Exotic Choices For Bonsai Enthusiasts

Exotic Choices For Bonsai Enthusiasts
by George Dodge

Are you looking for something more adventurous in the art of bonsai gardening? If so, you need not stick with the more traditional coniferous, deciduous or occasional fruit trees as the only items in your collection. Your choices can range to the more exotic varieties which will help expand your skills.

An excellent alternative to the more traditional bonsai is Wisteria, a native of China, Korea, and Japan. In the wild, Wisteria can reach 30 feet or more in size. However, since Wisteria doesn’t conform to any of the normal bonsai styles, forming them into a bonsai can be an interesting challenge.

With both beautiful and aromatic flowers that come in a variety of colors, such as, white, pink, blue and purple, Wisteria can be an excellent choice. Wisteria blooms in the Spring at which time they need lots of water but with adequate drainage. Wisteria does well in a wide range of lighting conditions, from partial shade to full sun. To maintain healthy plants, be sure to provide them with ample fertilizer just prior to they bloom in the Spring and once again in late summer prior to losing their leaves.

If you love fragrant flowers, an excellent option is Orange Jasmine which produces a bright red fruit and fragrant white blossoms, bringing both delight to the nose and beauty to the eye.

Feed Orange Jasmine every three to four weeks starting in early spring and continuing through mid-autumn. Only light watering is adequate for most of the year, with slightly more required in the hotter summer season.

Orange Jasmine is one of the few bonsai that can be and probably should be raised indoors since it does better in moderate shade and filtered sun light.

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The Mimosa tree, also sometimes known as silk trees due to their long silky filaments, offer another good choice. They are as fragrant as both of the two choices mentioned above and their puffy flowers and lacy foliage are also just as lovely.

The Mimosa blooms in late April to early July, during which time they should be given moderate water. However, you should avoid getting water on the flowers because this will cause the blossoms to wilt rapidly and deteriorate.

Be sure to give your Mimosa plenty of room in your display area as the Mimosa will be one of the larger bonsai in your collection. Because they grow rapidly and have large leaves, they are difficult to sustain in a very small size.

Another non-traditional bonsai is the Desert Rose. The Desert Rose can turn what would be an ordinary bonsai collection into one full of color and excitement. It is a native of East Africa and in the wild can grow up to 10 feet tall, producing large, pink, trumpet-bowl flowers.

Requiring lots of fresh air and ample sunshine, the Desert Rose should be kept outside most of the year. However, their very bushy habit makes them a fine complement to the more traditional bonsai set in your collection.

That is of course unless you live in a cold climate because they’re sensitive to cold, so in cold climates they should be brought indoors when the temperature drops below 50F (10C). Though they will lie dormant and healthy from 50-60F (10C-15C), they don’t thrive below 50F (10C). During this period they will require very little water.

Take the challenge and extend your design horizons by trying your hand at a few of these beautiful and fragrant flowering plants. Placed amongst some of the more common evergreens – pines, junipers, firs and others – they provide a nice contrast. You’ll also have an frequently-changing display, as they bloom in the spring and shed their leaves in the fall.

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