My First Bonsai

My little bonsai, first potted September 23, 2010

A few years ago I was volunteering at school for the CCSF Environmental Horticulture Plant Bazaar. They have these plant sales twice a year at City to raise money for department scholarships and such. I don’t remember if it was the Spring or the Winter sale, but I spotted this little Cotoneaster microphylla hiding out in the large lath house and decided I was going to bonsai that sucker.

Irish moss growing in. Cute!

It’s form is perfect. It’s a tiny little shrub by nature, with tiny leaves (micro phylla, as its name reflects). The trunk on this particular one reminded me of a tree creature climbing out of the ground. I brought it home, and let it sit there for quite a bit. Like, a year or more kinda quite a bit. It was ’09 that I got it. It was in a gallon pot, and Tony was getting frustrated at the plastic bucket floating around the yard for so long. Looking at my picture tags, it looks like it got its first potting in September 2010. I came home from work one day and Tony had potted it into a large terra cotta pot. In a snit, I came home with this lovely little gunmetal black number the next day and repotted it for bonsai growth.

...and growing in. Cute!


...and WHOA! The moss liked that first winter with the rains. There's a bonsai tree in there somewhere.


Summer 2011, and the Irish moss didn't like the end of the rainy season. Did a little gravel mulch, as you can see in the bottom of the pic...

So, for a year and a half now, it’s been growing. I hardly ever water it, so the Irish moss I’d planted with it at first was not long for survival. It did get pretty though, like a big green tuffet. The funnest part of bonsai is patience. Now that I’ve had a couple of years to watch it grow I was ready to hack. I’ve been taking Ikebana classes, too, which really enabled me to see the form of the bush that I want to develop into my bonsai “tree”. The natural form of this species is something of a densely weaving mat of herringbone branches. I want a simpler, cleaner form, but with some excitement.

Here it is right before it's first major pruning.

It was a major hack! The trick to keeping bonsai alive for so long (some are centuries old) is that you have to trim the roots on a biannual basis. With the shape of this container, I have to root prune by way of slicing straight down around the mouth of the planter and removing the center as a plug, replacing everything that’s inside the “donut” portion of the pot. Pretty straightforward…

And right after. Talk about major pruning! It really needed it.


Ahh! Love it!

My first bonsai shaping, April 13, 2012.

3 responses to “My First Bonsai

    • Jeff, indeed it did! This plant is amazing, given the neglect I dole out to it. I mention I’d kept it in its 1-gallon nursery pot for probably about two years before it landed in this black dish. Had it in here over a year before giving it its first pruning. Honestly, I have had to give it four more similar prunings since this post. Critter grows like mad. Considering I water it monthly, if I can remember to do so, I think it’s a pretty durable plant.

      I want to start putting serious effort into shaping it now. I plan to keep it snipped monthly, and might start shaping with bonsai wire…

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Bonsai and Penjing (Win a Free Copy!) | boZannical Gardens

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