In this section we will be going over the care of bonsai, specifically succulent bonsai. True bonsai has very specific parameters. When creating succulent bonsai it is difficult to follow traditional rules. With succulent bonsai we are still trying to capture the look of mature plants from the wild, in a container, and a smaller version of that plant. Traditional bonsai enthusiasts would cringe that we would dare call these creations bonsai! There have been attempts to come up with a new name for these creations, however none have caught on as of yet. In any case this is a art form that has its roots from traditional bonsai, so for now we will refer to them as succulent bonsai. Growing succulent bonsai is very rewarding. Many succulents exhibit features of mature old specimens at a young age. As with all bonsai it is amazing that these plants can live in such a small container with so little soil. This is the main factor in the "dwarfing" of these spectacular plants.
As with all my care pages we will always talk about the importance of soil. Soil mixes for bonsai should be well draining just as the general soil mixes are for succulents. I would recommend a mix with at least 50% inorganic materials, such as perlite or pumice. For more specifics go to the "Succulent Care" page on this site. As always, don't skimp on your soil! It is amazing how little soil is needed to grow a plant. I have some plants with about 1.5 inches of soil depth in a small diameter pot! The soil becomes a solid mat of roots. This limitation is what causes that "fat" compact look we are seeking.
Watering is very important with succulent bonsai. Because of the small container and soil mass, your plants will require more attention when it comes to watering. During the summer months in California I may water every two days. My plants have direct sunlight only part of the day. Occasional feeding with a good plant food will keep your plant in good health and growth. Make sure your fertilizer is applied dissolved in water, otherwise you may get some burning. Some of your plants may need little or no water certain times of the year. Make sure you know your plant, and if it goes dormant, etc.
If you plan to do bonsai, you will want to build a stockpile of various supplies. I like to have a selection of pots. This way I can choose the "perfect" pot for my plant, the right color, size, etc. Whenever you see a cool pot buy it. One day it will be the right pot for that special plant. I do the same for gravel, rocks and driftwood. I have large selections of all these. This way when you have the creative urge to create a bonsai everything is at your fingertips. You will be amazed at what you can do, and how great your bonsai will look!