bonsai a baobab

dontbugmeJanuary 17, 2008

Hello, I need some information on my baobab. I live in Central Florida and recently picked up what I think will someday be a wonderful baobab bonsai. It has about a 6 inch diam. trunk base and then a 24 inch trunk/stalk. I expected it to quit growing and go dormant, and then I would quit watering over our version of winter. However, either due to our unusually warm weather or just natural for the tree, it continues to sprout new leaves at the top of the stalk. As long as the leaves are green I feel compelled to continue watering (occassionally). It is still planted in the nursery pot which has a good soil mix and dries out quickly. How will I know when it is dormant? Also when is the best time to chop the stalk back? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Baobab goes dormant in the dry season. So as long as you continue to water regularly, it will not go dormant.

A little research should find your answers;

    Bookmark   January 17, 2008 at 7:36PM
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Thanks, I will quit watering until spring has sprung. Now can anyone tell me when is the best time to cut the stalk down since I want to make it into a bonsai? Thanks

    Bookmark   January 17, 2008 at 10:41PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hi, I can't tell you when to cut the stalk, but I can say that I'm envious! ;)
I'd love to grow one of these as a formal bonsai or as a regular ol' potted plant. The trunks are so neat, and the silhouette is unmatched in a sort of 'alien' strangeness.

If you search these Garden Forums for 'fat plants,' you'll come up with a few threads. Then, you'll see some of the names associated with 'fat plant' growers. You can either ask them directly (if they still frequent these forums), or you could re-post your question - When to cut Baobab Stalk - so that others might help.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 9:51AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)


Had to smile when I saw the topic of the post lol. Unless you live somewhere in Africa or have several acres of property .Some kind of dwarfing would be essential given the potential size of the plant. lol
Maybe you have a VERY tall greenhouse.??
I'm curious as to how these giants take to dwarfing let alone Bonsai.. Is it possible?? gary

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 8:05AM
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I confirm it is possible. South Africans have "Bonsai-ed" Baobabs. Unfortunately can't help you with the how though :) (Also I don't know how long they last like that)

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 11:00AM
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Gary - Google Baobab bonsai and you'll be surprised at the info out there, including a whole website on its own.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 5:01PM
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here's something I found to get you started.

Here is a link that might be useful: South African Bonsai Association Baobabs

    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 3:41AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Thanks for the info. Always find it amazing that it's even possible to stunt any life form to a third normal size let alone one thousand lol
I'm much more into dwarfing rather than Bonsai,mainly because I live on a very small lot and I'm always interested in gigantic
Good luck with your Baobab looks like you have a loooooonnnng road gary

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 7:28AM
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Hey Gary,

Just out of interest (and a bit off topic I know) what do you consider to be the difference between dwarfing and Bonsai? I take it you plant your plants in the ground rather than little pots and follow a 'naturalistic' pruning pattern rather than any particular 'style'?

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 3:58AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

A complicated question lol My main interest is epiphytes which of course grow on trees and since I hate the look of "pots" I started using driftwood and many other materials as support. By far the best is a living tree but quickly outgrows it's location. It occured to me that I just might be able to keep them much smaller with different culture methods. Sort of Bonsai without the art form lol.
This has evolved over the years into simply what "works"
and what doesn't lol
Have never used "soil" Compacted sphagnum, scintered glass ,volcanic rock,rock wool . Several I grow in standing or flowing water with no media at all.
My largest a ten foot paradise tree i grow in lava rock in a 20 gallon pot buried in the ground. This is kept full of water so the tree is always in a state of stress. I use it to support various species of orchids, several epi vines
pencil trees, and asmall form of tropical pitcher plants.
The pot is underplanted with several species of marsh plant and outside that amazon lilies. The alloted space is
4 feet wide by 10 feet high max. All plants have an alloted space and kept within those boudaries
Root pruning is not necessary due to the water source
Certainly not a Bonsai but definitely a dwarf lol About 5 percent of it's potential size. My others are mostly ficus species kept at about 6 feet using different culture methods.
So I guess thse are way above "Bonsai" yet definitely "stunted" Maybe "Bonsai dish gardens" ??
A Ficus benjamina is growing on a rock so is actually a "semi epiphyte " It depends entirely on aerial roots for survival as the regular roots are pruned off.
Isn't it amazing how much abuse a plant will tolerate?? lol gary

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 7:18AM
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haha yes, lots of people that don't know this get very shocked at bonsai workshops!

I guess one of the big differences in what you're doing and Bonsai is the species - as we limit ourselves to trees (or at least things we can make look like them). A ficus Benjamina growing on a rock is pretty typical Bonsai material though; slab plantings are also common, but although Bonsai can be a lot bigger than most people generally thiink, they're rarely over six foot(although there is a little used "imperial" category - up to 120 inches!!)

Sounds like you're having fun, prob not approporiate for this forum but do you have any pictures of your paradise tree and ecosystem posted anywhere?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 12:07PM
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About the abuse, what do you guys on this forum say when people tell you that doing bonsai sounds like it is torture to the plant? I haven't actually done any bonsai yet, but was wondering what response to give to people asking that question.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 6:01PM
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We say that all the other trees and plants out there are green with envy at the wonderful fussy care we give our trees! Seriously, all we're doing is encouraging branches and roots to bend a little sideways here and there, along with lots of food, water and warmth. Compared to what trees in nature have to put up with, ours are so babied it's pathetic!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 2:22PM
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Thanks for your input, Lucy. That response sounds like a good one to me!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 5:42PM
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I was wondering how it's doing for you and where you managed to find one.

I was looking, but no luck

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 10:21AM
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I received baobab seeds a few years ago. I have three in a pot. They go dormant every winter, and in the spring leaf out again. Only problem is that they are skinny land tall. How can I get them to get a caudex trunk? Should I cut them back in the spring to just above ground level and pot in shallow dish? Will this do it for me?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 10:10AM
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TT, zone 5b MA

Hi -

From my experience, they take a long time to develop girth when in pots. I have read, and I am trying to do this with a younger adansonia digitata that I have, that continually pinching out the apical bud will help. That said, I would also expect that letting them grow unabated when young, then cutting them back, should help them thicken up quicker... A lot of heat and water in the growing season, too.

Your best bet, though, may be to try to grow one from a large cutting or truncheon.

Here is a pic of one of my larger ones (grown from a cutting), back in early July:

As far as dormancy goes, I force mine into it by withholding water. Always works. Starting in October, I will water once or twice a month at most. Once a month through winter, picking up again in March - but not overdoing it, taking my cues from the tree. I find that my younger tree seems to want to hold its leave longer than my older ones. I have even read that very young ones may not want to go dormant at all for the first season or two.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 11:21PM
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my senegal baobab started quite well. I repotted it (50% soil/ 50% humus) After that it started at ca 7 buds, very well. Then it stagnated, for ca 4 weeks now. I give a water mist every day, without any effect.
What to do.? Dormancy does not look right in this stage

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 9:29AM
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Interesting postings, all. But.......

Has anyone tried pleaching, or, fuse-grafting, many skinny seedlings into one "composite-trunk"? What about twisting, and braiding, thin seedlings together into one thicker, fatter trunk? Terminal ends of each seedling could be trained to resemble the topmost branches. The tree will look like, with correct training, a big fat broom-style bonsai. The classic upside-down tree. If it could be done with Trident-Maple, Money-Palm, Ficus, and Hibiscus stems, why not use/try this technique with Baobab? Above, there's a picture of two or three, very thin seedlings growing in a flower pot. Why not twist together 10-15 such seedlings, grow them in a training pot until the individual seedlings and bark fuses over, and forms a very thick trunk? You'll now have a well branched top, and, fat trunk. "Instant" Baobab tree....maybe.

Just wondering,..... just asking,..... just thinking outside-the-box.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2011 at 5:26PM
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