Water Jasmine is a tree species native to Southeast Asia that can reach around 20 feet (6 meters) in the wild.
Despite being a large tree, it has become very popular as a bonsai. You might recognize it by any of these names: Water Jasmine, Wild Water Plum, Sacred Buddhist, Wondrous Wrightia, or Philippine Jasmine.
As you might have guessed, this bonsai is sacred to Buddhists and can often be found in or near Buddhist temples.
Water Jasmine is a very popular bonsai due to its fragrant white flowers that smell just as sweet as jasmine. It tolerates heavy pruning and grows quite fast which makes it an excellent choice for those of us who like to prune and shape our trees. These qualities also make it perfect for beginners.
Due to having a tropical origin, the Water Jasmine bonsai does really well as an indoor bonsai as long as you place it in an area that gets sufficient sunlight.
Water Jasmine bonsai are quite easy to identify with their lanceolate (narrow, oval shape) leaves. The leaves are usually a light green color and arranged in an opposite pattern. When in flower, the Water Jasmine bonsai produces white, sweet-smelling, pendulous flowers.
Bonsai that are grown outdoors may be pollinated by insects in which case they can develop pairs of long green seed pods.
Care Guidelines For Water Jasmine Bonsai
The Water Jasmine is a tropical plant that likes heat and full sun conditions. It can be grown in partial shade, but that is not its preferred environment. If you want your bonsai to do well, try keeping it in full sun where the temperatures exceed 65° Fahrenheit (18°C).
If temperatures drop below this threshold in the fall, your bonsai might lose some of its leaves since Water Jasmine is semi-deciduous. If you want to prevent this, you will have to take your tree indoors and use grow lights if there isn’t enough sunlight available..
As the name implies, Water Jasmine bonsai really like their water. It is best to water this plant as soon as the soil surface has dried out. Never allow the soil to dry out completely, but also take care not to overwater your plant. A good test is to stick your finger about an inch (2.5 cm) into the soil. If it still feels moist, you can wait another day or two but if it’s dry, you can water your plant.
Soil And Fertilizing
This particular bonsai has quite an appetite. It is a good idea to use a high nitrogen fertilizer for Water Jasmine. If you’re using solid fertilizer, you can apply a decent amount every four weeks. If you prefer the liquid version, you will have to apply fertilizer every week during the growing season. Once the growing season is over, you can reduce the application of liquid fertilizer to once a month and once every 2 months for solid fertilizer.
A great time to start pruning this bonsai is just before the new growing season starts at the end of winter or early spring. Water Jasmine is known for its fast, vigorous growth which makes it easy for beginners to correct any pruning mistakes. It will also do fine if you accidentally prune it quite heavily.
You will need to spend a lot of time trimming and training your bonsai, which is why it is such a fun tree to care for. You will usually notice flowers forming after the third leaf pair has developed if your plant receives sufficient sunlight.
If you’re using wires to train your bonsai, you will need to take care to remove the wires timeously. Your bonsai can easily get damaged due to its high growth rate if you forget about one of your wires. If you’re hesitant to use wires, you can use string as a good alternative.
There are several ways to propagate this plant. If you want to start from scratch, you can try seeds. You can also use root cuttings, branch cuttings and as a last alternative, air layering.
Potential Pests And Diseases
The most common problems that people with Water Jasmine bonsai experience is from overwatering or underfeeding. If you notice your bonsai’s leaves turning yellow, it can be a sign of one of these problems.
Other things to look out for are pests like mealybugs, aphids, and scale. These pests can easily be taken care of by using the correct pesticide and manually removing any badly affected leaves and dead foliage.
As you now know, Water Jasmine is quite a fast grower. This means you will need to check your plant’s roots often and repot as needed. This bonsai is prone to becoming root bound which will weaken your tree quite quickly. If you suspect that your tree is root bound, gently take it out of the soil, prune some of the roots away and repot it in a larger pot.
To be safe, many bonsai artists check and repot their trees at least once a year. This procedure should be done during the warmest part of the year to lessen the stress on your tree. Some experts also suggest defoliation to reduce the stress on your tree after root pruning.