For some years in nurseries, but especially in shops not specialized in plants, we have found small bonsai, called pepper trees; or in Italian pepper tree. In Italy the term pepper means the seeds and fruits of a particular tropical tree, called piper nigrum in botany; this tree is not grown as bonsai or for ornamental purposes, therefore the pepper tree bonsai is not a pepper tree, but a small sapling of a plant which, in terms of foliage, inflorescence or fruit, resembles pepper; in other cases it is meant by the term pepper tree, the sichuan pepper tree, which has berries similar to those of pepper as we understand it in Italy, but with a different aroma, much more used in Asia. China, with the term pepper tree therefore we mean a small sichuan pepper tree, or zanthoxylum piperitum, in Italy and Europe, with the term pepper tree, we indicate some trees, very different from each other, sharing a similarity with zanthoxylum, which however often runs out in having pinnate leaves. Therefore, in Italian shops (and I repeat: often not in nurseries, but in furniture or DIY stores, in the area dedicated to plants) we find various types of pepper trees; very rarely it is zanthoxylum piperitum, rarely it is schinus molle (which in Italy is called false pepper), more often it is sophora prostrata “little baby” or operculicaria decaryi. These four essences are very different from each other. that we go from plants suitable for outdoor living up to a semi succulent plant, equipped with caudex; before being able to decide how to grow our pepper tree, it is therefore essential to try to understand what plant we have actually purchased, in order to then be able to breed it in the best way.
Zanthoxylum piperitum

Schinus molleThis bonsai is generally considered an indoor plant, and as such during the winter it suffers greatly from the hot and dry conditions present in our homes; to make it survive the winter it is advisable to keep the plant in a poorly heated area of ​​the house, and to vaporize the foliage often; alternatively, and having the tools, it can be cultivated throughout the winter in a cold greenhouse, where however the minimum temperatures never fall below 5 ° C; it’s a small deciduous tree, so don’t be scared if it loses its leaves in the fall, it will produce all new leaves in the spring.

As with many other plants, we avoid placing our bonsai near direct heat sources, or near drafts, and we water the soil only when it tends to dry out, so the higher the temperature and the dry the air. , and more often we will have to water it and vice versa. It is a beautiful plant, not very easy to cultivate for beginners, in spring it produces long panicles of small flowers, followed by decorative fruit; let’s keep it in a very bright area, with a few hours of direct sun, but only in the coolest hours of the day.

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Prostrate SophoraSchinus molle is an evergreen tree, native to the arid areas of Central and South America, the small berries are used in cooking, and called pink pepper; it has an elegant posture, and large pinnate leaves, with the small leaves that compose it lanceolate. The bark, even in young specimens, tends and becomes gray and cracked, a detail that makes them very interesting as bonsai, in addition to the tiny fruits, which are already very decorative in young bonsai.

It is grown outdoors, occasionally, only in case of very low minimum temperatures, it is sheltered with non-woven fabric, covering both the plant and the pot, to prevent the foliage from being damaged by the cold. , which needs a particularly well-drained soil, as the schinus does not like excess watering and stagnation of water.It is positioned in a very bright area, with a good dose of hours of direct sun every day, except in torrid seasons and in the hottest hours of the day. This is not a beginner bonsai, as the tree is very vigorous and the leaves are very large, which is why it is necessary to carefully follow the development of the bonsai, correcting it several times a year.

OperculicariaThe prostrate sophora is an evergreen shrub native to New Zealand, has small pinnate leaves, made up of very small rounded leaflets; the branches are light brown in color and have a silky appearance; the shrub is small in size and develops a particular, very ramified posture, with the new branches facing downwards; the overall appearance of the plant is decidedly very pleasant; in particular, the “little baby” cultivar variety has particularly minute leaves, which definitely make it an excellent shrub for preparing bonsai, as even very young specimens can remember old trees, without the grower having to devote months and months of I work for the bonsaizzazione.

These are indoor evergreen bonsai, very suitable also for beginners, as it often happens that well-formed specimens initially require little care over the years. They prefer very bright locations, even sunny, but not in the hottest hours of the day; they tolerate drought very well, and fear water stagnation, which can very quickly lead to the death of the plant, or to a complete defoliation.As happens for many plants, even the prostrate sophora does not like the very dry air present in the house, therefore during the winter it should be periodically vaporized to increase the ambient humidity.

The operculicaria is a semi succulent plant, with a caudiciform stem, native to Madagascar; it is grown in an apartment or in a cold greenhouse, with minimum temperatures that never drop below 10 ° C. It is cultivated in bright areas, even in full sun, and tolerates drought well; on the other hand, it fears excess watering, even in summer, so it is watered only when the soil is dry. Such soil must be very well drained.

The operculicaria and the sophora prostrata are plants with a very similar appearance, and for a non-expert it is very easy to mistake one plant for the other, as they have very similar foliage and posture; the stem is certainly different, which in the operculicaria has very evident veins, and deep roughness, in addition to this, even the young specimens tend to produce a gnarled and intricate stem. a beginner, also because it tolerates the conditions characterized by dry air in the house at its best.

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pepper tree – Bonsai tips

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