Introduction to the Species

The Ilex Bonsai (Japanese Holly Bonsai) is endemic to Japan, Korea, and portions of Russia. The genus has roughly 400 species, including both evergreen and seasonal trees. Ilex (Japanese Holly) is a gratifying Bonsai endeavor because of its dark green leaves, little white blossoms, and blackberries. It is also a good choice for beginners in Bonsai. Maintain a temperature of 5 degrees Celsius/41 degrees Fahrenheit (ca. 5 °C) for your Japanese Holly Bonsai. In the moderate shade to direct sunlight during the summer months, people prefer keeping it outside.

Position the tree on a balcony that gets partial or full sunlight. To generate dormant months for your Japanese Holly, place it in a cold, unheated area that is well-lit during the wintertime. East China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan are all home to the Japanese Holly. It’s a little evergreen shrub with leaf buds, tiny white blooms, and black fruits that can withstand a lot of trimming.

About Ilex Bonsai Tree

It’s great for forming dense hedges, and it’s often confused for boxwood. The Ilex bonsai has little white blooms and tiny black lustrous fruits and has tiny green leaves. Fruits will only ripen if both female and male trees are in proximity and blossoming at about the same time. Like a bonsai tree, the Ilex is highly popular. Its often advertised as an indoor bonsai, but it thrives outside and requires a chilly environment in the winter. When cultivated in the field, it is cold resistant, but in a bonsai container. Ilex ‘Convexa’ has arched leaflets and blooms much more compactly. Species used for Bonsai are ‘Strokes and ‘Ivory Tower’. Take a glance at our Bonsai tree recognition instructions if you need help to recognize your tree.

How Long Does It Take to Grow Ilex Bonsai Tree

So, how long until it’s fully matured? A bonsai tree takes about 10-15 years to mature. This varies depending on various conditions and variables, such as the bonsai tree, climate, lighting, etc. It takes about four years from seed to have a bonsai tree that can be wired and styled.


If your bonsai does not get enough direct sunlight, its growth will slow and eventually stop. If this continues for an extended period, your tree will die. Yellowing leaves are a sign of low light. These leaves will eventually dry out and fall off the tree. It can grow under T8 fluorescent light if kept for 16 to 17 hours.


Prefer daytime temperatures of 64 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (ca. 24 °C) and nighttime temperatures of 57 to 61 degrees Fahrenheit (ca. 16 °C). This temperature range is the average indoor temperature in most homes during the winter. Growers should avoid cold bonsai feet and roots.


When your bonsai is indoors during the winter, we propose to implement it in a shallow tray covered with a layer of sand and water. As the water evaporates, it adds moisture to the area around the tree, reducing the amount of water wasted on modern heat pumps,

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How to Plant and Grow Ilex (Japanese Holly) Bonsai Tree

The Ilex Bonsai is an all-year-round evergreen. It requires plenty of natural light, but as a bonsai, it’s best to keep it in the shadow during the hottest summer days. When planting an Ilex in a bonsai pot, protect it from harsh frosts and wind gusts in the winter. In the coldest months, a cold frame would be great.


Ilex Bonsai can be grown from seeds or cuttings. From seed to seedling, you must use cold pre-treatment, and then plant in early to late spring. Be patient as sprouting can take up to three years to develop. Cuttings are the simplest way to start a new Ilex Crenata bonsai, especially if taken from the current year’s bloom. Cut new shoots from a Japanese Holly in the early to late spring and start it in a different bonsai container.

Clippings are the most effective way to propagate Japanese Holly. You can collect samples from semi-hardwood sections at the end of the warmer months. Plants can be grown from seed, but it may take two years.


Bonsai soil must meet three distinct criteria: Water retention, drainage, and aeration must all be possible. The soil must be able to contain and keep enough hydration while allowing water to drain quickly from the pot. Bonsai soil elements must be large enough to allow openings to deliver oxygen to the stems and micro bacteria.


During the planting season, use a regulated liquid fertilizer once a week. During the planting season, you can also add solid organic fertilizer once a month.

Pruning and Electric Wiring

After four blossoms have formed, new branches are reduced to two leaves. If you want blooms and food to develop in the early summer, stop pruning. The optimal time to wire is from late spring through early summer. Bend the branches carefully because they are fairly brittle. Take care not to scratch the bark with the wire, since it is easily damaged.

Pruning and wiring are essential parts of every Bonsai’s development. Cut all new sprouts on your Japanese Holly apart from two or three nearest to the trunk in earlier to late spring. If desired, you can store new shoots for propagation. Wiring, another bonsai training method, can be difficult since the limbs can be fragile. So only apply it during the spring and summer crop period, taking care not to wrap the branches too firmly and cut off the tree’s airflow.

How to Care For Your Ilex Bonsai Tree

Ilex Bonsai is the miniature reproduction of natural tree forms. This art form was exercised for centuries in Japan and China. Bonsai are completely reliant on you for care. Your bonsai will stay healthy, gorgeous, and miniature if properly cared for many years. Few tips to care for your Ilex bonsai are:


Every other year in the spring, replant with root clipping. Repotting should be done soon as the tree begins to grow in springtime, about the period the buds were about to bloom. Akadama, pumice, and a little humus make a good soil combination.

Once a year, re-pot your Ilex bonsai file. When the buds start to bloom in late spring, this is the best time to do it. Gently take the tree out from the pot to see if the branches are becoming pot bound to determine if it’s time to re-pot your Ilex bonsai. If that’s the case, it’s time to re-pot. If they appear to be in good condition, inspect them again in a year. Repot into a ceramic Bonsai pot that is 1-3 inches (ca. 8 cm) deep and a few inches broader than the previous pot. Because most potting soils are too fine, you can add potting bark to the mix to help retain humidity.


Don’t let Ilex totally dry out. As immediately as the surface soil becomes dry, water it meticulously. It is a daily task to water an Ilex Bonsai. For starters, these trees should be kept in a humidity tray. Place the container in the humidity tray, but keep it from touching the tray. Raise the pot well above the tray’s waterline with rocks or tiny gravel. Maintain a constant supply of water to provide a more moist environment for the tree’s leaflets. A Japanese Holly will benefit from misting on a regular basis.

When the topsoil is still moist but not saturated, water your Japanese Holly / Ilex Bonsai. During the summer, your bonsai will require extra hydration, and you must check the grounds on a daily basis. Use half-strength bonsai or liquid fertilizer in combination with watering.


This species may be kept inside with care. A cold atmosphere and mist spraying are advised. Maintaining the tree in the manner indicated below is more complicated.

The likelihood of success is boosted if cool surroundings such as covered porches, conservatories, and sun chambers can be supplied. In the summer, these may be too hot, and the tree should be transferred outside.

Pinching and Trimming

Trimming and pinching your tree keeps it small. Pinch and clip the new shoots back to the safest point possible. It’s never a good idea to eliminate all the young shoots. A small amount should be left to ensure the tree’s health. Pinching and trimming of tropical and sub-tropical bonsai trees are required throughout the year. Because trees grow at varying rates, it’s important to assess each tree’s growth rate and adapt your cutting and pinching accordingly.

Potential Pest and diseases

The Ilex Bonsai is susceptible to spider mites, leaf-miner moths, and vine weevils. Because your bonsai is a small tree, it may be treated like any other tree for pests and diseases.


Some bonsai trees can live for over a century. The oldest Ilex bonsai tree dates back over 1000 years! Your tree will only live this long if you maintain and care for it on a regular basis. Compared to similar species in nature, it lives longer.