Flowering bonsai particularly appreciated for its harmonious posture, the camellia bonsai stands out for its beautiful and fascinating flowering. Among bonsaists, it is very widespread due to the aptitude to let oneself be shaped without resisting and without suffering. Derived from camellia, an evergreen plant characterized by large flowers that appear on the apexes of newly born branches, it offers bright green leaves, already small in nature, which of course constitutes a fundamental plus for a plant intended for bonsai. The camellia bonsai, a species easy to grow and modify according to bonsai art, fears the cold: for this reason, it needs to be placed in a sufficiently illuminated and sunny position, even during the summer, while in winter it prefers the domestic setting or that of a greenhouse, as long as it is not heated. It must be watered all year round, since it is an evergreen, taking care to avoid water stagnation phenomena, which, by causing excessive humidity, could cause root rot. As with all bonsai, in short, water must be administered only when the soil no longer shows traces of the previous watering, and therefore is completely dry.
Furthermore, as regards irrigation, they must be suspended if, during the winter, frosts are announced. In summer, however, water must be supplied only in the evening or early in the morning: that is, when it is not very hot, and therefore the soil is able to retain it longer. The water must be poured directly on the ground, taking care not to wet the leaves, slowly and gradually, and twice within a few minutes, so that it accumulates in the soil in sufficient quantity. Watering, however, must be abundant in summer, but must be limited when the buds are about to form. Sensitive, as mentioned, to winter temperatures, it prefers a climate between five and twelve degrees. It is an acidophilic plant, which does not disdain atmospheric humidity. The transplant must be performed, between April and June, once every two or three years, while for the fertilization it is necessary to wait for the flowering: once completed, you can proceed, using organic material. Instead, fertilization must be avoided in both summer and winter.
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The camellia bonsai he has to deal with various parasites: scale insects, aphids and the oziorrinco, which can cause damage to the roots with the larvae, but also red spider mites, which cause the flowers to wither and lead to necrosis. Attention should also be paid to thrips, which compromise the health of flowers and shoots, while signs of serious problems are the rot of the collar and the root system caused by fungi, leaf spots and hypertrophy of the leaves. Speaking of the leaves, they can also be affected by viral infections, while bacterial tumors can affect the roots.
To avoid the appearance of fungi, it is advisable – as always – to reduce excessive humidity: a well-draining soil, in fact, will allow the water to flow as it should, preventing the appearance of water stagnation.
As far as pruning is concerned, the training interventions are aimed at ensuring that the camellia bonsai acquires the desired shape, naturally respecting the needs of the species. It must be performed with carefully cleaned and, if possible, flame-disinfected instruments in order to avoid infections. If possible, it would be better to clean the blades of the shears (or scissors) after each cut, to avoid the risk that a disease affecting a single branch can spread to the others: it is sufficient to rub them with a clean cloth wet with a little alcohol. . The cuts must be sharp, oblique and clean, and they will be followed by the application of a cream or a mastic aimed at making healing faster. Over the years, then, maintenance pruning will also be useful, which aims to maintain the recreated shape by cutting off diseased branches, with irregular or broken course. As with any bonsai, even for the camellia it could be useful to resort to braces to correct the position of the branches or the trend of the trunk. Copper wires, tie rods and weights must be used, however, only in the autumn and spring months, i.e. during the vegetation period, taking care, of course, to prevent the bark and branches from being damaged by the wire. For this reason it must be wrapped in gummed paper. Once applied on the branches (taking into account that the younger ones are more elastic and flexible, therefore easier to correct), they will have to be left in place for a few months: only in this way will you be sure that, once removed, the branches do not return to their former position. The leaves of the camellia bonsai can be sprayed with a linseed oil solution to remove any whitish encrustations caused by scale insects. It may also be helpful to scrub the branches with an old toothbrush.
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