A Tropical Mimosa
Bonsai Story

In the beginning, I called the tropical mimosa bonsai "little toys."  I knew they were fast bonsai from seeds (and fun to play with.)  However, I didn’t really see much future in them as traditional bonsai.  Over time, as some of these “little toys” developed, I realized that indeed they did have a future.

After The Bonsai Bench nursery closed, we found there were way too many mimosa bonsai.  From time to time, we would put one in the local club auction.  This is a story of what happened next to just one of them.

Ben Liss, a member of the Gold Coast Bonsai Society of Ft. Lauderdale, FL took one of those auctioned mimosa bonsai home.  

When I saw what he had accomplished, I asked him to share his story and photos with us. 

A Tropical Mimosa Bonsai
In Ben's Words and Photos

tropical mimosa bonsai, air layer, mimosa bonsa

I first acquired this tree at the Miami Bonsai Society Auction, December 2007. 

No major cutting, just some trimming/cut back has been done in this early photo.

I knew it had some problems and I continued to study it.

tropical mimosa bonsai, mimosa, air layer

I thought maybe a change of pot would help.

I repotted the bonsai into this dragon pot in the spring of 2008.

(The leaves are closed-up in this picture ... photo taken at night.)

tropical mimosa bonsai, mimosa bonsai, air layer

The rock almost concealed the reverse taper and poor rootage.

But I decided to remove the rock and address the actual problems.

tropical mimosa bonsai, bonsai tree, air layer

The best answer seemed to be to create an air layer.

I cut a ring around the trunk at the fattest part of the reverse taper and removed the bark with a sharp grafting knife.

tropical mimosa bonsai, bonsai tree, air layer

After cutting the ring and scraping the cambium, I used wire and a sheet of plastic to wrap around the tree.

I filled the plastic with a good amount of sphagnum moss and then tied another wire around the top above the cut mark. I left it a little loose on top so water could seep down into the moss.

tropical mimosa bonsai, air layer, bonsai tree

I started to see some roots poking through the moss in about 6 to 8 weeks. This is a close-up of how they looked.

I wanted to be sure so, I waited another few weeks before I took the plastic off, and made the cut just below the mass of sphagnum and roots.

tropical mimosa bonsai, air layer

When I removed the air layer, I also trimmed some branches and foliage.

I potted the newly shaped bonsai in a mica training pot and let the roots continue to develop.

Spring 2010, I repotted the tree again into a ceramic bonsai pot:  It 's still a little over potted, as I am still developing the roots/tree.  My intention is to keep it a nice little shohin."

Tropical Mimosa Bonsai Revisited

Tropical mimosa created from air layer.Tropical Mimosa Bonsai Grown from Seed

Here it is exhibited in February 2014. True to his word, Ben kept it as a shohin.

Where to Go From Here

There are many more types of plants good for bonsai, see Types of Bonsai  or return to the Tropical Mimosa Bonsai introductory page.

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