I had a few bonsai pots lying around and thought to myself, are these any good for succulents? I decided to do some reading to see if I could put those pots to good use.
Bonsai trees are distinct looking and easy to recognize. Applying this miniature style of gardening to succulents is a fun and creative hobby that can beautify your living space.
A Hardy Plant That Responds Well to Trimming
Usually bonsai plants are shrubs or woody stemmed trees. Succulents, however, have become a popular choice for bonsai plants for several reasons.
Succulents are perfect for bonsai. These hardy plants and often naturally stay small. If they do not have adequate space, they also will remain small. As the gardener, we can imitate these conditions and keep succulents as short as we would like them.
The main attraction for succulents as bonsai plants is their lively appearance. Their fleshy leaves and at times thick stems look marvelous in bonsai form. Importantly, most of the succulents respond quiet well to trimming. This resilience allows them to be trimmed successfully into beautiful, creative forms.
Small plants are easier to manage, and any cuttings can be used to grow more succulents. These plants are easy to care for, so if you do not have a whole lot of time on your hands to devote to your new hobby, fret not! This activity requires minimal commitment.
Generally, succulents grow slowly, so you can plan out your project and shape it as desired. Traditional bonsai would need their roots trimmed once in a while. However, succulents usually do fine in shallow pots and can be left alone.
In order to be successful, you need to pick the right succulent. Ideally, a healthy plant with small spacing between the branches and leaves. Thick foliage allows for more flexibility as you do not have to worry as much about thin patches of vegetation after trimming.
Sedum, Crassula Ovata, and Euphorbia Milii are great succulents for beginner bonsais. Ensure your plants have drainage holes as they need a container with proper drainage. Use non-clogging mesh pads or pot screens to avoid soil corrosion during watering.
Be advised that planting different species in the same container complicates matters as they may have different growing requirements. You may want to limit one species to each container.
Aesthetic principals have been passed down through the years:
- Form: General shape; normally an asymmetrical triangle with leaves pointing up
- Balance: Location of branches & foliage; location of plant in pot (golden ratio)
- Proportion: Relationship of elements to one another
- Line: How apex (tip) relates to trunk
Beginner Tips For Bonsai Owners
Terra cotta pots are ideal for beginners. If you use plastic or glass, make sure there is a draining hole. Soil should have quarter inch particles. For watering, it is best to use a tool to deliver water directly to the soil. Avoid spray bottles.
Lastly, succulents need at least 6 hours of sun daily. There are clear indications when a succulent is not receiving adequate sunlight which we will cover shortly.
Pruning must occur strategically to get your shape, trimming away the leaves and branches to get the desired form. This can be done using your fingers, tweezers, or a small blade. Wires can be used to support the main trunk and supporting branches. Make sure the soil is dry before watering and try to use fast-draining soil.
When repotting, cutting away small roots and trimming larger ones will keep your plant small and manageable while stimulating growth. Decorate the base of the plant with moss, rocks, sand, or small pebbles to create a lovely appearance for your succulent.
A Nurturing Environment
Most succulents prefer warm, well-lit places. Indoors, try to keep them at a temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit and above.
If the temperature becomes excessive, drop below 50 degrees to avoid withering. Your succulent needs to get enough sunlight otherwise elongation will occur (leaves will turn yellow and extend towards the light source). If you have TOO much light, the leaves will grow abnormally and have scorch marks.
Just The Right Amount of Water
If you underwater, your plants are going to wither and dry up, and leaves will fall off. If you overwater, on the other hand, your plants are going to die because rot will occur in the stem, leaves, and roots. Overwatering has the potential to cause much more damage to your succulent than underwatering. Be sure to only water once your soil dries out and drain excess water!
Hardy Little Fellas
Succulents are hardy to environmental hazards like drought, neglect, frost, and soft shade. Sure, some varieties do better than others, but generally-speaking, they do well, even in harsh climates. This is what make succulents so great for making bonsais. They truly are hardly little fellas that hold up to the elements.
Pros Of Succulent Bonsai
- They are pleasing to the eye and add beauty to a room
- Tending and caring for the plant is calming
- There is room for artistic creativity
- They are hardy, small, & easy to shape
Cons Of Succulent Bonsai
- Have to know which species to use, how to cultivate bonsais, and have the creativity to fashion them into your desired shape
- Takes patience before you can really enjoy it
Fertilization should be kept to a minimum with succulents and often they do not require any fertilizer at all. The type of succulents that you are growing affects the need for fertilizer. It is recommended that you only use fertilizer during the active growing season with a diluted liquid fertilizer that is suitable for succulents.
When To Repot Succulents
There are times when it is necessary to repot a succulent. For instance, after buying the succulent, it is often necessary to repot it because organic nursery soil does not drain well. In a climate-controlled nursery, this is fine, but this is probably not ideal for your home.
Rather, it is best to repot succulents with fresh soil after purchase. Also, if your succulent has outgrown the pot, and does not have space to grow more roots, you might have to repot your succulent.
Replacing Nursery Soil
If you are replacing nursey soil, put the pot aside and remove as much soil as you can. Nursery soil is dense and retains a lot of water. Try to get as much off the roots as possible while being gentle on the plant. You do not want to cause any damage to the roots of the plant.
Grab your bonsai pot and put a mesh pad over the drainage hole. Fill most of your bonsai pot with succulent soil. Now place your succulent in the pot and top up your pot with dirt. Make sure your leaves are above the soil, add your gravel, and wait a couple days before watering (this is easier on the roots).
Succulents In Bonsai Pots Have Been Catching On
Succulents in bonsai pots have been catching on in popularity in recent years. This is because they are a hardy, easy to care for plant that beginners can take on and grow with success.
The act of caring for the plant can be a relaxing activity and there is room for creativity with how you style your bonsai. You can place your plant in the bonsai pot center or off-center, you can trim a unique shape, you can add colorful gravel to beautify your bonsai. Let your imagination run wild!
As you might know now bonsai pots are ideal for succelants. Make sure you have enough space for the bonsai seed to grow and you’re pretty much set. If you want to learn more about growing a bonsai yourself, this article might be helpful.