I'm absolutely no bonsai expert by any means, but I wanted to write this to inspire anyone out there to give it a try. Succulents are lovely and a good fern is always welcome, but I can't stop obsessing over bonsai trees lately and I really am hoping that they're the next big thing.
This method is really not very pricey and you may have most of the things that you need already. Happy Bonsai-ing!
First, you will need a shallow clay pot with a good drainage hole and a small shrub or tree. I chose a juniper, as I've read that they are the easiest to start as bonsai and they are relatively cheap to boot.
Remove the tree or shrub from its pot and start to remove the soil that is around all of the roots. If it's from a department store or nursery, it's quite possibly root bound.
Keep removing the soil until you can see most all of the roots. You may have to untangle some if they're root bound and also trim off a few if they are extra long or scraggly. Using very technical terms here, if you hadn't noticed.
Now, you'll need to give the pot some lovin'. Put some large rocks at the bottom for good drainage. I got these from our gravel driveway. I like the craggy, sharp kind, as they don't compact as long as you don't shuffle them around too much.
Now, add a mixture of small grit rocks, soil, sand, and larger humus pieces. I used grit for poultry, a little bit of sand, the soil that I removed from the roots, and a few small pieces of decomposing wood. You can purchase special bonsai soil, but when you're just starting off with one and don't want to invest heavily into specialty things, this is a good way to go. I have a special knack for killing plants, so I didn't want to put $100 into something that wouldn't make it anyhow.
Bring on the moss! I got this moss from our back yard, although you can purchase it online at places like Amazon, too. The moss helps to hold in moisture and makes the plant look pretty and more mini-tree-like.
Next, you just trim, trim, trim away! Trim off the little bits that stick out here and there and try to make the tree look more like a mature tree would. There are lots of websites that you can read through to get a good idea of what type of bonsai to make and the complicated aesthetics of them. For inspiration, I like to look at pictures of white pines and pinion pines. Wrap the branches in wire if you want to shape them at all. As a general rule, you don't want branches that cross over each other or ones that stick straight up. Water the tree once a week, soaking well. Let it drain out, though- you don't want it's roots sitting in water!