Creating a dream flowering Bonsai with Indian Hawthorn (Pyracantha crenulata)

Pyracantha is an evergreen shrub and makes for some superb bonsai material with its lush small green leaves and its bloom of flowers which ripen into beautiful red berries. Native to Himalayas in India, it can be easily grown in Delhi NCR with  just a little bit of care.

Sunlight

    • It prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade.
    • Too much shade will result in fewer berries.
    • They cannot withstand very extreme heat during the summers so should be protected from extreme heat and sun during May and June.

Water

    • Pyracantha loves a moist rootball. In summer, when the tree produces flowers and fruits, it needs a lot of water and must not dry out.
    • Care should be taken and overwatering should be avoided.
    • In winter it requires less water.

Soil

    • It can easily be potted using normal soil.
    • Use a well-draining standard soil mix.
    • The firethorn can grow in slightly acidic, neutral or even alkaline soils.

Soil Composition

      • Soil 30 %
      • River Sand 30 %
      • Gobar Khad / Vermicompost 20 %
      • Leaf Compost 20 %
      • Bone meal + Neem Khal
  • Pruning should be done in winter (Dec-Jan) or very early spring to ensure the greatest yield of berries.
  • The older branches are stiff and brittle but the younger twigs are flexible and can be easily shaped using wires. Some caution needs to be exercised when wiring as the branches quickly become hard and brittle and break easily during bending.
  • The thorns of the plant and the evergreen leaves of the plant also interfere a little when applying the bonsai wire so a good way to apply the bonsai wire is to do it after defoliating¬†it.
  • The best time for wiring the new shoots is at end of summer when they are soft and the wire can be left on the tree till next spring and removed using a wire cutter before the flowering starts.
  • The fruit of the plant stays for a long time so should be removed physically to allow for new growth and buds to appear. The red berries should be removed by January end along with hard pruning of the plant to get new foliage and flowers.

Repotting

  • The younger trees should be repotted every two years and the older ones can be repotted every 3-5 years in December – January
  • It takes root pruning well and has no special demands concerning the soil.
  • The roots of the plant tend to spiral around so care should be taken while removing thick roots as it may be dependent on one root for its nourishment. So the best way is to first remove a few inches of soil from the top and then trace the root back before cutting it.

Feeding to get the best blooms

The buds start appearing in February and the fruits start forming by April. The green berries after three months start turning yellow in the rainy season. By November the colour of the berries starts changing to red.

It needs to be fed properly to get the best blooms according to the following schedule

    • Feed NPK till 15th Jan after that feed only P and K till Feb 15th
    • You can give a dose of Magnesium Sulphate from 15 th Jan to 15 th Feb
    • All feeding at 2 weekly interval
    • So if you are giving Biovita/Mag Sulphate let it be between the NPK.
    • In March give light dose of liquid manure every 15 days !
    • Middle of March till end March bud formation will take place( may even be earlier)

Propagation

The firethorn tree can be propagated from seed, cuttings or air-layering. Semi-hardwood cuttings can be taken in summer. The best method though is air-layering as it is seen that the success rate from cuttings is low. The seed should be sowed fresh and not kept over long time.

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