Cedar Bonsai Trees

What is Cedar Bonsai & Care Guide

Learn all about Cedar Bonsai Trees and how to take care of them.
Scientific/Botanical NameCedrus Libani
DescriptionThe Lebanon Cedar tree is one of four cedars that are used in the art of bonsai. Its needles are short, and the foliage is thick. It is a slow grower, however.
PositionThe tree needs to be grown in a location that receives a minimum of six hours of daily sunlight.
WateringAllow the plant to get nearly, but not entirely dry before watering it. If the leaves turn yellow, it is a clear sign of overwatering.
FeedingAs soon as new growth begins in the spring, feed with a fertilizer that is both balanced and organic. The fertilizer should be diluted to half-strength prior to application, and the plant should be watered immediately after being fertilized. Stop feeding the plant when new growth has ceased for the season.
Leaf and Branch PruningBecause the plant grows slowly, pruning is minimal. New shoots and branches respond better to pinching-off than to pruning.
Re-potting & Growing MediumThe plant dislikes being transplanted. As such, defer any re-potting for as long as possible. Five years between re-potting may be best. When re-potting becomes necessary, do so in the spring. Re-pot with an acidic soil that is ideally comprised of sharp sand, loam and peat moss.
WiringThe plant can be wired to define a shape and create a style of growth that can be of an upright or a cascading nature. Wiring can be carried out at any stage of growth, and the wires may need to stay on the plant for a year or two because growth is slow. Do monitor the plant for potential problems, however.
NotesPlants grown in pots retain a thin trunk. If a thick trunk is required, it must be planted in the ground.

Members of the cedar genus make striking bonsai trees. Their rough, cragged bark is the calling card of the species. And the short needle clusters that grow sparsely along the branches to give them a canopy like no other trees.

But the cedar bonsai’s beauty is both unique and rare. Cedar trees are rarely sold as bonsai. They require care and expertise to grow correctly and therefore are not in great demand. This can make them difficult to find in shops. But if you can get your hands on one you’ll find them easy to grow and an enjoyable challenge to style and shape.

Cedar Bonsai Species

There are only five distinct species in the cedar genus. You can technically grow any species of cedar into a bonsai tree. But these four cedar trees’ relative ease of growth and foliar beauty make them favorites in the world of bonsai.

Cedrus Libani

Also known as the Lebanon Cedar because they commonly grow in Lebanon, Cedrus libani makes a beautiful bonsai tree because its needles remain very short during its lifetime. This gives it natural beauty and dense foliage with minimal pruning. But it grows slowly and that beauty may take quite some time to take shape.

Cedrus Brevifolia

Cedrus brevifolia is more commonly known as the Cyprus cedar, also because of its country of origin. Perhaps the most attractive of the bonsai cedar species, Cedrus brevifolia has dense blue-green needles that grow no longer than 1/2-inch when mature.

Cedrus Deodara

The best thing this cedar bonsai has going for it is its fast growth. It is a great cedar for beginner bonsai growers to work on. It takes mistakes with grace and bounces back quickly. But it takes a bit of expertise to prune into a beautiful tree. Its needles have a tendency to put on patch growth when left to their own devices.

Cedrus Atlantica

Also known as the Blue Atlas, Cedrus atlantica is one of the most prized bonsai trees today. Its trunk is exceedingly easy to shape. And its needles are a striking blue that draws attention wherever the Blue Atlas bonsai tree is displayed.

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Care

Placement

Place your cedar bonsai in a sunny spot where it has access to at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Most species of cedar thrive on the sun. It gives them richer color, fuller canopies and faster growth.

However, certain species of cedar have slightly varying light needs. Some cedar bonsai species like a little more shade and some prefer even more sun. The best way to get to know your cedar tree’s light needs is to research its species. In the mean time you can use your cedar bonsai’s needles as a guide.

If your cedar bonsai starts to look spindly and sparse, it may be getting too much sun. If your cedar bonsai is paler than usual and its needles rotate so that its edges face up, it needs a little more shade.

Water

Feel the cedar bonsai’s soil regularly to see when it needs watering. When the soil is just about to dry out, give it a drink. Not before then. Constantly moist soil will make the cedar bonsai’s roots turn mushy and its needles turn yellow. Also take care not to allow the soil to completely dry out. Dry soil weakens the plant and may cause it to drop its leaves. They will grow back but you can avoid the problem in the first place with regular watering.

Fertilizer

Beginning in spring when your bonsai begins to put on new growth for the season, feed it with a balanced fertilizer. Any organic bonsai fertilizer found at a reputable nursery will be suitable.

Dilute the fertilizer to half strength before applying it. Water the bonsai after you fertilize. Stop fertilizing in winter when your cedar bonsai stops putting on new growth.

Winter Care

Cedar bonsai grow happily outdoors. But when temperatures drop below 20 degrees Celsius, bring your cedar bonsai indoors. You can bring it out again when the temperatures rise again in spring. Avoid bringing it in and out repeatedly. Cedar bonsai trees like stability. Allow it to spend the warm season outdoors if you like and keep it indoors once temperatures drop.

Training

Cedar bonsai trees are as easy to prune and shape as any other bonsai species. They grow slowly but they take well to wiring and cutting back. However, there are a few exceptions that make cedar bonsai’s growth slightly different than that of other species.

Growth

If it spends its entire life in a pot, your cedar bonsai will develop a thin juvenile trunk that it will keep for its life as a bonsai tree. To grow a thick trunk, your cedar bonsai must grow in the ground for three years or so. Its trunk will quickly thicken. But take care to keep pruning to keep its size and shape.

Pruning

Cedar bonsai trees aren’t too fond of pruning shears. Take care of green, new branches by pinching them off at their base.

Wiring

Cedar bonsai take quite a while to set with wiring. But the branches of some slow-growing species must remain wired for 12 to 24 months. Check wires frequently. Branches that grow into their wires will have permanent scars. Cedar bonsai trunks may be wired as well but these trees look best as informal uprights or as beautiful cascading specimens.

Repotting

Cedars are slow growers. Your cedar bonsai will only need to be repotted once every four years or so. The best time to repot a cedar bonsai is in spring just before it typically starts its growth for the season.

When you repot, work carefully. The soil must remain packed around the cedar bonsai’s roots. If the cedar bonsai’s roots are bare at any time it may drop some of its needles. Repot your cedar bonsai in soil that is two-thirds decomposed granite and one-third composted bark mixed thoroughly together.

For six weeks after you repot, keep the cedar bonsai still and stable. Strong winds or a careless nudge may loosen it or knock it over.