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How to Care For Buttonwood Bonsai Tree (Conocarpus Erectus)

Unleash the artistic vibe in your garden with the Buttonwood bonsai tree. Glossy leaves, gnarled branches, and driftwood trunks make them the perfect choice for a rusty and artistic specimen in your bonsai collection.  

Buttonwood Bonsai trees are coastal native plant shrubs. They grow well in drought and damp conditions, suited to alkaline and sandy soil. However, these don’t fall under the mangrove variety as they don’t suit underwater growth conditions. 

Caring for buttonwood bonsai trees is so easy if you are in tropical regions; if not, you need some considerations to look into.

Buttonwood Bonsai Specification

Botanical nameConocarpus erectus
Common nameButtonwood
DescriptionButtonwood trees grow on the shorelines of tropical and subtropical regions. Natively found in Florida, The Caribbean regions, and South America. It grows well in sandy, rocky, and damp soil. They are characterized by the appearance of gnarled branches and rough driftwood-like tree bark. 
Sunlight Enjoys maximum sunlight, 6 – 8 hours of sunlight outdoor for healthy growth
WateringWater regularly to have full foliage and luscious leaves. The plant tolerates drought decently. Minimal watering is needed. 
FertilizingFertilize 3 times a year with granular bonsai fertilizers 
Pruning timePrune regularly to control the height of the plant.
Repotting timeRepotting is done when the plant doubles in size or after one year. Opt for a well-draining fertilized soil mixture to replant the bonsai plant
Life spanLong living – perennial plants
NoteThe wooden bark of the plant is fine-grained and is used for carving extensively.

Looking to buy a flowering bonsai plant online? There are many reputable online retailers that offer a wide selection of species and styles, from Azalea to Jasmine to Wisteria. Be sure to research the specific care requirements of your chosen plant and ensure that you have the appropriate environment and resources to care for it properly. A beautiful and healthy flowering bonsai plant can be a wonderful addition to any home or office space. 

How to Care For Buttonwood Bonsai Tree

Caring for buttonwood bonsai trees is simple as any bonsai tree. The main job here is regularity. If you have a tropical climate, you are well and good at most of these requirements; if not, your plant needs some work. 

Read on as we detail the requirements you need to take care of when growing a buttonwood bonsai tree.


Buttonwood bonsai trees grow fast when placed in the sun, though they can adapt to shady places, also. If you are keeping them indoors, check for maximum light exposure. 

Never let the plant stay at a temperature less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Celsius. During cold nights get them indoors or provide winter protection; if not, the leaves will wilt away.


As a seashore plant, the bonsai buttonwood trees survive in damp soil. These plants are also drought-resistant; watering in 2-3 days intervals will be sufficient. However, daily watering is recommended if you plan for a luscious growth of leaves. 

They are often mistaken as a mangrove variety which they truly are not. The main difference is the plant’s inability to grow in salty water. So you must grow them with rainwater or normal water that is not hard.  


You must feed the plants regularly to maintain healthy growth. You can either opt for solid organic fertilizer with a balanced N-P-K ratio (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium)

Never fertilize the plant after you plant them. New growth by itself can be stressful; when you top it off with over-fertilizing, you only ruin the plant and induce further damage. 


Training is done to control the plant’s spread and growth. The baseline here allows the plant to grow but limits its spatial requirement. Most of the training is done in the summer and continues all year long. Training during the growing season allows the new branches to adapt to the training.

Buttonwood Bonsai trees love sun rays and grow more when you expose them, provided you hydrate them with adequate water. You must train the tree by contestant pruning and wiring to control the growth.

The leaves tend to grow outwards and wide, which doesn’t sit well with the bonsai profile of the plant. To maintain the miniature look, you must cut the new leaves from branches. Old leaves can also be removed fully or near the base leaving the petiole intact. 

You must do training with care to avoid scarring the branches. Since the plant grows fast, scarring can easily occur. The branches grow bigger, and wires start scarring the outer layers.

Pruning and Repotting

Root pruning and repotting are important in bonsai growth. Training a regular plant into a bonsai aims to control the growth and make the plant adapt to a smaller profile. 

Repotting is done to re-fertilize the soil and trims the dead and infectious roots. It also provides space in the plant pot for more root growth. 

The best time to do repotting is during the warm nights of the season. Start defoliating the eaves before you replant the plant in fresh soil. It assures less stress in the plant roots and helps the plant to adapt to new soil quickly.

Gently work on the roots to remove the existing soil and dirt, and check for root galls and other infections before you trim the unwanted roots. After cleaning and trimming, relocate the plans to kick start a new growth phase.

Be cautious to avoid fertilizing the plant after repotting for 6-8 weeks; even over fertilizing can induce stress in the roots. Keep the soil moist, and never let them dry out.

Pests and Diseases

Like any outdoor bonsai tree, Conocarpus erectus is susceptible to mealy bugs, aphids, scales, chilli thrips, etc. Using a suitable pesticide and insecticide will treat the plant effectively. 

It would be best to take caution before spraying the insecticides; avoid sprays containing diazinon, malathion, and oil-based soap liquids, as they can damage the tree or even kill them. Instead, try alternative organic insecticide options like Conserve, Avid, and Talstar.

The roots are also prone to infections when Nematodes attack the trees. Check for knot-like structures in the roots. These are galls and should be immediately removed.


The buttonwood bonsai trees are amazing plants with rustic barks and gnarled branches. You can always prune and shape them to suit your style. With proper care and regular maintenance, we can enjoy these artistic plants, even if we are growing them in a tropical zone. These plants can add great value to your bonsai collections when grown properly.

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