In September of 2002,  Jerry Meislik of Whitefish, Montana sent me four photos of his Water Jasmine bonsai that are reproduced below. He explained there are a number of different Water Jasmine forms.  Jerry provided the following captions to be used with his photos:

WaterJasmine Meislik 1 in training.jpg (29988 bytes)
        This Medium-Leaf Wrightia is 11 inches tall and has a 1.5 inch trunk diameter. The leaf is narrower than the normal leaf Wrightia but otherwise its care and handling are the same. It may be more reluctant to bloom than the standard type. I think it has no particular advantages.
WaterJasmine Meislike 2 semi-trained.jpg (30541 bytes)         This Small-Leaf Wrightia is 14 inches tall and 1.5 inch trunk diameter. It has much smaller leaves than the normal and they reduce even more in container culture. The plant is easily cared for but will not tolerate as much abuse as the normal leaf variety. Only one plant of three survived importation stress. I have seen it used to graft onto large leaf trunks to help bring better scale to the tree. Flowers are smaller than the normal variety and a bit more reluctant to bloom. Excellent for small size bonsai but developing a stocky trunk will take a while and reduction-building should help.
WaterJasmine Meislik 3 trained flowering.jpg (31924 bytes)          The Normal Leaf Wrightia is easy-care but should have good bright light. Despite the common name of Water Jasmine it does not tolerate having moist roots all the time or the plant will show chlorotic, yellow, leaves. Defoliate the tree three weeks before you would like flowers. This tree is 21 inches tall and has a 4 inch trunk. It was originally imported from Malaysia and I've had it growing under lights for 10 years.
WaterJasmine Meislik 4 oldest.jpg (42510 bytes)          

        Plant two is an import from Vietnam. Its height is 32 inches and the trunk is 11 inches across. It was reduced from a larger collected tree and my training began in 1994.

        Although this tree lacks the sophisticated training of the flowering tree above, it's my favorite of Jerry's four photos.  I love the knarliness of the lumpy trunk, the large trunk base, and the character of the roots! 

        Jerry's website has extensive information about Water Jasmines posted at


                Readers of this website may remember Jerry Meislik from that great article that he wrote for us titled BONSAI . . MY WAY that was part of the study of light. If you go back and reread that article, you can understand and accept that these beautiful bonsai were grown 100% indoors, but with an exceptional lighting system!  Jerry believes as I do that bonsai will best develop if they are given the best possible growing conditions!  From the photos I learned:

             1.  New growth develops on old wood.   These types of trees are ideal for the Lingnan Clip-and Grow training that produces outstanding taper and trunk interest.  It predicts success with Fuku-Bonsai's more aggressive Reduction-Building training techniques.
             2.  The tree tends to have a lot of branches and easily develops excellent branch ramifications.  Leaves are relatively small and it promises to be an excellent bonsai subject plant for those growing greenhouse or outdoor bonsai. 

              In the future, Jerry and I will be collaborating on more projects as I'd like to see the differences in growth between outdoors in Hawaii and under his lighting system.  So plants (including Water Jasmine) are being prepared with similar plants to be photographed before some are sent to Jerry and our other research collaborators for comparative growth trials               ________________________________________________________________________

Water Jasmine Jim Smith 1.jpg (27744 bytes)
Wrightia religiosa:  24" tall x 25" wide;
trunk 4" across  (sold,  others available)
Photo courtesy of Jim Smith
        Jim Smith is one of the early pioneers of professional bonsai and amongst the first to grow Water Jasmine bonsai in the United States. He writes that he grows his primarily by cuttings and ships younger pre-bonsai all over.  He also has a double flowering variety and has older specimens for sale.
        You can contact him at Dura-Stone Company, 826 22nd Avenue, Vero Beach, Florida. The nursery is located at 304 Old Dixie SW, Vero Beach Florida.  Email: or contact him by phone & fax (772) 562-5291, or cell (772) 559-641.   Or visit his website at where over 150 photos of his trees (including the one at the left are posted.   


                Shailesh's seedlings were about six months old when I received the four photos from Jerry.  The study of the fourth tree greatly influenced the training strategies for the Water Jasmine seedlings. A few trees will be trained in "traditional conservative single apex" styles using some trunk wiring, but the majority would be trained primarily using pruning techniques.  Some pruning would be soft and often and this is known a "pinching."

                To focus attention on the roots,  some seedlings were partially pulled out with some having an aluminum foil column to protect exposed roots that were allowed to lengthen.  Others had a rock to smash the plant over with the rock serving as a cool "mulch."  Still others were wired loosely to form some gentle curves while others were subjected to very aggressive wiring.  

                Flowers are wonderful!  As a bonsai person, I was trained from my earliest days to look at trunks, roots, and forms.   But non-bonsai people truly love flowers and this alone will one day make this a popular bonsai plant for those who have a very high light indoor or greenhouse environment or who can grow bonsai outdoors in warmer weather.  In colder climates, this tropical must be protected during cold seasons. 

                Continue to the next page of this Training Seedling section titled  SUMMARY REPORT - OCTOBER 2003 to see how the seedlings currently appear at about 1 1/2 years of age.


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