Growing wisteria bonsai is an exciting project that can provide many benefits to you, such as reducing stress and enhancing the beauty of your home or garden.
The daily practice of caring for your wisteria bonsai also allows you to connect more deeply with the rhythms of nature and, as your bonsai grows, allows you to express your artistic style in shaping and pruning the tree.
However, you may not know exactly where to start in this new project. Don’t worry; this article serves as a guide for planting and growing a beautiful and healthy wisteria bonsai tree.
Growing Methods for Wisteria Bonsai
It is important to know your preferences before selecting a method to grow bonsai. You may want a plant that will quickly grow into maturity (i.e., developing flowers). On the other hand, it may be more meaningful for you to nurse a plant over a long period from a seedling.
Seeds are the most popular method for beginners to grow wisteria bonsai. You can often find seeds as part of a starter kit for growing wisteria bonsai that include soil and training pots.
Keep in mind that growing a tree from seeds is a long-term project. While seedlings will grow green leaves fairly quickly, they will not fully mature into producing their beautiful purplish blossoms until they are around ten years old (and sometimes longer).
A faster way to grow a mature and flowering tree is from softwood cuttings of an existing tree. These can be purchased at any reputable dealer of bonsai. Cuttings are placed in a large pot that allows plenty of room for roots to grow and take hold (on average, roots take around three months to take shape).
As a general rule, new specimens planted from cuttings will produce blossoms in about one year.
Air layering also produces a tree that matures faster since it originates from an existing tree, except it is produced from the shavings of a branch. For beginners, it is recommended that you solicit a reputable bonsai dealer for help in acquiring a specimen from air layering.
Growing Locations for Wisteria Bonsai
Wisteria bonsai can be grown either indoors or outdoors.
Under almost all circumstances, the trees prefer an abundance of direct sunlight, at least six to eight hours a day; the exception is that specimens from cuttings initially do better in indirect sunlight until their root system has taken hold.
However, seedlings and rooted trees need exposure to regular sunlight. The trees can thrive indoors provided that they are placed near a window that receives direct sunlight throughout most of the day.
The biggest concern that outdoor-growing trees face is frost. While they can handle cooler temperatures, wisteria bonsai do not tolerate freezing temperatures.
This is important to keep in mind if you are growing trees indoors in a garage, patio, or other enclosed space that is not climate-controlled.
How to Pot a Wisteria Bonsai
The most important quality of any bonsai soil is that it drains well. The best types of soil are usually clay and/or sand-based as they are permeable but also retain enough water that encourages root growth.
Akadama and pumice are two common materials used for bonsai soil. It is best to purchase soil that is specifically labeled for bonsai like the soil featured in this starter kit.
Just as drainage is a crucial characteristic for soil, bonsai pots need to allow for suitable drainage so that water does not sit within the soil.
Cuttings initially need larger pots to allow suitable roots to form, but seedlings and cuttings with healthy roots need to be placed in small pots, sometimes referred to as training pots.
An important premise to remember in potting wisteria bonsai is to create efficiency in the root system.
If the tree expends most of its energy in spreading out its root system, this creates less likelihood for the tree to produce spreading branches and beautiful blossoms upon maturity.
Of course, the root system needs to be viable, but repotting “trains” the roots to grow in a smaller area, facilitating the desired growth of the trunk, branches, and leaves/blossoms of the tree.
Why Are Bonsai Trees Special might be an interesting aritcle for you.
Repotting a Wisteria Bonsai
A general rule for repotting is to transplant the tree into a new pot only when its root structure has filled out. On average, a younger bonsai tree (i.e., less than ten years) should be repotted every two or three years. Older bonsais can be repotted every three to five years.
It is a good practice to examine your tree each spring (which is usually the beginning of its growing season) to see if it is ready for repotting.
If roots remain within the soil, the tree is good to stay in its pot for another season. If the roots are winding around the soil structure, this is a good indicator that it is time for repotting.
Repotting at the proper times is essential to keep the tree from running out of nutrients and running out of room to grow.
How to Water a Wisteria Bonsai
Wisteria bonsai generally like an abundance of water, particularly in the growing season of late spring and summer.
Therefore, a good practice during this growing season is to place the bonsai pot into a shallow bowl of water. The roots will absorb the water through the drainage holes in the pot.
A helpful rule of thumb is that if the tree absorbs at least half of the water in the bowl, you may continue watering the tree by this method daily.
Outside of its peak growing season, the tree still requires regular watering. Watering from a canister or a hose is preferable.
The best method for determining when watering is needed is a finger test in the top layer of soil. If the top inch or two of the soil is wet, the plant does not need to be watered; if it is dry, water until the soil is thoroughly damp (but with minimal standing water).
How to Fertilize a Wisteria Bonsai
The best practice for fertilizing wisteria bonsai trees is with a simple organic mix. Solid granules or pellets can be administered once a month, while liquid fertilizer can be given once a week.
A fertilizer specifically for bonsai trees is recommended but not required. Follow the directions closely for any fertilizer you use.
It is important NOT to overfertilize. If the soil contains too much nitrogen, your plant will usually compensate in producing more leafing instead of the desired blossoms that are the signature of your wisteria bonsai.
Pruning a Wisteria Bonsai
Pruning your tree is your opportunity to express your artistic skill! However, first, there are some essential technical skills to remember in pruning:
- Annual Pruning: A full pruning should be done AT LEAST once a year
- Cut unnecessary growth: Shoots should be cut that will not be used as branches
- Control growth of leaves: Remove seed pods as quickly as you can (otherwise, the tree will likely begin producing more seed pods that produce leaves instead of flowers)
- Don’t be overzealous: Let branches grow fully before you cut them back—the beauty of the tree is in its spreading foliage!
With these technical aspects in mind, the goal of pruning is to produce a shapely and healthy tree that you can enjoy for years. Like all wisteria, these bonsai trees want to grow rapidly in a cascading pattern.
The fun task of pruning is giving shape to their growth and optimizing their ability to do what they want to do!
Growing wisteria bonsai requires some skill and a lot of patience, but you do not need to be an expert. If you follow the guide above, you will be well on your way to starting an enjoyable new hobby and enriching your home’s physical beauty with these breathtaking trees.