When you think of a bonsai tree, you might picture a pine tree, a cherry blossom tree, a wisteria, or an apple tree. While these types of plants are commonly grown as bonsai, they are far from your only option.
Growing rosemary as a bonsai is a great option, as not only do you get the benefits of the herb itself, but it also makes a stunning bonsai tree in its own right.
Not sure if rosemary is a good choice for your next bonsai tree? Here’s everything you need to know.
At A Glance: What You Should Know About Rosemary Bonsai Trees
Rosemary is a fabulous plant that hails from the Mediterranean, so you will need to give it a sheltered position in full sunlight if you live somewhere cold, and you could even grow it indoors during the winter to prevent frost damage.
Rosemary is instantly recognizable for its narrow, aromatic leaves that make any dish a thousand times better, and it helps that these are evergreen, too.
It also has woody bark, and produces gorgeous blue flowers in the right conditions.
All these qualities make it an excellent choice for a bonsai tree. The trunk can look ancient when the plant itself is still young, and its needle-like foliage is perfect for the art of bonsai.
If given the right amount of care, it can live for twenty years, or longer. Depending on how you train the plant, a rosemary bonsai tree may reach between 15cm and 30cm high, reaching a maximum of 25cm wide.
Flowers usually appear in the later part of spring, into the first few weeks of summer, but a rosemary bonsai may flower all year round if the growing conditions match its native conditions.
Starting Off: Should You Take Cuttings Or Grow A Rosemary Bonsai Tree From Seed?
Rosemary will grow equally well from cuttings or from seed.
If you want the process to be quicker, start off a rosemary bonsai tree by taking cuttings. You could also buy a grocery store rosemary plant, and take several cuttings from that to make it more cost-effective.
Always take several cuttings at the same time, as this boosts your chance of success. Cuttings should be about 5cm long, with only two sets of leaves at the top of the stem, but you can remove these if you like.
Put the cuttings straight into damp, well-draining compost, in a warm and indirect position. When you see new growth, the cuttings have rooted as new plants.
Growing Rosemary As A Bonsai Tree: Problems To Watch Out For
One of the biggest problems you may run into with a rosemary bonsai tree is excess moisture. This can happen for several reasons: not enough sunlight, too much watering, or not enough airflow.
It may cause root rot and plant death, or powdery mildew, so make sure there is plenty of air around the plant, and it can get enough sunlight.
Always water at the base of the plant, not from the top, and make sure that the plant needs watering before you get the watering can out!
Rosemary is a pretty robust plant, but it can be killed by frost, so ensure that you provide it with winter protection, or bring it indoors before the frosts hit, gradually transferring it back out again when the risk of frost has passed.
Pruning A Rosemary Bonsai Tree
You may want to prune your rosemary bonsai tree to keep it in the desired shape (alongside wiring young stems), but make sure that you don’t cut back the plant by more than a third at any time.
Don’t cut back the plant in fall or winter, to allow the plant to rest.
How To Keep A Rosemary Bonsai Tree Happy
Rosemary bonsai trees are not complicated plants to keep, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
Sunlight And Position
Rosemary enjoys full sunlight, for as long as possible. It will happily survive the outdoors all year round, provided that winter temperatures do not plummet below 30°F.
Any lower than this can damage or even kill the plant. You can bring it indoors during winter if you need to, avoiding drafts and heat, but make sure you bring it back outside when spring comes calling.
It’s worth knowing that rosemary will not grow indoors for longer than a season, as the air tends to be too dry and the sun too weak to sustain the plant’s growth.
When To Water Rosemary Bonsai Trees
Rosemary bonsai trees like the soil to be mostly dry, but not completely. Give the plant a good drink when the soil feels dry, but allow the compost to mostly dry out in between watering to prevent problems.
It’s best to keep a rosemary bonsai tree in a terracotta pot, as this holds onto water way less than a plastic pot, as it’s a very porous material. The natural clay is also good for the roots.
Should You Feed A Rosemary Bonsai Tree?
It’s not absolutely necessary to feed a rosemary bonsai try. However, if you give it a feed once in spring, using a balanced, 20-20-20, organic and non-acidic fertilizer, this will give the plant a boost before the growing season really lifts off.
When To Repot A Rosemary Bonsai Tree
Repot a rosemary bonsai tree in the first few weeks of spring before the plant has ‘woken’ up from winter.
Do this about once a year, as the soil will have lost its goodness by then, and the plant will have outgrown its current pot. You can either trim back the roots by a couple of inches, and repot it in the same container, or move one size upwards.
Rosemary bonsai trees are striking plants, not just for their traditional looks, with narrow foliage and ancient-looking trunks, but also for their fragrance and healing properties, too.