Today there are many fine potters around the world. Read more on the Bonsai pots page.
More Bonsai Supplies
The following bonsai items may be less required, but much desired!
Moss – is a small, leafless, soft plant. There are thousands of different kinds. It is usually found in damp, shady spots. However, some varieties also grow in full sun. It is a plant that doesn’t bloom, and therefore has no seeds, it sends out spores to spread itself. Because bonsai are watered frequently, moss sometimes appears on its own. Its success has a lot to do with the micro-climate where your bonsai is growing.
Moss “seed” is available from bonsai many suppliers. It may or may not work in your climate zone.
Bonsai exhibits are known for there fantastic displays of moss on the trees. The secret? Many times the moss was “planted” the night before. In some clubs, just before the annual show, there is a mad quest for wild moss at local nurseries! Moss is only a decoration. Although pretty, it is not required to make a good bonsai.
Figurines – Although rarely seen with Japanese bonsai, they are frequently used in other countries. At this stage of world bonsai, it seems to be a matter of choice whether to use them or not. However, some more traditional exhibits exclude them from competition.
Humidity Trays – are actually ‘drip trays’ and are especially recommended for people growing bonsai indoors. They do not contribute significantly to humidity. Find out more on the Bonsai Myths page.
Just Getting Started?
If you are a bonsai beginner, in time you will develop your own list of the most valuable bonsai supplies. The important ones are always the ones that work for you! In addition to the bonsai supplies on this page, see Basic Bonsai Tools