Madrona "Arbutus Menziesii"


Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, besides the Doug Fir, two trees that really captivated me were the Vine Maple and Madrona. I moved to the middle of Europe back in 2011 right when I first found out about Mirai, Lucky me! Anyway, I searched the internet for bonsai examples of Doug, Vine and Madrona. There were none until Ryan, Michael Hagedorn and perhaps a few others started finally styling them and bam in 2013 Google was blessed with a new range of Doug fir bonsai examples as well as Vine maple examples which had me beaming.
There is still one species that I believe deserves some attention, perhaps it’s not suitable for container life as some have told me but perhaps if anyone can figure it out and create a Pacific coastline group planting or even a single tree, it’s Mirai.
Does anyone have any experience with Madrona and does anyone else think that this slowly disappearing tree could be a fantastic example as bonsai?

I would be interested to get your thoughts. Also wasn’t sure where to put this topic so I just placed it in design.

Happy spring!


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I started with a 100 seedlings about 25 years ago. Planted the last one in the ground a few years ago.
Any that I root pruned failed, fortunately only experimented with a dozen or so.
Most were never root pruned.
Started in 4" pots and would move up one size every now and again.
Many were up to 3 gallon pots and spent at least 10 years in them.

Trees stayed quite small ( under 1 metre) and pruned easily. They were extremely root bound (had to water frequently). they had 10 cm trunks, quick taper, twisted and literati like.

One I often see and care for at a clients is in a 25 gallon ceramic container. probably potted into it 10 years ago.
Prune now and again and general potted plant care, less the root pruning. I don’t expect to ever change the pot.

Beautiful trunk, and bark ( orange /red and nice peeling). Surprisingly few leaves and easy to grow., They were most all interesting and many people would comment on how beautiful they are. I’d agree and say, if available try growing, just don’t root prune.
Hope this helps


Gerald, thanks for your response, it seems that they must be rare indeed. I had no idea they are so sensitive with their roots, maybe this is why there are virtually none in existence as bonsai.

I don’t have any available to me here I just wanted to get some input from everyone at Mirai if this is a species worth looking at closer and possibly figuring out some nuances about this beautiful tree.

Do you have any photos? It would be great to see :slight_smile:

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Arbutus Menziesii is also one of my favorite trees as well! I have one in my garden now that I am trying to establish as well as one currently in a 20 gallon container.


Hi Alemon, that sounds awesome do you have any photos and have you tried any bonsai techniques, etc?

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Hi ThomasUrban, I’ve just been experimenting with growing a madrone in a container for now. I havent tried any bonsai techniques. Just trying to see how well I can maintain one in a container for now. Really just trying to learn for now.


Stumbled across this interested thread discussing arbutus menziesii as bonsai. Very interesting! Here’s one of the posters plants and thread link.


Thanks for the link and for your input!

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Howdy hey,

so how’s the growing and experimenting been?

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I had an arbutus. They are tricky AF to keep alive. Ryan has said species like this have a symbiotic relationship to plants the naturally coexist with them, and that in collecting you need not only the arbutus but also these companion plants.

My issue with the arbutus is that the roots are fragile and in little quantity. They are temperamental, its difficult to get the leaves to scale down, they dont back bud and its the only thing a deer ate, and killed, in my garden. As such, I am very reluctant to ever try and harvest one again as I respect their life more than my attempt to reign them in.