Satsuki azalea bonsai: varieties

Satsuki azaleas (Rhododendron indicum) have been grown in Japan for at least 500 years and they are popular as bonsai.

The first varieties of Satsuki azaleas are likely naturally occurring crosses of the two azalea species Rhododendron indicum and Rhododendron tamurae. In general, the Satsuki azalea varieties are late-blooming (May-June) with 3-10cm large flowers.

There are more than 1000 varieties. Most are compact and slow growing. The pruning of azalea bonsai is straightforward. This makes them very suitable for styling, especially for flowering bonsai.

The bonsai care is easy. When repotting azalea bonsai, Kanuma bonsai soil should be used. An azalea fertilizer is very effective for fertilizing bonsai. It is matched to the acidic bonsai soil.

The variety of flower shapes and especially the colors is impressive. The flower colors vary from white, yellowish, pink, orange, red to dark purple. Some flowers are monochrome. Often, however, a bonsai tree also has flowers with stripes, flakes and lines.

The complete color spectrum can occur on a single tree and it can vary greatly from year to year. The color samples have been recorded in catalogs for hundreds of years. Certain colors fetch very high prices in Japan.

The names of the varieties are just as variable as the flower colors (Kinsai, Kinzai, Kin-no-sai, Kin-no-zai are names for only one variety).

Here we have put together an overview of the varieties we have imported from Japan.