Cherry blossom bonsai trees are mainly associated with Japan, though they are also native to China and Korea. They go by many names, including Japanese Cherry blossom bonsai, Oriental Cherry blossom bonsai, and Hill Cherry blossom bonsai. There are several varieties, though the most common is the Sakura bonsai, due to its gorgeous blossoms.
Regardless of what you call them, these pretty plants make a great addition to any home. Their lovely pink and white spring blossoms are delicate and attractive and the fruit they bear in summer is sweet and delicious.
Caring for a Cherry blossom bonsai is easy since these plants are low maintenance and easy to train, even for beginners. If you’re interested in adding one of these tiny trees to your home, the following tips can get you started.
Choosing the right soil is a necessity to ensure that the Cherry blossom bonsai gets the right drainage. Commercially-made bonsai soil can be purchased to ensure your little tree is getting the perfect amount of water, aeration, and nutrients. You can also make your own inorganic or organic bonsai soil if you can’t find the right options in your area.
For inorganic soils, you’ll mainly need akadama, which is a dried mineral that closely matches clay, though it is only found in Japan and can be expensive to import. You can also use pumice or small lava rocks instead to help retain water. You’ll also need some inert grit for aeration, which can be composed of small pebbles, coarse sand, or even decomposed granite.
If you prefer organic soil, you can use almost any type of organic component, as long as it is the right size and doesn’t retain too much water. This can include pine bark, leaf mulch, garden soil, or even old compost. Do not use fresh compost, though, since this is likely to burn the bonsai’s delicate roots as it decomposes.
Like many plants, a Cherry blossom bonsai likes consistent moisture, though they hate to be waterlogged. The best way to keep them happy is to allow the top inch of soil to dry out a bit before adding more water to the plant. They may need more frequent watering during the spring and summer months since this is their active growing season. It’s best to use distilled water instead of hard tap water to limit the chemicals or minerals that these beauties can do without.
Cherry blossom bonsais only need partial light to thrive, so placing them in a window that receives some weak morning or evening light is best. It can’t handle full sun, though, especially the strong afternoon light. These harsh rays carry a great deal of heat that can burn the delicate leaves and blooms that the Cherry blossom bonsai produces. If you notice the tips of the tree beginning to brown or turn yellow this is usually a sign of too much direct light. Try moving the plant away from its light source, or to a different location, and see if that helps the plant.
Temperature and Humidity
For the most part, cherry blossom bonsais prefer the cool temperatures of winter and the warmth of spring. They can even thrive in the heat and humidity of summer provided they have the necessary protection from the sun. Their versatility makes them great outdoor plants, so you can place them on a balcony or deck if you like.
They also have some moderate tolerance to frost, though they can’t handle the intense cold. If you live in a climate where snow is common, it is best to move them inside in the winter. You can also keep them inside year-round to add a touch of color to any space in your home.
How much or how often to fertilize your Cherry blossom bonsai tree depends on the season and the age of the tree. During their growing season, which includes the spring and summer months, bonsais need a balanced fertilizer added every two weeks.
Once their growing season is over, you only need to add fertilizer once in the fall and then again in the winter for these plants to get the nutrients they need. Older trees can be fertilized less frequently than the young bonsais since the newer ones are still developing, so require more nutrients to grow healthy and strong.
Shaping your bonsai tree by pruning it doesn’t just create an aesthetically-pleasing plant, it also ensures that the tree is healthy. Begin pruning in the summer after the flowers have all finished blooming to prevent damaging them as they are still forming.
To shape your Cherry blossom bonsai, pinch back the fresh shoots to shape them as you like and to encourage branching. Wiring is another common method to shape those young, flexible branches to encourage growth in a specific direction.
As for pruning, do this in the winter months rather than the growing season, especially for those main branches and stems. Don’t remove all of the new growth, either, or you’ll halt the tree’s growth altogether. Heavy pruning can reduce the number of blossoms that the bonsai can produce in the next growing season, so only take off the shoots necessary to give the plant the shape you’re looking for. Less is often more when it comes to bonsai pruning.
Young Cherry blossom bonsai trees need to be repotted every 2 years, though the older trees can stay in the same pot for 3 to 5 years if needed. If it’s time to repot your bonsai, do so in the spring before those new blooms have begun to sprout.
The pot you choose for your bonsai should complement the look and coloring of the tree to maintain its aesthetic appeal. There is also a common bonsai rule to follow when choosing a pot, which requires it to be two-thirds or less than the height of the tree.
The pot should also be large enough to ensure the roots have room to grow and have adequate drainage to prevent waterlogged soil. Many bonsai specific containers even include wiring holes to make it easier to shape the tree.
Be sure to take extra-special care of the Cherry blossom bonsai after repotting, especially if you’re placing it outside. The newly potted bonsai can be damaged by overexposure, so a sheltered location with the right lighting conditions is a must.
Caring For a Cherry Blossom Bonsai
For those looking to start growing their own bonsai trees the cherry blossom or sakura is an excellent choice. These bonsais are quite easy to grow, and do perfectly well in typical indoor conditions. For those that do grow this tree, they’ll be rewarded with absolutely gorgeous blooms for years to come.