How To Bonsai A Cedar Tree: A Complete Guide

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Bonsai cedar trees are a beautiful addition to any bonsai collection, but they require specific care and techniques to achieve the desired form. Cedar trees have a unique growth pattern, which makes them challenging to train and shape, but with patience and practice, you can create a stunning bonsai tree. In this guide, we’ll explore the steps involved in bonsai-ing a cedar tree, including selecting the right tree, pruning, wiring, and shaping.

Selecting the Right Cedar Sapling

When beginning your cedar bonsai journey, choosing the right sapling is crucial. The ideal candidate should have a healthy appearance, with green foliage and no signs of pests or diseases. Additionally, a well-balanced trunk and branch structure will make shaping and training the tree easier in the future.

It is important to select a cedar species suitable for your climate to ensure optimal growth and survival. Most cedar species prefer full sun and need at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Be aware that young cedar plants are delicate and require extra protection, especially during winter months.

When selecting your sapling, consider the following cedar species well-suited for bonsai:

  • Cedrus libani (Lebanon Cedar)
  • Cedrus atlantica (Atlas Cedar)
  • Cedrus deodara (Himalayan Cedar)

Each of these species has unique characteristics, so research their specific care requirements to decide which best aligns with your desires and abilities as a bonsai artist.

Preparing the Sapling

When starting the process of turning a cedar tree into bonsai, it is essential to properly prepare the sapling. This involves careful pruning and root trimming, which will aid in establishing the desired shape and ensuring the tree’s overall health.


Begin by selecting and removing any unwanted branches or foliage that may be competing with the main branches in terms of growth and structure. Focus on pruning branches that grow either vertically or towards the trunk, leaving the horizontal branches that create the desired bonsai shape (source). Be cautious when pruning to avoid over-stressing the tree and leaving enough growth to maintain its health.

Root Trimming

Before planting the cedar sapling in its bonsai pot, it is crucial to trim its roots. Root trimming encourages a compact root system that will enable the tree to thrive in a small container. To trim the roots, carefully remove the tree from its existing pot or soil and gently brush away excess dirt. Using sharp, clean scissors or pruners, trim away any thick or long roots, focusing on keeping the finer, hair-like roots intact(source). Once the roots are trimmed, repot the sapling in a suitable bonsai container with a base layer of coarse-grain soil and a layer of finer, looser growing medium above it(source).

Pot Selection and Soil Preparation

Choosing the right pot for your cedar bonsai tree is an essential step in its growth and development. Consider selecting a pot that is shallow and has drainage holes to ensure excess water is removed effectively. The pot size should be in proportion to the size of the tree, allowing sufficient space for root growth. Appropriate pot materials include ceramic, stoneware, or plastic, ensuring a balance between aesthetics and durability.

When it comes to preparing the soil for your cedar bonsai, it is vital to use a well-draining mix with a high sand content to improve aeration and avoid waterlogging. A blend of acidic soil and pine bark mulch is recommended, as cedar trees prefer acidic conditions (The Spruce). You may also include coarse soil components such as akadama, pumice, or lava rocks to enhance water retention and drainage. The soil should be free from pests or diseases and provide essential nutrients for your bonsai tree.

Here is a suggested soil composition for cedar bonsai:

  • 60% sand
  • 20% pine bark mulch
  • 10% akadama or pumice
  • 10% lava rocks or other coarse soil components

Prepare the soil mix and fill the bonsai pot, leaving enough space for the cedar tree’s roots to be safely placed and spread. Remember to regularly monitor the soil moisture levels and water your cedar bonsai accordingly to maintain a healthy growing environment.

Planting the Cedar Tree

To start planting a cedar bonsai, first, choose a young seedling that you wish to propagate. You will need a specialty bonsai pot, which has a wide and shallow form that helps restrict the roots, encouraging the stunted growth that is characteristic of bonsai trees. Hunker provides a helpful guide on selecting the appropriate cedar seedlings and bonsai pots.

Once you have the seedling and pot, prepare an acidic soil mix, as cedar trees prefer acidic environments. Add pine bark mulch to the soil to increase acidity and provide organic nourishment for your plant. The Spruce mentions that the mulch’s acidity benefits cedar bonsai trees.

Before placing the cedar seedling into the bonsai pot, examine the root-ball, and prune the tips of any lateral roots that twine around it. This process helps promote healthy growth for the bonsai tree. Carefully position the cedar seedling in the pot, and gently cover the roots with the prepared soil mix. Water the plant until the soil is damp, but not soaked, which helps the plant establish itself in its new home properly.

Ongoing Care and Maintenance


Cedar bonsai trees need careful attention to their watering habits. It is important to water the plant when the soil is nearly dry but not completely. During the growing season, watering may need to be done daily, and make sure not to over-water the plant (Cedar Bonsai Tree Care Guide).


Feeding a cedar bonsai is crucial for its healthy growth. In early spring, use a plant food formulated specifically for cedar trees(How to Bonsai a Cedar Tree). It is also beneficial to supplement the plant with organic materials, like pine bark mulch, to provide additional nourishment and improve soil acidity(Cedar Bonsai: Plant Care & Growing Guide).

Pruning and Shaping

Pruning and shaping are vital for the appearance and health of a cedar bonsai tree. Regularly remove dead branches and foliage to maintain the desired shape. For wiring and shaping the branches, be gentle and careful to avoid damaging the tree(Care guide for the Cedar Bonsai tree). Additionally, keeping an eye on pests and diseases will help ensure the ongoing health of the cedar bonsai(Cedar Bonsai Care | History, Benefits & Tips).

Pest and Disease Management

When caring for cedar bonsai trees, it is essential to monitor and manage pests and diseases. Cedar bonsai are quite susceptible to aphids, which can be detrimental to the health of the tree1.

To prevent pests and diseases from harming your cedar bonsai, ensure proper watering, fertilizing, and positioning. Regularly inspect the tree for any signs of infection or infestation. If you notice any damaged or dying branches, prune them immediately to control the spread of diseases2.

Some indications of pest or disease issues may include:

  • Yellowing or wilting of the needles
  • Small, curled, or distorted leaves
  • Presence of insects or sticky residue on the branches or needles

Should you identify any problems, consult resources like Bonsai Empire for information on effective treatment solutions. Timely intervention can help ensure the long-term health and well-being of your cedar bonsai tree.

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