silverberry bonsai

Sneak Peek

I’ve been wanting to grow Silverberry, or Eleagnus, as bonsai for some time now. A bonsai friend gave me one early in 2020, and today I got around to styling it after a year of growth from a bare trunk. But that’s not all ….

Silverberry Bonsai

A bonsai friend gave me this Silverberry, or Eleagnus, back in Winter 2019-2020. I chopped it to a bare trunk, and sat it on the bench to grow out. I learned during the season that they root slowly, so my earlier plans to style it in summer did not work out. But no matter. You can work on the above ground parts pretty much any time. The Eleagnus species are evergreen and very tough customers. They thrive in poor soils. What more could you ask for?

I decided it was time to do an initial styling on this one, in part because of the rest of the story you can read below.


Slanting style bonsai are always a challenge, because they slant. That may sound redundant, but when you think of a typical bonsai – the most common style is the informal upright – things such as branch placement and balance are very easy to accomplish. Not so much with the slanting trees.

We always begin by removing those branches that emerge from the bottom of the slanting part of the trunk, which usually can also be seen to be emerging from the inside of a curve. Tough to make those work!

We start wiring branches from the bottom. I left the right-hand branch long so it could keep on growing next year and thicken up.

More editing of branches. The look of the tree is getting “cleaner,” and it’s easier to see a design taking shape.

Now I’ve got the leader defined. Once you have your trunk line established, it’s a lot easier to evaluate your planned bonsai and adjust the design if needed.

I think this is a good start on a nice Silverberry bonsai. I’ll wait until next summer to (possibly) slip-pot into a bonsai container; it depends on the root growth I get in spring.


Now for the rest of the story. Way back in 2012, when I first had my property cleared of a huge number of trees I no longer wanted (and which also was intended to give me more nursery space), I lined the back and sides of the property with Silverberry. My next-door neighbor also put up a hedge at the same time. Fast-forward to now, and they decided to remove their hedge. Well, since I have steadfastly decided not to fool with really large trees anymore, I of course decided to grab a couple of huge specimens while I had the chance. Here’s one of them. The base measures about 8″ across, and it’s chopped at about 10″ from the soil. I’m pretty confident it’ll recover; I’ll know come spring.

Here’s the other one. It’s also 8″ across at the base, a little less front to back, and also 10″ tall. Two very nice sumo-style specimens.

Let me know what you think. Have you ever worked with Silverberry?