Peter's Bonsai Blog 



























There are 3  principal types of Cedars available.  The Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica) the Cedar of the Lebanon (Cedrus Lebani) and the Himalayan Cedar (Cedrus Deodora).  However, as if to confuse matters each of these Cedars can be known by a number of different names. To tell the three species apart, look at the shape of the trees: Atlas Cedar branches ascend, Himalayan branches descend, and Cedar of Lebanon branches are level.

The Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica) is  sometimes refered to as the Atlantic Cedar. It is normally dark green in colour, however the most commen variety is blue green in colour and is known as the Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus Atlantica Glauca). The Blue Cedar is probably the most dramatic and striking of all blue conifers.  It is both quick growing and sparsely furnished when young but thickens out with time.

The Cedar of the Lebanon is also dark green in colour, its branches and needles tend to grow horizontally. There is a dwarf variety of the Cedar of the Lebanon, sometimes known as the Cyprus Cedar (Cedrus Libani Brevifolia).  I think this is the most suitable variety for bonsai cultivation as it's needles are much smaller and the foliage looks much more in proportion with  the reduced scale of a bonsai tree. However, they are slow growing and finding one with a decent trunk is almost impossible.

The third variety is the Himalayan Cedar (Cedrus Deodora).  It is sometimes referred to as the Indian Cedar although they  seem to be the same variery. Its needles are quite long and it branches tend to be long and droopy.  It is not best suited to bonsai cultivation.

As Cedars are not native to the UK, the only practical source of material is from Garden Centres or specialist bonsai nurseries.  The most common variety is probably the Blue Cedar, Cedrus Altlantica Glauca. The dwarf variety Cedrus Brevifolia is very hard to find.

For all varieties, repotting will cause stress and Cedars may loose some or all of their needles. This is alarming for an evergreen plant, but it's a fairly tough species and the needles usually regrow the following spring. Although they come from a warm part of the world, Cedars thrive in most soils but they don't appreciate waterlogged ground. As usual in Scotland, we need to provide a free draining mix.

I have 3 cedars in my collection, a Brevifolia and two Blue Cedars.  They are all in the informal upright style.

I purchased the Brevifolia in 2005 from Newstead Bonsai Nursery.  It had been grown specifically as material for Bonsai.  I played around with it for a couple of years  but then planted it in the garden to try and thicken up the trunk. That didn't really work.  I found the variety to be quite slow growing and it definitely does not like to have its roots disturbed. Repotting or planting it in the ground seemed to set it back for a year.  If you are planning to repot the tree make sure you do it in April and protect the roots until the frosts are past.

This is what it looked like when I purchased the tree in 2005 and how it looked in November 2013. Notice how long the trunk was when I took it out of the pot……   Another lesson in why we should always check the nebari before buying nursery stock.


The first of the Blue Cedars was originally created by Len Gilbert.  I first saw this tree in 2008. when he brought it to Ayr to display at one of our workshops. The second image  shows the tree being displayed  at the Newstead exhibition in 2010.


The following images show how it looked when I purchased the tree in it in September 2013, and after it was repotted in April 2014.


By June 2015 the tree had filled out a bit more and some wiriing has helped to improve the image.


The second of my Blue Cedars was acquired from a Garden Centre in June 2013.  The following images show what it looked like when I bought it, and after it had been cut down and given a first styling in Sept 2013.  Like all Garden Centre material, I was only interested in the bottom 2 ft of the tree.  The tree has been allowed to settle and will be repotted into a Bonsai pot in April 2014. The following year  the new apex will have "set" in position, and I will then start to reduce the stump at the top, where I reduced the tree and which is currently being used as an anchorage point, to pull up the side branch that is being used to create the new apex.


The tree was repotted in April 2014, and by September was making progress.  I had two flushes of new growth this year - but it will still take time to develop the final image.  In the second picture below, I had removed the stump at the top and shaped the trunk to blend in.  A new shari up the front  adds some interest to the image. Only 18 months after I bought the tree  in a garden centre for £25 and its now starting to look like a bonsai.

In the Autum of 2014, I installed a steel bar to help pull the previous side branch into position to create a top for the tree.  By August 2015, there was lots of fresh growth and the tree was starting to fill out........


The following Spring I removed the steel rod at the crown and by October 2016 the tree was starting to look like a presentable Bonsai

Blue cedars can be made into fantastic cascades.  This one was created by John Hannah from garden centre material.  This tree has been in training as a Bonsai for about 8 years.  The trunk was dead straight and upright when he bought it. This picture was taken at Willowbog Chat on the 6th Dec 2014.

I have come across a number of cascades crated using this material.  The first is a very well known tree created by Len Gilbert...

But in fact there are plenty of good examples on the net.  Here are just a few..........


This one belongs to my good friend, Tony Sourthern from Hartlepool................  

 I have been sufficiently inspired by these cascades that I decided to have a go at one myself.    

I purchased this tree from a local garden centre in December 2014.  

It cost £40 and was about 7 feet tall when I got it home.  


As usual the first thing to do was to reduce the height........................

As with all new trees the first thing to do is establish what sort of Nebari we have got.  I did this with the help of one of my favourite repotting tools - a stainless steel Bread Knife.  It cost £5 in a sale and is one of the best value tools I have.  I then replaced the rootball back into the orignial pot with as little disturbance as possible.  It is positioned  a bit higher up by  placing granular material in the bottom of the pot.  This allows me to see the Nebari and to place some granular material around the sides to improve drainage.

The next task is to start bending the trunk.  I did this by screwing a Vine Eye into the bottom of the trunk. This gave me an anchorage point to secure a guy wire to  The turn-buckle will be screwed up progressivily over several weeks tobend in the trunk.


After a bit more work with the turnbuckle and a transferring the tree to a tempoary pot, the tree will now be left to recover for a few years and encouraged to put on some vigorus growth, so that we can develop the foliage pads.

By November 2015 the tree was growing well and had produced lots of new growth.  Most of this will be cut off in due course but for now the foliage is needed to create new roots.  Remember that positioning the tree at this angle means that many of the roots will now be above the intended soil level.  These have to be removed gradually and new roots encouraged to grow in the right place.  This just takes time and of course needs healthy foliage to photosynthesize and create the new root growth.

By the following October (2016)   the foliage had developed further and its almost time to start reducing the length of the trunk.

The following images are not cascades but I like them !......................


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