Ornamental Bonsai Shrubs and Trees

The group of ornamental bonsai shrubs includes any shrub which is decorative by dint of its leaves, flowers or fruit. The species may vary considerably, since all they need to have in common is their decorative appearance.

Valued for its attractive white or pink flowers in spring, a crab apple tree produces tiny decorative apples in autumn We should differentiate between winter, spring or summer flowering shrubs, those producing fruit similar to that of normal fruit trees, such as the apple, and those with brightly-coloured, purely ornamental berries.

Growing methods can differ considerably, as do the pruning methods. In general terms, early flowering shrubs (some with flowers appearing before the leaves) should be pruned as soon as the blooms wilt, whereas later flowering shrubs (late spring or summer) should be pruned in winter, or before growth begins in spring.

Flowering or fruiting is always spectacular on bonsai, because of the profusion of tiny flowers and fruit, and their dwarf size, less noticeable than that of the leaves.

The majority of ornamental bonsai shrubs are outdoor kinds, but some of those originating from the Mediterranean area should be protected from frost in winter.







See Rhododendron


Camellia japonica (Japanese camellia)

Glossy evergreen leaves, flowers from mid-winter to spring

Spring, before the new leaves appear

Throughout the growing period

Cotoneaster horizon talis

Small glossy leaves, green, turning red in autumn, red berries, upright habit

Spring, before bud burst

At the start of summer to two or three buds. Trim long shoots in autumn

Crataegus spp. and cvs. (hawthorn)

Thorny, with small dentate leaves and white, pink or red flowers and decorative fruits in summer

Spring, before bud burst

At the start of summer to two or three buds. Trim long shoots in autumn

Jasminum nudiflorum (winter jasmine)

Green, square-section branches with cascading habit and a profusion of yellow flowers in winter


spring, just after flowering

After flowering; also reducing excessively long shoots in autumn

Malus spp. and cvs. (Crab apple)

Shiny oval leaves, flowers ranging from white to deep pink, cherry-sized red fruits

Spring, before bud burst

Reduce shoots in early summer, shape in autumn, prune in winter

Primus mume (Japanese apricot)

Small, oval leaves, slender growth, bright pink flowers in winter

Spring, just



After flowering, and with limited trimming in summer

Prunus amygdalus (almond)

Pointed, slightly dentate leaves, white flowers in winter

Spring, just



After flowering

Prunus serrulata and cvs. (Japanese cherry)

Oval leaves, white to pink flowers mid to late spring




After flowering, then throughout the growing season to two or three buds

Pyracantha angustifolia (firethorn)

Thorny, with evergreen pointed leaves; white flowers in summer; yellow, orange or red autumn fruits

At the end of winter

Late spring, then excessively long shoots in winter

Rhododendron spp. and cvs.

Shiny pointed evergreen leaves, profusion of flowers in late spring

Just after flowering

In summer remove faded flowers; trim long shoots

Wisteria spp.

Pale mauve flowers in hanging clusters in late spring

Early spring, preserving the young shoots

Remove excessively long shoots in late summer

24. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Bonsai | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Ornamental Bonsai Shrubs and Trees


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