How to Grow Bonsai Mangrove Plants

Mangroves are leafy trees that live in freshwater and saltwater aquatic environments. They can be planted in their own aquarium or placed in aquariums with fish to act as water filter. Many mangrove owners choose to trim their trees into a bonsai, which keeps them looking attractive and maintains a manageable size of less than 12 inches. Growing bonsai mangrove trees takes a bit of setup, but after they are established, the trees require little care.

Things You'll Need

  • Aquarium
  • Sand
  • Aquarium gravel
  • Bonsai mangrove propagule
  • 6,000 to 8,000 Kelvin aquarium bulbs
  • Aquarium trace element supplement
  • Spray bottle
  • Paper towel
  • Hand pruners

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Fill the bottom of an aquarium with 2 to 3 inches of sand and cover it with another 1 inch of aquarium gravel, if desired.

Dig a hole in the substrate approximately 1 1/2 inches deep. Insert the mangrove roots--which are called propagules--into the hole and push the sand and gravel up around the tree to hold it in place.

Fill the aquarium with water until the substrate is covered, but make sure the water does not reach the lowest leaves of the mangrove. The top of the mangrove bonsai must be out of the water at all times.

Install a fluorescent aquarium light above the tank and insert at least two, 6,000 to 8,000 Kelvin bulbs. Position the bulbs so they are at least 4 inches above the top of the mangrove bonsai.

Add an aquarium trace element supplement to the water once per week to provide nutrients for the mangrove. Choose one that contains iron, manganese and potassium.

Fill a spray bottle with water and spray the mangrove's leaves daily during the winter to increase the humidity around the plant.

Soak a paper towel in water and squeeze out the excess. Wipe the top and bottom of all leaves at least twice per week to remove the white salt buildup that the tree excretes.

Prune the mangrove tree using hand pruners to keep it a bonsai. Cut off 1/2 to 1 inch of the uppermost vertical branch--called the growth tip--once per month using hand pruners. Then cut one-third of the uppermost leaves in half, width-wise, using the hand pruners.

Tips & Warnings

  • To establish a saltwater aquarium, start with fresh water and add a little salt solution each day until the desired salinity level is reached.

References

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