Bonsai trees

The Hornbeam Bonsai

Latin name

Carpinus betulus

Common name

Hornbeam Bonsai


The tree gets silver bark with warts when it is older. It flowers in March, and leaves grow in the end of April, or in the beginning of May. The leaves are oval and green, but in fall they are yellow, then they dry out and are brown, but they do not fall from the tree. They stay there until Spring, when the new leaf buds appear and start to develop the old leaves from the previous year will then be discarded. They are related to the Beech species with a similar appearance and make for a great Bonsai tree that can be displayed outside.


outdoor, (all bonsai trees except indoor specimens)

They are fine for most of the year but must be protected from severe winter temperatures, see the temperature and exposure section.


Light: It prefers half shade but can tolerate sunny periods for short spells, over exposure to the sun will damage the foliage.

Temperature and exposure

It is an outdoor tree, so it survives low temperatures. But it has to be placed outside in the garden. If the temperature drops below -10°C, it has to be covered with a mulch - straw or small softwood branches from a conifer tree, nowadays there are many fleece covers that are available which can be cut to size to cover the tree and protect it while still allowing for an air flow to keep the tree healthy.

Pruning and forming

Bigger branches should be cut and handled in Spring. Outgrowths are cut in order to follow the style, so do this activity during the whole year. Wiring should be used only for bigger trees, which grow slowly. Young trees grow quickly, so the wire could often overgrow twigs.
Soil and replanting

The mostly used soil is mixture of akadami soil, garden soil, crushed lava (vermiculite) and robust sand in ratio 3:5:1:1. Younger trees need soil change every two years - 2/3 of the soil. Older trees don't need be replanted so often.

Watering and fertilization

Hornbeam likes to be watered with rain water, but you can water it with normal water too, however you have to be careful because it doesn't likes Calcium. The best fertilizers are organic in the form of little balls or powder. It should be fertilized when it starts budding towards the end of July. This tree should be well-fertilized, and if it still doesn't look good you should add some mineral fertilizers. You have to be careful, because it hates salt. When watering you need to be vigilant, the ideal balance is to keep the potting medium moist constantly but never drown the tree with excess water.


There are two types of trees. The male and the female. When the female trees are fertilized you will spot small nuts. They should be picked up at fall and planted at Spring. But the easiest way is to buy them in stores. Cuttings can be taken throughout the year and is often the most viable option for many people.


It can be used for all the Japanese styles, but the easiest style is the Upright style, because Hornbeam will grow with a more natural look when this style is used.

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