If the ornamental Flame Tree has caught your eye with its appealing blooms, you will want to know what comes next after planting. How to care for your flame tree bonsai will be your one and only thought!
Taking care of a Flame Tree bonsai involves the following activities: fertilizing, pruning, training, repotting, and pest/disease prevention.
Read on to find out what the ideal growing conditions are and how to care for your tree in his blog. You can also use this information as a growing guide to set the stage for your flame tree that you are intending on making into a bonsai.
What Is A Flame Tree?
The flame tree (Delonix regia) earns its name from the bright (flame) red blooms it bears from spring to summer. This tree originates from the tropics and goes by many names such as Royal Poinciana, fire tree, or flamboyant tree.
Its leaves are popular for closing and opening when necessary. No wonder why such a tree would catch the eye of bonsai enthusiasts!
Read on to find out more about growing a flame tree bonsai using this plant.
Can You Bonsai A Flame Tree?
Yes, it is possible to bonsai the flame tree. It is not hard to train this tree into a bonsai, and maintenance is minimal. This makes it a good subject for beginners as well as experienced bonsai gardeners. The flame tree is not fussy about its care requirements, thus making it popular amongst bonsai enthusiasts.
Ideal Care Conditions for a Flame Tree
If you are looking to take good care of your flame tree bonsai, you need to know what conditions it adapts to best. Take a look at the conditions below.
The flame tree loves sunlight, although you should give it shade during the hottest part of the day. It dislikes cold weather and frosts.
If you live in a climate that experiences cold weather you should bring in your plant during the cold weather and place it where it can get heat and light.
The flame tree will also not appreciate being put in the path of wind as these plants may be damaged. This means they need to be kept away from open windows.
The flame tree bonsai prefers well-draining soil. So, instead of mixing your own soil, it is best to go for a standard bonsai soil mix.
This ensures proper drainage, as the flame tree enjoys plenty of water during the summer months. If you feel the drainage is inadequate you can add pumice or perlite at the bottom of the pot.
For optimal results, your soil media should have a pH of between 4.5 to 7.5. Which makes it slightly acidic. You should also balance the Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus levels in the media.
3. Watering Schedule
During the growing season, which is in spring and summer, you will find the flame tree demanding generous amounts of water.
Water it well and do not allow it to dry out, although it can survive a dry spell occasionally. Take care that the water does not sit around the roots as you could be looking at root rot before too long.
During autumn you can cut back on the amount of water you were giving during the summer months. It is best to test for moisture with your finger as an indication of whether to water or not. In winter the flame tree will shed its leaves as it goes into dormancy, water seldomly or not at all.
NOTE- Remember to check the soil by submerging your fingers into the soil and assessing the moisture.
The Flame tree bonsai is a sun-loving plant that has high-temperature requirements during the day and night! Sunlight is an important requirement for all bonsai trees to grow or even survive when the growing season has passed.
Flame tree bonsai need direct sunlight in the mornings and part of the afternoon. These plants cannot be in the shade for long, nor can they tolerate the cold.
Hence, they must be brought indoors during the winter months. When keeping them indoors, avoid putting them near windows where the wind may damage their foliage.
Also, do note that even during the winter and autumn months, this bonsai still needs its share of sunlight. If you don’t have a sunny window, you will have to invest in some LED grow lights that can offer artificial light for growth.
High humidity is another basic requirement of the flame tree bonsai. It doesn’t matter if it is indoors or outdoors, these plants need a steady flow of moist air to avoid drying out and dying.
Use a humidifier or humidity tray to ensure high humidity levels. Alternatively, you can use a spray bottle to mist the plants regularly.
However, although high humidity is a requirement of bonsai, it may also lead to diseases. Fungi find warm and moist conditions to be most favorable for growth. To avoid the emergence of diseases, ensure your bonsai is getting enough sunlight.
As the flame tree is native to tropical regions it cannot tolerate cold temperatures. Instead, it is a sun-loving plant that tolerates the sun and higher temperatures quite well!
For vigorous growth, this tree prefers a nighttime temperature of 50℉ and a daytime temperature of 68℉.
If you reside in a warm area this bonsai will do well on a balcony, sun room, patio, or window ledge. Try to maintain the temperatures mentioned above, as fluctuating temperatures could impact the flame tree’s growth and well-being.
Finding the temperatures hard to maintain at night? Not to worry, try LED lights to help out. Some LED lights even allow you to fix a specific temperature and using a thermostat, the temperature will not drop below that.
Investing in an artificial grow light also helps the plants get enough sunlight during winter months!
The pot of soil your flame tree bonsai is planted in will eventually become finished and the lack of nutrients can begin to hurt the plant. Therefore, fertilizing your bonsai regularly should be a top priority for you.
Flame tree bonsai need a weekly liquid fertilizer and a monthly solid fertilizer. Also, ensure that these fertilizers are equally balanced in terms of nutrient (NPK) composition.
Fertilize this bonsai during the growing season (summer and spring) to help your bonsai grow as well as produce an impressive bounty of flowers.
Failure to get the right fertilizer or fertilize at the right time can result in the poor health of your bonsai and the disappointing output of flowers. You can find a range of appropriate fertilizers at nurseries or even online if you look for them.
The frame tree bonsai is capable of being hard pruned and this is necessary to keep this vigorous grower trimmed and tidy.
Hard prune your flame tree bonsai just after winter ends and the growing season is starting. Prune the bonsai into shape when it is still leafless.
You can remove wilted leaves and damaged growth as well as remove any branches to acquire the desired shape. You can carry out these hardest pruning before summer, while year-round gentle pruning is also necessary to keep a check on rapid growth.
NOTE- Be sure to use sterilized pruning equipment to avoid the transference of infections in your bonsai plant. You can effectively sterilize your equipment with rubbing alcohol.
You can also train your flame bonsai using a number of materials such as wire, fishing wire, and guy wire when the branches become woody enough. But, make sure you keep an eye on them and remove them in time.
Training your bonsai involves using certain materials to force the plant to grow a woody thick trunk and branches that only grow in the direction and shape you want it to grow.
Failure to remove them in time will lead to the trunk or branches becoming scarred due to the wire biting into them.
After some time, your bonsai will exhaust all the nutrients and space available to it. This usually means your plant needs new soil and a bigger pot/container. Failure to provide it to your bonsai means it could possibly die!
Flame tree bonsai need repotting once or twice a year, depending on how fast your plant is growing.
Ensure your bonsai gets enough fertile soil when repotting, you can even take to adding fertilizer. Soil amended with organic matter can also do a lot for your bonsai plant and its appearance.
The flame tree bonsai is also susceptible to diseases like any other plant or bonsai! Given the damage they can cause, prevention is key. Prevention is easier and less costly than trying to cure the disease. Plus, you may lose your bonsai if the disease has gone too far.
Root rot is caused by a fungus that attacks plants and trees whose roots are in prolonged contact with water or waterlogged soil. It causes the roots to decay, thereby cutting off the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the tree.
This fungus can be present in the soil for a long time but becomes active in waterlogged soils. The fungal spores then attack the roots of the tree, causing them to rot and die. Some fungi that enjoy moist conditions are Pythium, Phytophthora, and Fusarium.
Also, the weakened roots leave the door open for another disease, soil fungus, or even bacteria to infect the bonsai
Symptoms of diseases to look out for:
- Declining growth without an obvious reason.
- Stunted growth or poor growth.
- Small leaves that are pale in color.
- Branch dieback
- Thinning of the canopy.
- Wilted or brown leaves.
Pests are also likely to try their luck at finding refuge in your flame tree bonsai or else sourcing food from it. Here are the pests you are likely to encounter while growing this bonsai.
These insects usually stick to the bark or leaves of flame trees. If there are just a few, you can put on gloves and start to pick them off or use a tool to scratch them off. But, if the infestation is severe you may need a specific pesticide.
These insects are prevalent throughout winter. To prevent infestations, you can diligently check them during this time to remove them immediately.
Shootborers & Caterpillars
Caterpillars and shoot borers are yet another pair of insects that can damage your beautiful flame tree bonsai. Borers will lay their larvae in the tree trunk while caterpillars will feed on the young developing tree leaves.
To avoid these problems, check your flame tree bonsai regularly. Remove the pests as soon as they are detected and this may involve removing some portions of the tree.
Taking care of your flame tree bonsai involves knowing the conditions in which it thrives. This includes certain aspects such as location, soil, sun, and water requirements.
To take care of your flame tree bonsai, you need to carry out the following activities: fertilizing, pruning, training, repotting, and pest/disease prevention.
Based on the above activities and knowing the ideal conditions for growth, you can keep your flame tree bonsai looking good and healthy!
Like growing cactus plants as well? Read this: Why Is My Cactus Turning White? 10 Reasons & Treatments
How long does it take for a flame tree to mature?
Unlike most other bonsai, it takes a slight bit longer for the flame tree to mature. It takes around 7 years (give or take some) for the flame tree to mature completely into a bonsai tree. This means the flame tree bonsai is only for patient people with lots of time on hand!
Why is my flame tree wilting?
The leaves of your flame tree could be wilting for a range of reasons. This includes overwatering, underwatering, incorrect soil, hot climate, or even diseases affecting the roots. You must first identify the problem and then diagnose it.