Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Bonsai are among the most revered plants in cultivation. Creating these specimens is by no means quick and easy. However, the rewards are many. The interesting thing is that a number of succulent species actually make very nice indoor bonsai.
Strictly speaking, bonsai purists would probably say that succulent bonsai arenít true bonsai. That is because typically these plants canít always be wired and trained to the classical and traditional styles that one sees most often used for other bonsai. However, the fact remains that they resemble true bonsai for all intents and purposes. By growing them in special bonsai pots, trimming the roots, and proper pruning, they assume a bonsai-like style over time.
If the term succulent bonsai bothers you, perhaps you might want to call them topiary bonsai instead. Topiary training consists more of pruning unwanted growth to get the shape you want whereas bonsai training requires bending the plant and wiring it to get the desired effect.
Other than the pruning, most succulent bonsai will pretty much require the same kind of care and growing conditions the plant would normally receive, such as appropriate room temperatures. In other words, just water and fertilize it as you normally would. Give it the proper amount of light. For most succulent bonsai, this will usually mean bright indoor light, particularly during the winter months. During the summer, most of these bonsai can be put outdoors either in partial shade or full sun, depending on the species.
So far as repotting is concerned, most succulent bonsai wonít need it more often than every two or three years. When repotting is done, the roots are pruned back as well. In most cases, avoid overdoing this. Cutting about 1/10th of the root growth is sufficient for most succulent bonsai.
Regarding pruning, most of these can be trimmed any time the stems or shoots become long enough to need it. In most cases, youíll want to leave several pairs of leaves on each shoot.
For repotting, succulent bonsai need a quick draining mix. You can buy a commercial bonsai mix or create your own. A suggested formula would be to use one part of sterilized loam, two parts sharp sand, and two parts of peat moss.