Sunday, June 29, 2008

Update on Bonsai Baobab

There must be a shortage of web articles on baobab trees trained as bonsais, because my blog comes up just behind the South African Bonsai Society on a google search on "bonsai baobab". Quite funny that I'm here in northern Canada, a fair distance away from South Africa!

Here's my little baobab, having just started this year's growth a few weeks ago. It is a deciduous tree and it is critically important that it receive no water during the dormant season. That starts in the fall when the leaves start to yellow and fall off. Don't think your tree is dying when that happens, because that is normal. I think it's dead every winter and then it starts growing again every spring. I never cease to be amazed. At some point in October or November, I put the tree in the basement and completely neglect it. It's fine to put it on a shelf (does not need any light) and let it sit in dry dormancy for the winter; when you see green shoots in the spring, bring it back to a sunny place and water it regularly. One winter, it was stored under the pool table in the basement while we did renovations!

I started this tree from seed 4 years ago. Germination is not hard. You should soak the seed for 24 hours before sowing it, to help germination.

I cut the main stem last year to promote new growth, which worked very well. It triggered new shoots from the stem below the cut and around the circumference of the cut itself. I sealed the cut with Japanese cut paste, which can be purchased from bonsai dealers. I don't know what my plan is for future shaping of my tree, but I will figure that out as I go. It will probably be with me for many years!

Please leave a comment (and link, if you have one) if you have a baobab bonsai. There's not too many of them out there and I'd like to see what other ones look like.

For updates on the baobab, see July 9/09.

11 comments:

Camald said...

Super! Thats so cool.

I want to try a bonsai, maybe a sugar maple or sumthing that can stay outside during the winter. Post pics when the leaves open up!

Cam

I likE plants! said...

I can't wait to see it progress. This is going to develop a nice caudex I presume?

Parfum said...

hey there, I know this is quite an old post but I am wondering if you put the baobob into dormancy on purpose, or if it always goes into dormancy itself, and then you stop watering. I have two baobabs about 20 inches tall, that have been growing for about 7-8 months, I have stopped watering one trying to force it into dormancy but left the other one going with water as usual. then do they come out of dormancy themselves in pot conditions, or do we have to initiate giving them a bit of water after 4 months or so ?

thanks,
- Matt

Gardenista said...

My baobab seems to go into dormancy by itself. It is not a really dramatic change in the fall. It is just a few yellowing leaves, maybe in response to the change in day length? I have delayed the onset of dormancy by pruning it too close to the end of the season, so now I try only to prune at the start and middle of the season. I hear that you can kill the tree by watering it during dormancy. In the spring, it puts up new growth without any water (no water for about 6 months) so when I see a green shoot, I start watering again.

Don said...

Hello. I have several bonsai baobabs. They are all yamadori. One is a collected plant of 25 years from Senegal and the other a collected plant of 40 years from Tanzania. They are variously gnarled and thickened in amusing ways. Most would view them as having reverse taper but that doesn't concern me as they are yamadori and very beautiful. The Sengalese plant is mostly hollow with strange openings and knots.

I have some seedlings too and; as you say trimming them encourages branching. One is growing outside (in s. Califoria) another in a pot

Anonymous said...

Hi
Came to your blog via a google search on bonsai baobab. I'm trying to gorwo one Would love to see an updated picture on yr tree now Thanks

rmcdow said...

I have a baobab I grew from seed which is about 7 years old. It's about 5' high and 1" diameter at the base. I was planning on cutting it back to make a bonsai, and wondered if it is best to do it now while it is dormant. Any other tips would be appreciated.

Gardenista said...

mcdow - Congrats on growing your baobab. Yes, now would be a good time to cut it back, as it is going to start growing again soon. I cut mine right back to a bare stump, and got lots of new growth around the cut. It should work well. Good luck.

Martin.Rob.Martin said...

i have a baobab ... from seed now 5 years old.

i wonder what was the height and circumference of the trunk after you cut the stem ...

Gardenista said...

Martin - after cutting the stem, it was about 6/8 inch in diameter and 6 inches tall.

draigstudio said...

I like reading about baobab bonsai. I have about 5 baobabs and I dont plan on making them into bonsai. I am going to keep them all around 4-6 feet in height so I can bring them inside during the winter.