First tree - Dappled Willow aka Hakuro Nishiki aka Salix Integra, needing advice

Jugglenuts

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First attempt, yesterday I picked up a tree from home depot on sale. I know it's probably not great for bonsai, and especially not for a beginner, but my selection was limited.
It's very tall and wondering about when/how to shorten it.
My idea was to lop off everything above the direction change on the main trunk (first pic arrow), but not sure if I should do that sooner or wait for winter for normal pruning time.
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The eventual plan (unless it sounds horrible?) is to have a Y shape trunk with the split starting at either the "1" or "2" (hard to see the 2) each with a sort of bushy-looking top like the plant would have if it was full grown.

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From what I understand I should leave the shoots at "3" for now, for the sake of not disturbing it too much too soon. (Alternatively, just have one of those very bottom branches at "3" become a trunk and have a V shape instead of Y. Thoughts?

Finally, as for care, I was hoping to keep this indoor with a grow light if possible. I live in a highrise in Chicago so the wind can get pretty extreme at times on my balcony. It should be able to survive the winter if it was outdoors, but I'd rather wait until it's a bit thicker for the sake of the wind. I know the general advice is not to repot right after getting it, but I was going to do some potting of dwarf indoor citrus trees tomorrow, can I get away with repotting it then? (I'd delay the pruning/lopping if I do pot it - no need to stress it out with everything changing at the same time).

My hopes aren't that high, but that's why it's a first plant! If this was on your table, what would you do to it (if anything)?
 

Microscopic

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Welcome buddy!

If this was my tree, I would find the receipt and return it. Then use the money to get something more suited to indoor growing. Like those "bonsai" trees at your home depot. But get a ficus as I read they're less finicky.

If you decide to keep it and repot, try not to disturb the roots too much. But why in such a hurry? Could just wait till next spring. I wouldn't chop anything until the trunk is almost the desired diameter.

Salix love lots of water, and lights. Sun lights
 

penumbra

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This needs to be outside only. It is also really a bad choice for a bonsai for a multitude of reasons.
 

Michael P

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Let me make two suggestions.

First, you can repot the willow now, as long as you just move it to a larger container without disturbing the roots. Then put it on the balcony, give it lots of water and fertilizer, and let it grow until the trunk is nice and thick. Don't bring it inside. Then post some more photos and start thinking about possible bonsai training. As others have said, willows are not ideal species for bonsai. But that doesn't mean you can't have fun with it as a potted tree.

Second, if you want an indoor bonsai, get a Ficus microcarpa and/or a dwarf schefflera. These are probably the species most tolerant of indoor conditions, especially if you can use lights. Ficus can be trained in almost any style. Schefflera are easiest as banyan or clump style so are more limited. But they are even more bullet proof than ficus.
 

coltranem

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Return it. If you want to grow indoors figure out what your lighting conditions are. Grow lights will never hurt. Once you feel you can provide enough light look into purchasing a tree that can be indoors. There are plenty of options. Mind you all of these would love to be outside in the summer.
 

Jugglenuts

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Thanks for the advice all. I'll keep it for now, but probably ditch the attempts to bonsai it. Kind of a bummer, but I'll keep looking around locally for species that can be kept indoors better.
 

BonsaiNaga13

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You can start a citrus bonsai from seed and move indoors in Autumn. Any tropical bonsai would work well indoors but they prefer outdoors in the warm season
Plus you could always try to develop a cutting from your dappled Willow as a bonsai since willows root so easily
 

Jugglenuts

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Funny enough you say that Naga! I have 3 dwarf indoor(ish) citrus trees (key lime, lemon, tangerine) arriving today. I was half-thinking about bonsai-ing the tangerine one (I want the limes and lemons!) if it seemed suitable.
 
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