Species Specific > Satsuki Azalea Bonsai Discussion


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Leo in NE Illinois:
This is a Satsuki 'Hankurei' in a "grow pot" - oversized with the thought toward letting it put on size. It is a 5 or 6 year old whip as of this year. I purchased it as a 2 year old whip.

The earth must be off its axis, end of the world or something cataclysmic because it is July 22, 2014 and it is still in bloom. We had a late spring and many days of cool winds off Lake Michigan, which delayed spring this year.

The eventual plan is late winter 2014-2015 I will do the first styling of this shrub in a pot.

Don't have a plan yet, though I want to keep it as tall, or even go taller than its current 16 inches. Eventually it will go into a pot one third the size it currently is in.

The mix is coarse, so it does not stay water logged.

No real questions (yet), but if you have thoughts about what to do to this, please comment

Adair M:
It's hard to tell from the angle the photo was taken. Is there any movement to the trunk?  If not, now is the time!

John Naka's old book on satsuki showed how to wire these whips into interesting forms. It has great potential!

If you're serious about making it into a nice bonsai, don't let it flower for the next several years. You want to direct all that energy into growth instead of flowers. It should be making flower buds now on the branches where it has already bloomed. You can remove them now.

Hi Leo,

This is a great variety. With azaleas being my specialty, I have a few thoughts. First of all, next time you repot I would put it into kanuma. Then put some yamagoki or spagnum moss over the top. Those two things alone will get you a really happy tree. It's hard to tell from the picture, but I would recommend a deeper pot for growing it, azaleas like to be grown in deep pots. Finally as Adair suggested, don't let it flower. When buds start to swell, pinch them off. This will allow all that energy to be put into growing rather than flowering. Flowering to an azalea is the second biggest stress after barerooting.

Have fun,

It looks like, especially since you want to go taller, a literati may be fitting.

Looks like the trunk curves interesting enough.

Pretty feminine, maybe tilted out of a rock pot.

I want to see that elm trying to sneak in the photo!


Leo in NE Illinois:
Thanks guys for the suggestions.

The photo is misleading, the pot is almost 4 inches deep, it is more a crackle glaze round bowl. Holds a little more media than a one gallon nursery can. The media is a blend with roughly equal parts of coarse diatomite (1/4 inch+) Coarse Kanuma, Turkey grit size granite, Hydrolite, sponge rock (coarse perlite) and pine bark. All sifted to remove anything finer than roughly 1/4 inch. 100% kanuma doesn't work for me, and is a an item that I can't just run out to the local Hydro Store or Lowes to get. Pretty much have to order it and then pick it up - a month or more lead time required. So I am trying to work out a media blend that works for me and is 100% stuff I could pick up same day or the next day if I run out (locally available). When I have some multi-year success I will post. The Hankurei when it was repotted got some of the last of the fairly hard, coarse Kanuma that I had. Because I can't read Japanese, when you buy Kanuma, you never know what you are going to get. Sometimes it turns instantly to mush, sometimes it is hard, more like medium akadama. It has been all over the map, and expensive. So I am going to try to get away from it. Spending over $40 to get about 3 gallons worth of media is too expensive in my book. These azaleas were just $20 whips from Teleperion.

I will add a layer of sphagnum, I did it for my azaleas in shallow pots, didn't think of it for this deep pot.

The ship sailed on bending the trunk, it hardened a couple years ago. It is extremely brittle now. I broke a different whip the same age, ruined the potential for a tree, now that one is a clump shrub. I have some slight curves I put in this one, but as the trunk thickens, they are becoming less and less obvious. I should have been much more extreme with the initial bending.

I'll keep in mind that flowers are a mahor stress. It will be difficult for me, the whole point of growing an azalea is the flowers.   :o  But I have an orchid or two that I cut the flower buds off of to let the plant build strength, so I'll bite the bullet and cut the flowers off Hankurei. I like that it has smaller flowers. When I was first selecting whips from a list, I was most fascinated with the large flower and double flower varieties. Now that I have a few years with them under my belt, I realize the large flowers are more a design problem than a help. The smaller the flowers the better, they blend in as bonsai. Hankurei is really nice that way. Small leaves, small flowers and middle to late blooming, at least at my place.

Waka Ebisu and Hoshi-no-Kagayaki are my 2 other survivors of a batch of whips. Waka Ebisu has big flowers, which I love, and is a very vigorous easy growing azalea (as far as azalea go in my area). Hoshi-no-Kagayaki is nice, small flowers, vibrant color, and small leaves. It definitely wants to be a bush, hard to keep a single trunk a single trunk. A picture of my Waka Ebisu from June, just before I did a total chop back and foliage reduction. Because I wanted a tree form, the chopping was done on the side branches, height was preserved. The other is a photo from 2011, as I don't have a current shot of Hoshi-no-Kagayaki.


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