These bonsai nurseries sell you plants and teach you how to care for them

These bonsai nurseries sell you plants and teach you how to care for them

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If you’ve ever wanted to grow a bonsai, you only need to visit a nursery that specializes in these twisting miniature trees.

Bonsai, which came to Japan from China in the 12th century, is the art of growing a “tree in a tray.” From a few inches to 5 feet tall, these dwarfed species – including maples, elms, junipers, black pine, gingkos, olives, boxwoods – are wired, pruned and staged in pots to mimic a mature, full-size tree in the wild.

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    Bonsai at the Kimura Bonsai Nursery in Northridge, CA May 3, 2019. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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    Bonsai at the Kimura Bonsai Nursery in Northridge, CA May 3, 2019. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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    Bonsai at the Kimura Bonsai Nursery in Northridge, CA May 3, 2019. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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    Bonsai at the Kimura Bonsai Nursery in Northridge, CA May 3, 2019. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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    Bonsai at the Kimura Bonsai Nursery in Northridge, CA May 3, 2019. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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    Bonsai at the Kimura Bonsai Nursery in Northridge, CA May 3, 2019. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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    Bonsai at the Kimura Bonsai Nursery in Northridge, CA May 3, 2019. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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    Bonsai at the Kimura Bonsai Nursery in Northridge, CA May 3, 2019. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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    Bonsai at the Kimura Bonsai Nursery in Northridge, CA May 3, 2019. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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    Bonsai at the Kimura Bonsai Nursery in Northridge, CA May 3, 2019. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

“Part of the beauty of bonsai is, if you look at the tree, you’ll notice that a lot of trees have movement in the trunk,” said Jason Chan, owner of Eastern Leaf in Chino.

Eastern Leaf is one of a handful of independent plant nurseries like Kim’s Bonsai Nursery in Phelan, California Bonsai Studio in Thousand Oaks, Kimura Bonsai Nursery in Northridge, Fuji Bonsai Nursery in Sylmar, and House of Bonsai in Lakewood  where new and experienced bonsai hobbyists can shop for ornamental trees, soil, fertilizer and supplies such as pots, wire, and tools used to prune branches.

They’re also experts in the care of bonsai.

“Say you have a black pine bonsai,” Chan said. “They love full sun. As long as you have the right type of soil and you take care of it right, and you prune it correctly, it will do really well even in a shallow pot. But people treat bonsai like a houseplant and think it doesn’t need much water — it’s an outdoor tree in a little pot. It needs to be watered every day.”

Like its full-size version, bonsai prefer to grow outdoors.

“If kept indoors, they get root rot because they stay wetter for longer periods of time,” said Audrey Sanchez, the manager, and caretaker at Kimura Bonsai Nursery.

She said placing it in a sunny garden or patio is ideal.

For those who want to dive in deeper, Kimura Bonsai, like many of these mom-and-pop nurseries, offers how-to classes and workshops with bonsai masters from around the world.

House of Bonsai is another.

“We take special care to take care of our trees since we grow them for many years, even decades,” said Katrina Jin, who runs the Lakewood nursery with her mother, owner Victoria Lee  “Anyone that comes in to get a bonsai tree with us will be given a complimentary bonsai care sheet that has all of the basic instructions on how to take care of them.”

The nursery even takes it a step further by offering a “Bonsai Hospital” where ailing trees are revived, a “Bonsai Hotel” where bonsai professionals care for trees while people are away from home, and a “Bonsai Salon” where bonsai are repotted, wired and trimmed or pruned.

Bonsai hobbyists won’t find that kind of care everywhere.

“You have to be careful when you buy a bonsai from a place that doesn’t specialize in bonsai,” Sanchez said. “If you take it home and it dies, you think it’s because you did something wrong when really it wasn’t in the right bonsai pot and soil so of course, it died. You were set up to fail.”

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