Tsuga is a genus of coniferous trees primarily found in regions of North America as well as Eastern Asea. The genus consists of 8-10 species and most of them are grown for bonsai. These trees are quite large and can grow from anywhere between 10 m and 60 m depending on the species.
Tsuga has small needles that start light green in the spring and turn dark green as they mature. Old trees have grey-brown bark that is crumbly and highly furrowed. After the seeds have been discharged, the egg-shaped cones can stay on the tree for a longer time.
When it comes to rowing Tsuga trees into bonsai, they are highly flexible and can be grown in various styles. Due to this, they are gaining more and more popularity in the bonsai field in today’s time.
This guide is made to assist bonsai enthusiasts in learning more about the care of the Tsuga Bonsai Tree.
How long does it take to grow Tsuga Bonsai?
Tsuga bonsai is one of the slower-growing genera of trees and due to this, it can take more than 10 years for the bonsai to reach maturity. This is the approximate time it will take for the seed to mature to the stage where it can be cut. However, the exact amount of time it takes to grow as a bonsai tree depends on the species of Tsuga tree you are growing.
Let’s go into some specifics about how to plant, care for, and grow your Tsuga bonsai. Here are some key points to assist you when it comes to caring for your tree.
Position and lighting
Tsuga bonsai should be kept outside throughout most of spring and summer. They grow well in full-sun conditions and will be able to withstand most conditions. That being said, you will need to bring it in during the hottest days of summer as the sunlight can burn leaves and lead to issues. Similarly, the winter months will also be too cold for your bonsai and keeping it indoors in artificial light is suggested.
Tsuga bonsai can somewhat deal with both cold and hot weather but do not do well with extremes. For example, hotter summer months in regions near the quarter can often burn the leaves and it is best to avoid the sun. Similarly, while slight cold is bearable for this tree, you will have to keep it safe from frost which can build up.
A basic soil mix that is slightly acidic can be used for your Tsuga bonsai. Also, try to use soil that can let water pass through freely.
The Tsuga bonsai should be watered according to the soil. This means that you can look at the soil and only water your bonsai when it is dry. This ensures that your tree is given ample amounts of water while also avoiding water logging. As for the water itself, you can use slightly acidic water if possible.
Fertilizer should be used with Tsuga bonsai and will aid in its overall health and growth. The best choice would be if you use an organic fertilizer diluted to half-power once every month during the growing months.
As Tsuga bonsai are slow growers they can be arranged in various styles depending on your personal preference. The only style you should avoid for these trees is Broom.
How to Plant and Grow Tsuga Bonsai
You’re interested in the planting and growth of Tsuga bonsai. Awesome! To begin, you must first understand the Tsuga species that are available and those that are typically advised for bonsai.
- Tsuga heterophylla – Also known as the ‘Western Hemlock’ this species is native to regions of North America such as Alaska and California. It can reach immense heights of up to 40 meters tall and has glossy dark green leaves. Also, a unique characteristic of this species is its narrow trunk which isn’t shared by many others in the Tsuga genus.
- Tsuga canadensis – Sometimes referred to as the ‘Canadian Hemlock’ the Canadensis is mostly found in regions of Eastern America and is known for its unique ‘birds nest’ structure. This is a crown-like depression that forms in the foliage and is similar to the shape of a birds nest. As for its characteristics, this species has a broad trunk and grows up to 25 meters in height. It has mid-green leaves that are approximately 2 centimeters in length and taper down from its base.
- Tsuga diversifolia – This species is native to regions of Japan, which is also how it got its nickname, ‘Japanese Hemlock.’ It has a broad trunk that domes as you move up. Apart from this, the tree can reach heights of up to 15 meters and has an orange bark which is quite unique and appealing. The leaves are linear with a glossy look and range from between half a centimeter to two centimeters.
That being said, as every species is unique in its own way, you can’t call any of them better or worse. So, let’s learn how you can plant and grow your Tsuga bonsai.
Tsuga bonsai can be propagated in a variety of methods depending on the seasons and stage of the bonsai. During spring, it can be propagated directly from the seed while you should use cuttings during the summer months.
Pruning & Wiring
Tsuga bonsai are quite slow growers due to which you cannot prune them too quickly. While pruning is important, you should leave your bonsai to grow for around a year so that it can thicken its branches and develop. Following this, when you do plan on pruning your bonsai, you should do it in late winter for the best results. Make sure to pinch new growths to promote back budding and the overall outburst of your bonsai.
For writing, you don’t have to worry about timing as much and can do it at any time of the year. That being said, do make sure not to put too much strain on the bonsai with tight wires as it can cut new growths. These bonsai also mark easily which is why a guy wire is often the best option.
Repotting is an essential part of acclimating your bonsai to its size and environment. The same goes for the Tsuga bonsai. While it may be small, this genus needs to be repotted every 2-3 years for the first 10 years. After this, you can reduce this to once every 4 years during spring.
Repotting is quite a simple procedure once you get the hang of it and involves a few steps. First, take out your bonsai from its pot with all the surrounding roots and soil. After this, trim off any excess roots and overgrowth while also removing the outer soil. Following this, you can put it in a new pot or the original depending on your preference. Finally, fill in the emptied-out area with fresh solid and you’re done!
Once you have repotted your bonsai, make sure to provide it with ample amounts of water and care to ensure its growth and health.
How to Care for Your Tsuga Bonsai
These bonsai deal well in mildly cold and hot weather and can be left outside throughout most of the spring and summer. It is during the hottest months of summer and the coldest of winter that you should bring it inside and away from the elements. Apart from this, you can use any basic soil mixture that is slightly acidic for the Tsuga bonsai.
For placement, you can keep this bonsai in full-sun or semi-shade conditions depending on the weather and temperature. You should water your bonsai whenever the soil is dry to ensure that it has enough water but not enough to be waterlogged. When it comes to repotting, Tsuga bonsai should be repotted every 2-3 years while gradually acclimating to smaller pots.
Pests & Diseases
Tsuga trees are quite hardy when it comes to pests and diseases. Thanks to this, your bonsai should not give you too much trouble as long as you take care of it. That being said, here are some ailments and critters you can keep in mind for safety –
- Scale – Scale are tiny insects that latch onto the underside of your leaves and suck out the internal juices. They can be quite harmful to your bonsai so it is important to get rid of them fast. For this, you should use insecticide and also remove them individually with a brush or pick.
- Slugs – These slow-moving bugs are not a harm to your plant themselves but can indirectly lead to many issues. This is because they transfer various germs and bacteria with them which can cause issues such as fungi infestations or worse. So, be sure to watch for slugs and keep them away.
- Crown – Crown causes the leaves to shrink and turn a lighter green color than usual.
- Fungi – Fungi are known to create leaf spots, but they are usually controllable.