In autumn 2016 I collected some conkers from a local park. I planted them up and by spring I had a Horse Chestnut seedling. You can see how it is developing in my Horse Chestnut Bonsai Progression.
Horse Chestnuts are large and powerful deciduous trees.
They have large leaves and are often found growing in parks. Their seeds are called conkers. These can not be eaten. These are not the roasted chestnuts you see at those Christmas markets. They are from a different type of Chestnut.
What Is The Natural Habitat Of Horse Chestnut Tree?
Horse Chestnuts are actually native to a small area of the Balkans, in the sort of Greece/ Albania area.
However, they have been introduced to the rest of Europe and North America where they do exceptionally well.
They are very common place in the UK.
What Soil Do Horse Chestnut Bonsai Need?
Horse Chestnut bonsai enjoy a free draining soil, that remains moist at all times.
I use my standard mix of equal parts perlite/molar clay/compost and this has worked very well.
(For more info on soil read – A General Guide To Bonsai Soil)
How Do you Water A Horse Chestnut Bonsai?
Horse Chestnut bonsai can take a lot of water when growing. Their pots should remain damp at all times. You should water them before their pot dries out. If you are using well draining soil you should be able to keep them moist easily, without them getting waterlogged.
(For more info you can read –How To Water A Bonsai)
How Much Sun Light Does A Horse Chestnut Bonsai Need?
Horse Chestnut bonsai can take full sun. In nature they are pretty large trees, so you will not find anything shading them out.
How Hardy Are Horse Chestnut Bonsai?
Horse Chestnut bonsai are fully hardy and can handle the extreme colds down to -20°C/-4°F when grown in the ground.
I would suggest a smaller tree, grown in a pot is not exposed to temperatures this low, but it should handle any UK weather with no problem. If your temperatures are sinking this cold I would put the tree in an unheated shed or greenhouse before it gets this cold. This type of protection will be more than enough to keep them cold, but not too cold.
(For more info you can read – Working Out How To Over Winter Bonsai Trees)
How Often Do You Feed A Horse Chestnut Bonsai?
I feed my Horse Chestnut bonsai once a month during the growing season with an all purpose fertiliser which is more than to keep it healthy.
(For more info you can read – Do You Need To Use “Bonsai” Fertiliser?)
How Do Horse Chestnut Bonsai Respond to Pruning?
Horse Chestnut bonsai respond well to pruning. They have very large leaves, so regular pruning is needed to keep the growth in check and to try and reduce the leaf size. Although the amount of reduction is not great and the internodes an still remain quite long and course.
This is one of the biggest problems with Horse Chestnut and why they are not ideal for bonsai.
(For more info you can read- How To Prune A Bonsai Tree)
Repotting A Horse Chestnut Bonsai
Horse Chestnut bonsai should be repotted in spring, when the buds are swelling and are about to open.
They can take a hard root pruning but only if the tree is healthy and it is done at the correct time.
(For more info you can read – How To Repot A Bonsai Tree)
Wiring A Horse Chestnut Bonsai
Horse Chestnut bonsai can be wired and will probably need some wire in the early years to help style the branches into the position you want.
(For more info read – Why Do We Wire Bonsai?)
What Is The Leaf Pattern Of A Horse Chestnut Bonsai?
Horse chestnuts leaves are large and have 5-7 lobes. they grow in an opposite pattern.
What Pests Does A Horse Chestnut Bonsai Suffer From?
Leaf Miner and Bleeding Canker are two of the most common issues. Horse Chestnut bonsai can also suffer other fungal infections.
Can You Propagate A Horse Chestnut Bonsai?
Horse Chestnut bonsai are easily grown from seeds.
What Is The Growth Rate Of A Horse Chestnut Bonsai?
Horse chestnut bonsai grow fast, They are very large trees when grown in the ground so they will quickly try and shoot up and become big, even when in a pot.
They can have large internodes and multiple buds in one location, which can quickly cause swelling and inverse taper.
Should You Get A Horse Chestnut Bonsai?
Horse Chestnuts are easy and fun to grow.
However, they are not the best the candidate for bonsai. Their course growth and large leaves make keeping a tree small very difficult.
I would not advise them for bonsai. Although if you want to start one, I would recommend you do, so long as you are aware of their downfalls. You can read more about if Horse Chestnut Is A Good Tree For Bonsai.
If you are finding this article useful you should also check out my YouTube Channel, I post new video’s every Sunday.
I like to show each of my Bonsai trees journey throughout the year in a sort of time lapse, along with some tips and techniques throughout the video.
Hi, I’m Ian. I discovered bonsai in 2014 and I’ve been hooked ever since. I created this site to spread all the knowledge I have acquired over the years. Don’t forget to check out my Youtube videos where I show the progress of my Bonsai