Select the bonsai variety that you will cultivate. Choose a variety that will grow well in its growing climate and location. Look around the neighborhood and in nurseries. Decide what type of bonsai in which you want to care and how much attention you plant to give it. Choose evergreens and deciduous plants for avid to medium care. Select succulents such as jade and cacti for little to no care.
Select a container for the bonsai. Choose a container that provides a good drainage system and promotes moisture. Untreated, rot resistant wood containers are ideal. Fill the container two thirds the way with nutrient rich soil that contains equal amounts of soil, peat compost, and fine sand. Place the bonsai seed or seeds in the center of the container and line with the remaining soil.
Place the container in a well light area that provides at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight. Avoid placing the future plant or tree near sources of extreme hot and cold temperatures, such as heating vents and stoves.
Water the planted seeds regularly. Maintain moist soil without overwatering. Check the plant often to monitor the plant's growth. Do not fertilize the sprouting seeds.
Be patient. Allow the plant or tree to establish itself. Avoid pruning the bonsai for the first three to six months. Prune away any dead, dying, or wilted branches, stems, and foliage. As the bonsai develops, slowly begin to prune the branches, stems and foliage to develop its intended shape. Use sterile, sharp scissors or pruning shears.
Continue to monitor the soil of the growing bonsai. Check the soil's moisture levels by sticking your finger about one to two inches into the soil near the roots. Water the bonsai when the levels feel somewhat to completely dry. Allow the bonsai to near dry levels before watering. Most bonsais are in intolerant of drought periods. However, succulent plants can thrive for months without watering.
Fertilize the bonsai in the early spring, just before the growing periods begins. Use a well balanced fertilizer that contains nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, and magnesium. Choose a slow release fertilizer. Apply every 2-4 weeks using half strength. Cease fertilizer applications in mid-July.
Repot the bonsai every 1-2 years, or as it grows out of its current container. Select a pot that is slightly bigger than the original. Gently lift the bonsai from the original container and remove the excess soil from the root system. Comb out the root system and trim the roots to promote a miniature size. Never prune away more than one-third of the root system. Pot the bonsai in new container using fresh soil. Do not water the freshly planted bonsai on the same day as the repotting process.