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Powder Puff Bonsai Care

Powder Puff bonsai care is easier than you may expect. It is considered to be an easy-to-grow plant overall.

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.)

Keep the powder puff evenly moist in well drained soil. Not too wet, not too dry.  

Some species (such as C. schultzei are likely to become root bound quickly and will need additional water as the roots begin to fill the pot.)

While young, branches can be wired easily.


powder puff bonsai care, powder puff bonsai

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.

Root Pruning and Repotting

The best seasons for styling, potting and repotting are spring and summer. In warm climates, we have 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.

Calliandra haematocephala 'nana' (dwarf powder puff) is much slower to create new roots and also responds slowly to leaf loss.


Although slow, Powder Puff are often commercially propagated from seed; they may also be grown from cuttings and air layers.

powder puff bonsai care, powder puff bonsai, flowers on bonsai

Most hobbyists begin their powder puff bonsai with nursery stock.

The powder puff shown here was created from a cutting by the late Millie Cooper, Ft. Lauderdale FL.

Millie truly had a green thumb when it came to propagating.

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

Powder Puff Bonsai Care
Problems, Pests and Diseases

Calliandra bonsai is susceptible to very few pests and/or diseases. Aphids may be the most likely nuisance.

Powder puff bonsai 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.

Count the Days to Flowers!

Calliandra e. blooms frequently with little encouragement. However, you can also schedule - to the day - when it will produce flowers.

Determine the day you want your tree to bloom and count back 20 days.

At that point remove any and all existing flowers and/or buds. On that same day, fertilize with a "bloom special" type liquid fertilizer. Leave the bonsai in its customary growing location and continue to water as usual. Eighteen days later the reddish colored, raspberry shaped buds will appear.

Wait just two more days. The flowers will burst into full bloom.

This formula is used by those growing bonsai outdoors in warm climates. In lower light, indoors or cooler climates, you may need to lengthen the timing three to five days at most.

The late Joe Samuels worked with this formula until he got it right. His main interest was to have his powder puff blooming at show time. Try it!

Telltale Leaves

Powder puff bonsai (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.

Where to Go From Here

Powder Puff bonsai care is only part of the story see the introductory page

Also see more Flowering bonsai trees

More Types of Bonsai

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