Syzygium buxifolium

text and photos by Alfredo Salaccione

Syzygium buxifolium appeared in the world of bonsai a few years ago. About its cultivation in a pot, we have little information and experience. Chinese myrtle is an evergreen broadleaf related to cloves tree (syzygium aromaticum). In Europe it is possible to find nice imported material with fantastic parts of deadwood.

I will describe my experience with a syzygium from raw material to exposition.



March 2007. This myrtle was imported from China into Italy in 2006.

The picture shows the tree one year later. It looks very strong.


The tree is repotted, changing completely the original clay soil. It is possible to see many and thin roots.

Even if syzygium could tolerate low temperature, in my opinion it is better to repot this kind of tree only in spring time.


For the first wiring of syzygium, I prefer to use aluminium wire. The bark is very delicate and the branches are very fragile, therefore good manual dexterity is needed when wiring this kind of material. For the second wiring, I use copper wire that is harder but more discreet.


I need to bend some branches of the apex, so I prefer to protect them with raffia. It is better to work using guy wires, because syzygium has very fragile branches.

The shari needs cleaning. The wood is very solid and strong. With a soft brush I clean the bark, and in this way I show its nice red colour. I finish here the first step of work.

After a few weeks, the tree starts to grow again. In this phase, it is important to wait for the change of colour of the new leaves and only when the colour changes from red to green is it possible to cut back. In this way, the tree will produce a second and strong shooting. A good organic fertilizer and a little iron chelate will help the tree.

At the same time, I try to choose the right pot.

The dimension of this pot is good, but the colour will be similar to the mature foliage.


This red gres pot is not so bad; the colour is in accord with the living vein, but it is optically too heavy.

I like this English ceramic by John Pitt very much, but it is too large for the tree.

This Tokoname pot is fine and exalts the round lines of the tree.
May 2007. The new foliage is mature: the colour of the leaves is green. Now I can cut them. In this way, the energy in the branches is enough to have a second shooting. In this building phase, it is better to eliminate flowers and fruits, so as to have all the energy in the foliage.

In the pictures, it is possible to see that I cut the most part of the shoot. Naturally, I try to have a good distribution of energy.

Here is the result of three months of work after the first wiring.

The day for the definitive repotting: Usually I spread some wax on the surface of the pot. In this way its colour gets exalted, and it will be simpler to clean it from dirt.

The soil that I use for syzygium is a mix of akadama, pumice-stone and kanuma.

Here is the final result. The tree looks like a bonsai now.

After some months the syzygium is in good health and I decide to let it produce some flowers and fruits.

In my opinion, syzygium buxifolia is a good material for bonsai lovers. It needs some attention as far as wiring and shaping is concerned, but by respecting its physiology, we can have quite satisfactory results in a relatively short time.


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