Japanese Maples make lovely bonsai. You can find many pictures of them by doing a Google image search. I purchased this tree from a local nursery back in March. It's about 3 feet tall and I paid $11.95 for it. I chose this particular tree because it has some curvature in the trunk (which I hoped to accentuate) and because it has a split trunk.
You can click on the pictures to see a bigger image.
Here it is removed from its nursery pot laying along side the bonsai pot I'm going to put it in. You can see that I've lined the bottom of the pot with some nylon screen. This to prevent the dirt in the pot from running out the drain holes.
You can also see that the roots are never going to fit in this pot without some serious trimming.
Well, here it is after trimming. You can see an indispensable bonsai tool along side the leaves - a chopstick. It really comes in handy in trying to get the old dirt from around the roots. It is also helpful when putting in the new soil, to help get the soil down between the roots. Just like planting a tree or shrub in your garden, you don't want to have too many voids in the root system.
I've transplanted it to the bonsai pot. For a bonsai this would be way too tall, So some trimming is necessary. Some of the bonsai books suggest leaving the trimming until the plant is used to its new surroundings. I don't usually do that and have been successful in every transplant I've done.
Along side the pot is a bag of bonsai soil. I purchased this on-line, through eBay. There are all different kinds of potting soil for bonsai. You shouldn't use regulat potting soil as this will retain too much moisture. I have a couple plants in regular soil and they seem to be ok, but I plan to get them all transplanted eventually. Not really knowing much about the differences between one type of soil and another, I picked one which seemed to be for general service.
After trimming. It's about 15 inches tall. This will be a tall bonsai unless, of course, I trim it further. The next picture is the look I'm going for. I left the split trunk to give me some flexibility later depending on how it grows. Prior to working on this I had it sitting outside. I had nipped off the growing ends on the top. Within 6 weeks it has sprouted branches which were about 18 inches long. These I cut off (prior to the first photo) and I'm hoping to root them.
Here's what I'm hoping for. I looked at about a hundred Japanese bonsai photos and only found two which would work with what I had to start with. This tree doesn't have a split trunk but I think the look will still work.