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Water Jasmine Bonsai

Water Jasmine is the common name for Wrightia religiosa, the variety we use for bonsai. The name alone will tell you a lot about the plant.  

First of all, it does like plenty of water

Secondly, the flowers are as sweet smelling as jasmine.

(Although it is not related.)

The plant is native in tropical Africa, Asia and Australia, where it is a fast growing, hedge plant.

It is also a popular bonsai throughout the world.

Many attributes of this plant make it a desirable bonsai subject. 

bonsai-mary, wrightia religiosa, water jasmine flowers

The trunk looks like a tree, usually has good nebari, it's easy to maintain and is fast growing. 

The beautiful flowers are one of the most popular reasons for growing Wrightia religiosa as tropical bonsai.

Wrightia Around the World

Wrightia religiosa root-over-rock style by Mr. Pee, Thailand
yamadori, wrightia religiosa, water jasmineYamadori Wrightia
bonsai-mary, wrightia religiosa, water jasmineMany Years Later

Indonesian bonsai artist, Kaima Towira, posted this yamadori picture of a Wrightia.  We often think of yamadori as  pines and junipers, tropical plants are also collected "from the wild." 

As proof of Kaima's talent, one of a more "finished" bonsai is shown on display at a bonsai exhibit.

Cliff Chong, in Malaysia, is the artist who created this cascading bonsai tree. 

Pictures can be deceiving, this is a beautiful shohin

He has many other Wrightia shohin bonsai posted on his Facebook page.

water jasmine bonsai, unique bonsai

In Vietnam,  Lam Ngoc Vinh creates both traditional Japanese style bonsai and creative, unique bonsai using figurines. 

Although rarely used in Japan, many other countries respect using figurines in their bonsai.

Figurines are often included with the Vietnamese art of hòn non bo.

There are over 23 species of Wrightia (Apocynaceae family.) Some have been traditionally considered medicinal herbs. Over the years, it's been used for everything from skin care to stomach aches. 

A technology company in India, recently found leaf extracts from the Wrightia tinctoria species are good to treat cancer.

Water Jasmine as Indoor Bonsai

water jasmine bonsai, wrightia religiosa

Carl Rosner, in New Jersey USA, is enjoying a wonderful experience with growing his Water Jasmine as bonsai in his "Tree House."   Over the years, Carl has kept me posted on his bonsai. 

His Wrightia has had very few problems. Once, he had too many roots and another time a terrible attack of mites, both of which he quickly resolved. 

bonsai-mary, wrightia religiosa, water jasmine

His most recent email was a rightful 'brag' about the number of flowers. 

I think Carl's success is proof of Wrightia religiosa being a good "indoor" tropical bonsai.

Photos by Carl Rosner 

Wrightia Bonsai Care

Fast growing is the good news and the bad news.  Frequent pruning of the foliage will keep it from getting too wild and hard branch pruning will add lots of ramification.  This tree does not tolerate neglect.

The roots will also need pruning often.  Check them once a year, but most likely will need pruning at least every two years.  In the tropics, possibly more often.

If pruning the roots is neglected, you are asking for poor water drainage and potential weakening of the plant overall.  Root pruning, as with most tropical bonsai, should be done during the time of warmest nights.

Wrightia is considered a "heavy feeder," which means do not neglect regular fertilizing.

Although it likes water, it can be over-watered.  This will mainly depend on the type of soil and/or whether or not it is root bound. As with any bonsai, the bonsai soil should be fast draining. 

Over watering and under fertilizing can both contribute to yellow leaves.

Small branches are easily wired.  Don't forget it grows fast and may cut in quickly.

This tropical bonsai is susceptible to the same pests as many other tropical plants. Good light, air circulation and regular maintenance will prevent many of them.

Where to Go From Here

Water Jasmine is just one of many Types of Bonsai

Unique Bonsai

Another Tropical Bloomer

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