Bonsai in the tropics

Marlon

Seedling
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#1
Hello everyone,

Im in Tanzania, that's East Africa. Trees, there are aplenty of but the rest of the resources for bonsai are very hard to come by. Rarest being ethusiasts, followed by quality nursery stock and tools. My question is, is there anyone also practicing bonsai in similar climate. We get basically two seasons, one where its very hot and rather dry; rarely below 20C at night and always above 25C by 10am. The wet season is usually cooler, predominantly lower than 20C during the day, and never lower than 15C at night.

Im facing two main problems, a majority of literature online is about species that are for very different climate zones, and so inapplicable to my trees. Also the same blogs and sites and forums discuss seasons that I have never experienced. Anyone with experience dealing with tropical trees in tropics, and willing to share some know-how, would be beyond helpful!
 

Anthony

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#2
Tropics here -

we work with seeds, seedling and small things cut by the road clearing crews.
Soil is heavy clay and most trees dug up would die, since the feeder
roots are yards away.

However though we have a wet and dry season, you are way cooler
than us. 15 deg.C would be the lowest for us and at night.

What do you need to know, happy to help.
Good Day
Anthony
 

Marlon

Seedling
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#3
i just jumped for joy!! man this is great.

Anthony what kind of trees do you grow? Maples, and elms are there any tropical species of these species. I've seen some maples online and they're trees i'd love to get my hands on. Also, id like to send through some photos of my guava bonsai, my greatest achievement so far, and get some feedback if thats alright.

also any advice on some good trees for bonsai would be great. Currently i have 3 unknown acacias of the same type, more duranta than I can count. They are very cheap and plentiful. The star of my show, a guava....and some cuttings, from pruning of said guava, one which has already broken buds. A type of pine/juniper which in my eagerness I have mistreated. An unknown deciduous tree with some beautiful leaves and bark.

Thanks for the quick response!! cheers
 

Bonsai Nut

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#4
We get basically two seasons, one where its very hot and rather dry; rarely below 20C at night and always above 25C by 10am. The wet season is usually cooler, predominantly lower than 20C during the day, and never lower than 15C at night.
Sounds a lot like Arizona or New Mexico... if not inland parts of California. Of course, none of these places get a very wet season - just occasional rain - but with irrigation anything is possible.

There are a fair number of people on the site here who live in these climates. The key, of course, is to start by trying to figure out if any native species are appropriate for bonsai. In terms of more classic bonsai species, I am pretty certain Japanese black pine, shimpaku juniper, and Chinese elm would work in your area, since they are pretty bulletproof in hot / dry climates. The elms might require a little shade cloth protection during the hottest months, or you might have a protected area you could keep them (like dappled shade under a large landscape tree).
 

Anthony

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#5
Marion,

for the Trident Maple - The Gmelina h, is a good substitute.
[ Try not to get too stuck up on Traditional trees/ shrubs for
Bonsai - love your locals ]

What we do is simply just collect natives and test.

Look up Nellie on Facebook - She is in Africa, but at least 1000 m up.

There are supposed to be in a 48.3 Km x 80.5 km area around 30
to 50 trees/shrubs that can be used for Bonsai.We are around
30 ish thus far,

J.B.pine can be had from seed through Amazon Uk, if you are
allowed to import. Also see what types of pines you might have.
Library or Forestry and find out.

We have a local Acacia, presently testing.

What soil mix do you have access to?
We use a simple 5 mm silica based gravel [ making concrete or sand blasting ]
and home-made compost.
Plus crushed red earthenware brick [ hollow block for house building ]

We also hand build the Bonsai pots.

The colander bit -------- it is after digging up that you leave the
the plant in the colander to regenerate the fine feeder roots for
a few months.
Acts like a safety net, so you can cut the thick roots off but the
plant can still feed itself.

Take your time.
It will take a while to compare notes and transfer information.

Bnut - if you see this - Southern Chinese Elms have no problem
with full sun under Trinidadian skies. But our temperatures don't
cross 93 deg,F or humidity over 80% [ with rain ]
Good Day
Anthony
 
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#6
Duranta erecta should be great for bonsai! Also South African species like Portulacarya afra, ficuses could be fun to try.
 
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#7
I as looking for import trees from the Africa. I have name of African Bonsai Master with shop near your location. Hai Im looking for it and post here for you. Hai

Many interesting tree in your location. Many enjoy trees name Baobob and Dwarf jade from your location. Hai Hard to send out tree from your location. Hai
 

Marlon

Seedling
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#8
Marion,

for the Trident Maple - The Gmelina h, is a good substitute.
[ Try not to get too stuck up on Traditional trees/ shrubs for
Bonsai - love your locals ]

What we do is simply just collect natives and test.

Look up Nellie on Facebook - She is in Africa, but at least 1000 m up.

There are supposed to be in a 48.3 Km x 80.5 km area around 30
to 50 trees/shrubs that can be used for Bonsai.We are around
30 ish thus far,

J.B.pine can be had from seed through Amazon Uk, if you are
allowed to import. Also see what types of pines you might have.
Library or Forestry and find out.

We have a local Acacia, presently testing.

What soil mix do you have access to?
We use a simple 5 mm silica based gravel [ making concrete or sand blasting ]
and home-made compost.
Plus crushed red earthenware brick [ hollow block for house building ]

We also hand build the Bonsai pots.

The colander bit -------- it is after digging up that you leave the
the plant in the colander to regenerate the fine feeder roots for
a few months.
Acts like a safety net, so you can cut the thick roots off but the
plant can still feed itself.

Take your time.
It will take a while to compare notes and transfer information.

Bnut - if you see this - Southern Chinese Elms have no problem
with full sun under Trinidadian skies. But our temperatures don't
cross 93 deg,F or humidity over 80% [ with rain ]
Good Day
Anthony
Thanks for the info on soil, currently im using gravel, and wood shavings from lumber mills. I have access to earthenware bricks, but hadn't thought of using them as soil. Do you crush them to powder or leave it coarse??

There are plenty of local trees that seem like they would be bonsai material. Its all trial and error at the moment. Reason i'm interested in the classical bonsai species is due to the amount of information already available. Of course talking to people on here seems like I still have a DEEP mine of valuable information on here!

Ps- who is Nellie. I've been very absent from facebook.
 

Marlon

Seedling
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#10
Duranta erecta should be great for bonsai! Also South African species like Portulacarya afra, ficuses could be fun to try.
Yes Duranta really are tolerant but also carry a lot of potential for some very striking bonsai. They're used mainly as hedging and on a more limited scope as topiary here in Tanzania, but if allowed to grow they reach four meters easily. That height and back budding can happen all the way down the trunk. So im sure they'd lend themselves to any style quite well, aside from root over rock, I haven't seen that happen in nature. I've attached a picture of another one of my efforts. This was growing in my garden before I dug it up and potted for development. I am very optimistic about this one.
 

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Marlon

Seedling
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#11
I as looking for import trees from the Africa. I have name of African Bonsai Master with shop near your location. Hai Im looking for it and post here for you. Hai

Many interesting tree in your location. Many enjoy trees name Baobob and Dwarf jade from your location. Hai Hard to send out tree from your location. Hai
Hi Kendo!
Are you in Japan?? I would also like to import trees from there if possible, it is probably easy to send seeds to you. Importing is most likely going to be hard for me. Customs are very difficult and super slow.

A bonsai master close to my location?? Really? I would love to get in contact.

Attached is a photo of a baobab seedling. I found it in the yard, planted it without much hope....Its about 3 weeks old now. I know where to get dwarf jade, will soon be adding it to my collection.

What African species are you interested in?
 

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Marlon

Seedling
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#12
Sounds a lot like Arizona or New Mexico... if not inland parts of California. Of course, none of these places get a very wet season - just occasional rain - but with irrigation anything is possible.

There are a fair number of people on the site here who live in these climates. The key, of course, is to start by trying to figure out if any native species are appropriate for bonsai. In terms of more classic bonsai species, I am pretty certain Japanese black pine, shimpaku juniper, and Chinese elm would work in your area, since they are pretty bulletproof in hot / dry climates. The elms might require a little shade cloth protection during the hottest months, or you might have a protected area you could keep them (like dappled shade under a large landscape tree).

Hmm the wet season here, it does rain a lot, not excessive though, so anything that doesn't actually need a dormant period should grow.yes?. Native species done, I know mangoes(??), guava, citrus, java plum( although the leaves are rather large), acacia, duranta (in abundance), adenium, of course bougainvillea, terminalia mantaly(beautiful tree)

The classics have so much information on them, and also its the pictures and videos of those trees that got me interested. Id love to work on a maple tree someday. The pine species are also very high on my to-do list, although i,m thinking a bit more experience before trying to get to work on trees that need to be imported. In terms of risk management.

The site is a great help by the way, people here are very forthcoming! Glad I joined.
 

sorce

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#13
Welcome to Crazy!

Sounds like you got a few good species available to work with!

S
 

Anthony

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#14
Marlon,

get a sifter - gravel = inorganic -> 5 mm in size
Try to get all around that size [ no concrete type mixes ]

Wood Shaving - composted
Add in leaves and grasses ----compost heap [ Google ]

The brick is also sifted to 5 mm.
Used in the inorganic when you need to hold more
water.

Simple mix - 7 parts inorganic [ gravel ] and 3 parts compost.

Look at trees for ---------- high branchlet / twiggyness.
Or are they dense through leaf ?
That's all for now.
Good Day
Anthony
 

Marlon

Seedling
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#15
Marlon,

get a sifter - gravel = inorganic -> 5 mm in size
Try to get all around that size [ no concrete type mixes ]

Wood Shaving - composted
Add in leaves and grasses ----compost heap [ Google ]

The brick is also sifted to 5 mm.
Used in the inorganic when you need to hold more
water.

Simple mix - 7 parts inorganic [ gravel ] and 3 parts compost.

Look at trees for ---------- high branchlet / twiggyness.
Or are they dense through leaf ?
That's all for now.
Good Day
Anthony
Hello Anthony,
I took a trip down to a local quarry with some empty bags on Sunday. Managed to get Two half bags full. Used some colanders bought for planting, sorted into the sizes you see in the photo. What I do at the moment is start with the larger sized pieces with very little organic to get a drainage layer, is that advisable, or is it better for the roots a with a uniform substrate? Any exceptions?
 

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Marlon

Seedling
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#16
Ha
Welcome to Crazy!

Sounds like you got a few good species available to work with!

S
Happily settled in crazy Sorce, feels like home!
Yup definitely have good material when it comes to trees.
 

Anthony

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#17
Marlon.

try for one mix, just 5 mm, it is an average, but generally around 5 mm.
Also no pots deeper internally than 15 cm in soil.

Trees -

Tamarindus i - seed ? Chinese or Indian stores ?
Lagerstromia indica
Pinus local ?
Malpighia - 3 types
Ficus b or willow leaf types or other

Good Day
Anthony

I suspect, you can get a Maple to go dormant, but not
a proper dormancy.
Got an old fridge ?
 
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#18
I wish I could help, I do have a internet friend that could help you.
Andre Beaurain
http://www.riebeeknursery.co.za/nursery/

Andre is in South Africa, and has two decades of experience with South African species of bonsai. While SA is much colder than you in winter, your hot - dry periods are likely similar. Contact Andre through the nursery, I wager he will be quite helpful, he likely would give you tips on sourcing materials locally.

Because of my own fascination with our North American representative of the genus, I recommend you look for your local native species of Diospyros and Euclea, both are members of ebony family, the Diospyros usually have edible fruit and ebony heartwood on trees over 50 years old, and Euclea have similar wood but fruit is either medicinal, entheogenic or poisonous (inedible more so than lethal) depending on which species you have. Fascinating group of plants. Euclea are known as ''guarri'' in South Africa.
 

Marlon

Seedling
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#19
Hi Leo, the sentiment is well received! Plus i'm optimistic that once I track down Andre I'll get some very direct pointers, in terms of local species best suited to bonsai.

So I tried to look up any tree species in the genera you mentioned, that might be natives of Tanzania. Euclia racemosa..I feel like i have seen that tree somewhere, just can not remember where. It wasn't a fruitless search, and though what I found is a tree in a completely different genus, an endemic native of Australia, and for some reason cultivated in abundance as an ornamental tree here. The better part is that there are some pretty motivating pictures of weeping bottlebrush (melaleuca viminalis) as bonsai. The best part is I'd already bought one, as it was quite healthy I decided to chop the trunk and also one of the remaining leaves as an experiment.

It has long since recovered; I bought the tree almost two weeks back today. The tree has a very visible spurt of vigorous new growth. I will post photos tomorrow.

Thanks Leo, I will keep looking into Diospyros and Euclia species. I also stumbled on Eucalyptus as bonsai, also something I could experiment on endlessly. They are extremely cheap in the nurseries here.
cheers
 

Marlon

Seedling
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#20
Marlon.

try for one mix, just 5 mm, it is an average, but generally around 5 mm.
Also no pots deeper internally than 15 cm in soil.

Trees -

Tamarindus i - seed ? Chinese or Indian stores ?
Lagerstromia indica
Pinus local ?
Malpighia - 3 types
Ficus b or willow leaf types or other

Good Day
Anthony

I suspect, you can get a Maple to go dormant, but not
a proper dormancy.
Got an old fridge ?

Anthony I will post back about the mix for the next time i repot something. That should be soon, the pot my guava is at the moment, is a bucket. basically. So its very wrong in just about every respect.

Tamarind we have, also many pines cultivated locally, ficus is also available. Almost all the shops that sell seeds here sell seeds for agro business, maize, beans, tomatoes etc. Trees we source from nurseries or through exchange.

Nope..no old fridge. Still I wont give up. Somehow, someday.
 

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