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Buyer beware

If you buy a ready-made bonsai tree from a retail store or mall, beware. "Buying one done is very 'iffy,' " local bonsai grower Dave Severson says. "Survival rate is low. Unless you really know what you're doing, they may already be dead." * Bons...

If you buy a ready-made bonsai tree from a retail store or mall, beware.

"Buying one done is very 'iffy,' " local bonsai grower Dave Severson says. "Survival rate is low. Unless you really know what you're doing, they may already be dead."

* Bonsai purchased when the shipment first arrives at the store are in better shape than after they've been sitting on the shelf a long time.

* Before buying, check for insects and dead foliage. Touch the plant to see if it's supple or stiff. If needles are brittle, it's already dead or dying, Severson says. When you get it home, remove any pebbles glued to the surface that keep water from getting to the roots.

* While some store-bought bonsai such as ficus are tropical or indoor plants, others such as juniper are not. To survive, junipers should be outside from spring to fall and need to go dormant in a cool space over winter, according to the Minnesota Bonsai Society.

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