Weeping Willow Bonsai
The weeping willow Bonsai is both graceful and beautiful. Its delicate branches form pleasing lines and arches that are most conducive to the art of Bonsai. Maintenance of the willow Bonsai, however, is not for the faint of heart. Weeping willows are fast growers and will require a high level of attention. These beauties require a lot of pruning and water, which can be excellent practice for a beginner, but not necessarily the best idea for your first Bonsai. They are also ideal for someone who has been practising bonsai for many years. Although a weeping willow can be a lot of work, they are among the most beautiful bonsai, and worth the effort.
The willow Bonsai should be placed in an outdoor area that receives abundant sunlight, but preferably not too much direct sunlight. The leaves of the weeping willow can be susceptible to burning if let in too much direct sunlight. The weeping willow prefers warm temperatures and humidity, and should not be exposed to frost or freezing temperatures. The branches of the weeping willow can be brittle and delicate, therefore, they should not be placed in a windy area. The tree should not be placed near bamboo or maple trees, but can be placed near other decorative elements, such as a Zen garden or stepping stones.
The weeping willow is a thirsty little tree. It should be watered frequently, as soon as the soil feels dry. You should not go more than two weeks without watering the weeping willow, but it is also critical not to over water. There should be adequate drainage. You may also keep it in a humidity tray all year. Weeping willows require a lot of water year round (most in the summer, least in the winter when the tree is dormant).
Pruning is one of the most important steps for keeping your weeping willow Bonsai beautiful. Weeping willows grow very quickly and require constant pruning. You will also need to cut growth back to the main branch every fall.
Wiring every branch of your weeping willow will keep it in shape. You should wire the willow loosely to avoid scarring. The branches are flexible and will bend well without snapping, but because the willow is such a fast grower, you may need to move and adjust the wires frequently, up to once a week. It is best to be flexible with your design, since willows need to be cut back regularly.
Potting can be tricky with the weeping willow. A typical Bonsai tree grows about two inches a year; a weeping willow can grow up to a foot a month! Thus, they will need to be re-potted frequently and it is optimal to do so during warm weather seasons.
Smaller varieties of the weeping willow, such as the corkscrew willow or the dwarf arctic willow, can be more conducive to a potting culture.
Using Akadama soil, an acidic soil, can slow down the fast growth of the weeping willow, which will allow for easier shaping of the bonsai.
It is best to take a cutting from a weeping willow in the spring; these cuttings will root the quickest. Snip a six-inch long, up to two-inch thick, green branch and remove all leaves from the last four inches. Clippings can be rooted in water or in moist soil. Fertilizer should consist of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.