Recommended UK native tree saplings for bonsai
Bonsai is the the Japanese art of growing miniature trees and shrubs. Bonsai can be a rewarding and relaxing hobby, as well as a beautiful way of displaying trees. There are many different species of trees and shrubs that can be grown as bonsai, but some are more suitable than others. Some factors to consider when choosing a bonsai sapling are:
- The size and shape of the leaves, flowers, and fruits. Ideally, they should be small or proportional to the trunk and branches.
- The growth rate and vigor of the plant. Bonsai require regular pruning and training to maintain their shape and size, so plants that grow too fast or too weakly may be difficult to manage.
- The hardiness and adaptability of the plant. Bonsai are usually grown outdoors, so they should be able to tolerate the climate and conditions of your location. Some plants may need protection from frost, wind, or pests.
Based on these criteria, below are some of the best UK native saplings for bonsai
Scot's pine (Pinus sylvestris): This evergreen conifer has long needles that can be reduced in size by pruning. It has a thick and textured bark that adds character to the trunk. It is very hardy and can grow in poor soils and windy locations. It is one of the most popular bonsai species in the UK .
Larch (Larix decidua) or Hybrid Larch (Larix eurolepis) This deciduous conifer has soft green needles that turn yellow in autumn before falling off. It has a graceful and slender shape that can be trained into various styles. It is also very hardy and can tolerate cold and wet conditions .
- Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna): This deciduous tree has small lobed leaves that turn red in autumn. It produces clusters of white or pink flowers in spring, followed by red berries in autumn. It has a gnarled and twisted trunk that gives it an aged appearance. It is very resilient and can grow in most soils and situations .
- Yew (Taxus baccata): This evergreen tree has dark green needles that contrast with its reddish-brown bark. It produces red fleshy fruits that attract birds. It has a slow growth rate but can live for centuries. It is very adaptable and can grow in sun or shade, dry or moist soils .
- Beech (Fagus sylvatica): This deciduous tree has oval leaves that turn brown in autumn but remain on the branches until spring. It produces small nuts that are edible for humans and animals. It has a smooth and gray bark that develops furrows with age. It is very hardy and can grow in most soils and exposures.
- Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) This deciduous shrub or small tree has small serrated leaves that are green above and gray below. It produces masses of white flowers in early spring, before the leaves emerge, followed by blue-black fruits called sloes in autumn. It has a thorny and rugged trunk that adds interest to the bonsai.
- Field maple (Acer campestre): This deciduous tree has lobed leaves that are dark green above and pale below. They turn yellow or red in autumn before falling off. It produces small flowers in spring and winged seeds in autumn. It has a smooth and gray bark that becomes corky with age. It is the only maple native to the UK and can grow in most soils and situations.
- Hornbeam (Carpinus betula) The Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) tree is a pretty tree which is native to the South East of England, though is found as far as Northern Scotland. It is popular as a hedge and can be seen in more formal gardens trained and pleached. The Hornbeam leaves are less shiny and more delineated and serrated than beech. It makes an attractive bonsai tree.
Juniper (Juniperus communis) An evergreen tree that naturally can reach a height of 6m, but generally remains a low maturing shrub with spreading branches. Berries are green in first year and ripen to dark purple in the second year.Juniper is one of Britain's native conifers and occurs naturally in a variety of UK locations. Ideal UK native tree sapling that can be used for Bonsai.
Downy Birch (Betula pubescens) Deciduous tree that has more upright branches than the Silver Birch though not dissimilar, with slightly browner bark rather than silver. In folklore bundles of birch twigs were used to drive out the spirits of the old year. The Downy Birch is very common in Britain, particularly Scotland and thrives well in wet areas. Makes a very pretty bonsai and can be used to create a miniature bonsai copse.
This is not a comprehensive list of UK native tree saplings that are suitable for Bonsai and most of our saplings for sale are suitable for bonsai. For a wider range of available saplings please click here