The art of bonsai consists in being able to contain a tree in very small dimensions; through particular and careful cultivation treatments, the bonsai artist over the years succeeds in stimulating in the plant the production of small leaves, small flowers, branches similar to that of large trees; in this way it encloses in a vase the superb and proud beauty of a centenary tree. For novice bonsaists it is already difficult to make a plant survive in a tiny vase; for the experts, instead, every plant is a challenge, and surely one of the biggest and most pleasant challenges to win is to cultivate a fruit bonsai. Not an apple tree that produces 200g apples each, but a small apple tree, which produces tiny "scale" apples.
The production of very small fruits is a goal that can be achieved only during the long years of cultivation of a bonsai, re-educating it month by month, so as to favor the development of fruits of the right caliber. Many bonsaists abandon this difficult challenge at the start, avoiding leaving flowers on the plants, or avoiding growing fruit plants.
Many plants tend to produce flowers and fruits of dimensions not related to the size of the plant itself, which is why lemon or chestnut bonsai become very difficult to produce; likewise hardly a bonsai artist will choose one of the hybrid pome or drupaceous plants that are usually grown for the production of fruits, which are in fact large and juicy, very useful for feeding, a little less for the aims of the bonsai.
Generally when we choose a fruit plant to be bonsaized we will look for a botanical species, or a small fruit variety; the botanical species of prunus and malus produce in nature innumerable fruits of rather modest dimensions, thus allowing us to bonsaise these plants without the problem of finding great fruits on tiny twigs.
If we are beginners, and we simply want to enjoy some fruit to be admired on our small bonsai, we can even refer to plants that already produce miniature fruits, such as carmona or cotoneaster: the fruits of these plants resemble small apples or small olives, even on non-bonsai plants; therefore we can already admire small fruits in the prebonsai. We also remember that not all plants produce fruit in the first years of life; the cotoneaster produces fruit after 1-2 years from sowing, the apple tree can take from 3 to 5-6 years, the fig takes 5-6 years, the ginkgo can also take up to 10-12 years; much also depends on the state of cultivation: the more our bonsai will be healthy and lush and well cultivated, the faster it will begin to produce flowers, and fruits accordingly.
Fruit bonsai: How they are treated
To produce flowers and fruits, plants tend to "spend" most of their energy; if the plant is no longer perfectly healthy or unable to find the necessary nutrients in the soil, it will easily lose the fruit and sometimes not even produce it.
Therefore, if we want to admire our fruit-laden bonsai, whether it is a cotoneaster or a small apple tree, let us remember that we must always treat our plant as well as possible: we supply fertilizations and waterings in the best way, species by species.
Pruning and setting of the branches will be carried out only and exclusively when the plant is in vegetative rest, to avoid removing the flowers, or to cause vegetative stress to the plant at the moment of flowering or at the beginning of fruit production. We therefore remind you that if we want good fruit in spring or summer, we will have to prune our bonsai in autumn, avoiding subsequent pruning, until after flowering.
To allow a small plant to produce and ripen its small fruits we also avoid leaving too many of them; even if seeing so many fruits will fill us with pride, we can easily understand that a plant cultivated in little land will not be able to find enough energy to ripen all the fruits, and could react causing all fruits to fall.
For this reason, as soon as the fruits are formed, remember to remove most of them, trying to keep those positioned in a more harmonious and decorative way.