Tropical Bonsai As A Gift And Tropical Bonsai Care
Tropical Bonsai As Gifts And Tropical Bonsai Care
In an earlier blog, I described the cultivation of the most popular bonsai, the Juniper Bonsai. But there are dozens and dozens of other plant species that are bonsaied that are equally rewarding and often much easier for the beginner to succeed with. Many of these are Tropical Bonsai, that is, species of dwarf trees and shrubs that grow in warm, tropical parts of the world. The advantage of growing these types of bonsai is that they can be grown indoors all year long at room temperatures with out a winter’s cooling rest. This takes much of the guess work out growing truly beautiful specimens. I will discuss just a few of the hundreds of varieties grown, concentrating on the most popular and the most available.
I think if I were going to give a tropical bonsai as a gift, I would probably choose a dwarf ficus or a dwarf Schefflera. The Ficus varieties, such as Ficus retusa, are not really dwarfs in nature, but have small leaves and can be kept miniaturized by restricting the roots and pruning the stems and branches. Even the common Ficus benjamina and it’s many cultivars are often bonsaied. The Schcfflera arboricola is also a large plant in nature, but has much smaller leaves than the other types. Both Ficus and Schefflera form nice, interesting caudexes at a young age, replicating tree trunks in a small size. But the fact that they look like little old trees at a very young age is not the only reason people love these plants. Tropical Bonsai care is very simple. They are among the easiest plants to maintain and train and develope into something even a novice can be very proud of. They will thrive in a bright, mostly indirect light area, even tolerating some direct sun once they acclimate to it. Tropical Bonsai do need to be kept evenly moist at all times, but are forgiving if you slip a little once in a while. Almost any fertilizer sold for house plants will do and should your plant develop unwanted critters, insecticidal soap should clear that up. Like all bonsai, they like high humidity. Keeping the plants over a humidity tray is advisable, especially in the winter if you have dry heat in the house.
Other popular and easy species to bonsai are the Fukien Tea and the Chinese Elm. Again, these are trees that have small, delicate leaves and short, thick stems that resemble old, gnarly tree trunks. They also do well inside the house all year long in a bright, indirect lit area. These varieties are more likely to shed their leaves and may even go dormant in the winter than the Ficus or Schefflera, and if they do, you need to withhold some of the normal moisture and resist fertilizing until new leaves appear.
And then there are the blooming tropical bonsai, such as Bougainvilleas, Camellias, southern Azaleas and of course Serissas. The first three are the same plants that grow down south and make massive, outstanding floral displays that we often see in pictures of the old southern plantations. Like the Ficus, Scheffleras and Elms, bonsaing these plants is simply a process of restricting their roots and foliage growth. Serissas are a naturally small plant with tiny leaves and tiny little white flowers and rough, twisting stems. All of these varieties need good light, but the Bouganvillas do best in strong direct sun. The others can tolerate some early morning or late afternoon direct sun, but not the hot, midday sun. Humidity trays will keep your plants happy as well.