Coral Tree Bonsai

Coral Tree Bonsai

Erythrina caffra, E. humeana, and E lysistemon

The fantastic tropical Coral Tree is a member of the legume family, Fabaceae, that produces stunning flowers.  Flowers range from brilliant pink, red, to orange hues. The thick-stemmed Coral tree turns into a powerful bonsai. They do lack a fine branch ramification and tend to be more robust.

Different types of Coral Trees range from spiny or smooth, deciduous or evergreen, with such as the:

– The Common Coral Tree (Erythrina lysistemon)
– Dwarf Coral Tree (Erythrina humeana)
– The Coastal Coral Tree (Erythrina caffra)
– Broad-leaved Coral Tree (Erythrina latissima)

The Common and Dwarf Coral tree variants are the most suited to creating a Bonsai tree. There are many tips and tricks to caring for your Coral Tree Bonsai, and you will find most of them in this care sheet.

Here’s what you’ll find in our Coral Tree Bonsai species guide:

Here’s what you’ll find in our Coral Tree Bonsai species guide:

Quick Coral Tree Bonsai Care Sheet

For a quick summary of the basics to care for your Coral Tree Bonsai see the care sheet below.

Recommended soil

Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand

Watering

Water regularly but sparingly, don’t let the soil dry out

Potting season

Spring before new shoots appear

Shaping and pruning season

Annually, Spring- after flowering

Light

Full sun

Fertilizing

Moderate fertilizer

Propagation methods

Seed, Softwood, or semi-hardwood cuttings

Pests and diseases

Twig borers, thrips, and nematodes

Growth patterns

Gnarled branches smooth or with thorns. Green leaves. Bright orange to red flowers. Seed pods

Recommended styles

Slanting or Double Trunk Bonsai style

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • (unranked): Angiosperms
  • (unranked): Eudicots
  • (unranked): Rosids
  • Order: Fabales
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • Subfamily: Faboideae
  • Tribe: Phaseoleae
  • Genus: Erythrina
Coral Tree Bonsai

How to Care for a Coral Tree Bonsai

Coral Trees make great Bonsais that generally require little water and attention. They are solid and robust trees with thick stems that stand their own, with a bit of love and care from you, of course. The basic requirements to care for your Coral Tree are included below.

Best Soil

All species of coral trees grow best in fertile, well-aerated, and well-drained soils. Drainage is important as standing in water will kill the plant roots and cause stem rot.

You can use store-bought bonsai mix with loads of stones added to it for a Bonsai Coral tree. The rocks create more space for air to pull through the soil and ensure that water flows through for proper draining.

Use a pot with enough drainage holes to allow for fast draining and enough airflow through the soil.

Watering

Coral Bonsai trees require little water. These trees are drought tolerant once established.

Bonsai pots are shallow, and you should take care not to let the soil dry out completely. Add a layer of moss during Spring and Summer to help with water retention.

Water the tree regularly but sparingly in summer and are kept dryer in winter. If your Bonsai is held outside in an area where it rains in winter, you need to ensure that the soil drains very well.

Repotting

Coral Trees have rapid root growth and will require to be repotted every two years due to the restricted soil volume of the pot. Your tree will push itself right out of the pot if you do not repot it often. Without repotting, the soil in the pot will become so full of roots that it will hold more water and less oxygen. This slows the growth of the tree and can lead to root rot and other issues. Your tree will deteriorate and die.

The best time for repotting is in early spring as it emerges from winter dormancy. During repotting, the root ball needs to be trimmed. The Coral Tree can take heavy root pruning, so you may cut many of the long thick roots right down to assist with continued fit and cover the tree with enough soil to be held down. Alternatively, you can always upsize the pot.

If your tree is leaning too much for the soil to hold it down, you can secure it to the pot with wires.

Shaping and Pruning

The Coral tree does grow thick new shoots that are very easy to shape with wire as they set quickly. The shoots grow so fast that you have to be extremely careful and watchful as the wire can leave large scars in the growth.

Prune your Coral Tree at least once a year, and spring is the best time to do it following blooming, not to sacrifice flower production. It would be best if you prune your Coral Tree bonsai as soon as it looks top-heavy, no matter the time of year.

You need to remove the heavier stems and damaged areas to prevent limb loss and keep the tree upright. Thin out the green growth as it is full of moisture and can cause the softwood branches to split from the tree. Remember to dispose of the seeds as they are poisonous if ingested.

Location and Sunlight

Bonsai Coral Trees prefer full sun and thrive in warmer, frost-free regions. These tropical plants love the sun and heat but do not like to be drier out.

They can tolerate moderate frost once fully grown but require protection for several years when young. Select a protected spot with full sun for your Bonsai tree, and remember to cover it on cold winter nights to protect it against the frost.

Fertilizing

Your bonsai require only an occasional feeding during the growing season. A mulch of compost around the roots is recommended in spring, as the Coral Tree flower on the new branches of the current season. The mulch will gradually leach a light dose of nutrients into the soil over time.

Do not over-fertilize your Coral Tree bonsai soil as it causes them to grow aggressively, which will cause problems later on.

Propagation Methods

The Coral Tree can easily be propagated from seed, cuttings, and truncheons. Seeds work well, but it will take longer to grow a big, stately tree. Cuttings are tricky as most of them tend to rot away. Take larger woody sections and allow them to dry out before planting them.

Truncheons produce a moderate rate of success. When you cut a truncheon, you need to leave all the cut ends to dry for a day or two in a cool and dark place. Then plant it into a pot and keep it moist through the growing season.

Pests and Diseases

Some of the most common pests and diseases for the Coral Tree bonsai include the Erythrina Gall Wasp that lays eggs underneath the leaves and makes them look warty but doesn’t harm the tree. Another insect pest in Aphids is sucking insects that suck nutrients out of the leaves and stems of the plant to survive and reproduce.

They create little yellow spots on the tree leaves. Red Spider Mites also love Coral Trees. These tiny insects also feed by sucking the chlorophyll out of the leaves. They love hot and dry conditions and multiply quickly.

The Erythrina stem borer occurs when the trunk is too wet and feeds on the bark’s outer cambium, which causes the bark to become rotten. The Erythrina Twig Borer causes the growing tips to die off.

Keep your tree free of pests by washing down the tree with water and do not overwater. Spray an appropriate pesticide when needed above and below the leaves of the tree.

Growth Patterns

A big part of the appeal to make a bonsai out of a Coral Tree is the gnarled branches. These are especially evident during the dormancy period when some varieties are leafless before bursting into bloom. The lush green leaves have three distinct leaflets.

The stems of these trees may have thorns or may be smooth, depending upon their evolutionary adaptations. The trunks are thick, with smaller trunks joining the main stem. Tree roots tend to push out of the ground, and the bark is a thin grayish brown.

The wood is weak and can break in the wind or due to overwatering. The flowers are spectacular, with thick bright pedals standing erect around the corolla.

Recommended Styles

All coral trees grow easily in pots. Two styles are suited to the growing of your Bosai Coral Tree.

Slanting Bonsai Style (Shakan) – The leaning style should grow at an angle of about 60 – 80 degrees relative to the ground. The roots on the one side are well developed to keep the tree standing. The trunk can be slightly bent or completely straight but still be thicker at the bottom than at the top.

Double Trunk Style Bonsai (Sokan)Usually, both trunks will grow out of one root system, or the smaller trunk grows out of the larger trunk just above the ground. The two trunks will vary in thickness and length. The thicker stem grows nearly upright, while the smaller one will grow out a bit slanted.

Coral tree bonsai

Considerations for Growing an Indoor Pomegranate Bonsai

When caring for your Coral Tree, you need to make certain considerations for the environment you keep the tree in, moisture management, and fertilizer care.

Environmental Care

Coral Tree bonsais prefer sunshine but do not like very high or very cold temperatures. During the growth period, your tree needs five or more hours of sunlight. Keep your tree at around 20 ~ 28℃. And shade it at temperatures higher than 35℃.

Moisture Care

During the growing season, the soil should always be kept moist but not waterlogged. In Summer, you need to increase the water provided, and you can spray water on the leaves to moisturize them.

Fertilizing Care

Provide your tree with thin liquid fertilizer during the growing months but do not over-fertilize. Provide phosphorus and potassium fertilizer during the flowering period and stop fertilizing in autumn.

Common Issues When Caring for a Coral Tree Bonsai

Coral trees are fleshy trees that can rot if kept too moist. Keep them in full sun and humid but dry conditions. Overwatering promotes a weak limb structure, and its softwood cannot support such spurts and subsequent breakage. In the dry season, the weight of the tree can pull it out of the soil.

Interesting Facts About Coral Tree Bonsai

Some interesting bit of information about the Bonsai Coral Tree includes:

  • The seeds are buoyant and can float for up to one year
  • The seeds are so hard that they pass unharmed through animal and bird digestive tracts
  • The beans are a brilliant red, with a black spot, and are called lucky beans
  • People wear the seeds in necklaces or armlets as charms for luck
  • The Coral Tree can evolve to take advantage of its environment
  • Coral trees (Erythrina spp.) are also known as flame trees due to their bright scarlet to red-orange flowers
Coral Tree Bonsai

FAQs About Coral Tree Bonsai

Here are some common questions asked about the Bonsai Coral Tree.

Coral trees produce a poison with a curare-like and paralyzing action. This is used medicinally to relax the muscles in treating nervous diseases. The little red seeds of all erythrina are said to be poisonous when ingested.

You need to remove the heavier stems and damaged areas to prevent limb loss and keep the tree upright. Thin out the green growth as it is full of moisture and can cause the softwood branches to split from the tree. Remember to dispose of the seeds as they are poisonous if ingested.

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