Enkianthus Bonsai Tree Care Guide

Enkianthus, sometimes called pagoda bush, is a genus of small deciduous trees or shrubs belonging to the Ericaceae family. It is the sole member of the Enkianthoideae subfamily.

Enkianthus trees stand upright and boast attractive red branches. The green foliage changes to beautiful shades of orange and red during autumn. Gorgeous bell-shaped flowers bloom in clusters during spring and summer. The bright fall colors and delicate flowers might remind you of an elegant Japanese-style garden.

This genus has about 15 species and is native to the Himalayas and East Asia. In these regions, Enkianthus trees can reach heights of 5 meters.

Enkianthus campanulatus, commonly called Redvein Enkianthus, is native to Japan. It has white or cream flowers with streaks of red overall and reddish undersides. Another species called Enkianthus perulatus, found in China and Japan, has smaller acute leaves and carries dainty white flowers. Enkianthus cernuus rubens is distinguishable by its toothed leaves and deep reddish-purple flowers.

How long does it take to grow Enkianthus Bonsai?

Growing Enkianthus is highly recommended for the following reasons:

  • They are fascinating shrubs that have three seasons of interest. During spring and summer, they have attractive flowers. The green leaves turn into spectacular fall colors of red and orange during fall. In winter, the foliage becomes sparse to reveal the beautiful structure of the plant.
  • They are slow-growers but low maintenance.
  • They are easy to propagate.
  • They are not grown widely and are little known. You can help others discover this stunning beauty.
  • Pests do not bother them.

With color-changing leaves, lovely nodding flowers, and light fragrance, Enkianthus is a great choice for bonsai cultivation. The beauty of a bonsai increases with time as the miniature living tree ages and takes the shape of a real tree growing outdoors.

As an ericaceous plant, Enkianthus likes acidic soils and should never be planted in alkaline soils. It can grow up to about 30 feet tall in native regions and till 10 feet in others.

Plant your Enkianthus seeds in a greenhouse. A dark and moist environment is ideal for germination. When the buds start appearing after some weeks, plant them in a pot immediately and move them to a brighter location.


Spring and autumn are the best times for planting Enkianthus. They thrive well in humus-rich forest soil. Mix peat, river sand, and heath mold to prepare the pot. Plant your tree in a container that has holes for good drainage. The soil should not be soggy.

These trees can tolerate the sun but place your pot in the shade during the early stages of growth.


Enkianthus flourish in full sun rather than partial shade. The sun helps them flower better and produce more vibrant fall colors. Position the pot in an area in your garden where it receives sufficient sunlight during spring and autumn. In summer, place it in a partially shaded area. Use light lamps on rainy days as an alternative option.


Water your Enkianthus about 2-3 times a week. It requires more water when the leaves start to develop. Water it generously during warm weather and reduce the watering in the cold months.


During the growing period, the ideal temperature for Enkianthus is 15-25 ℃. Otherwise, they thrive well at about 18-22℃. They can survive severe winters though cold temperatures stunt their growth. They also become dormant for some period during summer when the temperature exceeds 30℃.


Enkianthus has a high requirement for fertilizers. Spray some liquid fertilizer to the shrubs once every two weeks for best results. Use only an appropriate amount each time. Although your plants love fertilizer, over-feeding them will do only harm. In early spring, apply potassium and phosphorus fertilizers to boost the flowering.


There are three ways to propagate Enkianthus:

  • Sowing

Seeds of Enkianthus should be sown in late winter when the temperature is 18-22 °C. These shrubs grow well in acidic to neutral soils. Prepare moist, fertile, and well-drained soils before seeding. Germination takes place within a few weeks. It is suggested to plant your seeds in a greenhouse. Set them in a shaded region during this stage.

  • Cutting

You can grow new Enkianthus trees from cuttings. Take a healthy twig and cut 7-8 inches long from the top. Insert the cutting in moist soil. When roots start to develop after ten days, move the cutting to a basin. The soil in the container should be loose and fertile. The growth rate is high during spring and autumn, and you can fertilize the plant once every ten days. Stop fertilizing when the temperature is high during summer. Place it in a well-ventilated and partly-shaded place to protect it from direct sunlight.

  • Layering

In this technique of asexual propagation, the new plant forms roots while it is still attached to the parent plant. This method allows propagation in a limited space. In the air-layering technique, a strong branch is wounded and wrapped with damp soil to stimulate the formation of roots. In ground-layering, the stem of the parent tree is bent down and covered with soils to let it form roots. Late spring is suitable for air-layering, while autumn is best for ground-layering.

Redvein Enkianthus – Image source

How to plant and grow Enkianthus Bonsai?

Originated in China, bonsai is the art of reproducing miniatures of trees. A bonsai is grown in a container to restrict its natural growth. It is trained to be small, yet resemble the natural form of a full-grown tree.

The crucial steps involved in cultivating a bonsai are trimming, training, and repotting.


Trimming the branches of a bonsai tree is necessary to control the direction of growth and maintain its shape. It involves the action of pinching back an undesirable growth to prevent it from growing. Experts recommend not trimming all new branches.

Let the plant grow naturally during the flowering season. Once the flowering has stopped, carry on with hard pruning. Prune the sub-branches in summer, while the main branches in September.

The tree requires time and energy to heal large wounds from trimming. Schedule the trimmings according to the growth rate and healing time of the bonsai tree.


The goal of creating a bonsai is to obtain a miniature living tree that is true to its natural form as a mature tree. Train and style your plant in a container to make it look like a healthy and natural plant growing outdoors.

Training a bonsai is a skill that develops with practice. A bonsai artist wraps wires around the trunk and branches of a potted plant to achieve the desired shape. Here are some tips on how to wire a bonsai:

  • Choose the appropriate wire for your tree.
  • Instead of a single wire, use several for the branches.
  • Check the growth rate of the bonsai timely to make sure the wires are not hurting the plant. It can leave scars.
  • Remove the wires by cutting them carefully. Unwinding the wire can damage the tree.

In the case of deciduous trees, winter is the perfect time for wiring. When there are fewer leaves, bonsai wiring is easy. While wiring, keep a clear picture of the tree shape in mind. The more accurate and detailed structure you can get, the better.


Repotting a bonsai is crucial to maintain its health. Once the roots of the bonsai have filled the pot, it is time to replace the soil.

Repot your Enkianthus bonsai during spring before buds begin to break. A healthy growing bonsai should be repotted once in every 1-2 years. For a mature bonsai, repotting should be performed every 2-4 years. Evaluate the growth of the tree and its root system to determine the schedule for repotting.

While repotting, remove the tree from the pot and prune the bottom-most part of the roots. Place it back in a pot with fresh and well-draining soil. Water the tree thoroughly after repotting.

How to care for your Enkianthus Bonsai?

Enkianthus are fascinating shrubs that require little work but reward you with a visual feast every season. Enkianthus bonsai is equally delightful because good things come in small packages.

Bonsai should always be well watered. Especially deciduous trees like Enkianthus need large amounts of water. Water the bonsai when the soil looks dry. The soil in the pot should always be damp. Moisture is necessary for growth and maintaining good health. Ensure proper drainage to prevent rotting of the roots, a common beginner’s mistake.

Keep your Enkianthus bonsai where it receives plenty of sunlight. Do not forget to place it back in the partial shade once it has received enough sunlight.

Protect your Enkianthus bonsai from exposure to strong winds during autumn. If you wish to preserve the bright-colored fall leaves, place the bonsai in a place where the winds cannot blow the leaves away.

Although Enkianthus bonsai is resistant to pests and diseases, it is best to take precautions to keep it healthy and beautiful. Prevent plant diseases by applying iron, magnesium, nitrogen, and zinc to the soil. Check the health of your plant regularly.

Enkianthus leaves turn yellow (discoloration, not fall colors) when grown in alkaline soils. Avoid lime soils at all costs. If soot mold attacks your bonsai, clean the leaves gently using a sponge soaked in water and spirit. Apply insecticides to protect your bonsai from pests.