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Books

11 Best Bonsai Books for Beginners & Experts | Explained Why!

Jamey Muller
Updated: January 19, 2022
7 min read

Bonsai is an ancient Japanese art form that continues to inspire and intrigue gardeners all over the world. Without proper guidance, raising these miniature ornamental trees can be challenging.

The following expertly written books contain everything you need to know about bonsai cultivation and maintenance, design, and much more.

At A Glance: The TOP 5 Bonsai Books

1. Top pick: Bonsai (101 Essential Tips)
2. Runner up: The Bonsai Beginner’s Bible
3. Best for Beginners:
4. Best Encyclopedia: The Complete Practical Encyclopedia of Bonsai
5. Best Step-by-Step Guide: Bonsai: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide

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Top pick
Bonsai (101 Essential Tips)
Bonsai (101 Essential Tips)

“Bonsai (101 Essential Tips)” by Harry Tomlinson is your go-to pocket guide to everything bonsai.

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Filled with essential information and tips, the book demonstrates how to expertly cultivate and care for your tree or shrub.

Tomlinson brings the ancient practice into the current century, creating a step-by-step approach that is easy to follow whether you are a beginner or an expert bonsai enthusiast. 

He provides an extensive list of bonsai species, detailing their texture, shape, and taper attributes. He also indicates which tools and containers to use for each variety, ways to display, and even other methods to achieve such design.

You will find out how to grow bonsai from seed or cuttings, how to root and prune, how to restructure wirings, and more. 

The “Bonsai (101 Essential Tips)” also contain sufficient material on air layering, rock planting, fertilizing, and overall care and maintenance on how to keep your bonsai healthy.

Comprehensive and practical, it will give you the knowledge and confidence you need to get started with your bonsai collection.

Runner up
The Bonsai Beginner's Bible
The Bonsai Beginner’s Bible

Peter Chan’s “The Bonsai Beginner’s Bible” is your definitive handbook on how to successfully choose and grow bonsai.

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Compact and stylish, it contains valuable advice on bonsai cultivation and maintenance, from choosing suitable pots and watering to shaping with wires and tackling common plant diseases and ailments. 

There is also a directory of around 180 of the most popular bonsai varieties, complete with encyclopedic descriptions and vivid photographs and illustrations.

Chan’s discussion of each species is concise and thorough; you will know which bonsai is precisely for you. He expertly explains details in a manner that even beginners will have no trouble following and understanding. 

Immaculately designed and formatted, the book layout makes navigation from one part to another easy and seamless.

Whether you are new to bonsai or already a seasoned connoisseur, you will find “The Bonsai Beginner’s Bible” one of the most valuable resources you will ever come across.

Best for Beginners
Bonsai For Beginners

For newbies, “Bonsai For Beginners: Discover How To Grow Bonsai If You Have Never Done It Before. A Step-By-Step Guide From The Basics To The Most Advanced Techniques” by George Yasukazu Tagawa is an excellent starting point for your bonsai journey.

An indispensable guide for beginners, it will answer all of your questions on how to take care of your bonsai correctly.

Tagawa includes helpful information on watering, fertilization, and lighting. 

Using his quick humidity test, you will know when to water your bonsai and how much is needed. He also provides a definite answer on what kind of fertilizer you need and which lighting is better for your tree.

The book contains a comprehensive guide on bonsai diseases, the best treatment and cure, and even ways to prevent them. 

Packed with all the information needed to start growing and caring for bonsai, “Bonsai For Beginners” deserves the attention of every wannabe bonsai enthusiast.

Best Encyclopedia
The Complete Practical Encyclopedia of Bonsai: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Creating, Growing, and Displaying Bonsai with Over 800 Photographs
The Complete Practical Encyclopedia of Bonsai

Ken Norman’s “The Complete Practical Encyclopedia of Bonsai: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Creating, Growing, and Displaying Bonsai with Over 800 Photographs” is your essential, practical guide on bonsai basics.

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The book gives expert advice on how to choose the best trees and shrubs. There is also an explicit discussion on bonsai proportions and aesthetics. 

You will know all the basic techniques on wiring and defoliating, as well as valuable advice on propagation, soil types, and seasonal care and maintenance.

Clear instructions on the style and design of classic bonsai species are provided, with valuable suggestions on choosing correct containers, display stands, and accessories. 

Norman’s guide includes a directory of over 40 bonsai plants, each accompanied by stunning photographs. This gallery also comes with horticultural information on bonsai species, alongside methods of cultivation and coping with pests and diseases.

Without a doubt, “The Complete Practical Encyclopedia of Bonsai” is a comprehensive reference ideal for all the bonsai lovers out there.

Step-by-Step Guide
Bonsai: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide on How to Cultivate and Care for Beginners
Bonsai: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide on How to Cultivate and Care for Beginners

“Bonsai: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide on How to Cultivate and Care for Beginners” by Kitaro Takagi is your complete A-to-Z guide on bonsai gardening.

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With detailed information and comprehensive instructions, the book provides expert advice on growing and maintaining many varieties of bonsai. 

Takagi’s discussion includes the five basic bonsai styles and the selection of trees suitable for your purpose. You will also get a crash course on cultivation tips and techniques and the necessary tools you need to grow bonsai successfully. 

“Bonsai” provides specific instructions on the correct care of bonsai plants. Depending on the season, you will know how to prune, water, and feed your miniature trees and shrubs.

It does not matter whether you are a beginner or an expert on bonsai care. Since these lessons are written clearly and simply, you will have no difficulty digesting everything. 

Informative and engaging, “Bonsai” is precisely what you need to help develop your bonsai growing skill.

#6
The Little Book of Bonsai: An Easy Guide to Caring for Your Bonsai Tree
The Little Book of Bonsai

Jonas Dupuich’s “The Little Book of Bonsai: An Easy Guide to Caring for Your Bonsai Tree” is your practical, modern guide to the ancient art of bonsai.

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Written by a trusted bonsai expert, the book covers all the basics of bonsai cultivation and care.

Using simple and clear instructions, Dupuich talks about ways to fertilize, water, and prune your trees, create wirings, as well as control pests, and cure diseases. 

Other topics include indoor and outdoor bonsai care, proper tools, and container selection. You will also know how to choose the right species from the many varieties available. 

The book includes step-by-step photos to help you grow your trees with confidence and keep them happy and alive.

Finally, it provides invaluable insights on how to display your prized collection and share its beauty with the world.

Charmingly illustrated with a full-color design, “The Little Book of Bonsai” has all the care tips and tricks on how to raise your bonsai right.

#7
The Complete Book of Bonsai: A Practical Guide to Its Art and Cultivation
The Complete Book of Bonsai

“The Complete Book of Bonsai: A Practical Guide to Its Art and Cultivation” by Harry Tomlinson is the perfect guide for both the beginner and expert bonsai enthusiast.

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It covers almost everything, from the horticultural aspects of bonsai to artistic styling. 

You will be acquainted with different bonsai techniques, from beginner to advanced, and even get an extensive guide on bonsai species to help you pick the right one for you.

Most of the varieties in the book are classic styles. Tomlinson provides a complete description of each, citing their origins and development.

“The Complete Book of Bonsai” also instructs on working with nursery plants, pot and repot and wiring. You will know the different types of soil to use and how to create your own mixes, pick the correct container and display your tree.

The pictures and illustrations sprinkled throughout the book make it easy to understand what is being described. 

It is a book any bonsai fan will be happy to have.

#8
The Secret Techniques of Bonsai: A Guide to Starting, Raising, and Shaping Bonsai
The Secret Techniques of Bonsai

Masakuni Kawasumi teams up with his son to write “The Secret Techniques of Bonsai: A Guide to Starting, Raising, and Shaping Bonsai” – an invaluable source of anything bonsai.

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The book does not only contain the basics on how to create the perfect bonsai. It also includes the Kawasumis secret techniques obtained after years of meticulous work.

You will find comprehensive, accessible information on how to grow bonsai from seedlings, as well as advice on how to shape, prune, train, graft, and repot trees. 

The Kawasumis also shared new techniques for using bonsai tools. The family is known for their designs that allow gardeners worldwide to improvise using available workshop tools. 

The instructions in the book are accompanied by photographs, most of them full-colored. This makes reading more engaging and fun for readers.

With unique insights on bonsai cultivation and care, “The Secret Techniques of Bonsai” is a must-have for all enthusiasts.

#9
Bonsai: The Art of Growing and Keeping Miniature Trees
Bonsai: The Art of Growing and Keeping Miniature Trees

Peter Chan’s “Bonsai: The Art of Growing and Keeping Miniature Trees” is an essential, full-color guide on how to grow, groom, and care for your bonsai.

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The book will teach you how to pick the suitable bonsai for you and what tools and supplies you need to make your tree prosper. 

There are also detailed instructions on caring for specific bonsai species. 

You will also know how your choice of pots may affect the growth of your tree.

Chan perfectly balances general horticulture information with artistic design aspects. You will get his expert take on styles of bonsai shaping, proper placement, and display.

If you are a beginner, you will find the directions simple and easy to read. Color photographs also add a more profound perception to Chan’s explanations of the many aspects of bonsai cultivation.

Whether you are interested in trying out bonsai for the first time or want more trees to your collections, reading “Bonsai: The Art of Growing and Keeping Miniature Trees” is a must.

#10
Bonsai Book for Beginners: Learn How to Plant, Grow, and Care for a Bonsai Tree Step by Step
Bonsai Book For Beginners

“Bonsai Book For Beginners: Learn How To Plant, Grow and Care a Bonsai Tree Step By Step” by Roberth Smith is an excellent way to kickstart your new hobby

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This introductory guide will teach you all the necessary information to cultivate and care for your miniature tree or shrub. 

You will take a peek into the rich history of bonsai and develop a better grasp of why this ancient art is still as popular today. 

There is an extensive discussion on the many bonsai styles, allowing you to choose one that fits your preferences. 

The book will teach you how to care for the seedlings, feed, and water them, and get rid of pests in the most efficient way possible. 

It will come in handy, even if you have no prior experience in raising bonsai or plants in general. 

“Bonsai Book For Beginners” will turn you into a bonsai expert in no time.

#11
The Ultimate Bonsai Handbook: The Complete Guide for Beginners
The Ultimate Bonsai Handbook

Written by Japanese expert Yukio Hirose, “The Ultimate Bonsai Handbook: The Complete Guide for Beginners” is your definitive guide to bonsai gardening.

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This practical handbook contains essential information on how to raise and care for over 70 types of bonsai. 

You will know the different bonsai varieties, their basic shapes, and the appealing ways to display them. Hirose also talks about soil types, the tools you need, and containers suitable for your miniature tree.

There are clear instructions and tips on pruning, trimming, and propagation. By the end of the book, you will be an expert in watering, fertilizing, and wiring your bonsai plant. 

The book also contains over 1000 photos demonstrating the many steps involved in bonsai cultivation, maintenance, and arrangement. 

If you are a beginner, this book provides an excellent introduction to the art of bonsai.

A timeless reference, you will not regret getting a copy of “The Ultimate Bonsai Handbook.”

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Written by
Jamey Muller
I'm the head-writer @ Knowledge Eager (or, in plain English, I'm the guy writing the majority of the content here). Addicted to the stock market, football, sushi and tacos.
Have any questions? Write us a message.
Jamey Muller
I'm the head-writer @ Knowledge Eager (or, in plain English, I'm the guy writing the majority of the content here). Addicted to the stock market, football, sushi and tacos.