Too hot for classic bonsai...

tired_of_digging(z10)November 18, 2012

I have some bonsai books which proved inadequate for hot countries, especially those with a Mediterranean climate. Temperature may reach 35c (95F) many times in summer. The air is humid but does not condense into fog, and no rain usually from May to end of October. I am looking for plants which tolerate those temperatures and do not require frequent watering.

Attempts to increase watering for seedlings often results in potting soil degradation and wild humidity fluctuations, so seedlings are usually grown in February, where low temperatures mitigate those effects. Many trees are not available as seeds and a small specimen is purchased and trained as bonsai.

I am a cactus collector and I grown some succulents as bonsai. Many are grown as bonsai because of the habit to develop a caudex (wide trunk or taproot) that is displayed for bonsai effect. I have a book on succulent bonsai as well, but these are not true bonsai in the traditional sense. Nevertheless, I have found two plants which are drought-tolerant and can be grown using traditional bonsai plants, because they have a tree-like trunk which may grow a bark similar to that of trees.

The plant pictured on the left is Euphorbia cap-saintmariensis, the one on the right is possibly a Ruschia species, a member of the Aizoaceae family.

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Do a search for tropical bonsai. There are hundreds of species that will LOVE zone 10.

Quercus v
are just a few of the genera that have trees suited to zone 10 that I can think of just off the top of my head.


    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 11:35AM
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Wow! That's a great list. Thank you.
I may spend some time finding these plants and at the right size, but it worths the effort and with patience I will find quite a few.

I have Eugenia Uniflora (Surinam cherry) which produces lots of delicious fruits with large seeds that sprout easily. Rosemarine as a bonsai seems interesting and I never thought of it.

Portulacaria was never my favorite bonsai plant because the branches are too soft, they become floppy and grow untidily despite intensive pruning. I once headed-back such a plant and it regrew horizontal branches in the same fashion.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 6:23AM
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Also, don't forget that you can grow bonsai from more than just trees. Any plant that develops a woody stem can make for suitable bonsai.

Pepper plants, for example, make excellent bonsai and would love the heat you have.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 1:42PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Portulacaria takes different forms. The prostrate form is very shrubby & requires more patience and a different eye than the upright varieties, so perhaps the upright forms might be worth at least another look. This is one of mine, grown from a cutting, that has become too heavy in the upper third. I've begun a makeover on it since the picture was taken.


    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 4:20PM
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bwaynef(z7 SC)

Is it the impracticality of watering that keeps you from wanting trees that have to be watered a lot, or is it out of concern for soil degradation. If its the latter, then I believe you ought to look for a different soil. The former, ...well, I can't help much.

This post was edited by bwaynef on Wed, Jan 9, 13 at 15:22

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 3:18PM
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