Horse Chestnut Bonsai Progression (2017 – Now)

This is my horse chestnut and I will be going through its progression from a seed to a bonsai below. (Although its not quite there yet).

If you want to watch it in video format, you can watch the YouTube playlist below. The videos show the progression every month throughout the year, sort of like a time lapse.

Just be aware that some of my earlier videos are not the best quality, but just like my trees, they slowly improve over time, so stick with them and watch both get a little better as the playlist continues.

Horse chestnut are the not the most ideal tree for bonsai, but they are still fun. You will as my tree grows, it has many properties that are not ideal, such as coarse growth and large leaves. you can read more about their suitability in the following article –  Is A Horse Chestnut A Good Tree For Bonsai?

Page Contents


This horse chestnut was started from seed.

In the autumn of 2016 I collected some conkers from a horse chestnut tree at a local park near my house. …actually I think “conker” may be a very British word? If you don’t know what that means, it’s just the seeds!

Anyway, I planted them in a pot in my garden and left them to do their thing over winter.


In spring they started to germinate. As you can see I didn’t bury them fully. I just treated them like they may have fallen off the tree and landed in the soil.

Germination in spring

For the rest of 2017 they were left alone and allowed to grow.

Seedlings in early summer


In 2018 it was left to grow and I also didn’t take any pictures of it.


In 2019 I give it a light prune over winter. Mostly removing the extremely large terminal buds and allowing the two smaller buds below to become the leaders.  

Early 2019

I also had to repot the tree, although not out of choice. I had it growing in a long rectangular window box and I actually had a couple of horse chestnuts growing.

I was moving house and the only way to bring a horse chestnut was to repot one into a smaller pot, which I did.  I didn’t touch the roots (although I think I might have removed the tap root) I basically just pulled it out of the larger pot and stuffed it into the smaller one. I had to leave the others behind. So now I only have one.

Summer 2019
The base of the tree has an interesting kink where it grew from seed

I then left alone for the rest of the year to recover from the move.

Autumn 2019


In 2020 I did another winter prune, where again I remove the large buds to leave two smaller ones.

I also repotted the tree again, but this time properly. I actually pruned the roots quite hard and also put the tree into a training pot.

Roots after pruning

After this I left to grow and recover for the rest of the year.

Spring 2020
Summer 2020
Autumn 2020


In 2021 I again pruned in the winter, removing the big fat terminal buds so the two below it could be the leaders again. This method seems to be working well.         

Early 2021

I also repotted the tree again. Its only been a year, but the tree is a fast aggressive grower and it quickly fills this pot. The pot is a decent size, but it is still quite small.  

Roots before pruning

After the repot it left alone again to recover for the rest of the year.

Summer 2021
Autumn 2021


This winter the buds on the branches seemed to be a little more behaved. There wasn’t one huge bud that was ready to shoot off, they all seemed more balanced, and so I didn’t do any pruning.

However, I did repot again. This was very 50/50. I might have got away with waiting another year, but the pot was pretty full and there was a few thick roots starting to develop.

I think if I didn’t repot, the pot would be dangerously full come this summer, so it was the right thing to do.

The 2022 repot
Spring 2022

And that is where we are now.

So really this tree has not done much so far.  It’s kind of ugly, by that’s why you shouldn’t really use horse chestnut as bonsai. You are never going to get the best results.

My plan going forward is pretty much more of the same. I might reduce the height of the tree this summer, but we will see.

I will of course keep updating this page, along with releasing new videos. Its not the best tree, but I still have fun with it.  

If you have a horse chestnut, you can also ready my Horse Chestnut Bonsai Care Guide.

2 thoughts on “Horse Chestnut Bonsai Progression (2017 – Now)”

  1. Pingback: Is A Horse Chestnut A Good Tree For Bonsai? – Back Garden Bonsai

  2. Pingback: Horse Chestnut Bonsai Care – Back Garden Bonsai

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