Sorbus Bonsai [Sorbus Aucuparia]

Sorbus is the genus of over 100 species of shrubs and deciduous trees belonging to the family of Rosaceae. The tree is widely cultivated in the temperate parts of the world: you will see them widely dispersed around the areas of woodlands, hills, and mountains.

The tree is originally from most parts of Asia and Europe and can grow as tall as 15 meters in height. The tree is characterized by its unique shape ranging from conical to the round, loose crown, mid to dark green leaves, as well as the red and yellow autumn color it displays.

Sorbus aucuparia (European Mountainash)

The Sorbus tree species are pretty popular among Bonsai growers, however, out of about 100 species belonging to this genus, only a few (about 4 or 5) of them are used for Bonsai. This is quite understandable though as this specific species exhibits slow-growing habits.

You will find out facts about these incredible tree species in this article, as well as the care requirements that are germane for the successful cultivation of Sorbus Bonsai.

Common nameEuropean mountain ash
Scientific nameSorbus aquaria
Native rangeWestern Asia and Europe
Zone3 to 6
Height20 to 40fts
Spread8 to 20fts
LeaveGood fall
Bloom timeMay
Bloom descriptionWhite
SunFull sun
FertilizerGranular fertilizer
SoilWell-draining soil with a neutral pH level.

Can I Bonsai Sorbus?

Bonsai Diary #25 Sorbus aucuparia - Pruning

Yeah, you can Bonsai Sorbus. You can use tree species from the Sorbus genus as a Bonsai, and trust me, they will make an amazing specimen. Plus they have one attractive flowery plant, which means they can be used for ornamental purposes.

However, do not get too excited about having over 100 tree species to choose from, you will be disappointed. This is because of all these species only a few of them (Sorbus americana, Sorbus alnifolia, Sorbus cashmiriana, and Sorbus aucuparia) are used for Bonsai. Sorbus aucuparia is the most popular species used for Bonsai, so if you want to hone your skill, you can make use of the tree as well.

Is Sorbus tree easy to Bonsai?

Yes, it is very easy to Bonsai Sorbus tree. Although mere looking at some facts about this tree species, (slow growth and medium maintenance) you might want to reconsider your choice of tree for the Bonsai specimen, thinking it would be stressful to raise, however, that is not the case because Sorbus species, in general, are one easy tree to deal with either landscape or as potted trees.

All that is required for the successful cultivation of the tree are dedication and patience. Have those qualities and you will be successful!

Sorbus Bonsai history

Over the years, the Sorbus tree has been called a series of names such as the Rowan tree, mountain ash, and so on. This species of tree is believed to have been in existence for over 200 years. The tree has its history wrapped in folklore and mystery and appeared in Norse methodology.

According to history, it was narrated that the tree saved the life of a god — Thor by twisting over a flowing river in the underworld, sweeping him away. Thor held on to the tree until he was able to find his way back to the shore.

In another Scandinavia account, it was stated that the Rowan tree was growing on godforsaken crafts in a rock or cracks on trees that are possessed and believed to have magical powers. In this era, the rowan/mountain ash tree was known as the flying Rowan and the woods from the trees were the recommended tablets on which letters and symbols were inscribed for divination.

The history of the tree was also accounted for in the British Isles with many people believing that the tree has the power to protect them from witchcraft and enchantment. It was said that the physical characteristics of the tree influenced its protective reputation of the tree.

Each berry on this tree has 5 small pointed stars or pentagrams directly opposite their stalk. The pentagram is widely seen as an ancient symbol of protection. Also, ancient people believed that the red color was the best protection against dark magic.

Therefore, it became more apparent to the people of this time that the tree possesses some protective abilities since the tree displays vibrant berries during autumn.

Sorbus Bonsai scientific name

The scientific name of Sorbus Bonsai is Sorbus aquaria.

Sorbus tree symbolism

The Sorbus tree is seen as a symbol of sacred hope, protection, and cleansing against evil spirits. This tree is also believed to possess sacred qualities as it was part of the several trees that were used to make the christ’s crown of thorn.

Sorbus Bonsai care

No doubt, Sorbus Bonsai will make an excellent Bonsai specimen, however, to get the most out of the tree, it has to be adequately catered for. In the subsequent sections below, you will see details about every care requirement that are essential for the survival of your Sorbus Bonsai.

Sorbus Bonsai temperature

Sorbus Bonsai is hardy to USDA zones 3a to 7b. The tree is tolerant to both frost and winter dryness and can resist snow pressure, air pollution, and wind. However, with that being said, you should protect your Sorbus Aucuparia from exposure to extreme weather because prolonged stay under this condition will harm them.

Sorbus Bonsai fertilizer

You can safely feed your Sorbus aucuparia Bonsai with the general granular plant food during spring. When the tree is at its growth stage, feed it twice a week with the fertilizer. You can also make use of Bonsai feed that is low in Nitrogen every month. This will help to reduce the sizes of the leaf and leaflets.

Sorbus Bonsai pruning

Sorbus Bonsai is a medium to low maintenance tree that does not require heavy pruning. Most times, all you’d have to do is remove dead parts and trim overcrowded, rubbing branches regularly. If it becomes necessary that you prune your tree, the best time to start is late autumn towards early spring.

Whenever you are pruning this tree, always make sure to remove the branches back to their strong lateral growth. The branches should be pruned during winter and new shoots should be trimmed continuously during summer to keep the tree in the desired shape. You can also remove leaflets to reduce the size of the leaf.

The best way to encourage branching in Sorbus Bonsai is by heavily pruning them during mid-summer, and if your tree is matured, it is best to do this during spring. However, you must make sure that almost all the first sets of leaves are removed to keep their sizes small.

Sorbus Bonsai repotting

Repot your Sorbus Bonsai tree once or twice a year because its bud grows longer during spring. Repot your tree in a basic soil mix using a layer of organic matter. You can use compost or rotted manure. Encourage drainage by putting a layer of gravel at the bottom of the soil. It is important to ensure proper drainage so that the root can develop.

Sorbus Bonsai pest and diseases

Unfortunately, Sorbus Bonsai is vulnerable to attacks from varieties of pests and diseases. Some of these pests include Aphids, Scale insects, and red spider mites. You can use insecticide to combat the infestation of any of these insects.

However, the most dangerous of them all is the fire blight that can destroy the Sorbus Bonsai tree. Fire blight is known for attacking plants from the rose family. It is a destructive bacterial disease that penetrates the tree through its branch tips, then travels down the stem to cause dieback.

Once the branch tips and leaves become infected, they turn either brown or black and the lesions of the bark become reddish and the system lesions become water-soaked. Unfortunately, fire blight infection is incurable and the best way to fight them is by cutting off infected branches and stems.

Sorbus Bonsai soil

It is best to plant your Sorbus tree in well-drained and fertile soil even though it can grow well in other soil conditions.

During summer and spring, your Sorbus tree will benefit from potting them in a container with organic matter that can retain moisture. Also, you should know that Sorbus Bonsai has a shallow root system, and therefore they also enjoy moisturized alkaline to acidic soil. Your Sorbus Bonsai will not tolerate saline soil or waterlogging, and neither can it withstand completely dried soil.

Sorbus Bonsai watering

You must regularly water your Sorbus Bonsai during its growing season. Also, during the first planting month, you must keep the tree moist, and during winter, it should be sparingly watered.

During summer, your Sorbus Bonsai will require more water, so you must water the tree regularly. This will help to keep the tree cool throughout the hot days and provide the tree with the much-needed water to maintain its strength. You can add a layer of mulch to the soil to keep water from evaporating too rapidly.

Sorbus Bonsai sunlight requirement

Sorbus Bonsai is quite flexible with its sun requirement. It enjoys staying under full sunlight and would also thrive in partial shade. However, if you noticed that the temperature has dropped below -10° C, protect it from frost because it can harm your tree. Although they can also grow in windy spots, however, they require to be watered at least 2 to 3 times per day during warm windy days.

Sorbus Bonsai species

The genus Sorbus contains about 100 species of trees that spread across countries in Europe and Asia. Information will be provided about some of the plant species belonging to this genus below.

Sorbus Aucuparia Bonsai

The Sorbus Aucuparia is also known as the Rowan tree or mountain ash is a deciduous tree species from the rose family. You can find the tree in Europe, Asia, and some parts of northern Africa where the tree is believed to have originated from.

The tree can be uniquely identified with its slender trunk with smooth barks, loose and round-shaped barks crown, as well as the yellowish-white flowers it blooms from May to June.

Sorbus domestica Bonsai

Tasty Service Tree (Sorbus domestica) or "Dirtbag"

The Sorbus domestica Bonsai also known as the service tree or sorb tree is a member of the Sorbus species native to southern, western, and central Europe, northwest Africa, and southwest Asia. As a deciduous tree, the tree can grow as tall as 15 to 20m in height and has a trunk of about 1m in diameter.

Sorbus aria Bonsai

Whitebeam (Sorbus aria) fruits - not too bad

The Sorbus aria tree is also known as the white bean or the common whitebeam is a deciduous plant native to North Africa (Algeria, Morroco, and Tunisia), some parts of Europe as well as the temperate regions of Asia (Amenia, Georgia).

The tree is known for its large whitish-green leaves and can grow and can reach about 15m in height.

Sorbus torminalis Bonsai

Tasty Checker Tree fruit (Sorbus torminalis)

The Sorbus torminalis also known as the wild service tree, checker tree and chequers is a tree species from the Rowan genus (Sorbus). The tree is native to some parts of northern Africa, western Asia, and Europe.

A typical Sorbus torminalis tree can grow as tall as 25m in height, with a trunk reaching about 1.3m in diameter. The tree is characterized by its greyish and smooth bark the stunning flowers blooms during late spring.

Is Sorbus bonsai evergreen?

No, most plant species in the Sorbus genus are deciduous plants.

How tall do Sorbus Bonsai trees grow?

Depending on the terrain and altitude, a Sorbus plant species can grow up to 15m in height.

How fast do Sorbus trees grow?

Sorbus tree species exhibit slow to the medium growth rate. An average Sorbus tree can add about 20 to 40cm to its original height per year.

Can you keep Sorbus Bonsai indoors?

Yes, you can keep Sorbus Bonsai indoors. You can safely keep your Sorbus Bonsai indoors, in fact, it is the best way to protect your Sorbus tree from extreme weather. If you are keeping your Sorbus Bonsai indoor, especially during winter, make sure to provide it with enough light daily. You can also use artificial light if it will be impossible for the tree to access sunlight.

How to Bonsai Sorbus tree from seed

You can either propagate a Sorbus Bonsai by cuttings or seed. It is best to sow your Sorbus seed during autumn. Once you get your seeds, follow the steps below to guide you through the process.

  1. Mix your Sorbus seeds with equal horticultural sands and peat-free compost or leafmould.
  2. Put some of the stones at the base of the Bonsai pot and pour sand over them.
  3. Place the seeds and sand mixture in it and cover them with 2 to 3cm of sand again.
  4. Water the seeds and prevent them from drying. During winter, keep the seeds outside and water them once they feel dry.

Is Sorbus Bonsai safe for cats?

Yes, Sorbus Bonsai (Airbus aucuparia) are toxic to cats. The berries of Sorbus Bonsai are said to contain certain toxins which could cause irritation, vomiting, excessive salivation, and diarrhea in pets when eaten. And therefore, it is advisable to keep this tree away from the reach of your cat or dog.

Are Sorbus aucuparia berries poisonous?

Yes, the berries of Sorbus aucuparia are poisonous.

Can you eat Sorbus aucuparia?

Yes, the fruits of Sorbus aucuparia are very much edible to humans. The Sorbus aucuparia can be eaten raw or dried. However, eating too many raw Sorbus aucuparia fruits can also cause stomach upset in humans too, so it is often suggested that you dry them or add them to your flours. Or even better, you can make tea out of its leaves and perfumed flowers.

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