Bedding plants

Cultivate holm oak as bonsai - how it works!


If the holm oak with its impressive height is too big for the garden, you can alternatively cultivate a holm oak bonsai.

On your holiday on the Mediterranean you can admire holm oak trees in all their glory. They reach heights of up to 25 meters, have a bony habit and a rounded crown. Outdoor plants are a rarity in Germany, because holm oaks cannot grow permanently. Only in very mild regions, such as the wine-growing regions in southwest Germany or the Lake Constance area, will it be possible to cultivate holm oaks outdoors.

If you don't want to miss all the splendor of the attractive trees at home, you don't have to pack your bags, but get more than an alternative with the cultivation of the holm oak (Quercus ilex) as a bonsai. The small trees are in no way inferior to their large relatives in the wild in terms of growth and charisma. Find out how you can become a bonsai gardener too.

Holm oak as bonsai - is it worth it?

In any case, tens of thousands of hobby gardeners worldwide enjoy the mini trees, which with a life expectancy of up to 500 years will also make their descendants happy. There are, of course, some differences with regard to bucket keeping. Those who follow the tips and advice below will find it easy to get started with bonsai growing.

Advantages and disadvantages compared to cultivation in a bucket


  • The characteristic growth habit can be clearly worked out.
  • A bonsai usually grows older than a container plant.
  • The plants take up less space.

  • The bonsai culture is more demanding.
  • The bonsai needs to be cut regularly.
  • The bonsai is particularly susceptible to frost.
  • Higher acquisition costs when purchasing the plant.

Holm oak bonsai - the right location

If the holm oak is used in the bonsai pot, it requires a rather limited supply of substrate and nutrients. A bright location is very important for the mini trees. At their natural location, the holm oaks form long tap roots that reach deep into the ground and ensure the supply of water and nutrients. No taproot can form in the flat planter. The plants have to provide the energy required for growth through photosynthesis. So make sure you are in full sun. This can be on the balcony or terrace during the summer months.

" Tip: Plants in the flat planter are particularly vulnerable to frost. Therefore, the bonsai should move to the winter quarters in good time.

Only a location in full sun ensures that more oxygen and sugar are formed than is needed to maintain the plant. The resulting excess of energy ensures the growth and formation of the thickened trunk typical of the holm oak.

" Tip: Wind and rain can do little to the bonsai. This causes the leaves to harden and gives the plant resistance to bacteria and pests.

Water the holm oak bonsai properly

The water requirements of the bonsai can be classified as high on average. Make sure that the earth does not dry out completely. This would lead to the fine root network dying off after a short time. More frequent watering is necessary, especially in summer. In order to better assess this, carry out a soil test. If the top layer of soil has dried slightly, the watering can is reached, if necessary several times a day.

" Tip: Once the soil has dried out, an immersion bath helps the bonsai to quickly soak up moisture and recover.

If possible, use rainwater to water and spray the leaves. Alternatively, stale tap water can be used - calcareous water leaves ugly leaf spots. Regular showering of the plant is advantageous, however, in order to ensure a higher air humidity and at the same time remove dust and dirt deposits from the leaves. The plant is watered less in winter. However, the bonsai must not dry out even in the cold season.

Holm oak bonsai pour in keywords

  • Water frequently, especially on warm days
  • The substrate must not dry out
  • spray more frequently
  • Use rainwater
  • Immersion bath when drying out
  • Water less in winter

Properly fertilize holm oak bonsai

In order for the holm oak to develop well in miniature, you should purchase a special bonsai vital fertilizer. It is administered at three-week intervals during the growing season. The fertilizer is easy to dose and is added to the irrigation water. The fertilizer application is reduced in autumn. Since it is an evergreen and photosynthesis also takes place in winter, some fertilizer can be administered once a month even in the cold season.

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Holm oak bonsai fertilize in key words

  • use whole bonsai fertilizer during the growing season
  • fertilize every three weeks
  • fertilize every four weeks in winter

Cutting holm oak bonsai - but how?

Cutting measures are particularly important in bonsai care. In order for a bonsai, i.e. a mini tree, to develop, the roots, shoots and branches must be cut back regularly. This is best done every four to eight weeks during the growing season between May and September. The pruning decides on the final growth habit and should be done carefully. In Asia there are traditions in this regard that have been carried out for millennia.

When cutting, pay attention to a harmonious size ratio between the crown, the trunk and the roots. From the end of April, there will be regular cuts to a maximum of two leaves. If you want your bonsai to branch finely, you should shorten all end buds by the end of May. If, on the other hand, the branches are to grow rapidly in size, then no cutting is done. Just wait until the branch meets your expectations and only then cut.

Holm oak bonsai wire

Wiring is a common method of growing bonsai. Wiring can get the tree into shape faster than if you trust the natural growth. You can provide the branches with a special wire and move them wrapped with this aluminum wire in the desired direction. Wiring is usually done in spring, but not later than May. The wire should be removed again in May, as the trees would then start to grow thicker and the wire would grow into the branches or trunk.

When should a holm oak bonsai be repotted?

Once you have started growing bonsai, you need to repot regularly. Young plants should be placed in a new bonsai pot at least every two years. For older specimens, it is sufficient to replant every four to five years. The best time for repotting is late winter or early spring. In any case, the plant should not have started to sprout yet. When transplanting, you can remove a third of the roots. Place the plant in a substrate consisting of acacia earth, pumice granules and bonsai soil.

What diseases can affect the holm oak bonsai?

The plants are susceptible to mildew. Also scale insects or spider mites occur occasionally. In order not to endanger the plant, you should get appropriate antidotes. In mild cases, it also helps to wash the plants off with a hard water jet or to treat them with a lye made from nettles or garlic. In the case of mildew, rubbing the leaves with milk is also a tried and tested home remedy.

Wintering holm oak bonsai - what should be considered?

The plant should move to the winter quarters in good time. Slight frosts of up to -5 degrees are tolerated, but not over a longer period. Better to ensure that you have adequate winter accommodation in good time. The bonsai plants overwinter in a bright, frost-free room. At temperatures of around five to ten degrees, the plants can be stored until spring.

" Tip: Keep an eye on the plants in the winter quarters so that no pests nest or the plant dries out. Watering is less in winter, but the holm oak bonsai must not dry out.