How to create your own coco bonsai – Manila Newsletter

Coco bonsai is a type of bonsai made from coconut plants. It is not exactly a bonsai by definition as it does not attempt to look like a miniature coconut tree. Instead, it’s a coconut seedling held to a certain height and shape, with its seed incorporated into its design.

Glenn Olis is a Davao del Sur based content creator who does coco bonsai tutorials on Youtube. He shared what beginners need to know to start making coco bonsai.

Acquire a seedling

Coconut seedlings for use in coco bonsai.

The first step to making a coco bonsai is to acquire a seedling. Remove the husk from the coconut until the seed is uncovered. Next, remove the remaining fibrous hairs attached to the seed. Soaking the seed in water will make scraping the fiber easier. What will remain is a seedling grown from a smooth coconut seed.

An ungerminated coconut seed can also be used. Let the seed grow in an aqueous medium by having the part of the coconut seed where the seedling will germinate exposed to water. This can be done by placing the seedling on a cut-out plastic bottle, filling the bottle with water, and refilling as needed. After that, it will be a matter of waiting for the desired number of roots to grow from the seed before planting it in the ground.

Plant the seedling in an extension pot

Plant the seedling in an extension pot.

The next step is to plant the seedling. Glen uses a mixture of garden soil, rice husk, river sand and coco peat as the soil medium. He fills a pot with this soil mixture and places an extension pot on it. An extension jar is not exactly a jar, but rather any packing material folded into a cylinder. The use of an extension pot makes it possible to control the height of its coconut seed by putting soil beforehand. The seedling is placed inside the extension pot, which is then filled with soil.

Later, when the seedling has grown, the extension pot and the soil inside are removed. The seed will be exposed at this time, but its root will have already grown into the actual pot. This opens up the possibility of various designs such as the seed partially buried on the ground or suspended in the air, depending on how high the seedling was placed in the extension pot.

Glenn uses recycled materials for the extension pot. He sometimes uses gallon-sized plastic bottles with the top and bottom parts cut off.

Caring for bonsai

Cut the outermost skin to maintain the size of a coco bonsai.

The seedling would now be left to grow inside the extension pot. It would just need some maintenance by removing the outermost layer of its stem, which coco bonsai artists call the ‘coco net’. You can use a cutter or a scalpel to carefully slice and peel off the coco net. This will prevent the bonsai from growing too quickly. This will also allow new growth to spread out instead of clump together.

As the seedling grows, its stems tend to harden and dry out, so part of caring for a bonsai tree is trimming these parts to improve its appearance.

Removing the extension pot

Removing the extension pot and the soil inside will expose the coconut seed.

Once the seedling has reached the desired size and amount of leaves, the extension pot can now be removed. At this point, the roots of the seed would have grown into the soil of the actual pot, thereby connecting the coco bonsai to the pot.

Proceed to remove the soil to expose the now rooted seed. It wouldn’t be pretty to look at this point because many finer roots had started growing from the main roots. It would be tempting to remove the finest roots immediately, but it is recommended to wait a few days so as not to add additional stress to the plant. Cover the seed in a damp cloth for a week to help the plant recover before proceeding with finer root removal.

Trimming excess roots will improve the appearance of the coco bonsai.

Spray the seed with water to remove dirt and paint it with varnish to improve its overall appearance.

At this point, the coco bonsai is complete. It will just be necessary to clean it regularly to remove the dry parts of its stem. The good thing is that maintenance of coco bonsai becomes less regular over time as its growth slows down as it ages.

Creating coco bonsai is a rewarding process. As with growing other plants, it takes time, but what you get in return is a living work of art to be proud of.

For more information on creating and caring for coco bonsai, see the Glenn Olis Youtube Channel.

Pictures of Glenn Olis

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