Bahama berry bonsai care is something which can not be ignored. No bonsai tree care should ever be ignored, but some plants need a little more care than others.
Nashia inaguensis, commonly known as Bahama Berry, is a tropical plant with excellent potential as a small bonsai.
The trunk acquires a somewhat fluted, old looking appearance very quickly. Rootage at ground level is consistently abundant and adds to the aged appearance.
It does not develop a thick trunk very quickly in a small container. For best results grow it in a larger container for girth development first.
The fast growing angular development is ideal for training in the "clip-and-grow" manner. Wire can be used to add movement to the otherwise linear branches.
The mature plant has very hard wood. When removing an unwanted branch, consider breaking it and cautiously tearing a shari (lightning strike) rather than using a concave cutter. The result is very natural looking.
During the growing season development is rampant; sprouts appear
on the trunk as well as on branches. To keep an established Bahama
Berry bonsai looking good ... prune, prune, prune.
Nashia is a true tropical, not a sub-tropical plant. It demands sun, heat, humidity, water and good air circulation.
Meeting these Bahama berry care needs can paradoxically create a bit of a problem. Full sun and good air circulation, where it is most happy, can also cause this plant to dry out very quickly; primarily because the roots are so prolific. In the tropics, these roots often fill a bonsai container in less than one growing season.
This plant does not recover well (if at all) from drying out. If you see the beginnings of wilt, drench it immediately. However, do not keep it sitting in water. Read more about watering bonsai. Nashia does not like to be soaking wet all of the time either!
Although the Bahama Berry insists on being consistently moist, drainage is very important.
It seems to grow easily in most soil mixes, but prefers some organic. Whichever soil you use, watch the watering! Remember ... “I Dry, I Die”.
Use an all purpose soluble fertilizer weekly (spring through fall). During cooler seasons, once a month will be ample.
Bahama berry bonsai care, requires watching for a peculiar pest called pit scale (Asterolecanium.) A sucking insect, this scale attaches itself and literally sucks a 'pit' in the stem.
In serious infestations, Asterolecanium can weaken a branch to the point it may break off when touched. Damage from this ‘pit scale’ can be extensive. Catch it early!
Fortunately, unlike mealybugs and mites, it is doubtful this scale will spread to your other plants. It has very selective taste. A routine check under the leaves and branches is critical.
Insecticidal sprays with pyrethrins have been used on Nashia for both problems with good results. (Always test any chemical on a small area first.)
As the bark ages on this plant, it can often become black from accumulated dirt and algae. A very light pressure from the spray of a garden hose will easily remove it; or use a soft toothbrush with soap and water. Do not scrub hard.
Although frequently used to clean other plants, DO NOT use vinegar during Bahama Berry bonsai care. It can cause die-back or worse.
In tropical and subtropical areas, Nashia is root pruned mid-April through mid-August. (In cooler areas wait until the nights are warm.) During this period of warm nights, severe root pruning is possible with no harmful consequences.
Because of the intense root system, it is common to slice the roots with a small saw or an old kitchen knife rather than comb them out in the traditional manner.
Root pruning too late, too early or during winter is likely to cause its demise. This same timing is reliable for propagation. Air layers and cuttings taken in the spring and early summer are much more likely to survive.
As part of your regular Bahama berry bonsai tree care, inspect the eager roots of this plant at least once a year.
Because of its stiffness, cascade and windswept are unlikely styles. First time Nashia growers should consider a deeper than usual pot. Once you have experienced the growth rate and its watering needs, you may reconsider your choice of a container.
Bahama Berry is not the best of indoor bonsai subjects. However, if you are not in a tropical climate, it will need to go indoors in winter. High light will help keep this bonsai growth compact and attractive.