White Mulberry Bonsai

IMG_5297 - Version 2This fall Rachel Gentile researched bonsai tree art and found out that bonsais can be made from virtually any tree species! She’s been working on an invasive species bonsai tree for the past few months, and couldn’t wait any longer to share it with you. 

A bonsai is a miniature planting in a small container or tray, shaped by cutting, pruning, and wires.   I decided to make an invasive White Mulberry bonsai because even though you don’t eat a bonsai tree, this one will eventually bear fruit that can be harvested and used in recipes.  And bringing some invasive saplings indoors assures that they will not pose an invasive threat to my neighborhood.

In late fall, I collected two of the hundreds of white mulberry saplings that appear each year in the parks in Northern Virginia.  I took them back to the house and washed off all of the soil stuck to the roots.  Next, I trimmed the roots a bit so that the trees would fit into the tiny pot that I picked out.  I twisted the two tree trunks together and planted them securely in the pot with a soil mix specifically for deciduous bonsai plantings.  I made sure to pack the soil in around the roots so that there was very little movement.  I then topped the soil with a layer of top dressing stones to control moisture.

After the tree was firmly in place I twisted copper wire around the branches in order to begin shaping the tree.  I will leave the wire on the tree for about 6 months before removing it.  I also pruned it back to promote bushier growth.  After the planting and shaping, I set the tree by a sunny window and kept the soil moist.

White mulberry bonsai with training wires
White mulberry bonsai with training wires

Bonsai art is a long process, but I’ll keep you informed as it continues to grow and take shape!  I hope that someday I will have a harvest of white mulberries for a delicious invasivore recipe, but in the meantime it is serving as an interesting conversation piece when people visit my house.

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