How to Care for a Baobab Bonsai

The baobab is known as one of the world's largest and strangest trees. In its natural environment, the mature baobab reaches heights up to 100 feet with trunk widths of 35 feet and a canopy spread of more than 100 feet. As a bonsai, this succulent tree takes on a stout stature that provides a unique and naturally-aged appearance.

Plant your baobab bonsai in a deep, well-drained potting container. Select a terra cotta potting container over a plastic one, as the baobab thrives best in a drier environment. Line each of the container's drainage holes with wire mesh to keep the roots from reaching through the holes.

Create a loamy soil environment that is similar to its natural Madagascar environment. Incorporate 70 per cent sifted pine bark with 30 per cent coarse sand. Line half of the container with the soil mixture.

Pull your baobab gently from its container and remove some, but not all, of the soil from its roots. Inspect the roots and use sharp, sterile pruning shears to remove any dead or damaged roots from the system. Do not remove more than a third of the healthy roots from the system as this will cause growth stunt and dieback.

Position your baobab in the centre of the container and fill the container the rest of the way with the soil mixture. Irrigate the baobab deeply with tepid water, pouring until the excess runs evenly from the drainage holes.

Place the baobab bonsai in a warm, well-ventilated location that receives full sunlight throughout most of each day. Protect this cold-tender bonsai from cool drafts and temperatures below 15.6 degrees Celsius, as the baobab will quickly perish from cool environments.

Limit the baobab's irrigation to once every one to two months. Avoid over watering this succulent bonsai to prevent root rot. Cease all watering during the dormancy period, from late fall to early spring, as the baobab stores water in its trunk to use during its dormancy.

Skip all fertilising with this bonsai. The baobab collects its needed nutrients from its loam.

Complete all pruning cuts towards the end of the baobab's dormancy period. Cut away any dead or damaged branches and stems. Trim back vigorously growing branches and make your desired cuts for shape. Use sharp, sterile pruning shears to complete these cuts.

Anticipate your baobab to produce blooms around age 10. Look for the blooms to develop before its foliage each spring. Keep the baobab's planting surface and surrounding areas free of debris and defoliation to reduce any potential for disease.

Repot this vigorously growing bonsai every other year or sooner if the baobab begins to become root bound in its container. Complete this bonsai's repotting process in the early spring, just before the growing season begins.

Things You'll Need

  • Potting container
  • Bark
  • Sand
  • Pruning shears
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About the Author

Writing professionally since 2004, Charmayne Smith focuses on corporate materials such as training manuals, business plans, grant applications and technical manuals. Smith's articles have appeared in the "Houston Chronicle" and on various websites, drawing on her extensive experience in corporate management and property/casualty insurance.