South African Bonsai & Seeds


The South African bonsai is a shrub-type plant that can be trained to grow in very interesting shapes. It forms a thick, tuberous root that can be slowly raised up out of the potting soil as the plant grows. This root tends to be thicker and more interesting when the plant is grown from cuttings, but very nice specimens can be grown from seed as well.


The South African bonsai (Trichodiadema bulbosum) is a succulent plant used in the art of bonsai. It is a small, compact shrub-type plant that grows to a height of 1 foot. The leaves are approximately 1/3-inch long and succulent with an elongated oval shape. They range in color from bright green to gray and have a tuft of soft white whiskers at the tip. The plant produces 3/4-inch white or violet to purplish-red flowers with yellow centers from mid-spring to mid-autumn.


Water the South African bonsai generously when the soil is completely dry. Pour the water slowly to allow the dry soil to absorb it. Empty the water from the saucer beneath the pot.


South African bonsai should be grown in a sandy to sandy-loamy soil.


The South African bonsai is tolerant of hot, sunny conditions but grows best in a location that provides some shade during the heat of the afternoon.


Spread South African bonsai seeds on the surface of a good growing medium in a shallow container with holes in the bottom. Use a commercial potting soil with exceptional drainage properties or a mixture of 1/2 peat moss and 1/2 perlite. Gently mix the seeds into the top of the soil mixture, but do not completely cover them. Water them from beneath by setting the containers in shallow, room-temperature water until the soil becomes moist, then remove the containers from the water. They may also be watered from above with a very gentle mist, but be careful not to disturb the soil or seed. Do not use cold water straight from the tap. Cover the containers with a sheet of glass or plexiglass. Place them in a brightly lit location. They must be kept moist and warm. The temperature must be kept between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. A general fungicide may be applied according to product directions to inhibit fungus growth.


After germination, keep the plants in bright indirect light. Do not place them in direct sunlight. Leave the glass off the containers and continue to keep them warm. Transplant the little seedlings carefully with a spoon when they begin crowding each other. Be careful not to disturb the roots. Allow them to dry out slightly between waterings, but do not allow them to dry out completely. Gradually reduce the watering frequency and increase the light exposure after the first year to slowly harden the plants. Water them the same as the adult South African bonsai from their second year on.

Keywords: South African bonsai, bonsai bush, succulent dry bush

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Reannan Raine worked for 30 years in the non-profit sector in various positions. She recently became a licensed insurance agent but has decided to pursue a writing career instead. Ms. Raine is hoping to have her first novel published soon.

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