HINOKI BONSAI SPECIES
NATIVE JAPANESE HINOKI BONSAI
Hinoki Cypress is one of our favorite species for bonsai here at Eisei-en. It grows natively in Japan at low to medium elevations and produces tall, straight trunks with cloud-like foliage pads. Hinoki Cypress bonsai are quite easy to develop and maintain, requiring simple maintenance tasks at strategic times throughout the year. Hinoki can be designed as formal upright, leaning, cascade and bunjin style bonsai, among many other styles. There are several cultivars that can be utilized as well, including Sekka, Nana Gracilis and Wells Select (Special).
Pruning Hinoki Cypress bonsai can be done in one of three ways - either with scissors, by pinching, or a combination of the two. Each technique produces a slightly different aesthetic outcome. For example, scissor pruning each shoot will produce a softer, more naturalistic appearance, whereas pinching the foliage by hand will produce a more palm-palm like effect. The combination method is a great middle-ground for those seeking a more refined look, while still maintaining some naturalistic effect.
In terms of the best time to prune Hinoki Cypress bonsai, allow the new growth to fully elongate in spring through early summer. In early June, perform the first round of pruning/pinching. A second flush of growth with then occur and should be left alone until late summer, at which point it can be pruned/pinched again.
For a more in-depth look at pruning techniques, please consider joining our online bonsai learning platform Bonsai-U!
Wiring and Styling
Wiring and styling of Hinoki Cypress bonsai can be done at any time throughout the year. However, keep in mind that the more invasive the work, the more you will want to avoid the hottest and coldest times of year to perform the work.
For example, if you plan to heavily bend branches into place, this work is best done in the fall. If, on the other hand, you are simply detail wiring a Hinoki Cypress bonsai, this can be done at any time throughout the year, including mid-summer and deep winter.
Stylistically, Hinoki Cypress bonsai tend to look best with the branches dropped downward on sharp angles, hugging the trunkline. This is particularly true when creating the formal upright style (chokkan).
Repotting Hinoki Cypress bonsai is best done in late spring after the brown/purple winter color has returned to a normal green color. Repotting too early in the spring can result in dieback of branches.
Hinoki Cypress prefer to stay slightly moist, so use a free-draining soil medium, such as Aoki Blend or a mixture of akadama, lava rock and pumice in a ratio of 2:1:1. The soil particle size should be approximately 3/16 inch (4mm) for medium and large trees, and slightly small for shohin size bonsai.
Hinoki Cypress bonsai do well if kept slightly moist. As a general guideline, check the water twice per day during the growing season from early Spring through late Fall. Most Hinoki bonsai will need to be watered at least once per day, and sometimes twice per day, during this period. Water as the soil surface becomes dry and mist the foliage when watering in the morning. In the winter months, check once per day and water as needed, which could be as little as once every 3-5 days depending on the climate and the individual Hinoki bonsai.
Fertilizing Hinoki Cypress bonsai will be dependent on the stage of development of the tree. For example, younger Hinoki are best fertilized with a high-nitrogen synthetic fertilizer to rapidly increase their size and vigor. Older, more refined Hinoki bonsai should be fertilized with a milder organic fertilizer with a lower nitrogen value. All Hinoki, regardless of development, should be fertilized from the early growing season through late Fall.
Hinoki Cypress bonsai do best if keep in full sun most of the year. However, in the hottest months, consider placing them under 30% shade cloth or in an area that receives afternoon shade. This will help prevent over-transpiration and potential dieback of internal foliage.
Hinoki Cypress are typically not affected by many pests and diseases. However it is still a good idea to spray preventively with a variety of fungicides and pesticides. For a comprehensive understanding of what fungicides and pesticides to use on your Hinoki Cypress bonsai, please join Bonsai-U!
If you would like to learn more about how to care for native Japanese Hinoki Cypress bonsai species, please consider joining our online learning platform Bonsai-U. Each week a new tutorial or live Q&A session will be uploaded to the site, providing you with in-depth information about bonsai design, care, maintenance and display. We look forward to seeing you soon on the platform!