Cedars are tall coniferous trees which develop characteristic broad and elegant shapes with age. They are very suitable for bonsai purposes, but for unknown reasons cedar bonsai are quite rare.

There are four beautiful species: Cedrus atlantica, which is native to North Africa, with blue-grey needles and light grey bark, Cedrus deodara from the Himalayas, which has longer green needles, Cedrus libani, which is native to Lebanon and the Mediterranean coast, with dark green needles and greyish brown bark, and Cedrus brevifolia, which is endemic to Cyprus and has short blueish green needles and a broad canopy with horizontal branches. Cedrus brevifolia is sometimes considered to be a subspecies of Cedrus libani. Cedars grow clusters of needles along their twigs, which look similar to those of the larch (Larix) at first sight, but cedars are evergreen in contrast to larches. There are also several interesting cultivars of the cedar species with different foliage characteristics or growth patterns.

If you need help identifying your tree, try our Bonsai tree identification guide.


Specific Bonsai care guidelines for the Cedar

Placement: The cedar needs a position in full sun for healthy growth. In wintertime, protect the tree from freezing temperatures and cold wind. Young plants are especially delicate and need extra protection.

Watering: During the growing season water daily if necessary, but let the soil get dry before watering. Be careful not to overwater the cedar, as it grows in quite dry conditions in its native regions and can suffer from root rot if it is watered too much. Especially in winter it is important that the rootball does not stay too wet because this would increase the risk of frost damage to the roots.

Fertilizing: During the growth season use a liquid fertilizer every two weeks or apply organic fertilizer four to six weeks.

Pruning and wiring: Twigs can be shortened in early spring. Later keep pinching new shoots which appear throughout the growing season. Do not cut the needles. Larger branches can be pruned in autumn. The Cedrus is known for its slowly healing wounds, so consider to create deadwood features like jins or little shari to prevent producing ugly cut wounds. Younger twigs can easily be wired when they are still flexible. Take care not to damage the sensitive bark. Older branches are better shaped with guy wires.

Repotting: Repot younger trees every two years, older specimen every three or four years in spring before the new buds open or in autumn. Do not disturb the root system too much and prune the roots only lightly.

Pests and diseases: Aphids and the fungi Sirococcus and Pestalotia, which cause shoot blight and defoliation, can attack cedars. Use a specific pesticide and try to improve the growing conditions for your tree. Root rot can occur when cedars are overwatered.

Propagation: Sow seeds in spring time, cold stratification is required. Cuttings and air layering have rather low success rates.

For more detailed information on these techniques, try our Bonsai tree care section.


Example of a Cedar (Cedrus) Bonsai tree

Cedrus, Cedar Bonsai tree