Water Jasmine is a very popular species for Tropical Bonsai. Native to Southeast Asia it grows as a shrub with 2 inch leaves. As a bonsai these leaves reduce well and its twiggy growth habit makes for excellent bonsai material. They prefer full to partial sun and well draining soil. Wrightia is cold sensitive and can become deciduous under 65F in the winter. Protect from freezing temperatures and take care not to over water when it is defoliated. Wrightia begin to set their flowers in spring, and a Water Jasmine in bloom is a  wonderful sight. The fragrant flowers hanging in clusters below your foliage pads making for a perfect bonsai display. They can be trained to almost any bonsai style – take care to leave space between the foliage pads to showcase the blooms. Wrightia will bud back well so heavy pruning in an initial styling is acceptable. Wrightia adapts well to wiring and younger branches can be easily positioned. To reduce leaf size defoliation techniques can be applied. They can be apically dominant and here in Florida where they grow quickly, we often have to prune the apex heavily every few years to keep good proportions. Repot every 2 to 3 years in summer months when temperatures are in the 70’s or above. Defoliating when repotting will help reduce the stress of root pruning. We use a well draining soil mix of lava rock, pine bark, and turface. Keep in the shade after repotting until new growth emerges.

Wrightia can be grown from the seed pods that will sometimes follow the blooms, or propagated easily from cuttings. There are a few popular hybrids including a “double flower” and a variegated variety. Also popular is Wrightia vietnamensis a variety with extremely small leaves that is excellent for shohin bonsai.

Wrightia are heavy feeders and enjoy a high nitrogen fertilizer. Yellow leaves can be a common problem caused either by overwatering or underfeeding. Water Jasmine will occasionally get scale, mealybug, or aphids but it is easily controlled with pesticide spray.

Erik Wigert
Wigert’s Bonsai
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