Plants - Indoor Plants

DIY bonsai: Refining an azalea

By
DK Publishing
Photography by
Will Heap

A combination of late spring/early summer flowers, small leaves, and an ability to bud on old wood make Satsuki azaleas a popular choice for bonsai.

Success with azaleas is often more of a horticultural challenge: they demand a particular, slightly more acidic pH of soil and water, and keeping them well-fed, well-watered, and pest free can be difficult in the hot summer months. Left to their own devices, Satsuki azaleas are multistemmed, clump-forming shrubs. In bonsai they are usually styled into artificial classical or abstract shapes that are very different from their natural habit - any styling is possible, just keep it coherent and attractive.

bonsai-azalea-original.jpg

DIY bonsai: Refining an azalea
Satsuki azaleas can be very brittle and have a different growth style that requires some special techniques for success.

New growth needs to be significantly thinned: this can mean reducing four or more new stems to just two shoots.

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