Cotoneaster shohin favourites

Cotoneaster shohin favourites

The Cotoneaster is among my all time favourites for shohin-bonsai. especially for Mame-bonsai (from 9,5 cm and down), because it is slightly draught tolerant, and can develop a fine root system for the extremely small pots used.

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Cotoneaster × suecicus ‘Coral Beauty’ is one of the varieties among the Cotoneaster specimens that are particularly good for Shohin bonsai. It is a summer flowering specimen, and therefore it sets its flower buds during spring. If you want flowers, you should not prune after the dormant period in winter, when leaves have dropped.

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Other (but fewer) varieties are evergreens, as it is the case with the Cotoneaster microphylla. As other types of Cotoneaster it has white flowers followed by red or orange fruits in autumn. C. microphylla is a spring flowering specimen, and therefore it is necessary to stop pruning before fall, when the flower buds for spring are produced. If pruned in autumn/fall, you risk pruning away the small flower buds that are prepared for spring.

Cotoneasters are very tolerant regarding soil types and watering. They also willingly produce a massive amount of new growth when pruned hard. As long as they are fed well and taken care of, this the tree every shohin grower should have in their collection, if the specimen is available in your location. They are found in nature from western China towards Northern Europe.

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In midd-summer it is advisable to keep the pot and tree semi shaded during the hot part of the day, were the sun will heat up the soil and roots. In winter keep the tree from freezing in several days, and place it protected from winds (best choice is a greenhouse) because the leaves still will be evaporating trough the leaves, especially if exposed for the sun. Leaves and branches will dry out when the soil is frozen and cant take up water for evaporation.

 

 

 

 

Top 5 bonsai – Cotoneaster

Top 5 bonsai – Cotoneaster

In some of the next posts i will show my personal top 5 hit list of bonsai subjects. It will be in random order, because I can’t choose one for another.

A small Cotoneaster Shohin bonsai measuring 11 cm in height. Still got around two seasons more left before it is exhibition ready.
A small Cotoneaster Shohin bonsai measuring 11 cm in height. Still got around two seasons more left before it is exhibition ready.

The first choice is the Cotoneaster. Among its many advantages is the small leaves, flowers and autumn berries. Most are deciduous but specimens that keeps foliage through the winter are also available. It comes with different size of leaves in the more than 50 varieties, and with variation in colours among flowers and berries. It it’s found all over Europe down to western China. For some reason I have not found many as bonsai in Japan, although I find it one of the best varieties for bonsai. Especially for Shohin.

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The cotoneaster show great tolerance towards hard pruning, and reacts by a flush of new growth after hard pruning if the specimen is healthy. Also new growth emerges from the roots and even at the old base of the trunk. A few negative remarks to come up with, is that it is a little difficult to find specimens with a decent trunk size. The Cotoneaster is a low growing shrub that thrives best in a very well draining soil. They tolerate moderate desiccation, and the only pest I have noticed is a few Scale insects. One last remark on the negative list, is the missing ability to make callus and healing wounds after cutting bigger branches. The cut will be visible forever, as on junipers, after pruning large branches, and therefore you have to pay attention to where the cut is made in order to hide it on the backside or hidden by branches. Another way is to hollow out bigger scars, so it looks natural.

Early stages of a Cotoneaster. The long branches is let to grow freely for some time to thicken the branches. Afterwards these sacrifice branches are cut back when the effect wanted is achieved.
Early stages of a Cotoneaster. The long branches is let to grow freely for some time to thicken the branches. Afterwards these sacrifice branches are cut back when the effect wanted is achieved.

It is the perfect subject for Shohin and Mame bonsai, due to the qualities mentioned. It will be useful all year around, and not only have a few months where it is at its best. A few specimens can be used as medium sized bonsai if you have the luck to dig up a piece with a large trunk. That is often a specimen where more trunks have fused together over time as shown in the Cotoneaster below, that still is in the very early training stages.

A larger piece of a newly collected garden material. This cotoneaster will have a promising future due to its large trunk, probably consisting of more trunks fused together during the years.
A larger piece of a newly collected garden material. This cotoneaster will have a promising future due to its large trunk, probably consisting of more trunks fused together during the years.