Bonsai Maintenance

Bonsai Care at Heathcote

Defoliation – News From the Bonsai Garden

Under the care of our new Bonsai Curator Tom Kehoe, several Bonsai in the James J. Smith Bonsai Collection have been defoliated, had root masses reduced and have been repotted with fresh soil.

These trees are not dead…

Many Bonsai masters in Japan will actually defoliate their trees for major exhibitions for better appreciation of the fine branching (ramification) of the structure. Defoliation is commonly used for three purposes: reducing leaf size, increasing ramification and redirecting energy.

In five to six weeks these trees will rebound, putting out new, smaller leaves. Below the soil, many new fine roots will have grown, supplying food to the Bonsai.

This is part of the routine care of the trees and should be done to every tree in the collection about once every six to seven years depending on the rate of growth.

Enjoy Mr. Smith’s Garden…

Surinam Cherry Bonsai detail

The Surinam Cherry Bonsai Tree

Surinam Cherry Bonsai Tree

The Surinam Cherry bonsai is a sub-tropical evergreen with dark green ovate leaves formed in pairs and thin, tan-colored, peeling bark. In the spring it bears small white flowers which are followed by red edible fruit. It is a popular landscape tree in the southern part of the United States and is highly recommended for those wanting an outdoor tropical bonsai as it has a long life and is relatively easy to grow.

Surinam Cherry Bonsai Tree

Surinam cherries, also known as the Pitanga, are small, red, ribbed berries that look very similar to a cherry. Their taste, however, is very different. Some say they are tart and acidic with a taste much like a green bell pepper, others say it tastes like a mango. The fruit is also rich in antioxidants and an excellent source of vitamins A and C. The tropical Surinam cherry is related to the guava, clove, allspice and eucalyptus plants. The name is deceptive since it’s actually not related to sweet or sour cherries.

The Surinam cherry is named for the northern country in South America where it is believed to have originated. It naturally grows in neighboring French Guiana and Guyana and can be found as far south as Uruguay and Argentina.

The leaves of the Surinam cherry contain various essential oils such as turpentine in the form of polyterpenes and sequiterpenes; citronella which is known to repel insects.


Come and visit the James J. Smith Bonsai Gallery here at Heathcote and see this beautiful bonsai for yourself.