For those who would like to give a bonsai-related gift this holiday season, but aren’t certain where to start, we offer a selection of bonsai gift ideas sure to delight hobbyists who practice the art. In addition, we offer tips on purchasing live bonsai trees.
If you have a family member, a friend or a co-worker who is a bonsai enthusiast, the holidays are a perfect opportunity for you to check things off your shopping list while helping them acquire gear dedicated to their hobby.
Those who don’t practice the hobby are often unsure what bonsai-related gifts are available or appropriate. However, Bonsai Made Simple can help with this problem! We’ve curated a list of a dozen potential bonsai gifts that beginners and even those more seasoned in the practice would appreciate. We’ve also divided our picks into price categories to make selecting the perfect gift easier. Happy shopping!
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links”. This means if you purchase through our links, we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Bonsai Gifts $50+
#1 – Tool Kit
Is the bonsai lover in your life just getting started in the hobby? If so, a good set of basic tools is probably the best bonsai gift they could receive. This 7-piece set of alloy steel bonsai tools contains the most commonly needed implements. It also comes complete with a storage case and is from a company highly rated by purchasers.
#2 – Bonsai Lego Kit with Light Kit
This Lego bonsai tree building set makes a unique gift for bonsai lovers and anyone who enjoys creative projects – particularly those who also like Legos! The kit features a bonsai tree, a rectangular pot, simulated bonsai soil and a slatted display stand. In addition, it even has pieces to represent both green summer foliage and pink spring cherry blossoms, allowing builders a choice of how to display their tree!
Elevate your gift to the next level by adding a separately purchased lighting kit made specifically for the bonsai Lego set. The lights are assembled along with the Lego tree to illuminate the finished piece. This LED light kit is compatible with both the green and cherry blossom foliage, can be powered in multiple ways, and comes with an infrared (IR) switch that enables customized controls.
Bonsai Gifts $25 – $50
#3 – Ceramic Bonsai Pots
As any bonsai enthusiast knows, one can never have too many pots! The gift of a bonsai pot will have the recipient dreaming about what to put in it.
Show a flair for the dramatic with this red lotus-shaped pot, complete with a drip tray. Alternatively, this classic and traditional brown unglazed clay rectangular pot works well for a wide variety of trees.
#4 – Mica Bonsai Pots
Mica bonsai pots make attractive and practical everyday growing containers for bonsai. Styled similarly to ceramic bonsai containers, mica pots are more durable and less expensive than ceramic. In addition, they are healthier for plant roots than plastic pots. Both this 9″ round mica pot and this 9.5” rectangular pot work well for medium-sized bonsai.
#5 – Soil Sieve Set
In bonsai, it’s important to ensure the tree has a healthy growing medium with consistently sized soil particles. That’s why a soil sieve is considered a must-have acquisition for those practicing the hobby. This Joshua Roth-brand soil sieve set features three interchangeable screened mesh sieves that fit within the 12” circular frame. The varying mesh sizes allow the bonsai gardener to filter out fine particles that clog soil mixes as well as large chunks that need to be removed. This is also a great tool for non-bonsai applications such as general gardening and landscaping!
#6 – Small Watering Can/Mister Set
This pint-sized Haws watering can and nickel-plated plant mister set can help bonsai lovers properly care for their pint-sized trees. The two implements come as a gift-boxed set for a nice presentation.
Alternatively, the adorable miniature Haws watering can is also available as a solo purchase. A petite version of the popular and classic Haws round metal watering can, it works perfectly for watering smaller bonsai and indoor plants. It comes in several pretty colors from traditional dark green to purple. Park it on a shelf between uses to add a decorative touch to the home.
#7 – Bonsai Sweatshirt
Most bonsai practitioners would proudly wear this long-sleeved sweatshirt declaring, “I work to support my bonsai addiction.” This comfortable, retro unisex pullover comes in a choice of four colors with the graphic on the front. It’s a must-have cool-weather wearable for bonsai lovers!
# 8 – Humidity Trays with Pebbles
This set of four humidity trays, paired with a bag of polished pebbles, makes an attractive and functional bonsai gift. Just place a potted bonsai on a gravel-filled tray. The tray retains water and helps moisturize the air around the plant between waterings. Trays can be used both outdoors and indoors, but are especially useful when watering indoor bonsai.
Bonsai Gifts Under $25
#9 – Bonsai Reference Book
The Complete Practical Encyclopedia of Bonsai is a comprehensive reference book suitable for both beginners and more advanced practitioners. Illustrated with more than 800 photos, this book offers guidance on all aspects of the art. It covers appropriate species, tools and supplies, techniques, display and care and more. It is a useful addition to any bonsai enthusiast’s collection.
#10 – Turntable
When it comes to styling bonsai, a swivel base turntable such as this 12” heavy-duty model is a helpful addition to your favorite hobbyist’s collection of gear. It allows the practitioner to quickly and easily turn the tree 360 degrees to view the effects of pruning and styling choices. While traditional, freestanding height-adjustable bonsai turntables are very expensive, a generic swivel tool can provide most of the same benefits at a far more reasonable cost. I own and love using this 12” turntable for styling my trees. For those who need something bigger or smaller, these swivels also come in 8”, 10” and 15” sizes. Aside from bonsai, they work well for a variety of arts and crafts. They can also be used as Lazy Susans, bases for TVs and more!
#11 – Tool Roll
The traditional way to store, protect and transport bonsai tools is in a tool roll. This Stanwood bonsai 10- pocket heavy duty tool roll gives classic a modern twist. It features heavy-duty 600-denier polyester construction, adjustable buckles to secure the roll, and the addition of a carrying handle. This product is highly rated by purchasers, who are happy with the variously sized pockets and the durability of the roll.
#12 – Mudman Figurines
Help your favorite bonsai enthusiast add a bit of whimsy to his or her collection! Mudmen are tiny clay figurines placed in bonsai pots to add interest and provide the perspective of scale. Hobbyists can create a simple scene just by adding a mudman such as this fisherman or this set of two gentlemen drinking tea on a bench. Or, build a more complex scene using one or more mudmen and other elements such as a cottage and/or a bridge.
More Advice for Bonsai Gift Shopping
To further assist those unfamiliar with the hobby in choosing appropriate bonsai gifts, we offer cautionary advice on a few points:
“Grow Your Own Bonsai” Kits
When browsing bonsai gifts online, you are bound to encounter attractive-looking “bonsai starter” kits. They generally offer several types of seeds, along with growing medium, pots, tools, etc. We recommend avoiding these kits, as few bonsai practitioners grow trees from seed. Most hobbyists acquire trees that are already several years old and which show good potential for training as bonsai.
Certain “Bonsai Tool” Kits
We recommend steering clear of any “bonsai tool” kit that features miniature versions of garden shovels, spades and rakes. Be aware that most bonsai practitioners would have no use for these implements. Instead, spend your money on specialized tools that are actually used in the hobby. Our article on tool basics outlines some of the more essential items that beginners need.
Giving a Live Bonsai Tree
While giving a live tree might seem like the perfect bonsai gift, it’s not as quite as simple as choosing one of the dozen options presented earlier. You’ll need to know where to buy, what varieties to look for and how to pick a quality tree.
Where to Buy (Or Not)
If your heart is set on gifting a live bonsai tree, we recommend seeking out a reputable bonsai retailer in your area. Shop in person with guidance from the retailer to choose an attractive and healthy bonsai or pre bonsai tree. For further assistance, check out our articles about suggested bonsai varieties and choosing pre-bonsai.
Alternatively, you can order a tree from an online bonsai retailer. When going this route, keep in mind that the tree you receive will almost always look different from the one in the online photo. If you decide to order online, check out reviews to locate a quality retailer.
Buying bonsai at a mass market or big box store can be an iffy proposition. Often at these locations, the trees labeled as bonsai have received little or no training. In addition, they are often in declining health from lack of proper care. Our article about mass market bonsai details issues often associated with these trees.
What Tree to Buy?
Because the holidays happen to coincide with the beginning of winter, the temperate species most often used in bonsai will be entering dormancy. In most areas, that means that if you choose to gift a deciduous bonsai, the tree will be without leaves. However, that may not matter, particularly if the gift is a species the recipient has been looking to acquire.
Pines, junipers and other evergreens retain their foliage during dormancy and make a better presentation this time of year. Keep in mind that any gift of a temperate species bonsai will need to go outdoors soon after the recipient opens it.
If the idea of gifting a bonsai, leafless or not, that will need to be overwintered outside doesn’t appeal to you, then concentrate your search on tropical species. These trees will retain their foliage during their stay indoors throughout the winter months, providing immediate enjoyment for the recipient. Varieties such as Schefflera, Ficus and Dwarf Jade are some of the easiest tropicals used in bonsai.
In this article, we’ve offered a dozen suggested bonsai gifts for holiday giving at various price points. We’ve also outlined some gifts to avoid and provided advice on how to shop for live bonsai trees.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in December 2021 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.