Powder Puff bonsai care is easier than you may expect. It is considered to be an overall easy-to-grow plant.
The Calliandra species prefers moist and slightly acid soil. It tolerates both full sun and full shade. The big difference will be the size of leaves. Like many legumes the leaves are compound. For more compact growth some sun is desirable, at least bright light. While young, branches can be wired easily.
Keep the powder puff evenly moist in well drained soil. Not too wet, not too dry.
One variety - C. schultzei - is likely to become root bound quickly and will need additional water as the roots begin to fill the pot.
Powder puff bonsai care includes fertilizer. During the growing season, a regular weekly feeding program with a balanced liquid fertilizer (once a month during cooler weather) will keep your powder puff nourished.
The best seasons for styling, potting and repotting are spring and summer. In warm climates, we've had success repotting year round.
C. schultzei is very fast to recreate extensive roots. Check the roots annually. Occasionally severe root pruning may cause leaf drop. The most commonly used variety, Calliandra haematocephala 'nana' (dwarf powder puff) is much slower to create new roots and also responds slowly to leaf loss.
Most hobbyists begin their powder puff bonsai with nursery stock. The one shown here was created from a cutting by the late Millie Cooper, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. When it came to propagating, Millie truly had a green thumb. Most of her bonsai collection was grown from either seed or cuttings.
Today this beauty is part of the bonsai collection of the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, FL
Calliandra bonsai is susceptible to very few pests and/or diseases. Aphids may be the most likely nuisance. Care should include growing in an area with good air circulation, then, even aphids are rare. If your dwarf powder puff bonsai care includes regular fertilizing and you still have leaf yellowing, it can be resolved with a little iron.
Powder puff (and most legumes) have compound leaves that close up at
night. Always plan to photograph in the day.
The leaves may also respond to movement from one place to another, cold weather and even a windy day. This folding up and wilting look very different. If it actually wilts, it's usually a warning that it needs water.
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