How to Care for a Sweet Plum Bonsai

Written by charmayne smith
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How to Care for a Sweet Plum Bonsai
The mature Chinese sweet plum will produce small, edible fruit. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

The sweet plum bonsai comes with many names, including the Chinese sweet plum, mock buckthorn and the Sageretia. This tender, Asian native is a moisture-loving bonsai that thrives in warm, well-ventilated areas. It produces rich green, often dense, foliage that requires periodic pruning for healthy growth and shape. A vigorous grower, the sweet plum bonsai heals quickly from pruning cuts when completed in a timely fashion.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Sphagnum moss
  • Sand
  • Potting soil
  • Potting container
  • Pruning shears
  • Fertiliser

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  1. 1

    Pot your sweet plum bonsai in a well-draining potting container. Choose a container with a depth that is about the same size as the tree's trunk with a width that is, at least, two-thirds the height of the tree.

  2. 2

    Create a loamy, water-retentive soil environment for the sweet plum bonsai. Mix 1-part sand and 1-part pure sphagnum moss with 2 parts nutrient-rich potting soil or Akadama. Incorporate the materials thoroughly to create a balanced environment. Line each of the container's drainage holes with fine wire mesh and fill the container a third of the way with the soil mixture.

  3. 3

    Remove your sweet plum from its container and gently remove some of the excess soil from the root system. Inspect the roots carefully and trim away any dead, wilted or damaged roots with sharp, sterile shears.

  4. 4

    Place the sweet plum in the centre of your prepared container and the rest of the way with soil. Irrigate the newly potted sweet plum bonsai with tepid water until it flows from the drainage holes. Add additional soil in the container, if necessary.

  5. 5

    Keep your sweet plum bonsai in a warm, humid location. Select a location that provides bright, indirect sunlight throughout the day. Be sure to select a well-ventilated location in order to reduce the potential for diseases, such as powdery mildew. Avoid cold, draughty locations as this bonsai is very tender to cold and will quickly wilt from the exposure.

  6. 6

    Maintain a moist, but not saturated, soil environment for your sweet plum bonsai. Check the soil's moisture levels daily, if not several times throughout the day. Water your sweet plum bonsai when the loam begins to lose moisture. Irrigate the bonsai deeply, as you did during the potting process. Never allow the sweet plum bonsai's soil to dry out.

  7. 7

    Fertilise this vigorously growing plum bonsai twice a month throughout the growing season, from early spring through early fall. Change the feeding schedule to monthly applications during the fall and winter months. Feed this sweet plum bonsai with a well-balanced, slow-release fertiliser and apply according to the package's directions to prevent overfertilizing.

  8. 8

    Prune this plum bonsai during the early spring and periodically throughout the growing season to maintain health and shape. Remove any dead, damaged and diseased branches and stems in the early spring. Use sharp, sterile shears to make your cuts. Trim back vigorously growing branches and stems throughout the growing period and thin the interior branches and stems periodically to increase air and light throughout the tree.

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