Riverflat hawthorn, Crataegus opaca, is one of my favorite species for bonsai. They take well to pot culture, grow roots fast and have small leaves. When old enough, they get a nice rough bark. What’s not to like?


I grew this specimen from a cutting struck in 2015. By the end of 2016, it had really taken off. The trunk base was 1″ across, and the leader had extended to 6′. Really awesome.

I had planned to make some layers from this tree in 2016, but I never quite got around to it. One thing I did do is move it to a large growing tub. I did just a little pruning, otherwise it was just food, water and sun.


Well, here’s the same tree almost a year later. Isn’t it amazing? I chopped the leader, but a new leader has taken off and extended to 6′ in length. Overall, the volume of growth has exploded by about tenfold. The base has gained another 1/2″ in girth, but the “body” of the tree is also much increased.

I have the same plan next year as I did this year. I will layer some additional specimens from this parent tree. That will also allow me to do some training on this one itself, which is just a couple of years from a bonsai pot if the growth rate keeps up.


Here’s one more shot, from the other side. I’m thinking this will end up being the front, but time will tell.