Gardening - growing bonsai trees and various other plants

Growing your own tree as a bonsai and other plants; various tips and tricks.

Juniperus Squamata “Blue Star”

Juniperus Squamata
The Squamata Juniper is native to the Himalayas and China but can now be found in garden centers in Europe and the rest of the world and is a common shrub to plant in gardens.

It is an evergreen shrub (rarely a small tree) reaching 2–10 metres tall (rarely 15 m), with flaky brown bark, and a prostrate to irregularly-conical crown. The leaves are broad, needle-like, 3–9 mm long, arranged in six ranks in alternating whorls of three, and often strongly a glaucous blue-green in color. The cones are berry-like, globose to ovoid, 4–9 mm long, and 4–6 mm diameter. Often, they are a glossy black and contain one seed; they are mature in about 18 months. The male cones are 3–4 mm long and shed their pollen in early spring.

  • Soil: moist, well draining soil. Akadama mixture is great.
  • Water: can be mildly drought tolerate once establish, but they should be ideally kept moist at all time.
  • Sun: can take full sun and you should try and position yours so it an get the most light.
  • Hardiness: should be able to handle any amount of cold. It doesn’t matter where you live, they should be able to cope with it. They are from the Himalayas after all.
  • Fertilizer: during the growing season with a general all purpose fertilizer. BioGold is awesome.
  • Repotting: roots can be trimmed, but like all junipers, not too much should be removed at one time. It is very easy to stress out a juniper and kill them, so be very cautious.
  • Pruning: you should also try not to prune the tree and repot it in the same season. This again can be too stressful for it. When you prune a juniper you want to make sure there is foliage left on the branch. A bare branch is pretty much going to die. You should also try and prune in-between the needles. If you cut across the needles these will turn brown and ugly with in a few day.
  • Propagation: can be propagated from cuttings and air layers. They can take a while to root and are not the easiest, but it is possible. You can grow junipers from seed but it is a very slow process.
  • Wiring: will need wires to get the desired design. You can build plenty of foliage from pruning, but to get any decent shape from your tree you will need to wire it into position.
  • Growing: really, really slow. You should allow them to grow freely for a few years to try and get some good size and growth before working on them as bonsai.
  • Foliage: evergreen.

Ligustrum (Privet)

Privet originates from Korea and Japan, but is now found all across Europe.
  • Soil: standard mix of equal parts perlite/molar clay/compost but they can grow in pretty much any soil.
  • Water: they can handle mild drought, but it is best to keep the privet well watered and moist at all times if you can.
  • Sun: can take full sun.
  • Hardiness: fully hardy and can handle freezing temperatures. As they originate from Korea and Japan, they should be able to hand quite low temperatures when grown in the grown.
  • Fertilizer: general purpose fertilizer throughout the growing season.
  • Repotting: should be repotted in spring. Privets are extremely vigorous and could probably be repotted at any point and it wouldn’t affect them. They can take extremely aggressive root work. It is often said that it is almost impossible to kill a privet.
  • Pruning: as a hedging plant, privet responds incredibly well to pruning and can build ramification very easily.
  • Propagation: easily propagated from cuttings and air layers. They root extremely easily.
  • Wiring: can be wired, they also can be easily styled with clip and grow if you are not a fan of wiring.
  • Growing: quite fast growers. However they can take a while to thicken up and they need to put on significant length to gain any real thickness. This means you need to let them grow really tall and then cut them back hard to develop a trunk.
  • Foliage: evergreen.

Buxus (Boxwood)

Buxus Sempervirens
Boxwood naturally grows throughout Europe and into Asia but is more commonly found in gardens.
  • Soil: prefers a well draining soil. Akadama is great.
  • Water: should not be allowed to dry out and the soil should remain slightly damp. They can take a lot of water during the summer. you should water them just as they are about to dry out.
  • Sun: can take full sun, but they can also handle partial shade. Obviously the more light you can provide them, the faster they will grow.
  • Hardiness: they can survive down to around -15°C/5°F while in the ground, so in a pot they might not be able to handle it this low. If your climate is getting this cold, especially for an extended period of time it is best to shelter the tree.
  • Fertilizer: once a month during the growing season with an all purpose fertilizer.
  • Repotting: should be repotted in spring as the buds are starting to swell. The roots can handle really hard pruning. So long as your tree is healthy and you are doing this at the right time, the tree should not suffer.
  • Pruning: they are used in topiary, so as you can imagine they respond very well to pruning. When you prune a boxwood, they will usually send 2 shoots out at the nodes just below where you have trimmed.
  • Propagation: can be propagated from cuttings. They can take a while to root, but given the right care and conditions, they will root.
  • Wiring: can be wired but be careful, as the bark can take a long time to heal if it is damaged. They can be a little difficult to bend once they get older, but when they are young you will have no problem getting the shape you want.
  • Growing: slowly and they take even longer to thicken. If you are looking to get a thick trunk, it is best if you a buy a tree that already has one established.
  • Foliage: evergreen.

Ficus Benjamina (Weeping Fig)

Ficus Benjamina
Ficus Benjamina is native to the South East Asia area and is the official tree of Bangkok.

Ficus Benjamina is a tree reaching 30 m (98 feet) tall in natural conditions, with gracefully drooping branchlets and glossy leaves 6–13 cm, oval with an acuminate tip. The bark is light gray and smooth. The bark of young branches is brownish. The widely spread, highly branching tree top often covers a diameter of 10 meters. It is a relatively small-leaved fig. The changeable leaves are simple, entire and stalked. The petiole is 1 to 2.5 cm long. The young foliage is light green and slightly wavy, the older leaves are green and smooth; the leaf blade is ovate to ovate-lanceolate with wedge-shaped to broadly rounded base and ends with a short dropper tip. The pale glossy to dull leaf blade is 5 to 12 cm long and 2 to 6 cm wide. Near the leaf margins are yellow crystal cells (“cystolites”).

  • Soil: prefers a moist, well draining soil. A-k-a-d-a-m-a.
  • Water: can use a lot of water while it is growing, but it should not be left to sit in water as this can cause root rot. You should water your tree just before it dries out. If you are using good soil your tree will always been in moist soil which is perfect for it.
  • Sun: can take full sun. They will also tolerate shade, which is why they can make good house plants. But obviously, for better growth, they should be given as much light as possible.
  • Hardiness: not hardy. Being a tropical tree it can not handle cool temperatures and will need to be inside during the winter. You can grow it outside during the summer but I would bring it inside once it start to go below 10°C/50°F.
  • Fertilizer: once a month during the growing season with a general all purpose fertilizer.
  • Repotting: should be repotted during the warmer months, such as the summer.
  • Pruning: respond well to pruning.
  • Propagation: will propagate very easily from cuttings. You can take a branch and place it in water and it will very quickly root.
  • Wiring: can be wired but you must be careful the wire does not cut in. Ficus can put on growth quickly and the wire will and bite in.
  • Growing: quite fast growing, especially if given the right conditions.
  • Foliage: evergreen.

Ficus Microcarpa

Ficus Microcarpa
Ficus Microcarpa, also known as Chinese banyan, Malayan banyan, Indian laurel, curtain fig, is a tree in the fig family Moraceae. It is native in a range from China through tropical Asia and the Caroline Islands to Australia.

Ficus Microcarpa is a tropical tree with smooth light-gray bark and entire oblanceolate leaves about 5–6 cm long which in Mediterranean climates grows to about forty feet (twelve meters) tall and with an equal spread of crown. Where conditions are favorable for the banyan habit (tropical and humid subtropical) it grows much larger, producing great numbers of prop roots.

  • Soil: basic Bonsai soil mixture. Akadama mix.
  • Water: this is a plant that naturally thrives in moist, humid climates. In ideal moisture conditions, it would even send out aerial roots, taking on a look similar to that of the banyan tree.
  • Sun: requires a lot of light, preferably full sunlight, so be sure not to place it in a shady location.
  • Hardiness: tropical, indoor tree that does not endure frosty conditions.
  • Fertilizer: every two weeks during summer, and every four weeks during winter if the growth doesn’t stop. Liquid fertilizer can be used as well as organic fertilizer pellets.
  • Repotting: during the spring, every other year.
  • Pruning: has the capacity to sprout new sprigs directly from the bark of the trunk. prune back to 2 leaves after 6-8 leaves have grown. Leaf pruning (defoliation) can be used to reduce leaf size.
  • Propagation: cuttings can be planted at any time of the year, but they have the highest success rate during mid-summer growth. Air-layering will work best during spring, in April through May. In most cases, springtime is the best time for planting Ficus seeds.
  • Wiring: easy due to their flexibility, but you should check the wires regularly as they can cut into the bark very quickly. Strong branches should be shaped with guy-wires because they can be left on the tree for a much longer period.
  • Growing: fast.
  • Foliage: evergreen.

Crassula Ovata “Sunset”

Crassula Ovata

The Jade Tree is an evergreen succulent native to South Africa where it can reach heights of 2 meters or more. In temperate zones Jades are regarded as indoor trees and should not be subjected to temperatures below 5-7 degrees Celsius (41-45 F). The Jade has a thick trunk and branch structure with thick elliptic green succulent leaves. Given sufficient light the leaves develop red edges to their leaves and produce clusters of star-shaped white flowers in Autumn.

  • Soil: well-drained soil.
  • Water: only essential to the plant when the leaves start to develop a wrinkled texture. In winter this can mean watering as little as once every 2-3 weeks.
  • Sun: thrives best in bright light with some direct sunlight. A sunny windowsill will be an ideal position for these plants. They will not flower without sunlight and inadequate light will cause developing spindly growth.
  • Hardiness: prefers ideal room temperatures of around 15.5°C – 24°C/60°F – 75°F.
  • Fertilizer: every two weeks during the growing season, from spring through summer with a balanced fertilizer.
  • Repotting: in spring when the plant becomes root bound or the soil needs renewing. A good solid and heavy pot is best to use because of Jade plants are well known for being top-heavy.
  • Pruning: you can prune the Jades in the early spring because new growth begins during the spring. See the overgrown stems and decide how you want to shape the plant. Use sharp shears to cut overgrown stems and cut out unhealthy branches completely.
  • Propagation: by stem cuttings, leaf cuttings or by basal offsets. The cuttings or offsets should be taken in spring. Take 2-3 inch long stem cuttings and plant it in a 2-3 inch pot of equal parts mixture of peat moss and sand and keep it at normal room temperature in the bright filtered light.
  • Wiring: don’t bother wiring Crassula, it simpler to shape this species by clipping and growing. however, Jades do respond to wiring, setting into new positions within 3-4 weeks depending on the vigor of the specimen. Beware though, as the bark marks very easily and can snap if bent too far.
  • Growing: slowly, about 2 inches a year.

Azalea Japonica

Azalea Japonica
Azalea Japonica, the Japanese azalea, is an evergreen type of azalea with compact growth habit ideal for growing in an acidic soil at the front of a border, in the rock garden or in a container in ericaceous compost. Azaleas are a sub-set of the rhododendron family with smaller-growing with daintier leaves and a denser growth habit than other rhododendrons. Breathtaking blooms in spring and summer are great for attracting wildlife to your garden. Disease resistant but should be kept well watered, especially if grown in a container.

Azaleas have been cultivated for centuries and more than 10,000 vibrant cultivars have been created, which means that there are plenty of options to consider when choosing one of these plants for your garden.

  • Soil: acidic soil mix, Kanuma. The optimal pH is between 5 and 6 for most Azaleas.
  • Water: prefers moist but well drained soil. When Azaleas are subjected to drought, they tend not to flower as well. Since they are shallow-rooted, they do need the soil to be kept moist.
  • Sun: full sun or partial shade.
  • Hardiness: can resist freezing temperatures down to around -15 to 20°C (-4° to 5°F).
  • Fertilizer: to generate spectacular blooming, add heath plant fertilizer.
  • Repotting: it’s best to wait for the blooming to end before repotting. Flowers are very demanding in terms of nutrients, which is why you shouldn’t risk damaging the fragile root system at this time.
  • Pruning: if light pruning is required, this should typically be undertaken just after the end of the flowering period. Make sure you do not prune after buds for next years flowers begin to form as this would mean fewer flowers the following year.
  • Propagation: trim the cut ends of the azalea stem cuttings just below a point of leaf attachment. Remove all leaves from the bottom third of the cutting, and remove all flower buds. Dip the stem end of each cutting in a rooting hormone. Insert the lower one-third of each cutting into the medium.
  • Wiring: Azaleas have a very fine and reactive cambium, which will try to cover the training wire.
  • Growing: they typically grow at a rate of less than 30 cm (12 inches) per year. As they get older, the rate at which their foliage and height grow slows down. Backbuds very easily.

Rhododendron ‘Cunningham’s White’

Rhododendron 'Cunningham's White'

Rhododendron ‘Cunningham’s White’ is an evergreen shrub with a bushy habit and dark-green leaves. In late spring it produces mauve buds that open to loose trusses of white funnel-shaped flowers and will often produce a second flush of flowers in autumn.

These low maintenance larger-sized shrubs prefer ericaceous (acidic) soil, however, they will tolerate neutral or slightly alkaline soil if an ericaceous feed is given annually. This robust shrub will thrive in a partially shaded location with some shelter from cold winds, it will also perform in more exposed sites in full sun. Deadheading spent flowers is recommended to encourage energy into further flowering rather than seed production.

  • Soil: acidic soil mix, Kanuma, tolerates a soil pH up to 7.
  • Water: prefers moist but well drained soil. Since they are shallow-rooted, they do need the soil to be kept moist.
  • Sun: full sun or partial shade.
  • Hardiness: resistant to frost.
  • Fertilizer: to generate spectacular blooming, add heath plant fertilizer.
  • Repotting: -
  • Pruning: lightly prune for symmetry after the shrub has finished flowering, rarely needs pruning.
  • Propagation: semi-hardwood cuttings, grafting, layering. Semi-hardwood cuttings are taken from the current years growth from late summer to mid autumn the bottom of the cuttings is hard and soft on the top. With a sharp knife take a cutting of about 14 cm, remove lowest leaves, dip end into rooting hormone, and place round the edge of a pot filled with a suitable compost, water well, they must remain moist till rooted, place under glass but in semi shade.
  • Wiring: -
  • Growing: moderate.

Portulacaria Afra

Portulacaria Afra

Portulacaria Afra, sometimes called Elephant Bush, is a tall-growing succulent species. It is native to South Africa, where it reaches up to 12′ tall and can be food for elephants. Features chunky, glossy green, paddle-shaped leaves growing on attractive, thick reddish-brown stems. The branches can be trained to grow upright or arching, making them useful in hanging baskets, succulent gardens and containers alike. Over time, the plant will form into an upright shrub with a thick woody trunk, truly a wonderful, dramatic vertical accent in a succulent garden.

Provide a well-drained soil away from reflected heat, requires little water once established, ideal in warm climate landscapes, rock gardens and container gardens, but is especially happy sitting on your windowsill as a houseplant.

  • Soil: just like with other succulent plants, needs a well draining soil. Mix with pumice.
  • Water: typical water needs for a succulent, allow the soil to dry out completely between watering.
  • Sun: bright indoor light, filtered/partial sun, full sun, partial shade.
  • Hardiness: minimum 1.7°C (30°F), not cold hardy.
  • Fertilizer: you can use a balanced houseplant fertilizer or one that is specifically designed for succulents and cacti. When feeding, dilute the fertilizer recommended in the package to half. Fertilizing once a month during the active growing season (spring time to early fall) should be sufficient.
  • Repotting: spring through summer, wait until the temperatures have warmed & the days have gotten a bit longer. In more temperate climates, you can repot from late winter through early fall. Not more than a third of the tree mass should be removed. Once the plant has been placed in its new pot, it should be placed in its usual location and not watered before new growth begins. No fertilizer should be applied for at least a month after the plant has been repotted, as the chemicals can burn the new roots.
  • Pruning: it is a medium-sized succulent shrub, or small soft-wooded tree, 2-5 meters tall with a few main trunks and numerous side branches.
  • Propagation: use a sterile, sharp knife or pair of scissors. Remove a stem from the main plant, and allow it to callous for several days before placing on well-draining soil. Water whenever the soil has dried out completely.
  • Wiring: shaping of the Portulacaria Afra bonsai using wiring can be a challenging task, since the wire easily cuts into the trunk and the branches and damages them. It is therefore best to opt out of wiring.
  • Growing: slow to rapid depending on growing conditions. It can reach 8-15 feet (2.5-4.5 meters), but in a garden, the Elephant Bush will generally stop growing once it reaches 4.5-6.5 feet (1.5-2 meters).

Portulaca Grandiflora

Portulaca Grandiflora

Portulaca grandiflora is a succulent flowering plant in the family Portulacaceae, native to southern Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay and often cultivated in gardens.

It is a small, but fast-growing annual plant growing to 30 cm tall, though usually less. However, if it is cultivated properly, it can easily reach this height. The leaves are thick and fleshy, up to 2.5 cm long, arranged alternately or in small clusters. The flowers are 2.5–3 cm diameter with five petals, variably red, orange, pink, white, and yellow. Their upright, or ascending, long shoots branch usually near the base. The spreading 20 to 25 millimeters long and 2 to 3 millimeters wide leaves are almost or completely stalk-shaped and taper towards the tip.

  • Soil: sandy, rocky, very good drainage, something with pumice.
  • Water: water sparingly.
  • Sun: full sun. It’ll thrive in the hottest, brightest sun and is renowned for its drought tolerance.
  • Hardiness: not frost tolerant.
  • Fertilizer: feed with a balanced slow-release fertilizer.
  • Repotting: -
  • Pruning: if plants start to look untidy in summer, cut back half of the growth to encourage fresh, flower-bearing shoots.
  • Propagation: cuttings, seeds.
  • Wiring: -
  • Growing: fast.

Yucca Elephantipes

Yucca Elephantipes
The Spineless Yucca (Yucca Elephantipes) a versatile evergreen plant that thrives both in the garden as well as your living room. They boast thick tree-like stalks topped with clean-lined, sword-shaped leaves.

This form of Yucca has softer leaves without spines, giving rise to its name. The sword-shaped leaves do not have sharp, hard edges, so it is a bit more user-friendly than other varieties of Yucca. However, its leaves do have a pointy end so be careful when walking near it, Brushing against its foliage won’t cut you like other varieties of Yucca can.

If provided with ideal conditions, the Spineless Yucca might even bloom. In the spring or summer, it produces a stalk from its center on which clusters of bell-shaped, white flowers bloom. However, flowering usually only occurs on plants growing outdoors in the ground. Spineless yuccas grown in containers or as houseplants rarely produce flower stalks.

  • Soil: Sandy, well-draining.
  • Water: avoid over-watering Spineless Yucca, which can cause problems with root rot. Always allow the soil to dry out between waterings. These hardy plants are drought tolerant and do not like being over-watered.
  • Sun: the Yucca likes to be in a light spot (no direct sun), but half shade is also possible. In the summer a spot on the terrace is not a problem, but beware of temperatures below 8 degrees. Avoid outside or the midday sun.
  • Hardiness: the Spineless Yucca is a very hardy plant and is tolerant of a wide range of temperatures from just below freezing up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, these plants thrive in mid-range temperatures and medium humidity levels. This makes the controlled temperatures and humidity levels of indoor spaces perfect for Yucca plants.
  • Fertilizer: during the growing period from April to August, fertilize once every two weeks.
  • Repotting: the Spineless Yucca does not need to be repotted often because these plants like to be slightly root-bound. Therefore, repot only when the pot size is hindering growth.
  • Pruning: the yucca will keep producing new leaves from the heart. The lower leaves may die (natural process) and you can remove them by pulling them down.
  • Propagation: propagating your Spineless Yucca can be done through stem cuttings or offsets. Though the stalk or stem is thick, don’t let that scare you away from propagation.
  • Wiring: -
  • Growing: slow.

Dionaea Muscipula “Venus Flytrap”

Dionaea Muscipula
The Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is a carnivorous plant native to subtropical wetlands on the East Coast of the United States in North Carolina and South Carolina. It catches its prey—chiefly insects and arachnids—with a trapping structure formed by the terminal portion of each of the plant’s leaves, which is triggered by tiny hairs (called “trigger hairs” or “sensitive hairs”) on their inner surfaces.

When an insect or spider crawling along the leaves contacts a hair, the trap prepares to close, snapping shut only if another contact occurs within approximately twenty seconds of the first strike. Triggers may occur with a tenth of a second of contact. The requirement of redundant triggering in this mechanism serves as a safeguard against wasting energy by trapping objects with no nutritional value, and the plant will only begin digestion after five more stimuli to ensure it has caught a live bug worthy of consumption.

  • Soil: it grows well in pure Sphagnum moss (live or from dried), pure Sphagnum peat, and the standard 1:1 peat:sand “CP mix”.
  • Water: the pot with the plant must always be sitting in pure water. If your tap water has a total dissolved solids (TDS) less than 90 ppm (check with your city, water company, well test, or measure with a TDS meter) you can use it for your carnivorous plants. If the TDS is higher than 90, use distilled, reverse osmosis, or clean rain water.
  • Sun: give it full sun outside if you can grow it outside. It also makes an excellent indoor plant but requires more light than it can get on a typical house window sill.
  • Hardiness: Flytraps require 3-4 months of winter dormancy triggered by cold temperatures (below 50°F or 10°C) and shorter daylight hours. Before entering dormancy, they will drop their upright leaves and stop growing altogether. While dormant, your plants can withstand overnight frosts down to 20°F (-7°C).
  • Fertilizer: absolutely no. Nothing. Feed it live insects.
  • Repotting: the more you feed them, the larger they get and the more often they need to be repotted.
  • Pruning: dead leaves when they turn black.
  • Propagation: it can be done by division, leaf cuttings and seed. For division, the plants are best divided in Late winter to early summer. Offshoots are cut off the original plant, but one must make sure that the piece to be cut off has its own root system.
  • Wiring: -
  • Growing: slow.

Drosera Aliciae

Drosera Aliciae
Drosera aliciae, the Alice sundew, is a carnivorous plant in the family Droseraceae. It is native to the Cape Provinces of South Africa, like Drosera capensis, the cape sundew, and is one of the most common sundews in cultivation. The plant forms small, tight rosettes of wedge-shaped leaves, up to 5 cm in diameter. Under conditions of good lighting, the insect-snagging tentacles will become deeply coloured with anthocyanin pigments, which probably aid in its attraction of insect prey. The plant is relatively easy to grow, and produces attractive scapes of pink flowers, which are held about 30 cm away from the carnivorous leaves, so as to prevent pollinators from becoming ensnared.
  • Soil: they can grow well in pure Sphagnum moss, live, long fibered or shredded, as well as the standard peat:sand “CP mix” which can be anything from 30% to 100% peat.
  • Water: the pot with the plant must always be sitting in pure water. If your tap water has a total dissolved solids (TDS) less than 90 ppm (check with your city, water company, well test, or measure with a TDS meter) you can use it for your carnivorous plants. If the TDS is higher than 90, use distilled, reverse osmosis, or clean rain water.
  • Sun: give it full sun outside if you can grow it outside. It also makes an excellent indoor plant but requires more light than it can get on a typical house window sill.
  • Hardiness: don’t subject Drosera aliciae to temperatures lower than 4°C or 40°F (to be safe) or the plant may die back to the roots.
  • Fertilizer: absolutely no. Nothing. Feed it live insects.
  • Repotting: Sundew should always be repotted in early spring. Then the plant will recover the fastest. If the plants are repotted at least every two years, they will delight you with their flowers and their unusual appearance for many years.
  • Pruning: dead leaves.
  • Propagation: seeds, leaf cuttings, root cuttings, flower-stalk cuttings and plant divisions.
  • Wiring: -
  • Growing: slow.

Pinguicula “Tina”

Pinguicula Tina
Pinguicula Tina is a hybrid between Pinguicula agnata and Pinguicula zecheri. Pinguicula, commonly known as the butterworts, is a genus of carnivorous flowering plants in the family Lentibulariaceae. They use sticky, glandular leaves to lure, trap, and digest insects in order to supplement the poor mineral nutrition they obtain from the environment.

The leaf blade of a butterwort is smooth, rigid, and succulent, usually bright green or pinkish in colour. Depending on species, the leaves are between 2 and 30 cm (1-12 inches) long. The leaf shape depends on the species, but is usually roughly obovate, spatulate, or linear. They can also appear yellow in color with a soft feel and a greasy consistency to the leaves.

  • Soil: standard peat:sand “CP mix” which can be anything from 30% to 100% peat.
  • Water: should be grown permanently wet on the tray system, with frequent overhead watering. You’ll want to keep the soil moist at all times.
  • Sun: partly sunny growing conditions. Great for sunny windowsills. When grown under high intensity fluorescent grow lights many of them will blush so that the entire plant is glowing pink or red!
  • Hardiness: for optimal growth of this species, provide temperatures between 15°C and 25°C in summer. In winter this plant could handle even colder temperatures. This species is mostly grown in bright rooms indoors, cool greenhouses or specialized terrariums.
  • Fertilizer: let them catch their own food.
  • Repotting: if you need to transfer or repot your plant, you should do this task in the winter months. The colder periods are when the pinguicula goes dormant and requires little attention. Therefore, this makes the flower easy to handle and transfer because you won’t be harming the growth or interrupting any life stage.
  • Pruning: this plant doesn’t need much pruning because it is a predatory species. Most carnivorous herbs tend to prune themselves, meaning they can shed off dead leaves.
  • Propagation: some people prefer to propagate by cutting the roots; however, pinguicula flowers are easiest to propagate in the winter. The winter is this plant’s dormant period, and the leaves are not as greasy. The greasy texture of the plants makes it hard to grab physically, and when it goes dormant, new leaves grow and make it easier to handle.
  • Wiring: -
  • Growing: slow.

Ehretia Microphylla “Fukien tea”

Ehretia Microphylla

Ehretia microphylla, synonym Carmona retusa, also known as the Fukien tea tree or Philippine tea tree, is a species of flowering plant in the borage family, Boraginaceae.

Ehretia microphylla is a shrub growing to 4 m height, with long, straggling, slender branches. It is deciduous during the dry season. Its leaves are usually 10–50 mm long and 5–30 mm wide, and may vary in size, texture, colour and margin. It has small white flowers 8–10 mm in diameter with a 4–5 lobed corolla, and drupes 4–6 mm in diameter, ripening brownish orange.

  • Soil: use a soil mixture that both drains well and retains moisture because the Fukien tea tree is sensitive to drought and excess wetness. Use a mixture of Akadama with a little humus and pumice.
  • Water: in fall, winter, and spring, you can water your plant every two to three days. However, during the hot summer growing periods, you will want to water every day – particularly if you are growing in a dry, hot climate. When you water, try to use a hose attachment that softly waters the soil instead of blasting it. This will prevent you from disturbing the soil in the pot. Never let your Fukien tea tree bonsai dry out.
  • Sun: suited to an equatorial climate, the Fukien tea tree bonsai should be grown in warm temperatures. You will need to supply a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight each day, too.
  • Hardiness: this little tree can only be grown outdoors in very warm areas. It prefers a temperature of between 50°F and 75°F (10°C-24°C) year round, which is one reason it works well as a houseplant.
  • Fertilizer: it’s essential to provide proper fertilizer to make sure your plant stays healthy. You can use a time-released or water-soluble fertilizer. If you use a liquid fertilizer, make sure you apply these at the recommended dosage and only on moist soil. You can feed the tree from spring to autumn, but fertilize less often during dormant periods of the winter.
  • Repotting: you will need to repot your Fukien tea tree bonsai once every three to five years. Wait a minimum of one growing season before you repot your plant upon its arrival. When you repot your plant you will also need to trim the root ball. Cut large roots rather than small feeder roots and trim until it fits into your new container.
  • Pruning: you will likely need to prune your Fukien tea tree bonsai on a regular basis. This will help the tree produce smaller branches and will maintain its miniature size. Use a small pair of scissors to do this. You do not need to wire the plant as long as the branches are in your desired position.
  • Propagation: propagate new tea plants using cuttings.
  • Wiring: young shoots are tender and flexible so they are easy to trim or wire.
  • Growing: slow.

Sageretia Theezans “Chinese Sweet Plum”

Sageretia Theezans
The Chinese Sweet Plum (Sageretia theezans) is a pretty indoor bonsai which has great character at an early age due to the flaky bark revealing tones of red/tan. The stunning foliage has hints of rusty red turning to glossy green. Small white flowers give rise to tiny purple plum-shaped fruits.
  • Soil: moist, well draining soil. Akadama mixture is great.
  • Water: keep the rootball moist, but not waterlogged. Don’t let the roots dry out completely because the Sageretia’s leaves and twigs desiccate quickly and the whole tree can die easily from lack of water.
  • Sun: it likes a bright position, with good natural daylight, but as with all bonsai, should not be placed in a very hot position in mid-summer.
  • Hardiness: it is not fussy about temperature, but it is not frost hardy so would not be suitable to grow as an outdoor bonsai during the winter months.
  • Fertilizer: apply solid organic fertilizer every four weeks or use a liquid fertilizer every week during the growing season. In winter, in a cool place, fertilize once a month on moist soil with a liquid fertilizer, or every two weeks if the tree is kept in a warm place.
  • Repotting: repot the Sageretia tree every two years and use a standard soil mix which should retain enough water but at the same time offer good drainage. The Sageretia takes root pruning well, up to one third of the root mass can be removed.
  • Pruning: Sageretia’s shoots can be trimmed back to 2 leaves all year round. Frequent trimming of the shoots helps to develop a good ramification. Healthy trees backbud very willingly if you have to do some more substantial pruning. Don’t trim the Sageretia in late summer if you want flowers and fruit to develop.
  • Propagation: can be propagated from softwood and hardwood cuttings. Those root easily during the growing season.
  • Wiring: Sageretia is usually trained via the clip and grow method. If you choose to use wire, use the thinnest training wire that will hold the branch in the desired position. Wind the training wire in the direction the branch is bent in order to keep the wire from loosening. Wrapping the wire too tightly will cause scarring.
  • Growing: slow.

Ulmus Parvifolia “Chinese Elm”

Ulmus Parvifolia
A deciduous tree, Chinese elm bonsai tree is perfect for those new to bonsai. (However, these trees can be evergreen when grown indoors in warm climate). Ulmus parvifolia bonsai can be grown in both indoor and outdoor settings. The tree thrives in the sun and the cold, producing new shoots from all parts of the tree.

The leaves are with serrated edges and dark green in color. They turn yellow to a reddish color in late fall. The tree produces small red flowers and green fruits.

  • Soil:
  • Water: Keep them well hydrated from spring to autumn, and increase the amount of water in summer. More often if necessary during extremely hot weather. Make sure the compost is always moist, rather than letting it dry out before watering. During the winter, keep the compost just moist. Keeping Chinese elm soil slightly moist is best, but over-watering can cause root issues, so make sure you’re careful.
  • Sun: in early and late summer, you can keep the tree in full sun. However, during the hottest parts of summer, you can keep the Ulmus parvifolia bonsai in partial shade.
  • Hardiness: temperatures between 70°F to 85°F (21°C to 29°C)are ideal for growing from spring through summer. During winter, a temperature range of 60°F to 65°F (15°C to 18°C)is good for the plant. Root damage and die-back of fine shoots can occur at temperatures below 23 °F (-5°C).
  • Fertilizer: when the tree is actively growing, feed it a balanced feed once a week. Use a weak low-nitrogen fertilizer if growth continues in winter (temperature above 60°F (15°C) mostly in an indoor environment). Apply nitrogen-free feed in the fall if the container is kept outdoors.
  • Repotting: Chinese Elm bonsai tree can be repotted every 2-3 years in early spring.
  • Pruning: you can prune indoor Ulmus parvifolia bonsai at any time of the year. Outdoor Ulmus parvifolia bonsai can be pruned in mid-spring just before the buds burst. You should remove large branches in midsummer, when calluses are more likely to form quickly.
  • Propagation: Chinese Elm tree can be propagated by using softwood or hardwood cuttings in early summer.
  • Wiring: in the spring and summer, when branches are growing actively, it is ideal to wire them when they are younger and more flexible. A branch grows quickly and hardens into shape.
  • Growing: slow.

Spiraea Cinerea “Grefsheim”

Spiraea Cinerea
Spiraea × cinerea is a species of flowering plant in the rose family. It is a hybrid of garden origin (S. hypericifolia × S. cana). Growing to 1.5 m (4.9 ft) tall and wide, this compact deciduous shrub bears small, lanceolate leaves and multiple white blooms along its arching stems in spring.

In early spring, white fragrant flowers line the slender, naked branches producing an incredible pretty display. The foliage of small, narrow, sea-green leaves remains dense to the base of the plant. Highly popular for its wealth of white blossoms, this Garland Spirea is an easy care shrub that is perfect for foundation plantings and hedges. A spectacular backdrop for early spring perennials and bulbs.

  • Soil: basic soil mix, average, medium moisture, well-drained soils.
  • Water: well.
  • Sun: full sun.
  • Hardiness: frost hardy to -10°C.
  • Fertilizer: every two weeks throughout the growing season.
  • Repotting: every two years in spring.
  • Pruning: produces numerous long arching shoots from old wood in spring and these need to be pruned back hard or removed to keep shape. After this, pruning should be stopped to allow flowering to occur.
  • Propagation: greenwood cuttings in summer and hardwood cuttings in winter.
  • Wiring: once branches have hardened and lignified they become very brittle, wire whilst shoots are still young.
  • Growing: fast.

Ribes uva-crispa “Hinnonmäki Röd”

Ribes uva-crispa
Noted for its outstanding flavor and high yields, Ribes uva-crispa ‘Hinnonmäki Röd’ is a red gooseberry, for dessert or culinary. This small to medium, deciduous shrub features a vigorous upright growth habit and boasts large, edible, dark red fruits which ripen in mid-summer.

The gooseberries have a sweet flesh and contrasting tart skin. This plant is self-fertile and resistant to American gooseberry mildew, it begins fruiting the year after planting.

  • Soil: basic soil mix, average, medium moisture, well-drained soils.
  • Water: well.
  • Sun: full sun.
  • Hardiness: frost hardy to -10°C.
  • Fertilizer: every two weeks throughout the growing season.
  • Repotting: every two years in spring.
  • Pruning: pruning in winter and summer is needed to produce high yields. On planting, prune any branches back to base which are less than 15 cm from the ground, and cut other branches back to half their length to an upward facing bud.
  • Propagation: hardwood cuttings in winter.
  • Wiring: once branches have hardened and lignified they become very brittle, wire whilst shoots are still young.
  • Growing: fast.

Ribes sanguineum

Ribes sanguineum
Ribes sanguineum (Red Flowering Currant) is a medium-sized, bushy deciduous shrub noted for its abundant showy flowers and fall berries. In early to mid-spring, drooping clusters of 10-30 small, pink to deep red flowers occur along the length of the stems. They literally smother the shrub and create a great floral display. They are followed by small blue-black berries covered with a thin white waxy coating, holding about 20 seeds each.

Although very tart, the berries are suitable for jam, jelly, pie, juice, or syrup. The attractive foliage of rounded, 3-5 lobed, dark green leaves turns shades of yellow and red in fall. The leaves release a strong resinous scent when crushed. The thin orange or red tinted bark turns gray-brown and peels from older stems. Native to western coastal North America, Red Flowering Currant is commonly found in open woods, forest gaps, dry rocky slopes, and disturbed sites from sea level up to 6,000 ft.

  • Soil: basic soil mix, average, medium moisture, well-drained soils.
  • Water: allow the soil to dry 7-10 cm between irrigations and do not provide water after mid to late summer when leaves naturally begin to fall.
  • Sun: full sun
  • Hardiness: frost hardy to -10°C.
  • Fertilizer: every two weeks throughout the growing season.
  • Repotting: every two years in spring.
  • Pruning: immediately after flowering to promote vigorous growth suitable for future flower-bearing.
  • Propagation: seed, cuttings, or layering.
  • Wiring: once branches have hardened and lignified they become very brittle, wire whilst shoots are still young.
  • Growing: fast.

Weigela florida “Rosea”

Weigela Rosea
A useful addition to any garden, Weigela florida, also known as Weigela rosea, is popular for its undemanding nature and abundance of rose-pink tubular flowers in May and June. With elegant arching branches this hardy deciduous shrub makes a lovely addition to borders and woodland gardens, where the late spring flowers attract bees. Versatile and easy to grow, Weigela florida also makes a colourful low maintenance hedge.

What makes Weigela such an interesting source material for bonsai is the contrast of its delicate flowers against its craggy bark. Similar to the live vs dead interaction seen with junipers, the contrast of elegance against age can make stunning bonsai compositions.

  • Soil: well-drained fertile soils.
  • Water: the top half-inch of soil should be allowed to dry out between waterings to ensure good oxygenation of the roots. You should avoid overwatering.
  • Sun: full sun or partial shade.
  • Hardiness: hardy to -15°C.
  • Fertilizer: Trees in early development will benefit from heavy fertilization to drive foliage and root growth, whereas bonsai in refinement should be fertilized lightly to avoid coarse growth that ruins the taper of fine branches.
  • Repotting: Weigela grows very fine, wirey roots, and can stay in a bonsai pot for many years without repotting. If you notice the soil is compacted on top and no longer allowing water to flow through, you may need to repot the tree. Equally, if the soil has started to break down and decompose you should repot your bonsai, removing as much of the decomposed soil as you can in the process. Repotting should be performed in late winter or early spring, just as buds are starting to push.
  • Pruning: in midsummer after flowering. Responds well to pruning, renovate in early spring.
  • Propagation: softwood cuttings in early summer, semi-ripe cuttings in midsummer or hardwood cuttings in late autumn and winter.
  • Wiring: Weigela has very brittle branches and can be quite difficult to wire if they have grown much past half a centimeter in diameter. You can try wiring thicker branches, and you can get a very small amount of movement in them, but there is a risk you will snap some along the way.
  • Growing: fast.

Deutzia scabra

Deutzia scabra
Deutzia scabra is a species of flowering plant in the hydrangea family (Hydrangeaceae) native to Japan and introduced to mainland east Asia, Europe, and North America. In its native Japan, it is found from the Kantō region, westward to the islands of Kyushu and Shikoku. Its natural habitat is along forest edges and rocky openings. It is tolerant of disturbance and can be found growing out of stone walls, along roadsides, and in other waste areas.

Deutzia scabra is a deciduous shrub growing 1-2 meters in height. One way it differs from other Deutzia of Japan, is by its somewhat dimorphic leaves: those subtending the inflorescence being sessile and slightly clasping, while leaves lower down the stem are petiolate. It produces panicles of white flowers, blooming from May to July.

  • Soil: fertile, well-drained soil.
  • Water: the top half-inch of soil should be allowed to dry out between waterings to ensure good oxygenation of the roots. You should avoid overwatering.
  • Sun: full sun or partial shade.
  • Hardiness: fully hardy to -10°C but tender spring growth needs protection from late frosts.
  • Fertilizer: every two weeks during the growing season.
  • Repotting: annually in spring as buds extend.
  • Pruning: hard prune after flowering has finished. Pinch back resulting new growth. Pruning between late Summer and Spring will result in removal of flower buds.
  • Propagation: by seed, softwood cuttings taken in summer; semi-ripe cuttings in early autumn and hardwood cuttings in late autumn.
  • Wiring: -
  • Growing: fast.