Barberry Bonsai Care [Berberis]

You have clicked on this article because you love barberry bonsai plants and you need to get more information about them, right?

This bonsai care guide is a treasure where you can learn all the information about the barberry bonsai tree. From history and general information to care and growth – we have prepared everything only for you!

Scientific NameBerberis
HeightUp to 5 feet max
Growth rate1 to 2 feet per year
OriginEurope, North America, South America, Asia, Africa
No of varieties450
Maintenance levelVery easy and beginner-friendly
Watering requirementsModerate (more on the dry side)
Fertilization requirementsModerate (they are self-sufficient)
TemperaturePrefers high temperature
Sunlight requirementsPrefer full sunlight or partial shade
Soil requirementsPrefer acidic soil (pH level 3.7 – 6.2)
The easiest plant to create a Shohin Bonsai: Barberry

Is barberry tree a good option for bonsai?

First of all, you must be thinking that can you even convert a barberry tree into bonsai? If yes, then is barberry tree a good option for bonsai?

Yes! Barberry tree can be converted into a bonsai tree and it is a good option for beginners.

Although this plant is not considered a classic choice among the bonsai community, it is surely the best option for beginners. The reason is that this plant has beautiful small leaves which can back bud easily. Moreover, this bonsai plant grows flowers during the spring season.

You do not need any expertise for growing and maintaining this plant and that’s why this plant is the best choice for beginners who are just getting into the bonsai plants.

Are barberry bushes illegal?

Yes, barberry bushes are illegal in some parts of the world.

For example, the Japanese barberry bushes are banned in New York, Minnesota, and Maine.

The reason is that the barberry bushes are heaven for ticks and mice as they find shelter and great protection from other predators in this plant.

These bushes attract mice and ticks and lead to the spread of Lyme disease.

This is why some countries have banned the barberry bushes due to the potential risk they possess to the health of people living in that area.

You can also check your local laws to find out whether the barberry bushes are banned in your area or not.

Barberry tree bonsai history

Do you want to learn about the history of the barberry bonsai plant?

The barberry tree has a vast and diverse history. This plant is native to many continents of the world.

The barberry plant was found in almost all the temperate and subtropical regions of the world except Australia.

Currently, this plant is found almost everywhere such as in South America, North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, etc.

There are more than 450 varieties of this plant that are found in different regions across the globe.

Barberry tree bonsai scientific name

The scientific name of the most widespread and famous species of barberry tree is Berberis vulgaris.

The scientific name of a plant refers to what the scientific community calls this plant. It has two parts, the generic name, and the species name.

Berberis is the common genus name of this plant whereas the species names are multiple as they are many varieties of this plant. For example, Berberis thunbergii, Berberis verruculosa, and Berberis candidula are the scientific names of the other species of barberry tree.

Barberry bonsai care

If you are planning to grow a barberry bonsai plant, you need to have the right information about how to take care of this plant.

Keep reading as we are going to teach you everything!

Barberry bonsai temperature

The barberry bonsai plant prefers high temperatures.

Barbery bonsai plants grow extremely well under full sun or even light sun.

In the case of winter, the barberry bonsai plant can tolerate a wide range of cold temperatures. However, anything below -25 degrees Celsius can be harmful to this plant.

Barberry bonsai fertilizer

Bonsai plants have a small amount of soil from which they obtain nutrients. Thus, it is necessary to fertilize them to supply the essential nutrients.

You can feed the barberry bonsai plant every month throughout the growing season. But when it’s dormancy (winter period) then you should only feed after 8 weeks.

You should only use an extremely weak liquid solution. These plants are mostly self-sufficient and require very less amount of fertilization. They are very sensitive to salt so do not use a solid straight fertilizer as it can kill the plant.

If you are growing barberry bonsai in-ground or training pots, then it probably won’t need fertilizer at all.

Barberry bonsai pruning/trimming

The barberry bonsai plants start flowering the shoots. Therefore, you need to wait for the flowering to complete and then you can prune the plant.

You have to pinch back the entire new growth. These barberry plants can budback extremely easily. Barberry bonsai plants can be shaped very easily by pruning instead of wiring.

Barberry bonsai repotting

The barberry bonsai plant should be repotted after every 1 or 2 years.

The best time for repotting these plants is early spring right before the buds burst. This bonsai plant can easily tolerate root pruning and you can remove half of its root mass.

Barberry Repot Part 1: Dave's Bonsai E89

But keep in mind that the evergreen species are less tolerant and you should remove only one-third of their root mass.

Barberry bonsai pests and diseases

Generally, these plants stay pest-free most of the time.

However, you should beware of powdery mildews, aphids, rust, sawflies, and verticillium wilt, and take appropriate measures to protect your plant from their attacks.

Barberry bonsai soil

Giving the right soil to your plant is important for its survival and growth.

Barberry bonsai can survive on sandy, clayey, and loamy soil types. When it comes to moisture levels, this plant can easily survive and grow anywhere be it dry, moist, or wet.

The best soil for barberry bonsai

Your barberry bonsai plant always prefers acidic soil. The pH level of the soil should be between 3.7 to 6.2 preferably.

Barberry bonsai watering

The barberry bonsai plants like to be on the dry side. Therefore, they will only need moderate watering to prevent drought-like conditions.

You should water the young plants if the conditions are dry.

Barberry bonsai sunlight requirements

The barberry bonsai plants can grow extremely well under full sunlight or even partial shade.

They will show amazing growth if you keep them in high temperatures and full sunlight.

Are Japanese barberry berries poisonous to pets?

Safety is the primary concern for every bonsai owner. Are the Japanese barberry berries poisonous to your pets?

Yes! The Japanese barberry bushes have some sort of toxicity that can lead to mild tummy aches among us humans.

In the case of pets, the berries, leaves, and roots of the Japanese barberry bonsai can cause health problems to your pet if they will eat them.

Is Japanese barberry invasive?

The Japanese barberry bush is considered to be invasive all across the world. This plant can grow up to 3 or 6 feet tall and have a similar width.

The Japanese barberry plant was introduced as an ornamental plant in the United States. But due to its invasive nature, this plant escaped from managed care and now has become a part of nature.

The reason why this plant is called invasive is that it spreads rapidly.

Barberry bonsai styles

If you have a barberry bonsai plant, you can easily style and grow it in several different forms. The whole process is beginner-friendly and easy to perform.

You can take ideas from different design photos on the internet and then style and grow your barberry bonsai plant accordingly.

Japanese barberry bonsai

The Japanese barberry is a deciduous plant that has purple and red leaves and also gives out red fruit in winter.

This plant has yellow flowers that eventually turn orange during autumn.

The leaves of Japanese barberry bonsai are small (1 to ½ inches) and that’s why this plant is considered a natural bonsai.

The scientific name of Japanese barberry bonsai is Berberis thunbergii.

Crimson pygmy barberry bonsai

The crimson pygmy barberry bonsai plant features bronze-red leaves. The crimson pygmy barberry plant is considered useful for bonsai as it does not sucker as readily as the other species.

Dwarf barberry bonsai

The dwarf barberry bonsai is famous for its naturally small size which makes it feasible for bonsai cultivation.

How big do barberry bonsai grow?

The barberry bonsai plant can grow as big as up to 5 feet in height. Their width is also close to the same figure.

This plant shows round growth and its growing speed is quite slow.

Experts say that the barberry bonsai plant gains 1 to 2 feet in height every year.

Can barberry bonsai be kept small?

Yes, the barberry bonsai plants can be kept small.

If you want to keep your barberry bonsai plant small, then you will have to regularly prune and trim the plant. This requires a great amount of time, focus, and energy.

But in the end, you will get a beautiful small barberry bonsai plant.

How to make a barberry bonsai tree?

Are you planning to grow a barberry bonsai tree but have no clue how all this stuff works?

There are 2 main ways through which you can grow a barberry bonsai tree.

One is through cutting and the second is through seedlings. We will teach you how to do it both ways.

How to make barberry bonsai from cutting?

Here are the 6 steps you should follow:

Step #1

In the first step, you have to take a container that has drainage holes and fill it with coarse sand and then water it.

Step #2

Now you have to cut a 6 to 8 inches long cutting from a healthy barberry plant.

Then remove all the shoots that are present on the lower half of your cutting.

Now start dabbing growth hormone on the nodes. Take the cut end and also dip it in the growth hormone.

Step #3

Now you have to take the cutting and insert it in the wet sand. Make sure to insert the bottom side first and the side which has leaves should stay above the soil.

Step #4

You have to keep the cutting misted with water. Take a plastic bag and use it to cover the pot of the cutting for holding the moisture inside.

If the top inch of the soil gets dry, you are recommended to water it.

Step #5

Within 3 weeks, the roots will start appearing. If you want to test, you can do so by tugging the plant lightly.

If the plant shows some resistance while tugging, then it means that the roots have already formed.

Now you should wait for 2 more weeks and then you can transfer the growing barberry cutting into a small container that has potting soil.

When it’s fall, you can move the plant to your garden bed.

The main benefit of growing a barberry plant with cutting is that your new plant will look exactly like the old plant whose cutting you have used.

How to make barberry bonsai from seeds?

The second option for growing barberry bonsai is by using seeds.

In this method, you have to plant the seed in the soil and then provide them with suitable conditions for growth.

The best thing about growing a barberry bonsai from seeds is the freedom and flexibility of design. You can train your plant from the beginning and then shape it the way you want.

How to grow a barberry bonsai tree?

Are you planning to grow a barberry bonsai tree?

Well, for this purpose, you need to have basic knowledge about taking care of a barberry bonsai plant.

You need to take care of these basics such as light, watering, fertilizing, etc.

We have dropped a proper care section above in this article, where you can learn how to grow and take care of the barberry bonsai plant.

Why is my barberry bonsai losing leaves?

The main reason why your barberry bonsai plant is losing its leaves is improper care.

It can be anything like wrong watering, wrong fertilization, wrong repotting, inadequate amount of light, pests and disease attack, poor soil quality, etc.

You need to identify the root cause and take care of your plant like we have instructed you in the Barberry bonsai care section of this article.

1. Inadequate light

The barberry bonsai plant loves full sunlight. If you have kept it in dark, its leaves will start falling.

2. Pests and disease

If your barberry plant has been attacked by any pest or disease then its leaves will start falling. You need to treat it as soon as possible.

3. Fertilization problem

If there are little to no nutrients in the soil of your barberry bonsai and you have not fertilized it then your plant will start losing its leaves due to lack of nutrients.

Similarly, if you have given an excessive amount of fertilizer to your plan OR you have used the wrong fertilizer OR you have fertilized the plant too frequently then it will start losing leaves.

4. Poor soil quality

The barberry bonsai plant likes to live in acidic soil. The pH of the soil should be 3.7 to 6.2.

If you are using soil with the wrong composition then it will prove unhealthy for your plant and cause it to lose its leaves.

5. Watering issue

If you have completely abandoned taking care of your plant and never watered it enough on time then it will surely lose its leaves.

6. Weather

The barberry bonsai plant loves high temperatures and full sunlight.

If you will expose it to extremely cold temperatures (freezing and frost) or bad light then your plant will start losing its leaves.

Does barberry bonsai stay green in the winter?

Yes, there are some evergreen species of barberry bonsai plant that will stay green even in winter.

At the same time, many other species of barberry bonsai shed their leaves in winter. So, if your plant has shed its leaves in winter OR has turned orange and brown then it is also completely natural and okay.

Generally, there are 3 such types of barberry bonsai plant.

Evergreen barberry

This species of barberry stays green even in winter and that’s why called evergreen.

Deciduous barberry

This species of barberry does not stay green in summer. It sheds its leaves during autumn annually. Its leaves change their color from green to orange, yellow, and brown before falling.

Semi-evergreen barberry

This species is called evergreen because it can stay green up to mid-winter and then it starts losing its greenness and sheds its leaves.

Does barberry bonsai stay green after flowering?

It varies from species to species.

Some of the barberry bonsai plants lose their greenness after flowering whereas some of them will stay green even after the flowering season.

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