Native to the Caribbean region, Central and South America, Neea is from the Nyctaginaceae family. It is a genus of the kingdom Plants. Neea is its botanical name. It has over 140 species. The species popularly used for a bonsai is the Neea Buxifolia species.
The members are also known as Nia, Neea, Tropical Boxwood or Saltwood. It is a stiff shrub with twig-like branches. The flowers are bright pink. The Neea Buxifolia tree has small red fruits. It is a tropical plant. The Neea Buxifolia tree has over 140 species. It is an understory tree.
Botanists Jose Pavon and Hipolito Ruiz are credited for naming the genus Neea to honor Botanist Luis Nee. The Neea Buxifolia was known as Eggersia Buxifolia earlier.
Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Leeward Is., Mexico, are places where the tree is found. Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, the southwest Caribbean, Suriname, Venezuela and Venezuelan Antilles are few other places where the tree grows.
With a trunk of circumference 5 to 6 inches (12.7 to 15.24 cm), the Neea Buxifolia tree grows up to a height of 15 ft (4.57 m). The leaves are ¼ inch (0.635 cm) long and 4 to 9 mm (0.15 to 0.35 inch)wide. They are narrow and oblong with a round apex. They grow on short stems. The branches and twigs grow laterally. It has a smooth, gray bark. The Neea Buxifolia tree blossoms in spring and summer. The flowers look like hanging bells. During summer, it produces small red fruits. It has a weak taproot, and lateral and fine roots. All the roots are of brownish orange shade.
Tiny leaves and deep red color of the new shoots make the Neea Buxifolia tree a perfect specimen for bonsai. The twig-like branches grow closely packed which creates a dense silhouette making it a beautiful bonsai.
How long does it take to grow Neea Buxifolia Bonsai?
Almost all bonsai take minimum 10 to 15 years to reach full maturity. They become large enough to be modified as a bonsai after a minimum of 4 to 5 years from planting it.
The branches and twigs of the Neea Buxifolia tree has a rapid growth habit. You can grow it as an annual. It can be grown in containers.
Before discussing how you can plant and grow your Neea Buxifolia bonsai, let us go through the best conditions and requirements needed for the Neea Buxifolia bonsai tree care.
Position and lighting
The Neea Buxifolia tree prefers the full sun but during the summer, it will need some protection. It should be grown in partial shade or filtered sun. When trained as a bonsai, the Neea Buxifolia tree needs ‘high light’ when placed indoors. During the spring and summer, it loves being outdoors. At night, care should be taken to keep the bonsai near a window facing south. The temperature drops below 45 C. In the absence of south-facing window, it can be placed in the east or west direction, too. If you place the bonsai facing north, then grow lights should be provided to supplement the amount of light needed. It will ensure the bonsai to remain healthy. During winter, the tree should remain indoors. Give it 4 to 6 hours of sunlight daily.
The ideal temperature for the Neea Buxifolia bonsai tree is 40 F minimum. It is best suited in the USDA zone 10, to 1.7 °C (35.06 °F), and zone 11, above 4.5 °C (40.1 °F).
The Neea Buxifolia bonsai tree loves humidity. During the winter, keep a shallow tray filled with water and a layer of gravel, under it. Through evaporation of the water, the tree receives the extra amount of moisture lost due to heating systems.
Moist and well draining soil is most suitable for Neea Buxifolia bonsai tree. It also grows in heavy limestone soils.
The Neea Buxifolia bonsai tree requires adequate amount of water. It must never be allowed to dry out. It needs regular watering to keep the soil from drying out completely. The Neea Buxifolia bonsai likes to stay moist. But do not over water. It does not tolerate sogginess.
Fertilizer is very essential to keep the Neea Buxifolia bonsai tree healthy. Since the amount of soil is very small, fertilizing helps in filling up the necessary nutrients from time to time. Use a liquid fertilizer, twice a month. This bonsai also loves feeding on foliar fertilizer. Spray a water-soluble fertilizer every alternate month. Iron and calcium are two very essential trace elements for this bonsai. They should be fed twice a year. In spring, chelated iron must be applied 2 or 3 times over the tree as well as the roots.
The Neea Buxifolia bonsai tree can be styled according to its growth pattern. Broom and umbrella styles are pretty easy to achieve, but the formal upright style is hard to manage. Another style suitable for this bonsai is the shohin style. The height of the tree is less than 25 cm in this style, even smaller compared to a bonsai. The shohin style tree will fit in your hand. When the Neea Buxifolia bonsai is trained as a shohin, more watering and feeding is required.
How to plant and grow Neea Buxifolia Bonsai
Bonsais are intentionally trained to retain a dwarf form by pruning the branches and roots of regular trees. It is a very time-consuming process. They have to be painstakingly taken care of. When grown with utmost care and love, bonsai tend to live for many years.
The Neea Buxifolia bonsai tree requires adequate sun and water to grow.
TheNeea Buxifolia bonsai tree can be propagated from cuttings and seeds, and by air-layering. Branch cuttings must be done from March to June. For the shohin style, propagation from seeds is useful.
Pruning and wiring
The branches of the Neea Buxifolia bonsai tree do not grow in any particular form. In tropical regions, they should be pruned throughout the year. The branches and twigs grow very fast. Trimming and pinching are essential frequently. It helps in keeping the tree in its miniature form. Any new growth should be pinched and trimmed back as far as safely possible. But do not remove them all together. The unpredictable growth pattern of the branches makes wiring difficult. The matured branches become very brittle and cannot be wired.
The Neea Buxifolia bonsai tree should be repotted annually during the young stage. The roots should be hard pruned. But it is not advisable to root prune until necessary. After maturing, repotting should be performed every 3 to 5 years. Those in tropical locations can be repotted at any time throughout the year. Bounding the roots increases flowering. If the roots come out from the bottom of the pot, you will know it is time to repot it. Mid-summer is best suitable for repotting the Neea Buxifolia bonsai tree.
Remove the Neea Buxifolia bonsai and all of its soil from the pot. Trim around 1/3rd of the root mass and repot it. Thorough watering the bonsai after repotting is a must.
How to care for your Neea Buxifolia Bonsai
When you reproduce natural trees in miniatures, they are called bonsai. Proper care is very essential to maintain a healthy and beautiful bonsai. Its beauty increases with time. Trees of the tropical and sub-tropical regions are cultivated as indoor bonsai.
Care for indoor bonsai varies from the care needed for indoor potted plants. Tropical trees get plenty of light and humidity in their natural environment. When they are trained as indoor bonsai, the most important detail to remember is to provide them with sufficient light and humidity. If they do not get the required amount of light, they will not die immediately but their growth rate will decrease weakening the plant. Indoor bonsai should placed in front of a bright window. Even if after placing in a bright location, the amount of light required is not enough, use artificial lights to compensate the needed amount.
Requirement of high humidity is an important factor of a tropical tree. Indoors, you can provide your bonsai with high humidity by misting and by placing it on a tray filled with water and gravel.
Watering and feeding an indoor bonsai will depend on the particular species used for the bonsai. The tree and its soil will tell you when it needs water and fertilizer. Always look for the signs. Never water or feed according to some instructions label.
Temperature requirement of tropical trees are also relatively high. The normal room temperature of the living room will suffice its temperature requirement.
Pests and diseases
Occasional problems of aphids, mealy bugs, and scales occur in the Neea Buxifolia bonsai tree. Spraying insecticides will get rid of them.
The Neea Buxifolia bonsai makes a lovely indoor bonsai. All the twists and turns of the branches make it a wonderful collection for a bonsai enthusiast.