Yes, plants can be magic! Could you imagine the ethereal purple blossomed Jacaranda, a tree that’s usually 15 metres in high, becoming a 10th of it’s size at just 1.5 metres?? Suddenly within reach of urban gardeners, ‘Bonsai Blue’ does just what it says on the tin, and it’s the hottest new plant!
Destined for the now-cancelled RHS Chelsea Flower Show, this innovation was set to be entered into Plant of the Year, and would surely have snatched a top-three placing! Well, being the impatient imp that I am, I couldn’t bear to be without the UK’s premier plant contest this year, so I actually ran a ‘People’s Choice’ competition of my own on a recent QVC TV show. Little old Jacaranda ‘Bonsai Blue’ only went and won the contest, with 28% of the vote!!
Often seen on exotic holidays in tropical or subtropical areas of the world, Jacaranda are usually grown in cooler regions as a foliage plant… pretty, yet disappointing! However, now you can enjoy blooms from plants just 70cm in height! Plants will max out at 1.5 metres and are easily manageable against a warm wall or in patio containers that can be given just a little winter protection.
How was this plant created?
Kiyoshi Sakai is a Japanese grower, for many years growing citrus plants as a hobby. Sakai-San is 84 years old. Sakai-San also has a secret love; the rich purple joy of the Jacaranda tree! He was growing many young plants, and enjoying their gorgeous foliage, yet in 1995 one single plant was flowering when it was super young! Wow!
This was, of course, a revelation! Jacaranda usually flower after 10 years of growing, and need to be much more developed before producing those purple clouds of beauty! You can imagine the interest this new plant created! By grafting this speedy bloomer onto the base of a standard Jacaranda tree, Sakai-San knew he could create the world’s first dwarf Jacaranda, which would naturally be named ‘Bonsai Blue’!
And, there’s no slowing down Sakai-San and his breeding journey. He has also found a unique pink-flowered variety, plus a cylindrical-shaped type, both part of this development programme and perhaps reaching your garden very soon!
What’s different about this plant?
This exciting botanical development has created a new category for the much-loved Jacaranda. It has made it into a small tree for an urban space. In years to come, we could see them lining the streets of Europe and cooler climates, with purple blossom at a metre high!
‘Bonsai Blue’ is heat and drought tolerant once established. You won’t be the only one that loves these Jacaranda plants either, they will also attract plenty of butterflies, bees and other pollinating wildlife.
Jacaranda fact file
Where can you plant Jacaranda ‘Bonsai Blue’?
‘Bonsai Blue’ prefers well-draining, enriched soil and will require regular watering, especially during its first growing season and when grown in a container. Once established, your plant will look after itself a bit better and you can reduce the frequency of watering.
As a dwarf variety, this Jacaranda ‘Bonsai Blue’ can be grown in a container about 18 inches in diameter, although do protect plants from frosts going below -2 degrees. In the past, Jacaranda would’ve been too large for gardens, and would have been grown for their beautiful fern-like foliage, however ‘Bonsai Blue’ will give that foliage PLUS the stunning blue flowers from late May to June.
Where can you buy this plant?
How to grow Jacaranda ‘Bonsai Blue’:
Flowering time: May to June
Plant of the Month is sponsored by Plantipp, a company based in The Netherlands who handle the introduction of new plants into Europe (with Concept Plants doing the same job in North America).
See every Plant of the Month here.
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook. You can also listen to The Plant Based Podcast with Michael and co-host Ellen-Mary on iTunes, Spotify and Google.