The Baobab as a bonsai
The baobab is truly a remarkable tree. If these magnificent giants could talk I'm very sure that they would have incredible stories to tell. They are amongst some of the oldest life forms on our planet. Many of them are a few thousand years old. These giants have provided food, medicines, places of refuge and worship. They have even served as tombs, prisons and ossuaries. There is even one in Devils gorge (Mpumalanga – South Africa) which is called the “Pub Tree” as it has an actual pub inside the hollowed tree.
Baobabs are generally found in very hot climates with low rainfall. Using these remarkable trees as bonsai does however bring some challenges and special care in order for them to survive. These as bonsai can make some beautiful trees. They heal very well when they have been cut. Watering them is simple as they really don't need to be watered daily as to much water will rot them. They are very much like succulents in that respect. In winter they get absolutely no water. That is however also dependent on where you stay. As mentioned before they love and need the hot climate. Where I stay (Gauteng) our winters are too cold for them so what I do is once the tree has lost its last leaves in autumn I take it and put it away in the garage or a cupboard for the winter months. They should not be allowed to get frost or extreme cold weather as this could kill them.
Once spring comes one should keep an eye out for any new shoots which will start to appear as the weather gets warmer. When the new shoots appear it can be put outside again and watering can start again. Make sure that the evenings are not to cold, however if it is still cold in the evenings you can always put it in a warmer spot at night like the garage or cupboard where you were keeping it before. When the weather has warmed up it can go outside permanently again.
Besides the winters to watch out for, they are generally easy to work with. They can be cut, wired and styled with a fair amount of ease. Cuttings from them grow fairly easy.
Unfortunately baobabs are slow growing so if you want to boost its growth put it in a much larger pot (something that's manageable if moving it is required). So that the roots have plenty of space to grow and that will help the tree fatten up quicker. What I have seen as well is growers stick PVC piping into the pots and water down those shoots. The water will run along the bottom of the pot. The tree will “smell” the water and grow faster. Watering the entire pot surface occasionally is however a good idea as the roots may not be reaching the water which goes through the PVC spouts.
In times when we have our rainy season it's a good idea to take it out of the rain if it's been raining consecutive days in a row. This will allow the tree some time to dry out so that it will not start rotting from over watering. Look after your tree and it can be passed from generation to generation and receive the same amount of TLC which you gave it.
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