9 Trees that Make Good Bonsai Specimens
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What are the Best Trees to Make Bonsai
Bonsai is a living ancient art that uses cultivation and training techniques to produce miniature trees that mimic the appearance of their life-size counterparts. These techniques include trimming the canopies of the trees, pruning the roots, and locking the roots in shallow containers.
Almost all woody stems or shrubs that produce real branches can be trained as bonsai. However, some species are more suitable for growing bonsai than others. Some species are more popular for aesthetic reasons (such as small foliage or knobby bark), while others are popular because they are known as bonsai for their low maintenance and strength.
Almost all types of trees that are grown as bonsai grow best in special potting soil that is generally marketed as bonsai potting soil. This mixture is not really earth, but rather a mixture of hard Japanese Akadama (a clay mineral), pumice stone, and black lava, sometimes with some horticultural additions.
Here are nine popular tree species that make excellent bonsai specimens.
Juniper (Juniperus spp.)
Juniperus is a large genus of more than 50 conifers and evergreen shrubs that are popular as bonsai trees. All species of juniper can be successfully grown as bonsai.
Junipers are popular as bonsai for two main reasons. First, the small foliage matches the miniature aesthetics of the bonsai; And second, junipers are hardy trees that can withstand aggressive pruning. Juniper bonsai is not good for indoor growing and should be planted in dry soil.
Light: bright and sunny light.
Water: let the soil dry out a bit before watering
Color variations: needles can be yellow, light green, or dark green (depends on species)
Pine (Pinus spp.)
Pines are popular as bonsai because they are hardy and can be trained. In fact, pine trees can be carved into almost any known style of bonsai. Pines are characterized by needles that appear in groups of two to five, and a bark that becomes scaly or scaly as they age. Species particularly suitable for bonsai are Pinus thunbergii (Japanese black pine), P. mugo (mountain pine), P. sylvestris (scots pine) and P. parviflora (Japanese white pine).
Light: Full sun
Water: Water when the soil appears dry.
Variety of colors: The needles vary from light green to bluish-green to dark green (depending on the species).
Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)
Japanese maples are hard, deciduous forests known for their green or burgundy leaves that turn bright red, orange, or yellow in the fall. The bark of young Japanese maples is usually green or reddish and turns gray or gray with age.
A word of caution for bonsai enthusiasts who don't have a lot of time to devote to crafting: Japanese maples need a lot of water, especially during the growing season. Depending on the temperature, you may need to water them daily or even several times a day.
Light: sunny, partly sunny
Water: requires frequent watering (daily or more)
Color Variations: Some varieties have red or yellow leaves from spring to fall, while others are reddish in spring, green in summer, and red, yellow, or orange in fall.
Japanese Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata)
Traditionally, cherry trees are believed to signify friendship and also varieties like the Japanese cherry blossom that make a beautiful bonsai. Besides looking beautiful, these decorative deciduous trees are easy to train because their branches and trunks are flexible and easy to shape.
Although bonsai cherry trees can be grown indoors, they can suffer from a lack of light and grow best outdoors during the summer months.
Light: Full sun
Water: Keep the soil always moist.
Variety of colors: Foliage is green or bronze; The flowers can have different shades of white or pink.
Cedar (Cedrus spp.)
The rough and uneven bark of the cedar has made it a popular choice among bonsai enthusiasts. Cedars are evergreen conifers that grow in small clusters of needles along their branches and provide the opportunity for some very spectacular bonsai styles. Aside from the drama, cedars are not ideal for beginners. They require special care and experience to grow properly as bonsai and are best suited for experienced growers.
There are four types of cedar that are commonly grown as bonsai: Lebanon cedar (Cedrus libania), Cyprus cedar (Cedrus brevifolia), Himalayan cedar (Cedrus deodara), and Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica).
Light: direct sun
Water: Allow the soil to partially dry out between waterings.
Color variations: dark green needles
Ginseng Ficus is considered a great species for bonsai beginners because it is a very hardy and tolerant tree. These deciduous evergreens have single aerial roots and dark oval green leaves.
Ginseng Ficus is a low-maintenance bonsai tree that does not need as much light as other popular varieties of bonsai. It grows well indoors as a houseplant, as it thrives in warm climates and bright indirect light.
Light: bright indirect light
Water: keeps the earth moist
Color variants: green glass leaves and light brown bark.
Weeping Fig (Ficus Benjamina)
The beautiful umbrella-shaped canopy made from weeping figs makes it a popular choice for bonsai. The shallow, crooked roots are another attractive feature that goes well with the bonsai style.
In addition to its appearance, the Ficus Benjamina is a robust and resistant tree, perfect for training bonsai. It adapts well to indoor growing and is normally grown as a houseplant throughout the year.
Light: partial sun
Water: often water.
Color variants: light green leaves and light brown bark.
Dwarf Jade (Portulacaria afra)
The dwarf jade plant is a semi-evergreen shrub with a woodland that makes a great bonsai for beginners. Dwarf jade is very similar to the more common variety of jade (Crassula ovata) but is the preferred choice for growing bonsai due to the smaller foliage of dwarf jade.
Dwarf jade bonsai grow well indoors, but require direct sunlight for most of the day. They can also be grown successfully outdoors, but they cannot stand freezing temperatures.
Light: Direct light
Water: Scarce water
Variety of colors: Dark green succulent leaves, light brown branches
Pomegranate (Punica granatum)
The thick, knobby skin of the pomegranate and the striking flowers of the fruit have made it a popular type of bonsai. Its ancient and naturally twisted look is perfect for bonsai aesthetics.
Pomegranate bonsai can be grown outdoors in warm climates all year round or indoors for part of the year. They must be protected from frost and freezing.
Light: Intense direct light
Water: Water regularly.
Color variations: Light green leaves; can flourish with orange-red flowers that produce edible fruits.
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