It’s hard to grow bonsai’s in Kuwait. Not many stores sell semi-mature trees, especially a variety of species, or the materials needed. Also many tree varieties have specific needs that are difficult to meet in our climate.
Then I came across the practice of bonchi’s – growing bonsai’s out of alternative plants such as peppers. The greatest benefit is that pepper plants can grow incredibly fast; you can grow a complete bonsai from a seed within one to two years. After all, who wants to wait forty years or more for a bonsai plant to grow! Also, many pepper plants turned into Bonchi will still bear flowers and fruit- making them very pretty.
One of the leaders in the field of bonchi’s is Fatalii (buy his seeds here); he’s a Finish guy famous for cultivating many different varieties of peppers. He’s even grown his own unique varieties! I haven’t found a website or company that grows such a range of pepper species. It didn’t take me long to order several different varieties in order to start my own Bonchi plants. Some plants are mostly ornamental, though almost all will bear flowers and fruit that are edible.
All the pepper varieties I have ordered are considered ideal for making bonchis, and are classified as easy to grow indoors/in pots. These are the varieties that I have ordered:
Fatalii describes it as a “very, very mild habanero relative has a great aroma! One of the best mild varieties there is. Perfect for people who want just the taste without the heat.”
Orange Mini Bell
Think of your local store bought bell pepper or capsicum, only miniature in size! It’s so cute! The variety I ordered predominately produces orange bell peppers. On the Scoville Heat Units scale, bell peppers score a 0 and are considered sweet.
Birds Eye Baby
One of the first photographic examples of how a pepper can be turned into a bonchi – a photo that made Fatalii famous.
These peppers are considered hot, hitting around 30,000-50,000 SHU.
The leaves of this variety are rather small, so it’s a perfect option for anyone wishing to create the look of a bonsai tree.
A couple more photos that made Fatalii famous, showing the beauty of a pepper plant being made into a Bonchi.
The Bolivian rainbow variety is often used for ornamental reasons – from the photos you can probably guess why. The peppers themselves are actually edible, with a SHU score of about 30,000-50,000. That’s 4 to 12 times hotter than your store bought jalapeño.
This species grows as a very small bush, so it is a perfect option for bonchi. The fruits tend to be quite small, and point upwards.
These are my second hottest variety of peppers; they are considered extremely hot at 50,000-100,000 SHU. That’s 4-20 times hotter than a store bought jalapeño!
The peppers look really gorgeous, typically looking like a cherry (rounded and bright red), and fruiting in small bunches.
These is probably my smallest pepper fruit variety, and I’m quite excited to see them grow! They are described as “candy looking”. The plant produces hundreds of pods, and is considered to be highly fruitful.
Chinese Five Color
The Chinese Five Color pepper is another hot variety with a SHU of 30,000-50,000. However it is often grown as an ornamental due to its gorgeous colours. Just like the Bolivian Rainbow (above), this variety will bear fruit that ranges from purple, to yellow, to orange, and finally to a red.
Habanero, Orange and Pink Varieties
The habanero is one of those peppers everyone has heard of. But did you know they grow in different colours? And did you know that the different colours do not have the same heat levels?
The orange habanero has a heat level that you have come to expect from peppers – sitting at 100,000-350,000 SHU!
The pink habanero however… this pepper is perfect to carry around a party and to eat hole, impressing others at your ability to maintain perfect composure when eating something so hot. The pink habanero, despite its name, has very little spice what so ever! It’s closer to a spice level of a capsicum than it is to a jalapeño!
The italiano pepper variety is suited to growing in small containers, making it a perfect option for Bonchi.
What attracted me to this variety is its fruit – the peppers are small and long, and grow in clusters that point upwards. Very pretty!
The Jalapeño is the most common pepper that people buy at the stores fresh. We really enjoyed growing and eating our last plant (before I killed it to make room for other plants – oops I didn’t know I could make it a Bonchi then).
Another very pretty variety of peppers; just as the name suggests, these fruits look exactly like marbles. The fruit are quite small, only getting to be about 1/2″ in size (1.3cm)! It is an ornamental variety, but the fruit apparently still can be used in cooking.
This variety is another ornamental designed to catch your eyes. Just like several other varieties, the fruit will shift from purples to reds as it ripens.
Apparently the omnicolor variety are very popular among pepper growers; its easy to grow, and has a unique taste that works great as dried flakes or powder.
This is another pepper that grows fruit in clusters. From the photos, it appears that this fruit doesn’t hang as much as other varieties, but rather forms closer to the branch stems.
These peppers are considered extremely hot with a SHU of 50,000-100,000.
This plant produces very uniquely shaped pepper fruits – they look quite like stars!
These peppers are medium hot at SHU 30,000 – 50,000.
Unfortunately the leaf size of this pepper variety is quite large, so its not generally suited to Bonchi methods. It doesn’t mean we won’t try!
Another interesting looking fruit; the Trepadeira Werner peppers look very much like cherries!
These are considered mild peppers, with a SHU score of 1000-5000.
So which seeds will I be planting first?
I love that the Bolivian Rainbow has fruit that’s long, clusters, and points upwards. More importantly, I love the color variations. Because of this, it gets preference over the Birds Eye Baby and the Italiano.
The Marbles variety has gorgeous little round fruits, which are such a unique shape compared to most other varieties. Closely behind this variety is the Charapita, with the miniature yellow ball shaped fruits.
Since I’m not a huge fan of spicy food (yeah I know, I’m growing spicy peppers…) I will definitely be planting the Miniature Orange Bell, the Pink Habanero, the Aji Jobito and the Treeadeira Werners.
The Starfish variety was a personal preference of my husband, so I’ll definitely start growing soon.
Coming up in a future post, I will talk about how I will convert my Ikea Nypon pots into hydroponic containers, suitable for growing a hydroponic bonsai or hydroponic Bonchi in.