When it comes to bonsai trees, you might picture miniature trees with twisted roots and curved trunks, in rectangular pots, and while that’s true, there’s a little more to them.
You may have tried to grow one yourself and when it died, you’ve stayed away from them since, dismissing them as too difficult.
One thing that may draw you back to them is that some bonsai trees can put on the most fantastic display of flowers.
It’s worth noting that these beautiful plants are not as difficult to look after as you might think, and if you can understand what they need, they will produce fantastic flowers for years to come, and look beautiful all year round.
At A Glance: What You Can Expect From Flowering Bonsai Trees
As you might imagine, the traits of a flowering bonsai depend on what species you pick. Typically, the height may range between 12cm and 120cm, depending on the shape, age, and species, and the width can be anywhere from 12cm to 40cm.
Most flowering bonsai trees require full sunlight, but this does depend on which species you go for.
The bloom time may be anywhere from a couple of weeks up to 3 months, dictated by species and the care it receives.
Some flowering bonsai may live for anything between a couple of years to a hundred years, or even longer.
It’s important to note that flowering bonsai trees may not flower for a few years, depending on the species you go for, as some will only bloom on a mature plant.
Flowering Bonsai Trees You Should Consider Growing
Apple trees are one of the most popular flowering but also fruiting bonsai trees. While it can be difficult to encourage them to fruit, they will flower without much help, and look good through every season.
Nearly any apple tree species will do, but it’s worth mentioning that this type of tree does usually prefer being outdoors. After all, that’s what these plants have been adapting to over hundreds and even thousands of years.
Unless it’s a tropical species, such as Clusia rosea and Annona glabra, which could be happy indoors in the right space.
Apple bonsai trees can produce pink or white blossoms before the fruits develop. You may only see one full-sized apple or some tiny, coin-sized fruit, depending on the age of the bonsai tree.
Another popular type of plant for a flowering bonsai is the azalea. They can provide seas of color in many shades, such as white, red, pink, purple, orange, and yellow.
Azalea trees make beautiful bonsai trees in their own right, with their striking leaves and how easy they are to train into different bonsai shapes.
For another option that will give you plenty of vivid colors, you might go for bougainvillea. It helps these shrubs grow quickly, but they do need plenty of heat and sunlight to survive.
It’s worth noting that these plants bloom at the end of new shoots, so don’t chop new growth until the flowering period is over, otherwise you won’t see any flowers!
Perhaps not your first thought, but something else to consider for flowering bonsai trees is lemon (see also Lemon Bonsai Tree Care) and orange trees.
They have the bonus of flowering all year round in the right conditions, and you may even get one or two lemons or oranges, too!
Do keep in mind that these plants are subtropical, so need protection from temperatures lower than 50°F (or 10°C).
One of the most famous flowering plants used for bonsai is the cherry blossom tree. There are several types of cherry to choose from, and you might choose a cherry tree that only produces blossoms as an ornamental species, or one that produces both blossom and cherries.
It’s worth noting that cherry blossom bonsai trees are a little more advanced in care, so you may want to start with a more forgiving species.
Crepe Myrtle, or Lagerstroemia produces lovely pink flowers provided that you give it plenty of sunshine.
It also helps that this particular type sheds its bark, and the leaves drop off in winter, allowing for a more architectural look during the leaner season.
Another interesting option for a flowering bonsai tree is a hibiscus plant. There are many types to choose from, but all produce huge blooms in a range of vivid colors. It also helps that they are often highly fragrant.
One thing to note is that hibiscus plants hail from subtropical and tropical regions of the world, so they won’t do well in frosty conditions.
One type which should be grown more often as a bonsai tree is the magnolia stellata, famous for its gorgeous starry white flowers.
You will have to be patient, however, as these beautiful trees are very slow-growing. They also need to be outdoors to survive.
Punica granatum, or the pomegranate tree is a great option if you want something that will flower and fruit.
It helps that the trunk becomes twisted and gnarled, which is something that many bonsai enthusiasts look for.
If big and blousy flowers aren’t really your scene, you might try the powder puff tree, or Calliandra schultzei. It produces dainty flowers that look a little like cotton candy, available in several colors.
Another firm favorite of bonsai growers is the wisteria. These plants produce beautiful cascading blooms, but you will have to be patient, as it can take years for the plant to flower.
Can You Grow Flowering Bonsai Trees From Seed?
For most species, you can start flowering bonsai trees off from seed. However, it’s worth taking stem cuttings instead, as some species take many years to produce flowers, and this helps cut that process more or less in half.
How To Grow Flowering Bonsai Trees
Can You Grow Flowering Bonsai Trees Indoors?
Many people make the mistake of trying to grow plant species that love the outdoors inside. This is largely because some sellers will label all bonsai as ‘indoor’ species, when most of these lovely plants can’t cope with our too-dry home atmospheres.
It depends on the species. If you are growing a tropical bonsai tree such as a hibiscus, it may be better to keep it indoors away from cold temperatures, but as close to natural light as possible (see also Helping A Struggling Hibiscus Plant Recover).
If you want to grow a plant species that is always grown outside, such as an apple tree or wisteria, definitely place it outdoors.
Each species likes a different amount of water, but most grown as bonsai trees hate completely drying out.
The best way to check if a bonsai tree needs watering is to put your finger into the bottom of the pot. If the bottom is still damp, don’t water. If it’s dry, give it a good drink.
Most flowering bonsai trees need more sunlight, as they need a lot of energy to produce their flowers, and even fruit.
Depending on the species, some will want full sunlight outdoors, and others will want a respite from the sun in the afternoon.
If you’re growing a bonsai indoors, keep it on a South-facing windowsill where it can get plenty of sunlight and warmth.
How To Feed A Flowering Bonsai Tree
When to fertilize a flowering bonsai tree largely depends on the species.
One thing you should ensure, however, is that you use a specially formulated bonsai fertilizer to keep your flowering bonsai tree happy.
When To Repot A Flowering Bonsai Tree
When you need to repot depends on the species. As a general rule, every two years or so is about right.
When To Prune A Flowering Bonsai Tree
You only really need to prune a flowering bonsai when it grows out of its current shape, or the flowers are weighing down the plant.
Common Problems To Watch Out For
Different bonsai species will suffer from different problems, but the best action you can take is to try and fit the plant’s requirements as close as possible for a healthy bonsai tree.
Where Can You Buy A Flowering Bonsai Tree?
Probably the best place to buy is at a bonsai specialist shop, as it will come from a reputable source, and this also ensures the plant is responsibly sourced and cared for before you get it.