Cotoneasters are prime picks for a bonsai project. The word cotoneaster is widely mispronounced. The correct pronunciation is "Cot-o-ne-as-ter." They are a broadleaf shrub that has small leaves and some very good characteristics that make them perfect bonsai specimens. There are many varieties of cotoneasters. Additional information and tips on cotoneasters at: Cotoneaster plant-Information and Tips. Cotoneasters are great for bonsai, as well as for espaliers.
Cultivation of the Cotoneaster as Bonsai
The cotoneaster requires full sun. They are hardy plants, but require protection as bonsai when the temperature drops too low. You should fertilize them every two weeks in Spring with a high nitrogen fertilizer, and in Summer and Autumn with a low nitrogen fertilizer. As new buds extend in Spring you can repot them with a basic soil mix, as needed. Aphids and scale insects are the main pests that will attack your plant.
Bonsai styles can vary with this species, including: informal upright, cascade and slanting. They may have single or multiple trunks in varying sizes. There are many different cotoneasters that you can use as your specimen plant, some have tiny leaves, to medium, to larger leaves. This will be a factor that you will need to decide on before purchasing your seeds, cuttings, or plants.
Additional Info on Seeds
The cotoneaster can be propagated by cuttings or by seeds. Some people prefer to grow them from seeds. They are fairly easy to grow from seeds, as compared to some species. It is a fast growing tree, and can sometimes reach the same size as a plant, within the same time period.
The only problem with the seeds is trying to get the seed to germinate for you. The people who sell these seeds suggest that you scarify the seeds by placing them into boiling water before they germinate. This may seem harsh, but some varieties actually requires an acidic solution to get the tough protective coating off of the seeds. You may wonder, how this is accomplished in nature so that trees will propagate. The answer lies in the fact that the berries are digested in the stomach of animals and then passed back into the ground with the coating off- a miracle of nature.
Species of Cotoneasters for Bonsai
The most popular species for bonsai is cotoneaster horizontalis, also known as Rockspray cotoneaster. This species is amazing as you will see so many changes taking place within this plant. It is a great choice because it grows very quickly, produces its flowers early, has small leaves, and even bears fruits when it is still very young.
This variety has been a beautiful specimen and done very well in shows. It has beautiful colors. You will see light and dark green in the foliage, which is then followed by either white, red, or pick blooms.
The foliage of cotoneaster horizontalis,will change from light green to dark green as the seasons change. This is followed by bright red fruit that is an eye-pleaser for sure. This variety will keep its fruit up until late fall or early winter, but will drop its leaves if you live in colder climates.
Cotoneaster microphyllus, has very small leaves and makes a perfect tree for a small bonsai.
Cotoneaster adpressus, is a small flowering deciduous shrub with pink flowers that bloom in early Spring on dull, green leaves that turn red in Autumn before leaf-drop.
Cotoneaster multi-flora on the other hand has larger leaves than most other varieties. It is a favorite because of all the many white to pink flowers that it produces.
*Please note that most cotoneasters can be made into bonsai specimens.
Cotoneaster acutifolius-Peking cotoneaster, hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8. This variety has regular green leaves in summer and then turns yellow and green in the fall. It bears red fruit in September and October. This variety has tan colored bark, and light pink flowers that bloom in early June.