Underplanting bonsai tutorialBy Jocelyn Wyatt (crimsontsavo)
June 5, 2008
Forget everything they've told you.
There is no wrong look or style when it comes to bonsai, if you like it, then it's right for you.
Cymbalaria murabilis "Ivy Leaved Toad Flax".
This is a beautiful plant I got this year from a dear DGer. It's has been very simple to take care of and has small leaves and flowers. Qualities that are an excellent addition to a bonsai planting. The plans for this plant are many. I intend to, use as a flowering vine to climb up the trunk of various bonsai as well as to scramble up rocks/cliffs/fences. Create a bush by trimming back when it starts to get leggy as well as a groundcover for my larger bonsai.
Ficus pumila 'Quercifolia' Miniature Oakleaf Fig.
Here is another plant that would make a great addition to bonsai. A person could do with everything I mentioned earlier, as well as make topiaries for their bonsai and dish gardens.The shiny smooth leaves on this plant would look awesome under some sort of juniper or other evergreen. It would be reminiscent of the deep northern woods. Imagine Alaska on a cold silent morning with the Aurora Borealis shining overhead. Wow. I might even put a realistic pack of wolves peeking out of a forest planting.
Leptinella squalida 'Brass Buttons-Platt's Black".
I bought this plant at Lowes and couldn't be happier about it! I am a huge fan of touching plants and this one looks and feels like real feathers! Would make a wonderful "fern" if a small clump was planted and kept trimmed.
Another plant similar in appearance is Peacock Moss.
Glechoma hederacea "Creeping Charlie, Gill-over-Ground, Ground Ivy, Hedgemaids, Alehoof"
"My Lord!" You gasp wretchedly. Creeping Charlie in MY beautiful bonsai?! That's a WEED! Isn't it...? Well, technically yeah. I guess so...not really. A weed is defined as a plant that hasn't been loved. Really, it is, look it up. Page 1982 in the unabridged version of The Dictionary of CrimsonTsavo. Really though, I hope what I'm about to tell you makes you rethink your lawn weeds. If you trim Creeping Charlie back enough and restrict it's roots, something beautiful happens. It shrinks, the leaves and the flowers actually get smaller and more tightly clustered. This makes for a beautiful low care accent plant that's nearly impossbile to kill. The same can be said of many common weeds. Creeping Jenny, Speedwell, Crown Vetch. If it's a plant and you like the looks of it, try it out!
Thymus citriodorus "Lemon Thyme".
Herbs can also be used. Look for small leaved/flowering species.
Leucobryum glaucum "White Cushion Moss"
You can't have bonsai without mosses! They can act as grass and bushes for even the tiniest Mame. Not to mention they help retain the soils moisture.
Don't forget the water!
Adding miniature ponds/streams can really make a planting pop. Use various small Grasses, Sedums and Hebes to create drift plantings. Duckweed in the water as well as algae can help add color and realism. So many things can be done with your bonsai! Let there be no limit to your imagination and dreams in miniature!
You will probably have to water/feed slightly more often than usual when underplanting bonsai.
Let's recap our lesson for today.
There is no such thing as a weed.
You can make your bonsai look like what you want.
You can have topiaries, decorations, fake claymen/birds.
Add water, both moving and still. However you want to do it!
You can even hang a tiny hummingbird feeder from a strong branch.
"You Paid For It, Do What You Want With It".
If someone has a problem with it, send them my way. Grrrr.
Thanks to: bootandall, bonitin, linda_nc, sarahjo80 and mygardens for the images!
Until we talk again,