Time for a trim
This is a neea buxifolia (nia in Spanish. Saltwood in English) that I originally got from Hector Morales.
Doing research for this post I am flummoxed in my attempt finding out why this tree is called saltwood. Or any other info on it other than bonsai related.
It is an understory tree that tends to grow straight until it gets tall, then it twists and turns, searching out light.
It has almost no tap root (which is perfect for bonsai).
It grows in limestone heavy soils (the island of Puerto Rico)
It doesn’t produce much fruit and those seeds collected from them don’t germinate much.
They can be propagated from cuttings, air layers and, a recent discovery of mine, root cuttings.
Which, with their small leaf and tremendous growth habit, will make for some nice tiny, twisted trees.

Looking at our subject
you’ll notice the flat front. It appears to me as though the tree was split in twain.
Imagine this is a tree trunk
Then you cut it in half
That’s basically this tree.
It probably happened during collection; the tree was pulled up and a root tore off and up the trunk.
And it lived. This is serendipity.
The only wire this tree has seen was on the main branches when I was training them down a bit.
Basically it’s been “clip and grow”.
It’s very easy to treat this tree as a topiary, just hedge trimming the canopy.
Can I give a reason why you shouldn’t do that, with any tree, not just this one?
It will always look like that’s all you did, and that’s the thing. It looks artificial.
We should be stringing for an organic shape, not a dome shape.
It’s a long process with a neea to build a branch.
Let it grow, trim, grow, trim, wire, grow, trim, unwire, trim……..
You get the idea.
I’m about midway on this tree.
The normal trimming model is:
Cut off those shoots growing down and up. Remove multiple shoots in one area. Remove those shoots growing in the crotches of branches. Remove shoots occurring on the inside of a curve.
This model works for a few trimming seasons. Then you have to think of the thickness of the branch pad you are developing.
The branch from the top will look OK
But it will be flat
At this point you take some of the top growing branches and wire them over the pad. Giving it a 3d look
I’ll go through the tree slower this time and choose more carefully those branches I need to keep.
Lookie, I found a flower!
Now for some wire
This being such a small, vigorous tree I have to repot every year
As you can see. That’s pretty geometric.
A little comb and wash and trim
Do you see the brash brush, um, bass brish, brish bus, ugh…. Brass brush in the background?
This is a good time to brush dead wood. When the tree is without soil (and if the roots are in no danger of drying or breaking off) is a good time to brush because the act of brushing (in a pot) is rough on the roots but now (out of the pot) you don’t have that problem.
No soil, no stress.
If you are discerning, you’ll have noticed the unique pot
It’s a marvelously flawed piece; perfect for this tree.
The soft rectangular shape (parallelogram actually) goes well with the flat plane of the front of the tree.
It’s handmade (obviously) and is signed on the bottom
If anyone can identify the maker I’d love to know. It’s one of my favorite pots.
When you moss the soil the green and the orange contrast nicely.
Rear view
It’s a sweet little tree. (If you want to read more on this and other neeas click on this link)
If you get one know this.
It is tropical: do not let it get below freezing. And if you have it indoors for any extended time it requires supplemental light. Like a full spectrum grow light. High intensity. Really.
If there’s anyone who can tell me why it’s called saltwood, please drop a note this way.

6 thoughts

  1. Neat little tree, it actually looks bigger than it is to me. Which I guess means your doing a good job. I love the frequency of your posts keep them coming.


  2. —SALTWOOD— I haven’t found any info on the web why it’s called saltwood, but I have a neea buxafolia bonsai and the color of it’s trunk is Grey to almost pure white.. kinda like salt, as far as I can see. Hope this helps.


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