Bonsai – Exotic Choices

The majority of bonsai gardeners are content with the more common deciduous, confierous, or fruit trees when developing their bonsai art collection.  But, more exotic bonsai varieties can be found that permit the bonsai gardener to further develop his or her skills.

An superb alternative to the common bonsai is Wisteria, a native of Japan, China, and Korea.  In the wild, Wisteria can reach 30 feet or more in size.  However, since Wisteria doesn’t conform to any of the normal bonsai styles, forming them into a bonsai can be an interesting challenge.

The Wisteria flowers are both aromatic and beautiful and come in a variety of colors, including white, blue, purple, and pink.  Blossoming in the Spring, they need lots of water with adequate drainage and they do well in partial shade to full sun.  Just before they bloom in the spring, you should provide them with ample fertilizer, and once again in late summer before they shed their leaves.

Another option is Orange Jasmine which will provide a delight to the nose and beauty to the eye.  Orange Jasmine bears a bright red fruit and fragrant, white blossoms.

Feed Orange Jasmine every three to four weeks starting in early spring and continuing through mid-autumn.  Only light watering is adequate for most of the year, with slightly more required in the hotter summer season.

Because they generally grow better in moderate shade or filtered sun, Orange Jasmine is one of the few bonsai that can, and should be grown indoors.

The Mimosa tree, also occasionally known as silk trees due to their long silky filaments, provide another good alternative.  They are as fragrant as both of the two alternatives mentioned above and their puffy flowers and lacy foliage are also quite lovely.

The Mimosa’s flowers bloom in late April to early July and moderate water should be given during this period.  However, you should avoid getting water on the flowers because, much like a number of other flowering plants, the flowers will quickly deteriorate when wet.

If you choose to cultivate a Mimosa, it will be one of the larger bonsai in your collection since they have large leaves, grow rapidly, and are difficult to maintain at a very small size.  So be sure to give then adequate room in your display area.

Another non-traditional bonsai is the Desert Rose.  The Desert Rose can turn what would be an ordinary bonsai collection into one full of color and excitement.  It is a native of East Africa and in the wild can grow up to 10 feet tall, producing large, pink, trumpet-bowl flowers.

The Desert Rose should be kept outside most of the year as they need plenty of sunshine and lots of fresh air.  With their very bushy growing habit, they will make a good design complement to the many traditional bonsai in your collection.

However, the Desert Rose is sensitive to cold, so they should be brought indoors in cold climates or during periods of cold weather as they will not thrive in temperatures below 10C (50F).  With temperatures in the 10C-15C (50F-60F) range, they will lie dormant and healthy and during this period they will require very little water.

You should try your hand at some of these exotic fragrant and beautiful flowering plants to extend your horizon and further develop your bonsai gardening skills. They provide a nice contrast when placed among some of the more standard evergreens, such as, pines, firs, and junipers.  Additionally, as they lose their leaves in the fall and flower in the spring, you’ll have an interesting season-changing display.

George Dodge enjoys gardening and landscaping as a hobby.  Bonsai gardening offers hours of enjoyment producing exquisit miniture shrubs and trees as an art form. His Bonsai Tree Gardening site offers tips for the beginning bonsai gardener.  Experiment with exotic bonsai choices to extend your collection.