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Quercus Suber Bonsai

How to Grow and Care for Quercus Suber Bonsai (Cork Oak)

Are you aware that Quercus Suber offers the qualities that bonsai artists and growers most desire?

Two reason makes Quercus suber a  perfect choice to grow as bonsai,

  • Heavy-textured bark
  • Awe-inspiring tree trunk

And this article is going to help you to grow and care for your Quercus suber bonsai,

Quercus Suber Bonsai Key Facts

Scientific nameQuercus
Common nameCork oak
Position Full, direct sun
WateringWatering is needed to keep the soil moist.
FertilizerBalanced Liquid fertilizer ( use high nitrogen concentration if you want to develop the thick trunk)
PruningPruning unwanted shoots in early spring
RepottingEvery year in the early spring. ( Depends on the speed of the growth of plant)

Growing Cork Quercus Suber (Cork Oak) as Bonsai

Things you will need,

Peat moss
Decorative bonsai container
1-gallon potting container
Small scissors
Aluminium wire
Wire cutter
  1. Choose a well-rooted oak tree sapling or get the tree from the nursery. The main branch should be soft enough to bend without breaking.
  1. Now mix perlite and peat moss in the ratio of 1:1 to create a standard bonsai growing medium.
    Repot the tree into a 1-gallon container with the standard bonsai growing medium.
  1. Prune the shoots from the top level of the tree with small pruning shears or small scissors. This will begin to shape the tree into a miniature form and encourage thick growth at the bottom and thin growth at the top.
  1. Remove nearly all the leaves from the tree with small scissors, only leaving a few leaves at the end of each branch and leader to stimulate the tree to grow near the trunk.
  1. Cut the one-third-long aluminum wire and wrap it around the branch. Make sure the thickness of the wire is between one-third and one-half the thickness of the branch.
  1. Wrap the aluminum wire around the branches and main branch in 45-degree coils, leaving one-fourth inch of space between each coil. 
  1. Now, Bend the tree towards the shape you desire, be careful not to split the bark.
  1. Place the tree in partial shade and water it regularly. Also, keep the soil damp but it should not freeze during winter.
  1. Start fertilizing the tree one month after repotting and continue through the growing season following the manufacturer’s directions.

For the second year,

  1. Just before the new growing season begins, gently remove the bonsai tree from its pot by the trunk and expose the roots.
  1. Cut one-third root mass using secateurs or scissors.
  1. Repot the tree in the same pot or transfer the tree into a more decorative bonsai pot. Make sure the width of the decorative container is two-thirds the height of the tree.
  1. Bend the branches closer to the desired shape by adding wire to new growth as per the need.
  1. Resume fertilizing for one month after root pruning as per the manufacturer’s direction.
  2. Prune new growth to keep the tree under 2 feet tall and to maintain its desired shape.

General Care For Quercus Suber Bonsai (Oak Cork) Trees

Growing Medium

The growing medium for Quercus Suber should be about 40% organic material and 60% aggregate or non-organic substrate.

Quercus Suber which is grown as bonsai is able to tolerate direct sunlight. They need about 4 hours of direct sun per day. However, Quercus suber bonsai should spend the entire day in full to partial shade.

If your bonsai is placed in full shade, it might develop extremely large leaves and may suffer diebacks.

Here are some reminders while growing Quercus suber,

  • Select a Quercus suber tree with a thick trunk. After selecting that, put it in a large growing pot or place it on the ground or in a tub to fatten it up.
  • This tree grows rapidly in proper lighting and soil medium. You can observe 4-5 feet of shoot growth per year from a strong and healthy Quercus suber tree under the right growing condition
  • Also, they can be properly grown with proper pruning, soil mixture, and nutrition programs.


The pruning area of the Quercus suber bonsai plant is challenging. The bonsai artist or grower can root prune a maple or pine at any point in the growing season, but Quercus suber is more particular about its pruning time.

The root pruning of the plant should be done only in early spring. Usually when the plant breaks its winter dormancy but before it has gathered much new growth.

Quercus suber throw long shoots after emerging from winter dormancy. These shoots contain 7-8 nodes, which can be pruned if the plant does not receive sufficient sun during the day.

  • Pinch off the buds at the top of the bonsai. Pinch it before it grows during spring to help in reducing the leaves’ size.
  • Prune new shoots back to 3/4  to 11/8 inch long. Use sharp bonsai scissors to do this, and let some shoots grow if you want to thicken the part of your bonsai plant.
  • Also, remove all large leaves on regular basis to reduce the growth of large leaves, at the same time shape the tree according to the desired shape.


Quercus Suber is tolerant to excess water. They can maintain moisture even in the limited availability of water. The general watering technique is applied to the plant, but make sure that you don’t allow the soil to dry out completely. 

Therefore, it is important to check your Quercus suber bonsai every morning and evening to determine if it needs watering.

  • Make sure that your Quercus suber does not freeze during winter.
  • Water it regularly once a day, preferably in the morning.
  • Also, the proper flow of water is important for the growth and development of healthy roots.
  • If the soil appears dark and wet, your bonsai won’t need watering. Whereas if the soil appears light brown and feels damp, then more watering is needed.
  • Water thoroughly until the water drains out of the drainage hole.
  • Also, remember the hotter the position of your bonsai plant, the more water it will use. Because the surface of the soil becomes hard due to hot water.


Quercus suber needs NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) as well as minor nutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, manganese, molybdenum, boron, cobalt, copper, and nickel. Fertilize the plant with these micronutrients.

Nitrogen is the main nutrient for Quercus suber bonsai growth. It makes leaves deep green, large, and create long internodes with enough soil space. 

Bonsai mixture does not contain enough fines or clay in holding nutrients so they should be heavy as well as frequently fertilized.

If you are growing Quercus suber in sandy loam, there is a reduced need for water and fertilizer.

While applying fertilizer, always read the instruction to avoid overfeeding or underfeeding the Quercus suber bonsai plant. There are recommended nutrients levels for different seasons and stages for the growth and development of the bonsai.


The cork oak tolerates full sun better than other bonsai plants. They need a good bit of direct sun, preferably in the form of the morning sun that is not so hot.

During hot afternoon hours, Quercus suber needs filtered sun to full shade.

But when the bonsai plant is sited in full shade at all times, Quercus bonsai often develops dieback or may develop abnormal large leaves. And these leaves are inconsistent with the goal of bonsai. 


Repotting is needed on a regular basis so that Quercus bonsai does not get pot bound and the root system works more efficiently.

Also, repotting allows you to replace bonsai soil compost. 

 If your Quercus suber is growing vigorously, repotting is needed every 1 to 2 years to prevent pot bound. Whereas for slower-growing bonsai, it can be done for 3 to 5 years.

Repotting is best done during early spring, just before or soon as the buds start to open.


I hope this article will help you to grow a beautiful Quercus suber bonsai plant. And would be happy to hear in the comment section about your experience regarding growing the Quercus Suber bonsai plant.

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