Bonsai is considered the art and science of aesthetic miniaturization of trees and plants in pots or containers. In Japanese, a bonsai means “tray-planted”.
A bonsai plant is not really a dwarf plant but has rather equal characteristics to the full-sized version of the flowering plant.
The main objective of the art of creating bonsai plants is to create a beautiful tree or plant, and even garden and landscape, in a miniature size. A flowering perennial grown as bonsai is known as a Flowering Bonsai.
A Flowering Bonsai, like any other plant, requires watering, feeding, pruning, wiring, and training at regular intervals for its healthy growth and development.
A bonsai is grown in small pots or containers to obtain the desired shape by using wire coils. The three most essential factors to consider when growing bonsai include the right selection of pots, the position of the bonsai in the container, and choosing the desired and appropriate bonsai species.
In this guide, we will share helpful information about Flowering Bonsai Trees and we will teach you how to correctly take care of them. We will be giving you in-depth details about these topics relating to Flowering Bonsai Trees.
- Facts About Flowering Bonsai
- General Care Tips – How To Care For Your Flowering Bonsai
- Growing Conditions and Placement
- Right Watering Technique
- Feeding or Applying Fertilizers
- Pruning, Wiring and Shaping Flowering Bonsai
- Re-potting and Growing Medium
- Pests and Diseases
Bonsai means “tray planted” in Japanese. It is the art of miniaturizing plants in containers strictly for aesthetics and it has been practiced for centuries. The true bonsai hobbyist will create a landscaped environment in the container, which adds to the plant’s charm.
Flowering bonsai plants require regular watering, feeding, training and pruning like other ornamental and flowering plants. They’re grown in small containers and are trained with wire coils to induce their desired shape and structure.
Within that framework, 3 major components are crucial:
- Container Selection
- Positioning Within the Container
- Plant Variety
The container could be anything whimsical or attractive. However, most bonsai hobbyists select a container with an Asian or Eastern flair. Often, something with a pagoda, colored pebbles, a tiny park bench and other elements that make up a mini landscape is used. The creation of a miniature garden also enhances a bonsai’s allure.
Within the world of bonsai, there are four distinctive sizes: miniature, small, medium and average. The miniatures, usually included in landscaped displays, may reach two inches high at maturity, about five years old.
Small plants range from two inches to six inches high and take from five to ten years to mature. The medium sized bonsai will grow to between six and twelve inches in about three years. An average size bonsai can grow as tall as two feet high in about three years.
Bonsai flowering plants consist of two basic varieties:
Koten – Like most trees, Koten are wider at the base, tapering off at the top.
Bunjin – This is referred to as a Comic or Informal variety. It’s wider at the top than at the base.
1) Facts About Flowering Bonsai
Bonsai trees are in full bloom, and many of them bear fruits which make a spectacular sight. Learn the facts about flowering bonsai plants today!
Fact #1: The four sizes of flowering bonsais are the miniature, small size, medium size, and the average size. Miniature flowering bonsais grow up to 2 inches in height, and they mature in about 5 years. Small flowering bonsai trees reach a height from 2 to 6 inches and can take 5 to 10 years to mature. Medium-sized flowering bonsais grow from 6 to 12 inches. Average flowering bonsai trees grow up to 2 feet. Medium-sized and average flowering bonsai trees can be produced in about 3 years time.
Fact #2: There are two basic growing styles of flowering bonsai plants. They are the Classic Style or “Koten” and the Informal or Comic Style or “Bunjin”. The Classic Style is a type of bonsai growing style with a wider trunk at the base, and it tapers off towards the top. The Informal style is the opposite of classic style, where the top end is wider as compared to the trunk.
Fact #3: You can start Flowering bonsai plants either from seeds or stem cuttings. It is also to start from natural stunted flowering trees or from young flowering trees transplanted into pots.
Fact #4: If proper care is given to a flowering bonsai, it can live and survive for hundreds of years. The most popular species of bonsai trees are the Japanese Maples, specifically the famous Laceleaf varieties.
Most Popular Flowering Bonsai Trees
In no particular order, here are the most popular flowering bonsai trees you can grow and enjoy!
- Azalea Bonsai
- Bougainvillea Bonsai
- Shohin Crabapple
- Wisteria Bonsai
- Apple Bonsai Tree
- Azalea Bonsai with flowers
- Callicarpa Japonica Bonsai
- Prunus Mume or Japanese Apricot
Bonsai enthusiasts and hobbyists love the art and science of bonsai growing experience. Always remember that every bonsai tree is unique, specifically designed to inspire people and become a source of aesthetic value in a home, office, or any setting.
Once you start the process of bonsai growing, and see and realize how successfully you can create a beautiful and healthy bonsai, you’ll never fail and cease to enjoy its magnificent beauty and the sweet fruits of your hard work and labor.
2) General Care Tips – How To Care For Your Flowering Bonsai
Bonsais require the same concern for the standard elements of plant care, watering, sunlight, soil and pruning. However, because of their size and the intent to keep bonsais stunted, the specifics of those elements are a bit different than regular plants.
Of all the elements of bonsai care, watering is the most crucial. While each species has different specific requirements, the one common rule is never let your bonsai get completely dry.
Generally, the rule is to water when the top soil looks dry. Japanese bonsai experts use a chopstick as a dipstick to test the depth of moisture in the soil.
Another means of testing is to test the moisture with your finger. If the soil feels dry at all, it needs watering. Once you get more familiar with your bonsai’s weight in the pot, you’ll be able to tell if it needs water simply by hefting it. The weight will be the barometer.
For those that like to use technology, there is the moisture meter. It has a prong that you insert into the soil. The meter will indicate the moisture level and you can water accordingly.
Unlike regular houseplants, an automated watering cycle is not recommended for bonsais; each species and variety has individual requirements.
Generally, evergreens require only a weekly watering during winter months and daily watering during the summer. Because they are growing in much less soil than a normal plant, watering a bonsai should be complete so that the soil is moistened throughout.
Sunlight is also very important to the health and growth of your bonsai; bonsais should be placed in a location that gets direct unfiltered sunlight. There should be no curtains or shades between the bonsai and the sunlight.
Usually, a good southern exposure window with a long day of sunlight is the best location. However, when trimming, pruning or re-potting, it is best to keep it out of direct sunlight until the plant has revitalized itself by acclimating.
Again, each individual plant has unique requirements; do the research for your individual bonsai.
Using bonsai potting soil is recommended because bonsai potting soil is unique. Its ingredients allow water to drain while still retaining the right amount of moisture for the bonsai. It lets the roots breathe without being drowned in excessive moisture that compacts and strangles the root system.
There are two basic types of bonsai soil, the tropical/subtropical mixture and the conifer mixture. When re-potting your bonsai, you should block the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. The most effective way to do that is to place a very small broken shard of cln re-potting.
Bonsai fertilizer should contain three elements: phosphorous, nitrogen and potash.
Newly purchased bonsais normally do not require immediate pruning. Pruning and/or trimming are necessary to shape the plant to your desired looks. In addition, it’s important to maintain a balance between top growth and root growth. Too much root and the top will not grow properly; too much top growth and the roots may suffer.
Initial shaping of the tree is performed when the tree is very young. Special tools like bonsai shears or butterfly shears are utilized by the professionals. Their purpose is to remove light branches, unattractive growth and leaves. Heavier branches are removed by using a concave cutter; this tool efficiently removes the thicker branches without scarring the tree.
Interesting Flowering Bonsai Facts
- With proper care, your bonsai could live for hundreds of years.
- Originally known as pun-sai thousands of years ago, growing bonsai was the art of growing unique specimens in pots. Due to their individual growing, pruning and trimming, each one was a one-of-a-kind plant.
- Flowering bonsais can be generated from cuttings, seeds, young trees or by transplanting a stunted tree into a container.
- The most popular varieties of bonsais are Japanese Maples, the Laceleaf in particular.
Bonsai hobbyists love the bonsai growing experience. Each tree is a unique plant designed by the hobbyist. Once you begin the process and see how successfully you can create a beautiful bonsai, you’ll never cease to enjoy its beauty or the fruits of your labor.
3) Growing Conditions and Placement
Flowering Bonsai is one of the most famous bonsai species and many people are fascinated with the fruits on miniature trees. But there are several things you need to pay attention to and consider if you want to ensure that your flowering bonsai tree will produce your desired fruits and flowers.
Generally, fruit-bearing and flowering bonsai species are styled and treated using the same techniques applied to other bonsai species. But if your flowering bonsai don’t get sufficient sunlight, or if they are pruned too often or at the wrong time, grow too roughly because of high level of nitrogen fertilizer or the compost soil gets too dry, then any of these will bring your great disappointment and may result in no fruit or flower on your flowering bonsai tree.
Tips in Taking Care Flowering Bonsai
Tip #1: The special aspect of fertilizing flowering bonsai to produce fruits or flowers include low nitrogen, higher phosphorus, and potassium.
Tip #2: It is important that your flowering bonsai gets adequate sunlight exposure, and never allow the soil to dry out completely, most especially when fruits and flowers develop.
Tip #3: When your bonsai tree is in bloom, do not allow the flowers to get wet because they will wilt faster if you do so. Protect your flowering bonsai trees against the rain. Make sure to only water the soil when needed to enjoy the beautiful sight of your bonsai much longer.
Tip #4: Flowering bonsai trees have varying growth patterns that you need to consider when you are pruning your flowering bonsai tree.
Tip #5: The lower branches of Azaleas grow stronger than their apex, so they shouldn’t be pruned too harshly and heavily. The flower bonsai buds form in the summer for the next year, so it is important to trim your azalea right after the flowering stage, and then avoid pruning if you want fruits or flowers in the following year.
Tip #6: The or Prunus mume or Japanese apricot bonsai trees flowers late in winter or early spring just before their leaves emerge. During this time, you may want to shorten the branches after the flowering stage, but you need to identify the buds. You have to make sure that there is at least one leaf left at the end of the bonsai twig. If you just cut a branch and no leaf bud is left, the branch might die.
Tip #7: There are many bonsai species that flower toward the end of the new bonsai shoots, such as pomegranate, bougainvillea, potentilla, snow rose, Lagerstroemia, and Chinese quince. If you want these flowering bonsai trees to develop, you should not trim the shoots until the bonsai tree has flowered.
Tip #8: Many flowering bonsai tree species flower on very short shoots of the previous growing years, such as crabapple, blackthorn, hawthorn, firethorn, and flowering Chinese quince. It is important to shorten the long shoots. Make sure you leave the short bonsai shoots intact.
Tip #9: If your bonsai tree bears a great number of fruits or flower too abundantly. you need to thin out the fruits or flowers to prevent the bonsai tree from getting sick or weakly. The fruits or flowers should be distributed evenly on your bonsai tree and they should have the same size. Take off some flowers and fruits where they are too many in one place, plucking the largest and the smallest to achieve balance.
Tip #10: Watch out for birds near your flowering bonsai because they love to eat the Ilex berries as well as similar and other fruit-bearing species.
Growing and caring for flowering bonsai trees are pretty much the same with other bonsai species. With the information you have just learned today, you are able to exactly apply the specific skills required for the flowering bonsai.
4) Right Watering Technique
Watering a flowering bonsai is pretty much the same as other bonsai species. You have to know exactly the perfect time your bonsai needs watering. Generally, you need to water your bonsai if it feels slightly dry but not completely dry because waiting for the soil to be completely dry out before watering may jeopardize the healthy growth and survival of your bonsai.
Factors Affecting the Right Watering Technique
Size of the Container
Generally, the soil of a bonsai tree is fast-draining and does not retain plenty of water. Remember that the size of the container where your flowering bonsai is growing will also affect the time and the manner how you will water your bonsai tree. When it comes to water capacity, smaller pots can hold soil-less as compared to larger containers and they may need watering 2 to 3 times a day.
Seasonal Flowering Bonsai Growth
Whether your flowering bonsai tree is actively growing, its growth is a major factor in the amount of water your bonsai tree would require. Bonsai trees that are entering the dormancy stage would require less water. If your bonsai tree is bearing fruit or flowering, it needs additional watering to support the nutrient and water requirement of those fruits and flowers.
Location or Placement of Bonsai
The location or placement of your flowering bonsai tree has a huge impact on the amount of water it will need. If your flowering bonsai tree is sitting in full exposure to the sun during summer, you’ll need to water it several times in a day. If your bonsai tree is sitting on your shaded porch or under an awning, it won’t dry out fast, so watering once every two days or a couple of days is totally fine.
Best Watering Techniques for Bonsai
This is a type of watering technique that you’re probably most familiar with if you ever watered a container garden. It requires a water hose with attachment or watering can that creates a gentle stream of water that simulates rainfall. Hold the hose or the watering can over your bonsai tree for 30 to 60 seconds so that the water will be able to thoroughly saturate the soil.
This is the easier watering technique which is ideal for watering small and potted plants. In this method, you need to fill a small container or tub with water.
Gently set your flowering bonsai tree into the water until it reaches the rim of the bonsai pot. Just leave your bonsai sitting into the water for up to 30 minutes. You don’t have to worry because your bonsai tree won’t drown because it is only immersed for a short period of time.
Both watering techniques can get the job done. As you continue caring for your bonsai, you’ll discover what technique is best for you and your bonsai. Top-watering might be easier and suitable for you if you have a large bonsai tree, or if you have several trees that need to be watered effectively and quickly. On the other hand, bottom-watering is more suitable if you only have one tree.
5) Feeding or Applying Fertilizers
Flowering bonsai trees need nutrients, most especially potassium that assists the plant in producing fruits and flowers. Nitrogen helps your bonsai continue to grow stems steadily and produce healthy leaves.
On the other hand, phosphorus nourishes and strengthens the roots, pushing them to grow.
Each major nutrient needs to be present in a varying and balanced amount, depending on the type of bonsai tree species, the soil, and the time of year. Indoor bonsai plants need fertilizing all year round, and it is usually dependent on the local environment.
The soil, its type and depth, and the type of bonsai species you have will largely influence the amount of fertilizer that your bonsai receives. When it comes to the right composition of feed, it should always contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium or NPK. Chelated iron is also needed by your bonsai aside from NPK.
Bonsai trees absorb synthetic nutrients through their foliage so it’s important that you follow the suggested directions of the manufacturer when it comes to foliar feeding.
The bonsai leaves can quickly and easily burn if your bonsai plant’s foliar is fed under direct sunlight. Misting the foliage is the best when administering a synthetic fertilizer.
Inspect any presence of pests hiding underneath the bonsai leaves. Make sure that the wires are not channeling into the bonsai bark.
Things You Need to Prepare
When it comes to fertilizing to your Flowering bonsai tree, the things you will need are pretty much the same with other types of bonsai species. You need to prepare the solid or liquid fertilizer, and the appropriate measuring cups and receptacles. Prepare the tea bags, mini cups or mini baskets that will be used to hold the solid fertilizer.
Tip #1: Inorganic fertilizers are odorless and easier to manage as compared to organic fertilizers which have possible bacteria and pests included. But, there are also available odorless organic fertilizers if you like to use organic nutrient sources only.
Tip #2: Inorganic fertilizers usually come in solid form, but there are also liquid fertilizers available specifically for bonsai. The strength of nutrient is shown on the label’s NPK value. For instance, a fertilizer with an NPK value of 15:15:15 on the fertilizer label means that it has all the primary nutrients in equal ratio. Whereas, a fertilizer with an NPK value of 20:10:10 means that the amount of nitrogen is twice as much as the amount of phosphorus and potassium. This is referred to as a “high-nitrogen” fertilizer.
Tip #3: Regardless of the fertilizer you prefer to use, you need to follow the recommended “dosage” set by the manufacturer. Remember, that excessive fertilizer can significantly upset the balance of nutrients in your bonsai growing medium. This can kill your flowering bonsai tree.
Tip #4: Using a general purpose fertilizer intended for bonsai plant is better. A balanced fertilizer has an equal NPK value such as a fertilizer having an equal NPK value such as 5:5:5 or 10:10:10.
Tip #5: Using a high -quality houseplant fertilizer is also a good idea or a fertilizer that is specifically designed for flowering bonsai plants with high potassium level for healthier fruits and flowers. Regardless of the fertilizer, you prefer to use, just make sure to only apply the manufacturer’s recommended dosage.
Tip #6: It is important to remember that your bonsai tree can also benefit from using organic fertilizers, such as manure, leaf compost, hummus, or bark release.
6) Pruning, Wiring and Shaping Flowering Bonsai
Satsuki Azalea is a flowering bonsai tree and it is considered as one of the most sought and satisfying to care among all bonsai subjects. Azaleas belong to the Rhododendron family.
They have smaller leaves so they make a prime candidate for bonsai artists. “Satsuki “ refers to a Japanese term meaning “late spring” or the “fifth month” when most Azaleas bloom. They have become the most popular species for bonsai followed by the Kurme bonsai varieties.
In fact, there are hundreds of different bonsai varieties of both species, which are mostly grouped according to the colors and shapes of their flowers.
Pruning and Wiring Tips
Tip #1: Azaleas have brittle branches and they have tender bark, making use of aluminum wire which is more desirable, softer and work better as compared to copper.
Tip #2: Raffia or plastic tape protects the sensitive bark of Azaleas.
Tip #3: It is important to create clean cuts using a sharp tool. Sealing all large wounds of your bonsai tree using Lac Balsam or other bonsai wound sealant should be done immediately.
Tip #4: After the bonsai tree finishes flowering, remove all dead flowers at the base to prevent it from forming seed pods as well as encouraging new leaves.
Tip #5: The perfect time to shape and wire your Azalea is November when the major work can be done. Perform light wiring at other times as necessary. The azalea bonsai is very brittle and should be allowed to dry out at least for a week before attempting to do the heavy bending.
Tip#6: Keep your Azalea happy and healthy to remove any dead leaves and flowers immediately. It’s important that the yearly growth of Azalea should be removed or trained early as the flowering season ends, to enhance its overall appearance and structure.
Tip #6: The secondary shoots must be pruned in mid-summer.
Tip #7: Azalea bonsai trees respond well to hard pruning. If Azaleas are pruned back to the stump after flowering, they will bud-back and can be shaped in any bonsai style. We often see the Azalea bonsai trained to the shape of a tree.
Tip #8: The most common bonsai styles for azaleas include the semi-cascade, root-over-rock, windswept, informal upright, and planting. These bonsai styles look great on both multiple and twin trunk Azaleas.
How to Shape an Azalea Bonsai
Shaping your Azalea bonsai requires a lot of patience but the reward is having a very beautiful tree. With the right amount of work, your Azalea bonsai tree will take shape, developing over the seasons. When training your Satsuki Azalea bonsai, you need to utilize both the wire method and the clip and grow method.
Method #1: Wiring
Satsuki Azalea bonsai trees are particularly brittle so they are difficult to wire. The key in wiring Azaleas is knowing the limits of your bonsai branches. Unlike Black Pines or Junipers, the bonsai branches are not flexible, but you can still bend them slightly to create more refined movement.
Wire the branches of your bonsai using a heavy wire. You can break the 1/3 rule to hold your bonsai branches in place because the wood is very strong. For branches which are extremely heavy, using guy wire is helpful to bring the bonsai branch down.
Method #2: Clip and Grow
Once you have set your bonsai branches using wire, pruning back the leggy growth on the branches of your Azalea can be done. Leaving some growth on your bonsai branches will make sure that the energy still extends to the end of the bonsai branch. It also helps back buds form.
Next, cut branches that are going up and those that begin developing downwards branches. It takes time to ramify as well as develop the bonsai branch structure.
To develop the bonsai pads, continue doing this for the rest of the growing season. When the branches of your Azaleas are completely set, remove the wire and utilize the clip and grow technique solely for developing the branch structure.
Because of its gorgeous flowers when they’re in full bloom, Azaleas are one of bonsai enthusiasts’ favorite. It adapts well to the cultivation of bonsai in a container, and adapts very well to root pruning, easily developing new buds with great vigor on old bonsai wood.
7) Re-potting and Growing Medium
The Azalea bonsai should be re-potted every two years, after flowering or in springtime. The roots should be pruned with great care because they’re matted and very thin. They can be torn easily when you attempt to disentangle them. You need to use a special soil intended for azalea bonsai trees which is lime-free. A good example of azalea soil is pure Kanuma.
8) Pests and Diseases
Azalea bonsai trees are not commonly infested by pests. However, low humidity can predispose and support spider mites that should be treated with an improved humidity and suitable pesticide. Vine weevil eats the azalea leaves and their grubs may cause a great damage to the bonsai roots.
With nematodes or special pesticides, you can eliminate the beetle and so as their grubs. Root rot, which is caused by fungi, may occur when the soil of your azalea is compacted or too wet. You can find appropriate fungicides that you can pour into the compost soil that is very effective in fighting root rot.
Fungi cause leaf galls. During spring and summer, the bonsai leaves and possibly the stems become curled, thickened, fleshy and may turn pale green. In the later stages, the leaf galls become covered with a whitish and powdery substance, finally turning brown and hardy.
Leaf galls can be triggered by wetness, appearing usually on cultivars with purple and plain-colored red flowers. The most effective way in handling this disease is by removing the galls as soon as you notice them and protect your azalea from too much rain.
Flowering bonsai trees like Azalea is inspiring and fulfilling to grow because they have beautiful flowers and the fruits are really rewarding. Now, you have a better idea how to cultivate a flowering bonsai. It is time to apply these learnings in a more practical sense.
Don’t forget to share it with your friends and family through your social media account. We would appreciate if you can leave a comment below about your insights, ideas, and sharing your experiences with fellow bonsai gardeners. Happy bonsai growing!