3 Essential Tools for Bonsai


Lets start this post by saying that having specialist tools for Bonsai is not essential, though it can save a lot of time and effort. As my father always used to say “Ensure you have the correct tools for the job” – he was so right! It can be difficult to sculpt bonsai to match your imagination without the correct equipment.

Tools for Bonsai

Having the right bonsai tools is very important if you want to grow your own homemade bonsai tree. Good pruning and wiring wouldn’t be possible without the proper equipment. There are many brands when it comes to bonsai tools; some of them are very expensive while others are more than affordable. You’ll realize after you check out costs that expensive bonsai tools usually are made in Japan and cheap ones in China. However some of the Chinese brands have reasonable good quality.

There are a wide variety of bonsai tools available that will aid in the growth and training of your Bonsai tree, here are 3 essential tools that every budding bonsai artist should have in their possession.

Concave Cutters

Large Concave CuttersSmall Concave Cutters

Concave cutters come in two sizes, one is for cutting small branches, the other for cutting the larger ones. If you are a beginner you will most likely only require the smaller version, unless you have started off with a big tree!

The concave cutter is the single most vital tool in the budding bonsai gardener’s arsenal, as it allows a branch to be removed in a way that promotes fast healing on the branch. If you don’t have one of these, cuts made to the branches are likely to heal leaving an ugly bump over the cut area. The tool is named after the concave shape of the cut.

Butterfly Shears

Butterfly Shears

Butterfly shears will probably be the most frequently used tool for pruning tasks. Used for a wide variety of bonsai duties, butterfly shears are the tool to use when one needs to cut through strong, thick branches and other tools won’t cut the mustard (or tree). In addition to this they are also capable of trimming overgrown areas of foliage, as well as more delicate cuts to smaller branches and leaves. Even though delicate cuts can be made to the branches with this tool, remember that using your fingers can sometimes be an easier and simpler method. In short, butterfly shears are the tool most suited to performing most of the cutting, trimming and pruning chores on a chinese bonsai tree.

Root Hook

Root Hook

A root hook makes re-potting and the de-tangling of the tangled roots under the tree an absolute doddle. Used every 6 to 12 months when re-potting a bonsai tree, a root hook allows the old soil to be removed from the roots. Without this tool it is possible to cause unintended damage to the roots. Although essential, a root hook is not required for young or very small bonsai, in which case using chopsticks is a preferred alternative option. Tip: there are multiple variations of a root hook, go for the simple models that have only hook at the end instead of the models with multiple hooks, as the more advanced models are more likely to damage the roots if one is not careful.

It is not recommended that, as a beginner, you buy top quality bonsai tools when first starting out. The black high carbon steel cutters are cheaper than expensive top end stainless steel, and unless you have multiple trees to manage at once these will be more than adequate for the job at hand.