Seagrape bonsai care is most successful when they are grown in the full sun. It is a tropical plant and difficult to keep leaves small in low light conditions.
Coccoloba uvifera (the scientific name) can live in both wet and dry conditions, but prefers to be kept evenly moist in containers. It barely tolerates frosts (it will lose leaves) anddoes not tolerate freezes.
The bonsai shown here, has had its leaves pruned to encourage the next set to be much smaller.
Coccoloba is susceptible to very few pests and/or diseases. One common pest does attack new growth. Aphids cause distorted leaves and/or display chewing damage. Catch this problem early. Spray with a soapy detergent and water mix, a commercial soap based insecticide or a common ‘house & garden’ spray.
There is one horrific pest -- fortunately not common, the sea grape borer (Hexeris anhydrous.) The first sign of this pest is frass (looks like sawdust.) Individual wilted leaves are the next indicator.
The borer is located just behind the wilted leaf in the center of the stem. It actually hollows out the stem. I only had the experience once and used this systemic product by Bayer.
As warm nights become consistent, heavy pruning to both branches and roots (if necessary) can be done.
When pruning branches DO NOT use a concave cutter.
Coccoloba branches have segments that can easily be recognized. (Much like the Ficus variety shown here.)
Cutting into a segment, will cause it to die back to the next ring. When you cut half way between the 'rings' the remaining portion will dry up and eventually fall off. It's best not to get too close to the leaf you want to keep.
There is a much smaller leaf variety, Coccoloba diversifolia (Pigeon Plum.) The leaves are usually 2-4 inches and have a slightly different shape. It is less commercially available and has been much ignored as bonsai.
In nature, this is a small upright understory tree, often with multiple trunks. As tropical nurseries begin to appreciate this species as a landscape plant, we may see it used more often as bonsai.
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