Weeping Willow Bonsai
A Guide to the Weeping Willow Bonsai
The weeping willow bonsai tree is one of the most popular bonsai trees. It is a very fast growing tree that is deciduous, losing its leaves every winter. It is grown primarily as an outdoor bonsai tree, not indoor. Like all willow trees, it has the branches that bend downward towards the ground. There are several bonsai techniques which are used with the tree, such as cascading, slanting and upwards styles.
The weeping willow bonsai is an old world tree, with its origins in China. You can now find it throughout the United States. Because it grows fast, you will need to repot the weeping willow bonsai more than other bonsais when it is young, at least twice a year. The fast growth also means that it must be pruned back several times a year as well. It is necessary to pinch off new growth and to prune the branches so the downward flow is maintained. You need to know the difference between pinching off the new growth and trimming the branches of the bonsai tree.
Some people find the tree hard to grow as a bonsai because it can grow up to one foot a month. Thus, it needs to be thoroughly pruned to maintain the bonsai style. Most trees trained as bonsai grow on average two inches a year. Some people also have trouble keeping the branches naturally inclined downward and have to use wire to make it grow correctly in weeping style. It really is all in the pruning though and if pruned correctly shows no different weeping tendencies than a full-size weeping willow tree. Wire is used a lot in bonsai training.
The weeping willow bonsai is a tree that needs lots of water to keep the soil moist. Never let it go for more than two weeks without watering the plant. Many people keep it in a humidity tray year-round. Make sure to plant it in a growing mix that retains water. However, don’t go so far as to let the roots sit in water or this will rot and kill the plant. The roots of the plant must be able to breathe.
You also have to be vigilant about fertilizing this weeping willow bonsai as well. Make sure that the fertilizer that you use contains nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash. You can propagate new trees from softwood seedlings in the spring. This is the time when the weeping willow experiences its greatest period of growth. Like all bonsais, the weeping willow should get plenty of sunshine every day. Do not put it in a window with a lot of direct sunlight, however, or the leaves of the plant can burn.
People like the color of the catkins which are silver and turn to more of a cream color as they mature. This is one of the plant’s biggest pluses. On the other side of the equation, the branches can be brittle and the tree is remarkably short-lived, which is unusual for a bonsai. The weeping willow tree ordinarily only has a life of around twenty-five years. A well-kept bonsai can live hundreds of years.
A weeping willow bonsai is not a good choice for a first bonsai tree. Because of its fast growth and unusual growing pattern, it would do better with someone who has had first worked on at least a few other types of bonsai. If you have your heart set on growing one of these bonsai trees you can find people on internet bonsai forums who have experience and are willing to help newbies. Most locations, especially in cities, have bonsai clubs where people get together to share ideas. They are usually very welcoming to new members who would like to learn more about bonsai.