Part of the Lychee family the horse-chestnut was introduced to the British Isles in the 17th Century. A medium-sized deciduous tree it is prized for its flowers which blossom in May and are white with a flush of pink. Its fruit, or rather, its large nuts, the Conker, has been prised by children for their schoolyard game of conkers. The nut was ground and fed to horses to help them get rid of their coughs and may have been the origins of its other common name Horse Chestnut.
Styles & Sizes: Because of its more significant leaf size and coarse branching it is best suited to larger bonsai of the upright styles. The leaves do reduce considerably as it matures.
Position: It likes a full sun position though it can tolerate a semi-shade position too and is not susceptible to high winds and desiccation.
Watering: Water thoroughly first thing in the morning to ensure that the plant has the water when it needs it the most, during the daytime and also to safeguard it from sitting in water overnight. Sufficient water during the day will provide assurance that leaf tips do not singe or dry out and that the plant is less likely to suffer from root rot.
Feeding: Use a low balanced organic feed. Organic fertilisers being gradual in their nutrient release will help keep the leaf sizes and internode distances under control.
Repotting: Aesculus need moist, fertile soil, use a free-draining soil mix of loam, sharp sand and well-mulched bark or leaf mould in equal parts. Alternative you can use 2 parts Akadama and 1 part Pumice.
Pruning: As soon as three or four tender leaves emerge on the shoots, pinch out lead bud to mage internode distances and keep leaves smaller.
Wiring: Conkers are best styled with the ‘clip and grow’ method. Wiring is best left until autumn and removed before the start of spring to minimise the risk of scaring.