How Can I Bonsai a Cactus/Succulent?

Bonsai is an art of Japanese origin and involves pruning and training a plant into a shape in order to create a small, beautiful display.

However, it is not a new technique because it has been used for centuries in Japan.

Cactus plants and succulents are not only pretty to look at, but they’re also easy to maintain. They can also make your surroundings feel pleasant.

These plants bring some of the outdoors indoors and make you feel more connected to nature.

Many people want to keep aesthetically pleasing plants that grab attention, and that is possible when you cultivate and craft the plants carefully.

One way you can bring aesthetically-pleasing plants into your home is by creating Bonsai from your cactus or succulents. In the article below, we’ll talk about all of the ways you can create Bonsai from cacti and succulents.

What Is Bonsai?

Bonsai is a centuries-old gardening technique native to Asia, specifically Japan. It takes a lot of patience to get cactus and succulents in a place where they can be a part of the Bonsai arrangement.

It is a combination of patience and aesthetic sense to produce garden pieces. Bonsai generally uses plants that have a more significant portion of woodiness.

You can create bonsai arrangements using succulents with relative ease. The reason behind this is that succulents and cactus plants are generally hardy. They don’t mind the trimming it takes to create a bonsai form.

If you have smaller succulent plants, they can also take up the shape with relative ease. However, what we see is that you can also shape more miniature succulents in a way that makes them promote their shapes.

There are many succulents and cactus species that you can shape in the form of a cactus plant. However, a jade plant is one of those succulents that shows up in bonsai arrangements often.

When discussing a customary or traditional bonsai plant, we know that we tend to plant it in the shallower dish. So, they don’t have a lot of room for roots.

You will often need to prune the roots to continue to grow. However, you don’t have to root prune as much with succulents. You can keep the plants as-is, and thus the care for bonsai plants made from succulents can also be easier and more convenient.

Does Cactus Bonsai Need Special Care?

Cactus Bonsai needs to be shaped like all the other plants involved in a bonsai. However, cactus bonsai particularly needs less care than traditional Bonsai.

With traditional Bonsai, you have to do the whole thing of cutting back the roots and pruning them. However, with cactus bonsai, you don’t have to do this. So, in a way, cactus bonsai requires much less work than all other bonsai arrangements do.

However, some care goes into cactus or succulent Bonsai. You don’t have to prune roots too often. However, you will have to prune the roots once every year or two years. It keeps the succulents and cactus in the shape they need for becoming a succulent cactus.

You also have to understand that one thing that will quickly cause cactus bonsai to fall into a bad state is overwatering them.

You have to maintain the overall shape of your bonsai arrangement. You also have to make sure you’re in a place where there’s enough water without there being too much.

You can’t hope to create an environment conducive to your cactus bonsai arrangement if you have a lot of moisture around.

The cactus bonsai arrangement also doesn’t take a lot of effort otherwise. You don’t have to work constantly to maintain the arrangement as most cactus and succulents follow a general shape, significantly when they’re just growing up. You can even wire some cactus plants to have curved stems, so they look windswept.

It’s also necessary that while you prune roots, you also prune branches and leaves so they look ordered and put together.

You also have to make sure you don’t water your plants right after planting them. Instead, you should wait a week. Before watering your plant arrangement, you must ensure that the soil is dry. Once it’s dry, you can move on to watering the plants in a better way.

You should also provide the plants with fertilizers to have enough nutrients. We must not hinder the growth of the succulents, and if they don’t have enough nutrition, they undoubtedly will.

You should also ensure you know how to take care of your cacti and succulents in dormant periods like winter and late fall.

Since you’re going to be keeping your cactus bonsai plant indoors, you have more control over how you will take care of these plants.

You want to ensure that the plants get the right amount of sunlight. However, you don’t want to keep them in a place where they get direct sunlight, as this may cause them to burn up exceptionally quickly.

You have to notice when they don’t look the most healthy and make changes in their diets and care accordingly.

You don’t have to take any special steps when caring for cactus-bonsai trees. You only have to maintain them like traditional bonsais. Since succulents and cacti are much hardier, some people believe they take even less care.

Can You Use Cactus Soil for Bonsai?

This answer is two-pronged. Firstly, if you’re wondering if you can use cactus soil for your cactus bonsai, the answer is yes.

You’re making a cactus-bonsai tree, which means you’ll take care of your bonsai arrangement by taking care of the particular plant they’re made from, i.e., the cactus plant or succulents.

Cactus plants and succulents can only thrive in well-draining soil, and a cactus potting mix is the perfect example of this. Cactus potting mix has perlite and other rock-like substances, making it an excellent option for cactus plants.

Secondly, if you have a traditional bonsai tree, cactus soil may also be great for that. Bonsai is an art of gardening and art cultivation. The cultivation has many activities that can create many challenges for your Bonsai tree.

For instance, the constant pruning can make it seem like there’s always some strain on the tree. Thus, the bonsai tree must have the necessary resources to deal with this strain.

One of these resources can be providing the bonsai tree with a healthy network of roots that will give it power and stay alive even when challenged.

Soil is essential in ensuring the root system beneath the plant is functioning at its maximum capacity. To work efficiently, the root system needs to be solid and robust.

There are many bonsai soils available in the market. However, cactus soil can also show up in very similar ways if it’s not.

Many people who have only recently gotten into bonsai arrangement probably don’t know the similarities between cactus and bonsai soil.

For Bonsai, you can use cactus soil as a replacement. Cactus soil is a feasible selection for Bonsai arrangements. However, you should carry out a proper examination of it all before you partake in changing up the soil for Bonsai trees.

Doing the proper research is necessary because you’re putting a lot of effort and time into the construction, and you want the bonsai tree to be close to perfect.

Cactus vs. Bonsai

You may be considering buying a Bonsai instead of a cactus. Bonsai are typically unique, and they require a lot of effort.

However, cactus plants are much easier to maintain. If you’re confused about which of the two you should get, we have made a list to inform you about the many reasons you may opt for a Bonsai and the many reasons you can go for a cactus instead.

Advantages of Bonsai

1. They will purify the air

Plants make the air much clearer because they produce oxygen and consume carbon dioxide using the process of photosynthesis. Plants are essential because they help in reducing the quality of air pollutants.

2. They add an excellent aesthetic sense to the surroundings

Bonsai is beautiful and perfectly manicured, which is why they can add to your home’s aesthetic value.

3. They can help to lower stress

Many studies suggest that being around plants can be beneficial for human beings. They may feel much better regarding their overall sense of well-being by looking at the green leaves.

4. They’re an excellent creative pursuit

Bonsai arrangements require you to shape and pursue plants. They need you to be creative, so you can create symmetrical pieces that showcase your abilities. By pushing yourself to learn more about Bonsai arrangements, you understand your creative abilities.

Advantages of Cactus Plants

1. Decrease Stress and Anxiety

Cactus plants help reduce stress and anxiety by adding more oxygen to the air. You can relax in your home as you have more breathing oxygen.

It also fills your home with a calming aura, so you don’t feel quite so stressed.

2. They Purify Indoor Air

They act as air purifiers. Cactus plants will release more breathable oxygen into the air, making it better for you. It also reduces the level of carbon dioxide and helps you feel fresh and relaxed.

You can keep varying ratios of plants in your home so that oxygen and carbon dioxide levels are properly maintained.

3. Reduces Ambient Noises

Background noises can accumulate and cause a significant loss of productivity. Keeping large cacti around your house can help to absorb some of these sounds and noises. The background level can even go down by many decibels.

4. Adds Humidity

Cactus plants add more moisture to the environment. Thus, you can be saved from itchiness and dry skin due to the presence of cactus plants in your home.

How to Take Care of Bonsai Cactus

You can follow the following tips to take care of a bonsai cactus.

  1. Don’t overwater them.
  2. Make sure they get enough sunlight.
  3. Try to replenish their nutrients so they can grow
  4. Keep them in a dry place.
  5. Prune them after a year or two.
  6. Keep checking upon them.

Types of Succulents You Can Use as Bonsai

The key to growing succulent bonsai stems is finding plants and succulents that are more distinctive. You want something that stands out.

Euphorbia and Crassula plants have a tree-like appearance due to their thick trunks and sinewy branches, and you can use them to complete the look. Elephant tree and Ponytail palm can also be great options.

Sedum, Mammillaria, and Adenium are also certain species you can use as Bonsai. Before you go selecting any one species, you should do a bit of research so you can house it in the pot that works best.

You also want to look into its growth pattern and have it be compatible with the one in your mind. For the container, use something that is well-draining and shallow, so the water doesn’t stay.

A good potting mix will be

  • 1-part cinder,
  • 1-part rushed aggregate, and
  • 1-part bark chips or coir.

Perfect Pot For Cactus/Succulent

You could potentially look into many things when selecting the perfect pot. However, you should keep in mind that your content fits the following criteria:

  • A pot should be around the same size as your cactus. The reasoning behind this is that the cactus doesn’t have very long roots. Thus, you don’t want the roots to remain in the middle.
  • The best pots for cacti have a cylindrical base, are made of strong material, and aren’t tall.
  • Don’t overfill the pot with soil. Cactus plants also need space for drainage, so you should ensure there’s enough space for it.

Final Thoughts

You can create a Bonsai arrangement using cactus and succulents. They don’t even require a lot of special care. In most cases, it’s easier for us to take care of bonsai arrangements when they have succulents because they are much hardier.

Due to all of these reasons, you might want to consider investing time and effort into cultivating a Bon.

Cacti are very easy to bonsai, and do not require too many things to be bonsai. You can use different types of potting soil to water your cacti, it is not absolutely necessary to use cactus soil. You can use a small or big pot, the choice is yours.

However, big potted cacti should be repotted every year, or if the cacti can not get a lot of sun and water.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is cactus and bonsai soil the same?

Yes. They are both suitable for growing cactus. The majority of bonsai soil is very similar to regular soil. However, bonsai soil has been specially developed for bonsai plants and can be found at most bonsai supply stores.

What is Bonsai Food?

Bonsai food is a specialized type of fertilizer that is useful for feeding the bonsai plant. You can make bonsai food yourself by combining the following ingredients and mixing them in a bucket:

  • 5 L. water
  • 1 Kg. of brown sugar
  • 2 Kg. of table salt
  • 2 Kg. of potassium sulfate
  • 1 Kg. of superphosphate
  • A bag of bonsai food
  • A bag of 10-10-10 fertilizer
  • A bag of 0-0-7 fertilizer
  • A bag of 20-20-20 fertilizer
  • You will also need 1 gallon of high nitrogen fertilizer.

Can bonsai be planted with other plants?

Yes, bonsai can be planted with other plants. This is actually a common practice. There are many plants that do well with bonsai.
Bonsai trees have been planted with dwarf fruit trees, small ornamental trees, herbs, and ground covers.