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Red Bhut Bonchi Experiment

Posted by mecdave 8 Tx/HZ 9 (My Page) on
Sun, Aug 10, 14 at 10:52

This particular plant never has grown right compared to it's other siblings. For all I know it may not even be the same type. It's always had droopy mottled leaves and bolted straight up whereas the others are a bit bushier. Even the stem is droopy so had to tie it up...

 photo RedBhut1.jpg

So I decided to give it the Fatalli Bonchi treatment (link below). I started by trimming the lower leaves a couple weeks ago. Now that new growth has sprouted down there, off with it's head!

Looking better already.
 photo RedBhut2.jpg

Will update this thread as the plant progresses.

Here is a link that might be useful:

This post was edited by mecdave on Mon, Aug 11, 14 at 8:05

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Red Bhut Bonchi Experiment

Wow! That's a really cool (and informative) link! I really hope it works for you. I think the Bolivian Rainbow Bonchi looks especially nice. Definitely keep us updated with the progress. Best of luck.


RE: Red Bhut Bonchi Experiment

Those bonchis made me "Ohh!" out loud all by myself! As someone with limited space I am going to try. Thank you for the link!!!

RE: Red Bhut Bonchi Experiment

Thanks! Bookmarked it...

RE: Red Bhut Bonchi Experiment

Week 2 update - The plant is doing great. There was considerable fertilizer burn (nutrient overload) that damaged the leaves shortly after cutting the plant down. You can see a couple of the bad leaves still on the plant after trimming it up this morning.

Also note the exposed roots. I've been pulling dirt out of the pot in order for the larger roots to get a chance to harden up before re-potting.

Will probably pot down in a couple weeks after it's developed some more branches. Bonchi training wire on the way in the meantime.

PS In hindsight, a chinense pepper with large leaves may not be the best candidate for a bonchi project. I imagine the proportions are going to look a bit odd. Too late now! :-)

Edit note: Josh has pointed out the leaf burning could have been sunburn instead of fert burn and I agree. In fact I had moved the plant to a shadier spot right after the burn appeared. Something to consider when topping a plant, even if the trunk had been exposed for awhile previous to topping.

 photo RedBhut3.jpg

This post was edited by mecdave on Sat, Aug 23, 14 at 14:45

RE: Red Bhut Bonchi Experiment

That's awesome. I was looking forward to another post on this. If this wasn't my first year growing (and I had the guts to do it to one of my own!), I'd definitely hack one of my plants up! Such a cool project. Keep the updates coming!

RE: Red Bhut Bonchi Experiment

Why do you think it was fertilizer burn rather than sunburn on the new / exposed leaves? Did the leaves turn orange-brown along the margins as they do when burned by fert's?


RE: Red Bhut Bonchi Experiment

Thanks Mike. I've started trimming lower leaves and branches on a couple large Tabasco plants too. Figured they would make good looking bonchi too. Will add them to the list later.

Josh. Good question, and you may be right. In fact right after the leaves started burning I moved the plant to where it would receive much more shade from other plants. I wasn't sure it was sunburn though since all those lower leaves had already been exposed for a few weeks before topping the plant.

So yeah, I think I'll amend my previous post to include the possibility of sunburn. Thanks.

Update: I knew I should have taken a photo of the red bhut before trimming. Anyway, here are a few of the leaves I trimmed this morning...

 photo RedBhut4.jpg

This post was edited by mecdave on Sat, Aug 23, 14 at 14:58

RE: Red Bhut Bonchi Experiment

Definitely going to do this. Is taking the balcony plants at the end of the season and cutting them back the way to go?


RE: Red Bhut Bonchi Experiment

Super cool! Alison, that is what I'm planning on doing with a bunch of mine. It's going to be my way of over wintering (or at least my attempt at overwintering). Some are going to get the full treatment of branch training.

RE: Red Bhut Bonchi Experiment

This will be the first year of overwintering anything so I'm certainly not the expert to ask. But the concept is the same, just a bit more extreme with Bonchis, I believe.

With both you will be downsizing the pots and trimming the tops. How far you take it is up to you. At this point in the season I would, and am, trimming large leaves and stems at the base of a few other plants to expose them to sunlight to encourage leaf sprouts and hardening of the main stems and roots.

Also searching for a cheap source of bonsai pots to determine how many and how small I want to go.

Also imagining which peppers would look good bonchi sized. For instance, my poblanos are very large plants and have fantastic looking, thick stems. Perfect for a bonchi tree, but I'm not sure how cool they would look with pods. Certainly not as fine as a Bolivian Rainbow or Chinese 5 Color.

Have fun, I am. ;-)

This post was edited by mecdave on Mon, Aug 25, 14 at 21:08

RE: Red Bhut Bonchi Experiment


Hope I'm not hijacking this thread. Thought about starting a new one, but there is already so much info here.

I am having the same struggle with which to bonchi.

Think definitely the Bode. It has a strong stem and small fruits which I think will look good:
 photo IMG_0617_zps194a244b.jpg photo IMG_0618_zps5f0e0513.jpg

Wanted to do the Chupitinho, but the main stem is growing sideways. The teardrop fruit would look great though. photo IMG_0620_zps41d42a76.jpg photo IMG_0619_zpsc6bd29d6.jpg

The strongest stem is from the cobra, but worry that the leaves and peppers are too large to work well photo IMG_0621_zps2dd0a4b3.jpg

Last option is the Billy goat. Strong stem, smallish round peppers photo IMG_0623_zps8ee46d83.jpg photo IMG_0624_zpsf84a7591.jpg

Thoughts and ideas?

Also bought 2 bonsai pots on amazon from Bonsai Boy. About $30 each but will suit for houseplants if this doesn't work.  photo IMG_0626_zps2d465eef.jpg
They come attached to the saucer with screens and wire already attached. Not sure how to work the wire though. photo IMG_0627_zps0379a7e9.jpg

The Fatali link you posted said to use regular potting soil, not a bonsai mix. Thoughts?

Also got small grain Akadama for the bottom of the pots.

Look forward to see how you are progressing, again, thanks for the post. I had never heard of these, but can't wait to try!

RE: Red Bhut Bonchi Experiment

I would say they're all good candidates except for the chupitinho. It's similar to my habanero with the multiple low branching stems. I plan on just doing the basic overwintering routine with it... smaller pot, not too heavily trimmed.

The cobra would even look good as a taller tree since the pods are so long, imo. Your pots are large enough to support a bigger plant. If it doesn't work out you can always grow it large again next year.

For screen I'll just be cutting up an old window screen, and instead of Akadama I'll be using floor dry, a clay like absorbent used in garages for soaking up spills.

I'm trying hard not to invest too much into this until I see how it works out, but I did splurge on a couple small succulent plants to help dress up the pots. Some good luck needed on finding moss in this drought though. ;)

PS For potting soil I plan on using Miracle Grow Potting Mix. It's what my plants are already growing in.

This post was edited by mecdave on Tue, Aug 26, 14 at 21:14

RE: Red Bhut Bonchi Experiment

Week 3 - Moving right along.

Potted up the Ghost today. Not your traditional bonsai pot I know, but you take what you can get out here in the sticks. Besides, the root system was so thick (thanks to Happy Frog Jump Start), I couldn't bring myself to chop it up and thin it out much.

Once it recovers from the transplant shock, I'll trim the large leaves again. I've been doing that once a week.

 photo bonchi1.jpg

I've also started playing around with cloning. (link to guide below)

Here are a couple of the half dozen tabasco plants I've started.

Note: After the photos were taken all pods, buds, and large leaves were trimmed off. Also, they're just sitting in the pots temporarily. They're actually stuck in stonewool squares as per the instructions.

 photo clone1.jpg

How are yours coming along alynne?

Here is a link that might be useful: Cloning Guide

This post was edited by mecdave on Mon, Sep 1, 14 at 10:10

RE: Red Bhut Bonchi Experiment

I like the exposed roots. They make the plant look older, like the original dirt it was in eroded away.


RE: Red Bhut Bonchi Experiment

Week 4 - I found a lady selling moss on Amazon, five varieties for $20. I've used 3 of the 5 below and still have enough for 3 or 4 more pots.

The instructions that came with the moss threw me for a loop. First, they can't be exposed to direct sunlight for any length of time or they'll die. I've now got the bonchi surrounded by pepper bushes so we'll see how that works out.

The instructions also said not to keep them wet, but mist them twice a day. That's not a problem since I l do that with all my pepper plants already.

Also said not to expose them to fertilizer or it will kill them. Uh Oh. I'm using Miracle Grow Potting Mix and will need to fertilize the Bhut regularly. So I scraped out about an inch of MG off the top and filled in with a cheap potting soil that doesn't contain any ferts. Moss don't have roots so they won't be burrowing down to the MG.

Also dug down deep behind the pepper and filled the hole with aquarium gravel. Then placed a rock over that area. Now whenever I need to water the pepper, with or without liquid ferts, I simply remove the rock and slowly fill up the gravel chute.

Hey Dennis, yeah I like the exposed roots too. Unfortunately I bumped one of the more gnarly ones when digging soil out and broke it. I guess it was a dead one so will have to be more careful in the future.

 photo RedBhut5.jpg

RE: Red Bhut Bonchi Experiment

RE: Red Bhut Bonchi Experiment

Ha, thank you NECM. It's my own little green oasis in this otherwise drought ravaged landscape (other than the rest of the pepper plants of course). ;-)

This post was edited by mecdave on Sat, Sep 6, 14 at 14:58

RE: Red Bhut Bonchi Experiment

Haha! You took the words right out of my mouth! I was gonna say it's like your own little oasis! Looks awesome! A little slice of paradise right in your own backyard. You could put 2 Corona bottles next to it and film a commercial!

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