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Neem Bonsai

How to Grow and Care for Neem Bonsai Tree

Recently, neem bonsai trees have caught the attention of gardeners because the health benefits their oil and other parts have as an effective herbicide.

This versatile and easy-to-grow plant, native to tropical India and Asia is a valuable tree. Hence, they are widely grown as bonsai trees.

In this article, you will learn how to grow and care for a neem bonsai tree and as we take you a thorough with the help of the mentioned easy steps. Equipped with this, you will be able to grow a healthy neem bonsai tree within 2 years.

So, let’s begin.

About Neem Bonsai Tree

Scientific nameAzadirachta indica
SunlightFull
TemperatureHigh Temperature (can tolerate temperatures up to 48°C)
WateringWater when the soil gets dry 
FertilizerBalanced Liquid fertilizer
Life span200 years
Special noteNeem contains antiviral, antifungal properties. Its seeds, leaves, bark, and stems are used in medicinal, cosmetic, and insecticidal products

Bonsai plants online: If you’re looking to buy bonsai plants online, there are many options available. You can find an online bonsai plant nursery that offers a wide variety of plants. You can also buy bonsai plants for sale online, which can be more affordable than buying them in a physical store. There are also online stores that specialize in rare bonsai plants. When buying bonsai plants online, make sure to check the delivery options and costs. 

How to Grow Neem Bonsai

Growing neem bonsai from seeds

  1. The good thing about growing neem bonsai from seed is that they do not need any pre-treatment before planting. So, take the fully ripe neem fruit and squeeze out its seed by removing the pulp.
  2. Then, fill a pot with good-quality potting soil, plant the neem seed horizontally, and sprinkle the potting soil over them.
  3. Place the pot in a warm location and keep the soil moist.
  4. The seed will start to germinate within 2-4 weeks depending on the temperature and age of the seed.
  5. To germinate well, the temperature should be between 20°C-25°C. In colder temperatures, the seed takes a long time to germinate.

Growing neem bonsai from cutting

You can grow neem bonsai from branch cutting if you cannot get healthy neem seeds. You can propagate a new neem tree from a softwood or hardwood branch cutting.

Hardwood cutting means choosing a year-old branch, whereas softwood means growing from the tip of the branch.

  1. Take the branch cutting and remove all of its leaves.
  2. Now apply the rooting hormone at the lower end (1 inch) and tap off the extra rooting hormone. You can either use a commercial rooting hormone or homemade hormone made from cinnamon, aspirin, or honey.
  3. Next, insert a stick in the soil about 1 inch from the bottom. Take out the stick and insert the cutting in the hole and gently press the soil around it.
  4. Put the pot in a polythene bag and tie it to the top. This will ensure that the moisture gets trapped inside the bag and keep a high humid environment essential for rooting.
  5. Place the pot in a sunny place but away from the direct sun.
  6. Open the bag and mix the soil every 10 days. Do not overwater otherwise the cutting will rot. Basically, watering is not needed as roots are yet to develop.
  7. In 3-6 weeks, you will observe new growth. At that time open the bag and just tuck the cutting with your hand to check if it offers resistance. If it does, that means roots are developed. If not, again mix the soil and tie the bag. You will see some roots emerging from the bottom holes of the pot.
  8. If you see some leaves, open the bag for half-day for the next 3 days. After that take out the pot and place it in partial shade for a few weeks.

Check Out: How to Grow Bonsai From Cutting

How to Care for Neem Bonsai

Temperature and Sunlight

Summer is the growing season for the neem tree. This tree thrives well in sunlight and high temperature.

The growth rate of the trees is highest in the summers as they can grow as big as the size of a pot allows.

This is a hardy tree that can tolerate temperatures up to 48 °C However, in cool weather with temperatures below 1.6°C, leaves start to drop as the tree cannot tolerate cold temperatures, wet climates, or prolonged drought.

Watering

You should only water if the top 1 inch of soil feels dry. In summer, the tree will need daily watering if planted in a small pot. Avoid overwatering as it will lead to fungus and root rot on the neem tree.

Also, remember the hotter the place the more water your neem bonsai will need. If the soil surface becomes stiff during a hot climate just dip your bonsai pot in water, to cover the soil surface, for about fifteen minutes. In winter neem trees go dormant, so they don’t usually need water, probably once or twice a month. As a general rule of thumb, use your own observation before giving them a drink, no matter what season they are in.

Soil

Soil is an essential part of bonsai, as it provides nutrients to the bonsai plant. The best soil is the one that has well-draining properties. 

The pH level of soil should be neutral, that is 7.0 or slightly basic, that is, 7.0-9.0

Use the below soil mix for the healthy growth of neem bonsai,

Gravel3 parts
Brick chips2 parts
Compost2 parts
Sand 1 part
Vermicompost1 part
Coco peat1 part

Fertilizer 

The best time to fertilize the tree is in spring and summer. Feed the tree once a month using any good quality fertilizer, balanced fertilizer, or a dilute solution of water-soluble fertilizer. You can also use a diluted fish emulsion.

Pruning

While pruning neem bonsai, prune the 2nd or 3rd set of the leaves that are just above an outward-facing leaf. In this way, you will get the outward-facing branches, this will give your neem bonsai a natural tree look.

If any branch is hampering the desired shape of the bonsai tree, then prune it off.

Wiring

Wiring the neem bonsai is important as straight branches will not look good. If you have too straight branches then it will not look natural. In order to bend the straight branches, use aluminum wire. You can easily get Aluminium wire from any local electrical shop.

While wiring, make sure to give support with one hand and avoid wiring leaf nodes. Also, slowly bend the branches as per the desired shape. 

After 2-3 months, the branches will permanently get bent. Once the desired shape is achieved, remove the wires.

Repotting

Repotting is required when the roots get bound or the neem leaves start to appear yellow. There are some ways through which you can determine that your bonsai tree got root bound- first of all lift the whole pot and check the drainage holes, if roots are peeking from the bottom, it’s a sign. Secondly, you need to water the bonsai and if the water is running out of the pot within a few minutes, it’s a sign that there’s no soil left in the pot to keep it moist. Thirdly, the pot will fall down, because the roots are usually not as heavy as the upper part of the tree. 

After making sure that the roots have root bound, lift the tree out of the pot, and start to remove the damaged part. Remove the soil from the roots and gently wash the roots. If the roots are looking good, there is no need to prune them. Try not to take the whole root by pruning, at least keep 70% of the whole root system. 

Put the layer of bonsai soil in the new pot. Decide the front of the tree and place it in the pot. Next, add the bonsai soil and cover the roots. Make sure to water it fully and deeply.

Note:

Do not overwater or put the tree under direct sunlight, or else it will get shocked and might never recover. Give time to get used to its new form and home. 

Winter care 

The tree may be unable to withstand temperatures below freezing point in winter, so you may have to move it inside. 

Winter is a dormant time for neem trees, so they require less water then. But indoors they can get dehydrated as indoor air is known to be dryer than outdoors. You can help to keep a suitable humidity level by either using a humidifier or placing more than one of your plants together to construct a microclimate. 

Note:

You need to keep your neem bonsai tree away from drafts as well. Winter maintenance may imply relocating your bonsai if your windows are drafty. Neem bonsai are not fond of the cold, and any air coming in through gaps in the windows will potentially shock your tree. 

Benefits of Neem Bonsai tree

  1. Oil: The neem oil is used to treat many pests such as mealybugs, aphids, whiteflies, etc.
  2. Bark: Neem bark is widely used as an anti-inflammatory agent and it is useful for treating gum disease. Traditionally, natives used to chew the twigs which served as effective and impromptu toothbrushes. Also, the sticky bark resin is used as glue.
  3. Flowers: Bees love the sweet aroma of the neem tree, which is widely used as a food source. In addition, it has a calming effect.
  4. Wood: A neem tree grows fast and tolerates poor growing conditions and drought-prone soill. In many frost-free regions of the world, the wood also makes a valuable source of clean-burning firewood.
  5. Cake: Cake is the pulpy substance that is left over after the oil is taken out from the seeds. It is an effective fertilizer and mulch which is used to discourage diseases like mildew and rust.
  6. Leaves: Leaves of neem are usually used in the paste form. They are used for skin treatments such as fungus, chickenpox, or warts.

FAQs

1. Can you grow neem bonsai indoors?

The tree cannot handle colder temperatures, wetter climates, or prolonged droughts. However, if you can find fresh neem tree seeds, you can grow a tree indoors in a pot filled with good quality, well-drained soil.

2. How much watering does the neem bonsai needs?

You should water neem trees once a week when they are young. In poorly drained soil and with wet feet, neem trees do not do well, so don’t overwater them. Let the soil dry completely between watering sessions.

3. How many years can neem bonsai can live?

It can live up to 200 years.

4. What does neem tree cure?

Among its many uses are the treatment for leprosy, bloody nose, intestinal worms, stomach upset, loss of appetite, skin ulcers, heart disease, diabetes, gum disease, and liver disease.

Conclusion

Growing neem bonsai trees from seeds is an easy as well as quick method, but the seeds need to be healthy. The cutting method is also a very successful method with a high success rate, almost 100%. So, you can consider both methods while growing your bonsai tree.

You need to take care of neem bonsai similar to the trees grown in tropical climates. Also, neem tree love tropical to subtropical climates. It does not tolerate hot weather, especially young neem trees. 

So, that’s the basics of growing a neem bonsai tree at home. Now that you’ve got all the information, what are you waiting for? Give it a shot, purify and cool off your home air with a neem bonsai tree.

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