Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai, commonly known as honey locust bonsai, is a highly adaptable invasive species. Though it was natuve to central North America, it has been introduced worldwide due to its highly adaptive nature. Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai belongs to the Gleditsia Genus and the Fabaceae family. This bonsai has a medium lifespan of around 120 years. They start blooming in late spring and grow strongly scented cream colored flowers. The flowers emerge in clusters.

Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai or the honey locust bonsai is a deciduous tree that has a spiny trunk. It has bi- pinnate glossy leaves. The leaves of the bonsai are frond- like. The tip of the leaves are either pointed or round. The delicate fern- like leaves of the Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai or the Honey Locust bonsai starts out yellow, turns a little greenish yellow in summer and becomes yellow in autumn.

Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai are fast growing trees. They are tough and tolerant towards changing environmental conditions like heat, drought, pollution,alkaline soils etc.

The plant has stout to slender twigs which are glossy and zigzag. Twigs usually have branched thorns but the thornless varieties are preferred to be planted as bonsai. The Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai does not have terminal buds. The bark of the younger branches is smooth and gray while that of the older branches is gray to black in color.

Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai has a flat, red- brown colored pod- like fruit. It is 12 to 18 inches long, having 12 to 14 dark brown colored seeds. However, some varieties of the honey locust bonsai do not bear fruits.

The native Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai has thorns which are not very suitable for home growing. However, a number of podless and thornless Gleditsia triacanthos cultivars are available for home growing. A list of the best cultivars to grow at home are listed below:

  • Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis ‘Suncole’ has a 25 foot spread and can grow to a height of 30 to 40 feet. It has a pyramidal shape.
  • Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis ‘Impcole’ is a thornless cultivar that grows upto a height of around 35 feet. It is a more compact cultivar. It produces a few seed pods.
  • Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis ‘Harve’ grows to a height of 40 to 50 feet and is more cold hardy as compared to other varieties.
  • Gleditisia triacanthos var. inermis ‘Moraine’ is a seedless variety that grows upto a height of 50 feet. It has a more rounded head and small dark green leaves.
  • Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis ‘Draves’ has an attractive dark green foliage. The foliage is light green in spring. This variety produces some seed pods and has a 20 foot spread.
  • Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis ‘Wandell’ grows around 50 feet tall. It is a seedless cultivar.

This guide will further talk about the methods of planting, growing and caring for Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai or the Honey Locust Bonsai.

How Long Does it Take to Grow Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai?

Growing Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai is a time-consuming and difficult process. Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai can be grown through seeds or stem cutting. Growing the bonsai through seeds is a more elaborate and slow process. The bonsai can also be grown through stem cutting but a lot of requirements need to be met for your Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai to grow well.

The necessary requirements for your Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai to become and stay healthy are listed below.


Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai prefers full sunlight. You should protect your plant from frost when temperatures drop below -5 degrees Celsius. Frost can lead to twig dieback.


Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai can adjust to varied temperatures. You should try to expose your honey locust bonsai to higher temperatures. However, the plant will perish if the temperatures fall below -5 degrees Celsius.


The Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai is not picky with the soil. It can easily adapt to different soils and grow well as it is a hardy tree. However, loam is the ideal soil for growing a Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai. You can also use any other soil like sand, clay or salty soils as well. Make sure to use soil which has good drainage qualities as Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai do not like waterlogged soil.

Watering Requirements

Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai adjusts to moist soil well so you should water your bonsai daily during the growing season. However, Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai can also tolerate dry soil. They should be watered well after planting as the tree requires adequate water after sowing. You should adjust the watering according to the rainfall patterns in your area. You must also ensure that the water is not logging in the soil and is drained well. However, watering should be infrequent as the temperatures fall during winters.


You should give a balanced feed to the Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai every 2 weeks during Spring and summers. You can use liquid fertilizer to feed your plant. However, the plant does not require regular feeding when it grows old. You can reduce the frequency of feeding once your plant is old enough.


The Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai can grow in informal upright, slanting and semi- cascade forms. They can grow with single or multiple trunks. The sizes range from small to medium.

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How to Plant and Grow Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai?

Planting a healthy Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai or a Honey Locust bonsai is an elaborate task. You need to ensure that all the requirements are met and the environment conditions are apt for your Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai to grow into a healthy plant. The specifics about planting, growing and maintaining a Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai are described below:


Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai can be propagated through stem cuttings as well as seed propagation. You can take cuttings, coat them with root hormones and plant them in the fertile soil.

To propagate Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai from seeds, you need to soak the seeds in hot water for around 10 hours. The next step is to sow the seeds in a good seed compost. You can then place the mixture in a propagator and maintain the temperatures at 18 degrees Celsius to 21 degrees Celsius. The germination of seeds usually takes around 14 to 30 days. Once the seedlings have grown, you can put them in cooler conditions at temperatures around 15 degrees Celsius. Once the seedlings become large enough to handle, you can put them in pots and place them in sunlight.


The ideal time for pruning Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai is from late spring to fall as the sap flow is lessened during these seasons. You can prune the plant to remove dead or diseased branches and maintain a desirable shape by trimming the new growth. You can also prune your bonsai right to the trunk in winters. The Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai requires hard pruning.


The Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai needs to be re- potted every 2 – 3 years. Re- potting should be done in spring just prior to the bud burst. You should add some organic matter to the soil mix and then transplant your bonsai to it. You can reduce the size of the pot as per the requirements and size of your bonsai.

How to Care for Your Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai?

To care for your Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai, you need to ensure that the environment requirements are met. Along with that, you need to take care of the watering requirements, feeding requirements and much more. For your Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai to grow into a healthy plant, you must save it from frost and keep it in direct sunlight.

Even though Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai is an adaptive plant and does not have many specific requirements, it can die if the temperatures fall below -5 degrees Celsius. The soil should be moist but it should not be waterlogged. The ideal soil should have good draining capacity.

Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai requires regular pruning and repotting should also be done every 2 – 3 years. While repotting, root pruning should also be done.

Pests and Diseases

Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai can be harmed by various pests like webworms and mites. You can protect your plant from the attack of pests by keeping it in good condition and fulfilling all the requisites for the adequate environment. Providing the bonsai with adequate sunlight and water can help maintain a decent environment and keep pests away from your plant. Regularly removing or pruning the dead and damaged branches is also important to prevent the bonsai from the attacks of the pests.

Diseases like root collar rot and cankers can affect honey locusts. These diseases can girdle the stems and kill the plant. Root collar rot can be prevented by allowing the soil to dry out before the next watering session.

Concisely, for your Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai to be healthy you need to provide it with good sunlight, water, and fertile soil. If you follow the steps described above, you will surely have a pretty Gleditsia triacanthos Bonsai at your home.