Growing A Rosemary Bonsai

My Rosemary Bonsai, The Bonsai Zone, Feb 2022

I like the uniqueness of that Rosemary with all the twisty trunks and branches!! Also with the type of bark it has makes it look even older!!! Great work Nigel and looking forward to the progress of this tree.

Lovely bark texture, should be more popular among us “tree nerds” bonsai or not. I think you should use that method with paper in more videos as it really enhance the view on the branches you consider take away or prune.

I made the mistake within the first two very eager months of my Bonsai journey of uprooting and potting a 3 foot high, well developed Rosemary bush I had planted over 5 years ago (without bonsai in mind) in the middle of summer. it promptly died however I have planted a new one with the hope I can use the original ones dead wood as a Tanuki. Very pleased to see someone else pursuing rosemary for bonsai.

hi everyone nigel saunders here today i’m going to be working on this rosemary bonsai that i put together in july of last year these two rosemary plants were given to me by my wife they were all growing lopsided and she wanted them brought back more compact so i planted the two plants close together and i rotated the one around so to fill in one side of the tree it’s still quite bare on this face but hopefully in the future with continual pruning i can get it to kind of fill out and be a little more symmetrical there’s a look at the two trunks on the tree so there’s the thicker one and the thinner one and these were grown from cuttings and they’re about four years old now i’ll show you a quick recap of the work i did to the rosemary’s last summer on this rosemary you can see how it’s been growing towards the light over here and it almost looks like a wind-blown tree they’re a temperate tree so they need a cool period in winter but not so cold that yeah too much cold and they’ll die all right so here i go i’m going to tip it on its side pull gently there it is get it on the turntable here okay i think i’m ready ready to wash the roots all right into the water it goes all right i’m going to separate this branch now cut it off here like that and i can plant this separately so i’ve got my two trees here and i’m sinking maybe planting them kind of nesting against each other kind of filling in this between where there’s no branches on this side i’ll give the rosemary a watering now and i’ll spin it around as i’m watering it so you can see it from all angles so here i go [Music] today i’ll be continuing the work trying to bring them back more compact and try and get some style to them as a bonsai i brought this plant up from the basement it’s been chilling down there all winter at around hovering around 10 degrees celsius so it’s just kind of being dormant it is under grow lights and i was surprised it needed a fair amount of watering over the winter i did have another one that i tried overwintering the basement and it was kind of in the back corner of the room and i couldn’t get to it and it died and i thought it died from the cold but i think it was probably from drying out not the uh the cold weather in the basement so so yeah even though they’re dormant kind of in the winter you’ve still got to water them and i water it about once a week whenever my wife needs some rosemary for potatoes she goes down in the basement and just clips off the top of some of the strong growth kind of using bonsai techniques i root pruned and repotted the two rosemarys into bone sized soil last summer and i planted sedum and thyme as a ground cover just to make it look a little more decorative i’m going to begin today’s work by cleaning up the landscape i’m going to begin by just clipping away all the sedum that’s growing around the the trunks here clearing it back it’s really rooted in here you can see all the root hairs growing off of the sedum in mid-air kind of like aerial roots they root really easily these sedums and they spread quite rapidly too you can see all the aerial roots coming off of the sedum all those little white hairs there yeah just amazing i guess it’s quite humid in the basement even though it’s cool things do grow especially my jades they they love growing in that cool weather i’m going to look at the structure and branch structure of the trees just to see if there’s any kind of branches i can eliminate to try and get some kind of a design out of this rosemary something i can build on in the future so i’m going to study the uh the plants and just come up with some kind of a styling plan i do like this as a front of the planting the trunk line kind of comes up towards you and you know there’s not much branching coming out this direction but i’m hoping that changes in the future that i can get more foliage on this side of the tree you can see it’s kind of one-sided but yeah that’s something i’m hoping will develop in the future now there’s a couple of lower branches here that are very weak this one that comes right out the front it comes around and basically the foliage is dead on it so i’m going to remove that one and then there’s another branch that’s really low down here there’s a thicker branch coming off higher which is quite thick so i i’ve got to decide i i think this branch is too low for the you know the proportions of the tree and this branch is kind of too thick compared to the trunk diameter [Applause] but it may be something that i i just have to deal with you know try and grow the rest of the tree out so it you know the trunk gets thicker and this branch stays about the same [Applause] so i’m going to start removing this weak branch up front and that lowest one that’s just too low on the tree so here i go so off comes the front one now you can leave deadwood on it which i’ve done but this one’s sticking straight out towards the viewer somewhere around here is the front view so there’s probably not much point but maybe i will because you know i can rotate the front to more like that direction so this is off to the side a bit so i will keep i’ll keep that stub i’ll just prune off the living branch or barely living branch above it so here i go like that you can see that was just barely alive i think it would have died quickly and then that brings us around to this lowest branch and again it’s just too low and i don’t think i want to keep deadwood on that just because it’s so low so i’m going to remove it totally so here i go like that smells so good in here the whole greenhouse smells like rosemary so that’s kind of got those lower branches raised kind of gives more of a tree-like proportions now there’s some wild crossing branches up here let me show you those here’s a look at them and i think this is a very wild looking tree and i think you’ve just got to embrace you know this wild nature to it you’re not going to style this rosemary to look like a stereotypical bonsai it’s going to be this wild looking thing basically i want to keep all that wildness in the tree but i want to make it more compact and more tree-like i’m going to start shortening the branches now so i’m going to show you an example here’s a branch here that’ll help you see it so i want to shorten the branch and the you can treat these like pines or evergreens where you always have to keep some green foliage at the tip of each branch if you prune it back to just the the woody part of the branch chances are that branch will just die and same with trunks and everything you should always try and leave some green foliage at the tips so i can reduce it back you can see this branch comes up i got a little shoot here another one here another one here and then a couple at the tip so i can this is a very strong shoot and this one looks really healthy so i can prune the branch back to here i’ll leave a little bit for die back here i go like that so that’s reduce that branch down and then i’ll do some further pruning i’ll just take the tip off that and the tip off this like that and that’s about as much as i can prune that branch back today as compact as i can get it i will be saving everything i pruned off today either for cooking or propagation there’s a branch in here that the branch comes up and divides from one into three let me just see if i can isolate that it may be impossible with this tangled mess but see if i can do it there i hope you can see that so this is the branch here it divides from one into three so i’ve got to keep my best branches now it looks like the one off to the right hand side there is totally dead that’s just dead wood so i’m only dividing from one into two living branches however the one is growing straight up and doesn’t look very good so i’m going to prune that one off so here i go like that then the remains of that branch i’m going to shorten it so i’ve got a shoot coming off here and a couple here i don’t like cutting it back to just one shoot because that puts all your eggs in one basket i would rather prune it up a little higher and see what develops so i’m going to prune it off here that way i’m keeping one two three growing tips on that branch that way you know if these weather away i have a good safety backup here i’m going to prune this branch next i’ll try and isolate that one for you there it is it’s a fairly complex branch so my goal is to reduce this whole tree back now this is coming off that branch that i said was very vigorous and thick so i want to take a lot of vigor out of this branch here’s my first branch coming off that thicker branch and then i have another shoot here and another couple here so i’m going to play it safe once again and keep a couple of shoots so i’ll take it back to here like that and then i’ll trim the tops of these little shoots back so i’m hoping all this vigor that’s stored in the tree over the winter once spring hits it’ll want to flush out everywhere and by pruning all these tips back it will hopefully create a lot of back budding on the tree that’s my hope anyway here’s a look at the rest of that branch that strong branch so this is the one i already pruned and the rest comes up it comes here and divides into two and there’s one growing on the top that i’ll take off so let me remove that one growing out the top i have to take my paper away try and get in here somehow i’ll just prune it away roughly at first like that and then i can come in and prune the rest away like that and maybe even clean it up a bit better yeah like that there’s a stub here i could prune away so this divides from one to two now so now i can do a little tip pruning on this these branches just taking them back a bit like that now there’s only one more little branch coming off of this thick one and that’s back here so i’ll just prune the tips off that and that’s got that whole thick branch pruned up now so coming up i’ve got another one coming up here i’ll prune the tip off this only has one growing tip so i’ll just prune it back the other part of it comes up i’ve got a branch here another one here so i’m going to prune off all this vertical growth here it’s just to shorten the branch back so here i go like that i can bring the tip back here and that’s got that branch pruned up quite nicely i’ll rotate around there’s a thick branch coming out the back here and i can shorten that one i’ve got a nice branch growing out the bottom so i can take the tip off this branch i think that will be a nice kind of transition like that you see using that as the branch leader i can prune that back prune the growth back on here this one coming out the bottom i can prune that one back there one back here bring that back there’s some growth way back on that branch but that’d be pretty drastic and there’s only one bud here maybe with this bug get stronger i could shorten it back further it’ll all depend how how well it grows this year okay let me keep going around the tree and pruning it up making decisions so here’s a branch here a long branch i’ll just prune it back taking the tips off like that making it more compact so my second tree is kind of unusual it comes up i have one branch coming out here that kind of twists around and then it comes up and then i’ve got one two three four five branches kind of all growing from one spot there’s a close-up look of the trunk on the second tree so quite quite unusual i do really like the curvature of this branch here it’s quite nice i think that would make a nice leader to the tree i kind of like this branch that curves backwards too this one it’s okay also but there’s nothing really happening much with it other than having a lot of sub-branching i’ll definitely take out this weaker one here it’s almost dead anyway let’s get rid of that one for starters so ideally i would prune away this branch and this one here and then this would be the branch leader and then one branch but that’s pretty drastic but i’m going to do it um i think it’ll make the nicest style for the tree so off goes this branch [Music] like that and then off goes this one there we go so that part comes off i’m hoping yeah i kind of like that kind of got that wild style yeah i like that i’m just going to do a little cleanup here like that so now i’ll just trim up this branch now i’ll try and shorten it as much as i can there’s nothing coming out front it’s all behind [Music] the only flowing kind of branch is this one so i can take the tip off which i’ll do like that and then i’ve got a really strong one out the back which i’ll remove completely just because it’s too strong [Music] like that and then i’m not going to clip the tips of this because i want this is the leader of the branch and i want to get back butting here eventually so i want to keep vigor in that that growing tip if that makes sense now off the back of that tree there is of the smaller tree there is this other back branch that twists back so i’m just going to bring the tips on that like that and try and shorten it if i can i think i can i’m going to shorten it to here taking the tip off i’ve got two strong branches left still so i’ll just prune those back and maybe you know i can prune off this one eventually i could probably do it now safely i think i will like that so this will be my branch leader here as long as these branches get light they’ll they’ll stay vigorous if they’re shaded out by branches above then they’ll get weak and die okay so here’s where we’re at if i look at the main tree i follow the apex up you know i would if i wanted nice flow lines i would prune it away to here this is kind of comes up and then ends abruptly but again we want that wild rosemary character in it so i think i’m going to keep it it’s unusual but it’s a visually interesting too so i’m just going to prune these tips back now this apex i can prune back quite a bit i can i’ve got a sheet back here and one out the front so i can take that whole top off and i will so here i go like that kind of getting it more compact and i’ll take this back back so with a tree like rosemary there’s no real rules it’s just whatever appeals to you you can style it as formal as you want or as a as wild as you want so i’m looking at this branch now it comes up it comes up and there’s a shoot a vertical shoot and then there’s a bunch of horizontal ones here um hopefully something will grow it on the branch this year out this side i do want to shorten that branch i don’t want it overhanging all these branches at the back because it kind of comes up and towards the back so i’m going to take it here it doesn’t flow very good but hopefully you know this line will smooth out in the future or as i said hopefully i’ll get some budding over here and i can take all that part off so i will shorten these shoots back also and maybe even reduce these shoots i’ll take up the middle one here so i’m dividing from one to two and that helps it gets a little more light to these back branches here there’s a branch here that needs a bit of pruning now off the main tree there’s a branch here that comes up i got one that goes vertical another one that goes vertical they all go vertical interesting i think i’m going to take it back as much as i can so i’m going to this one it kind of curls up it’s kind of interesting so i’m going to remove everything out the back like that just keeping that one kind of curving trunk going up and then i’ll just kind of prune it back a bit actually yeah i’ll just prune it there’s not enough branching on it to really do much else other than just shortening it all like that so that’s good now i’ve got this branch that crosses the trunk which is unusual and not according to bonsai rules but it’s interesting it comes up and then i’ve got a bunch of divisions up here so let’s look at that this branch comes up it divides from one into two and it’s very long i’m going to take there’s it divides this part of it divides from one to three here i can take out the middle the middle chute or branch like that that helps that area a bit and then i can reduce these back i can take this one back to here and i think that’s going to be it see what happens i don’t want to reduce the vigor on this back one too much because it’s already got some die back i better just leave what growth there is on it i don’t want to weaken it and lose that branch so i think everything is pruned up now let’s step back and have a look at it here is a look at the two trees from the front so it still doesn’t look very tree-like it’s still kind of a wild kind of sprawling kind of bush but it is a little more compact and compared to where this was last year when i first started working on it it’s come a long way it’s uh you know slowly getting a bit of style to it a more tree-like form it’s interesting i think this year will be the big year for it it’ll get all kinds of new back buds all over and really fill out that’s what i’m hoping anyway that would be really cool and then i’ll have a lot more to work with the next time i prune it here is a look at all the branches and foliage i pruned off so quite a bit make some good cuttings make some good potatoes too yeah so that’s what i took off today there’s kind of a view of the tree so you can see it has some interesting parts to this and if i can get it more compact i think it’ll look quite nice this rosemary plant is just one of the many herbs you can grow as a bonsai any herb with kind of a woody stem you can shape into a tree-like form and every time you prune it you can use it for cooking so it’s kind of the practical side of growing bonsai that’s all for today i’m nigel saunders thanks for joining me in the bonsai zone [Music]

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