How to Style a Money Tree Bonsai
The Money Tree or Pachira Aquatica is an increasingly popular indoor tree transitioning well into the art of modern bonsai. The Money Tree is said to bring with it wealth and prosperity – which we could all use more of.
With its shorter lifespan compared to traditional bonsai trees, it can still be a very rewarding bonsai. The Pachira Aquatica also propagates easily from cuttings, so you can continue working with this particular species even when the original tree reaches the end of its lifespan.
The tree is easy to care for, which makes it a great starter bonsai for beginners. Styling the tree, however, can be tricky when you are just starting. Knowing how to style a Money Tree bonsai can be difficult for some. The reason for this is the lack of side branches with this species. It takes some knowledge to get the tree looking how you want.
Best Styles for a Money Tree
Before we start getting into styling your Pachira Aquatica, we need to have a basic understanding of the styles best suited to the bonsai’s natural growth. These trees are notorious for being tall and skinny, almost growing straight up with few side branches.
Also, many Money Trees are sold as a braided version where three or five trees are braided together. This design can be a solution to the lanky tree but comes with some pitfalls.
Formal Upright (Chokkan)
The formal upright or chokkan style works well with this tree, as it best represents how you might find the tree in nature. The bonsai is grown with a strong vertical trunk and a few branches stretching uniformly outwards with this style. It can be achieved with only a single Money Tree or a braided variant.
Informal Upright (Moyogi)
With this style, the trunk is still growing vertically but winds around in curves that become smaller towards the top. The Informal Upright or Moyogi style can be applied to the tree as well but might need more experienced hands as this bonsai can be tricky to wire.
If you have experience, you cloud wire very young stems while still pliable to achieve a more traditional moyogi style. The typical braid can help achieve this style if the artist loosens some trunks in certain areas.
Forest Grouping (Yose-ue)
The forest grouping or Yose-ue style can also work well for the Money Tree with regular pruning. It can also be easily achieved by unbraiding a young Pachira Aquatica and spreading the trees to form a grouping. This style might not be possible for older trees where the braid has started to mature, as it might be too difficult to loosen the braid.
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How to Style a Money Tree Bonsai
To style a Money Tree bonsai, you have to take some time with your bonsai to see what style would suit the tree best. Look for interesting features that you want to display prominently and work from there to decide on the style.
Styling a Formal Upright
This style is one of the easiest to use for the Pachira Aquatica. You can use one tree, or a braided version. Try to get some of the new growth from the top to bend to the sides to form side branches. Keep the canopy of the tree well-trimmed and rounded in shape.
If you are trying to create side branches, you can clip some of the upward growing branches above an outward-facing node. When the new growth comes in, you might get an outward growing branch.
Styling an Informal Upright (Moyogi)
This style would be more challenging to create with your Pachira Aquatica, but you can get it to work with careful monitoring and some experience. You can use a single young plant that is still pliable and use wires to bend the tree into an s-shape carefully.
You’ll have to monitor the growth and wire carefully so that they can be removed before scarring the trunk. You can also try to style the braid into an s-shape by loosening some of the trunks in strategic positions.
Styling a Forest Grouping (Yose-ue)
This style is another easier one to try with the Pachira Aquatica as you don’t have to manipulate the trunks as much as other styles. As such, an upward-growing tree can work well with this style. One thing to bear in mind is that you will have to prune the foliage as the big leaf groupings of this tree can become overwhelming.
If you have a braided Money Tree consisting of three or five trees, you are already on your way to a grouping. You can unwind the braids and move the trees apart when placed in a pot.
To give a more natural look to your forest, cut your trees at different heights to create interest. Keep the canopy trimmed and dome-shaped to create the illusion of a natural forest.
Tools needed to style a Money Tree Bonsai:
- For branch pruning, you need pruning shears.
- For maintenance and leaf pruning, you need pruning scissors.
- For wiring, you will need bonsai wire, approximately a quarter of the size of the trunk or branch, to be wired.
- For wiring, you will also need wire cutters to cut the bonsai wire.
Choosing and implementing a style design for your Pachira Aquatica can be straightforward. However, if you haven’t styled a bonsai before, it may seem intimidating. Don’t be surprised if you start with a particular style and, after a few growing seasons, end up with a completely different tree from your plan.
After all, you are working with a living, growing being. That is part of the art of bonsai; and one of the most enjoyable aspects of the craft.