Bougainvillea Bonsai - Care, Types and Description
Bonsai is an art form that originated in Japan. The word, bonsai, literally means potted plant and it has been developed over the centuries as an exacting mix of science and art. Plant species, which are normally large trees, are trained and trimmed in such a way as to mimic the original, but in miniature form. There are examples of bonsai in Japan that are hundreds of years old. Bougainvillea bonsai make colorful, short-term house or patio plants, flowering prolifically on the miniature tree.
Bonsai bougainvilleas, like any potted plant, need regular care and maintenance. Because the bougainvillea is a sub-tropical plant, it needs warmth and sunlight to stay healthy and flower prolifically. A bonsai sits in a very shallow pot and so needs to be routinely fertilized and watered. Bougainvilleas hate having wet feet so it is important not to over-water; only water when the potting soil feels dry to the touch.
Bougainvilleas, in their natural state, are prolific growers, reaching to 12 feet or more. For this reason, they make poor house plants although many people have success when they only bring their miniature bougainvilleas indoors when they are in flower or during winter in cold climates.
You will be able to buy a bougainvillea bonsai that has already been started and you continue developing the shape. You can also start your own with a little bit of basic knowledge – you can learn how from books, the internet or a bonsai club. It isn't really difficult; you just need the right tools and a lot of patience.
The pictures you see of bougainvillea bonsai are mostly several years old so don't try to achieve these results quickly. When you prune your bonsai, take off a little at a time so you can see the shape taking place. Once it is cut off, you can't put it back! Before you start, have a photo or sketch of how you want your bougainvillea to look after you have trained it to shape.
Keep your bonsai bougainvillea in a warm, sunny spot but protect it from extremes of heat. You will need to keep a watchful eye on the plant to know when it needs water, pruning and moving to a different location, so check it every day. Because there is so little soil in a bonsai pot, regular fertilizing is necessary; a little liquid fertilizer every two weeks is a good guide.
Bougainvilleas are very forgiving and you can prune, sculpt and shape them at any time of the year. Remember, little and often is the best way to start, so set up a schedule for pruning and fertilizing. You will want the plant to be bushy and regular pruning will achieve this. Avoid pruning when flowering time approaches as you might remove flowering stems and miss out on the beautiful blooms. Bougainvillea bonsai usually bloom in winter and spring.