While conifers and some deciduous trees make up the majority of bonsai, there are several fruit tree species that make delightful samples. These species are not dwarf varieties but, like other bonsai trees, carefully crafted miniatures of the standard tree.
Apple, lemon, peach, cherry and several other fruit tree species make excellent bonsai. As with the full-sized tree, it’s important to select the species suited to the climate in which the tree will grow.
Citrus trees don’t thrive in Northern Idaho, but apple trees do extremely well. The cold winters and hot summers produce abundant, well-formed fruit when autumn arrives. Cherry trees will do well in parts of the Mid-West and the South where there’s lots of moisture in spring and fall and long, cold winters. Lemon and peach flourish in dry, sunny California.
Chinese Sweet Plum make excellent bonsai. With pink and white flowers and purple fruit they brighten up any collection. Though most bonsai are outdoor plants, these will do well indoors provided they have adequate sunshine. Give them full morning sun, with shade in the afternoon and evening.
Quince is among the more exotic choices for a bonsai, but with proper care they can make a wonderful sample. They produce tiny flowers with yellow fruit. Similar to pears, they can tolerate full sun, but should have at least partial shade in hot summer periods.
Even grape vines can be made into a miniature bonsai-like plant, though they don’t grow in the same form as trees. They enjoy very hot weather, thrive in dry, sandy soil and produce fruit clusters and leaves just like the full-sized style. Beware, though, grape vines and the fruit can grow quickly and you must take care not to have them overwhelm the pot.
While you’re thinking of vines, consider a black olive tree. In the wild these evergreens can grow to 50 feet with a full oval crown. But they can be easily encouraged to spread out, making for a beautiful display. Their bluish leaves can lend a dark color contrast to some of the brighter fruit trees in your collection.
Figs are one of the more popular choices for a bonsai fruit tree. The tree, often known as ficus, can grow to enormous proportions – 60 feet high and 60 feet wide in some instances. This makes shaping them into bonsai a wonderful challenge. Keeping the canopy under control requires much dedication.
Of course, the humble cherry tree continues to make one of the best choices for a bonsai. Their lovely and abundant pink flowers and red fruit are a delight to the eye and nose. They do well in full sun much of the year, but will need a partially shaded area during the hot weeks of summer.
Cherry trees will take as much water as they’re given, though less is required in winter. As with any bonsai, good drainage is important to prevent root rot. Avoid watering the flowers.
Many fruit trees are sold very young, some no more than a root and small trunk. Like any bonsai, you’ll want to get them into water immediately, then plant the next day. Prune, soak, then place in the container with the usual bonsai soil mixture.