Cedar as been used for a variety of species. Real cedar as the latin name of cedrus. Only those real cedar, see cedrus, are really suitable for bonsai tree material. I will list a few example of common name tree that include cedar but are not cedrus tree. First off, the Eastern red cedar if not a cedrus tree, but rather Juniperus virginiana, Eastern white cedar and Western red cedar aren't Cedrus either, they're arborvitae - Thuja occidentalis and Thuja plicata, respectively. Lastly, the Japanese red cedar is a cryptomeria japonica tree. Also, a few of the chamaecyparis, or cypress tree, use cedar as their common name. What a mess of names it is.
With that being said, a few species of true cedar are praised for bonsai tree use, and their characteristics makes them true bonsai potential material. Some have reported to have very little success with cedrus tree as bonsai, because the specie is very untolerant of climate changes and bonsai learning mistakes. Those who have much more success are bonsai adept in the Mediterranean climate regions. Cedrus in fact, do love warm and dry climates.
Young trees will have a pyramidal shape while more mature trees will have a wide-sweeping and massive shape. The dark green needles and cones will grow upright above the foliage. The needles of this cedar are very short, ranging from half an inch to an inch in length which makes it a good bonsai candidate. The cedrus libani is a slower growing tree then other cedrus species, but the small needles and beautiful foliage makes it a great bonsai tree.
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Also known as the Cyprus cedar, the Cedrus bevifolia is named like this because this tree is only found in the wild in Cyprus forests and mountains. This cedar has the shortest needles of the cedar family with needles of blue-green color not longer then half an inch. It is sometime confuse as a cultivar of the cedrus libani. This specie is hard to find in nurseries, because of the lack of seeds available in the market, and was only available as grafted tree for a long period.
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Cedar Bonsai care
All cedrus tree species will require full sun and the maximum of light they can get.
A well drained sandy soil is mandatory. Moderate watering and allowing the soil to somewhat dry in between watering is ideal for cedar bonsai tree. Overwatering will cause the needles to turn yellow.
Feeding and Fertilizer
In spring, fertilizing mildly is recommended. Every other week with half strength solution is ideal. In the heat of summer, fertilizing is not recommended. Start to fertilize again in fall with same method as spring.
Cedar Bonsai Techniques
Cedar tree are very touchy when it comes to repotting. It should be done in early spring before the bonsai tree start producing new roots. Every 3-5 years a repotting is needed. Keeping soil on the roots when repotting is necessary to avoid needles loss. Protection of the winds for newly repotted tree might be essential.
Pruning should be done by pinching new shoots. Trimming with scissors is not recommended to avoid dry brown tips of the needles.
Wiring is possible on cedar bonsai. Branches will take a long time to set and continuous wiring is needed for as long as a year. Be sure to check for wire bites in the bark.
Cedar Bonsai pests and diseases
Cedar trees are almost disease free and none are worth mentioning, maybe except the honey fungus.
A few pests do like cedar trees. Bark beetles and caterpillars may be attracted to cedar bonsai trees.
Cedar Bonsai propagation
Seeds: Seeds is the praised propagation method for cedar tree. Seeds are usually very easy to germinate after a cold treatment of 30 days. Seeds are sensible to overwatering and can rot if mold is present. A mild bleach solution treatment before sowing might help to prevent rot and mold.
Other: Cuttings and grafting are also possible as method of propagation for cedrus trees.