BonsaiRoot Over Rock Style

Bonsai - Root Over Rock Style:

The plant is growing in the soil, tucked into a crevice of a rock or driftwood .

Myrtle in Craggy Cove:


'Root-over-rock' styles of bonsai in are plants perched on a rock and the roots are growing over the rock and down into soil. This time, a new technique is used, in which the plant is growing in the soil, tucked into a crevice of a rock or driftwood, as a tree would naturally grow when survival depended on any extra protection it could get.

Myrtle is a bushy shrub with stems, which become woody on quite young plants. In California, Arizona and similar climates, it is used as a landscape shrub or hedge. It tolerates drought, and can be easily pruned to reveal interesting branches. It can do well in sun or shade, and any soil as long as drainage is good. The 'Compacta' cultivar is smaller than the common variety. It has tiny, pointed leaves, which are dark green, and shiny, is slow growing and the leaves are closely set. This sounds like the ideal bonsai plant! It is, but unfortunately, it won't survive outdoors where frost is a part of winter. It does adapt to indoor care, however, still tolerating a variety of growing conditions with little complaint. Unlike many plants, such as azalea and gardenia, brought indoors for winter in colder climates, it is not dependent on a cool temperature and high humidity over winter - something very difficult to achieve in centrally heated homes. It does fine indoors in temperatures we enjoy, and asks only for regular watering to avoid drought.


Start from cuttings:

When starting from cutting use about 3-4 " long (8-10 cm.) stems, and remove the lower leaves. Use damp vermiculite as a rooting medium, and dipped the cut end in a rooting hormone before inserting it in a hole made with a pencil in the rooting medium. Our air is very dry here, particularly in the cold winter months, so we found covering the container, usually containing several cuttings, with a ventilated plastic bag, improves your chances. It takes several weeks to grow fine little roots capable of supporting the cuttings.


Plant your cuttings into four inch (ten cm.) plastic training pots for a summer of growth in a bright sunny window. They were tip pinched occasionally to promote bushiness and watered well (they need good drainage but cannot be allowed to become dry). The stems are quite flexible at this point, although they become hard and woody very quickly, so it's easy to gently wire the stem to create a cascade down over the edge of the pot. As it matures, the stem will thicken and will trail down in graceful curves.


No idea is right or wrong, only different, and that is what makes bonsai so exciting - the variety of possibilities from a beginning that offer little chance for experimentation. You will learn to be open to different ideas and to appreciate what you can create. This, of course, becomes much more apparent when working with older plants that already have some character. Feel free to try something other than the expected, allow a vision to materialize, take a chance, and you may be surprised at the result.