Parthenocissus is a genus of climbing plants from the grape family consisting of more than 10 unique species. These plants are found across the world with the highest density being in areas of North America and the Himalayas. The plants are grown for various instances such as their berries as well as for ornamental purposes.
Parthenocissus is most commonly known for its ability to form seeds without pollination. Due to this, their name is also derived from the Greek word for virgin ivy. Apart from this, the Parthenocissus leaves range from having one to seven individual leaflets depending on the region and species.
Another notable fact about this genus is that the Parthenocissus Tricuspidata species, a.k.a Boston Ivy, is known to cause a reaction in human skin similar to the infamous ‘Poison Ivy’. This is mostly an allergic skin reaction and leads to rashes, irritations, and sneezing in people who have the allergy.
Parthenocissus trees are becoming increasingly popular for rowing into bonsai on a daily basis. Because of their beautiful fruits and climbing growth, many bonsai cultivators are gradually cultivating these trees.
This guide was created to assist bonsai enthusiasts in learning more about the care of the Parthenocissus Bonsai Tree.
How long does it take to grow Parthenocissus Bonsai?
Parthenocissus bonsai is considered to be a fast-growing species and will be able to reach maturity within 10 years for most species. This is the approximate time it will take for the seed to mature to the point where it can be cut. That stated, the length of time it takes to grow as a bonsai depends on the precise kind of Parthenocissus tree you’re growing.
Let’s go into some specifics about how to plant, care for, and cultivate your Parthenocissus bonsai. Here are some fundamentals to assist you to care for your tree.
Position and lighting
Parthenocissus bonsai grow best when kept in full sun conditions especially during spring. That being said, during the summer months when the sun is at its peak during midday, it is advisable to bring your bonsai inside to avoid any chances of burning on the leaves. Also, during the winter months, if the temperatures get too cold you can opt for an indoor location that gets ample amounts of sunlight to protect it from the harsh winter climate.
For optimal growth, Parthenocissus bonsai should be shielded from colder winter conditions during their early years. Apart from that, these bonsai are hardy in warmer climates and can mostly withstand spring and summer temperatures.
These bonsai are quite strong and can grow well in most types of soil. However, you can give preference to slightly acidic soil as it is known to promote overall bonsai health.
Parthenocissus require regular watering every 2-3 days depending on the climate and soil it is in. This is because long periods of dryness or waterlogging can lead to root rot and other issues which are fatal for bonsai in serious cases. So, make sure you water your bonsai regularly and keep the soil moist.
In terms of feeding, you should give your Parthenocissus bonsai diluted all-purpose fertilizer once every two weeks. This helps improve the nutrient load in the soil and will promote plant health. This is also important because lack of feeding often leads to the breakage of leaves in these bonsai.
Parthenocissus bonsai can be grown in a variety of styles such as semi-cascade, cascade, and clump styles. This is thanks to the plant climbing growth pattern which allows it to create a dense base for such styles.
How to Plant and Grow Parthenocissus Bonsai
You would like to learn how to grow and plant Parthenocissus bonsai. Wonderful! But, you should first learn the Parthenocissus species which are widely available and those that are generally suggested for bonsai.
- Parthenocissus quinquefolia – This species is native to regions of North America such as Canada and the eastern United States. Its name is derived from the Greek word for ‘five leaved’ which is in reference to its leaves which are comprised of 5 individual leaflets.
- Parthenocissus inserta – Also known as the false Virginia Creeper, this species is also found in areas of North America and is a climbing woody vine. Also, it can grow to lengths of up to 20 meters with smaller branches acting as hooks for support.
- Parthenocissus semicordata – This species is native to the Himalayas and has a unique leaf design as compared to others. With 3 leaflets instead of the common 5, these plants are quite unique and easily spotted amongst the genus.
- Parthenocissus triscuspidata – Commonly known as the Boston Ivy, this species of Parthenocissus is found in regions of China, Korea, and Japan. Unlike most other species, it has 3-lobed leaves and is one of the faster growers in the genus. Being able to reach up to 20 cm in length, this species is commonly grown as bonsai primarily due to its beautiful bright green color.
That being said, each species has distinct characteristics, and none can be said to be superior to the others. Now, let’s get into the specifics of planting and growing your own Parthenocissus bonsai.
The most common methods for propagation of the Parthenocissus bonsai are cuttings and layerings. These can be done at any time throughout the year and are quite easy as compared to other trees.
Pruning and wiring
When it comes to pruning and wiring, this plant requires regular pruning due to its fast growth. This is because it is a climbing plant and the vine-like structure will span out aggressively unless trimmed. That being said, while pruning is important, be sure to use a steady hand and avoid cutting any of the main branches. This is because unnecessary cuts can lead to stress and problems for the plant.
It is also suggested to hold off on any trimmings and curing until early spring when the plant is the most hardy. This will allow it to grow back properly and quickly. Apart from this, wiring is not very necessary as the vines can be molded and adjusted easily.
Repotting is an essential part of growing a bonsai as it keeps your tree within the required size as well as improves root density. As for the Parthenocissus bonsai, for most species, you can stick to repotting once every 2 years. However, for some more aggressively growing species, repotting yearly might be necessary. The best way to find out is by looking at the roots and to repot once they start growing too far out.
For repotting, start off by removing the plant from its pot with all the surrounding roots and soil. Then, start snipping off any excess roots as well as soil that is attached to them. Once this is done, place the bonsai back into the original or a new pot and fill the freed up space with fresh soil. Post completion, be sure to give your plant enough water to ensure that it grows properly.
How to Care for Your Parthenocissus Bonsai
These plants are quite hardy and can withstand a broad range of temperatures efficiently. That being said, during their earlier years, be sure to keep the bonsai indoors during the day in summer and at night in winter when temperatures are most extreme. As for soil, you can use slightly acidic soil to grow the Parthenocissus bonsai.
Parthenocissus bonsai should be grown in full sun or semi-shade for optimal growth. To keep the leaves in pristine condition, keep them away from direct daytime sunlight and strong winds. During the summer, they should be watered on a regular basis to keep the soil moist. In terms of repotting, Parthenocissus bonsai can be repotted every 1-2 years, depending on the species and its growth speed.
Pests are often an issue with bonsai and while it isn’t a severe problem with Parthenocissus bonsai, you will still need to watch out for some critters. Some of the most common pests that can affect Parthenocissus bonsai are –
- Caterpillars – These pests are mostly harmless but in larger numbers, can feed on your plant’s leaves and leave them with many bites and marks.
- Slugs – Slugs themselves aren’t very harmful but they act as a method of transmission for various fungi and diseases. Thus, they can end up being quite problematic for your bonsai.
Parthenocissus bonsai are quite disease and ailment resistant as long as they are properly cared for. However, they are not invincible, and the following diseases should be avoided –
- Root Rot – Overwatering and a lack of good drainage are the causes of root rot. If your bonsai becomes infected, its roots will begin to rot and turn brown while the leaves will discolor. In more severe cases, branches will weaken and your bonsai’s growth will be stunted up till a fatal point.
- Canker – Pale leaves, slow growth, and swollen bark are symptoms of this disease. Too much nitrogen in the fertilizer or an unhealed wound after pruning are two possible causes.