Ideas for indoor bonsai??

tanlu

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Hi everyone,

I know there's no such thing as "indoor bonsai", since trees are TREES and they belong outdoors. However, I read some species can be successfully grown indoors. I tried a few species(Serrisa, Grewia, Ficus) and was unsuccessful.

I'm not so interested in ficus, but I do like something that's relatively low maintenance (unlike the serrisa).

Some ideas are: pomegranate, olive, and Chinese elm.

Your ideas are welcome!!
 

jk_lewis

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pomegranate, olive, and Chinese elm.
These are not indoor trees, though a very experienced grower might be able to keep them inside for a period of time. However, if you had problems with figs, I'd not recommend you try any of these.
 

treebeard55

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Tanlu, some Ficus are easier than others; Ficus neriifolia (aka F. salicifolia,) and Ficus microcarpa are fairly tough if you can give them enough light. But if you simply don't care for Ficus, you might try Schefflera; they're pretty tough, pretty forgiving, and do OK with medium light.

I suggest you check out Jerry Meislik's website, www.bonsaihunk.org. Jerry has been specializing in tropicals for decades, and has learned a lot about them.

It's true that serissas aren't low-maintenance! They're also not really tropicals; warm-temperate describes them more accurately. Misinformation about their climate needs is what has led to their reputation as "finicky," I now believe.
 

tanlu

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Tanlu, some Ficus are easier than others; Ficus neriifolia (aka F. salicifolia,) and Ficus microcarpa are fairly tough if you can give them enough light. But if you simply don't care for Ficus, you might try Schefflera; they're pretty tough, pretty forgiving, and do OK with medium light.

I suggest you check out Jerry Meislik's website, www.bonsaihunk.org. Jerry has been specializing in tropicals for decades, and has learned a lot about them.

It's true that serissas aren't low-maintenance! They're also not really tropicals; warm-temperate describes them more accurately. Misinformation about their climate needs is what has led to their reputation as "finicky," I now believe.
treebeard55,

Thanks for the info, and like your bottom quote states, pines are also my favorite subjects to work with. But it would be nice to find a tropical/sub-tropical tree I can work with indoors during our long New York winter.

I'll check out Jerry's website.
 

milehigh_7

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You may look into Casuarina Equisetifolia. I have read that you can do them indoors but I have no first hand knowledge. They can be trained to look like pines.
 

jk_lewis

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You may look into Casuarina Equisetifolia. I have read that you can do them indoors but I have no first hand knowledge. They can be trained to look like pines.
Probably not for beginners. Stick with Ficus or Shefflera until you have a bit more experience growing indoors. Jerry has an excellent book out: Ficus: The exotic bonsai. You can find it at www.stonelantern.com
 

rockm

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The problem with ficus is there are so many really pathetic examples of it circulating. Like other bonsai, getting a decent piece of stock to work on is key--in performance and artistically.

Don't think the mallsai ficus is what ficus bonsai is. It's not.

There are quality plants out there worth looking for online. Fuku Bonsai in Hawaii has some excellent starter and developed tropicals:
http://www.fukubonsai.com/MAIN1.html
I haven't bought from these folks having sworn off indoor bonsai long ago (too much work), but there's is among the best stuff available online.
 

rockm

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Jim's ficus are extraordinary, but unless you have a few grand to throw around, mostly unattainable...also, if you click through on those magnificent trees, you will see most are sold and some of the pages are long inactive. He's not a real viable source for beginner trees.
 

subnet_rx

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I have a few indoor bonsai and in my experience, there isn't a tree that really works in anything but high light. I have several ficus, a couple of jades, and have had two Shefflera. All of this is under grow lights that you can get from Wal-Mart, but it simply keeps them alive really during the winter months that it's too cold for them to be outside. The ficus will live and grow, but it thins out after a few months indoors. The Shefflera did ok, but simply didn't grow at all. I sometimes would question whether it was dead or not, but when summer rolled out and it went outside, it would start up again. I also have jades, and they really hate the low light. They will lose all of their leaves during the winter, and barely be sprouting out again when it's time to go back outside in the summer.

I would say if you seriously want to do create bonsai like the ones in some of the pictures above, you really have to take a look at your indoor lighting. You can refer to Jerry's site for a professional setup that will cost quite a bit of money, but will grow tropicals like they were outdoors.

To be honest though, I've enjoyed growing some other plants like orchids or dragon trees indoors that don't mind the lower light. It's much less maintenance than trying to grow a tree, and you get to watch something develop.
 

Bill S

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Jim's ficus are extraordinary, but unless you have a few grand to throw around, mostly unattainable...also, if you click through on those magnificent trees, you will see most are sold and some of the pages are long inactive. He's not a real viable source for beginner trees.
Unless Jim has not restocked or grown on materials for the last couple of years, I'd say he does have some good materials for prebonsai/larger stock, and the pricing is good as well. You will probably need to do it with a phone call vs. seeing an online photo, but he has done well by our club. This one was I think 100.
 

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rockm

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Then by all means, call him:D ---immediately. The web site is pretty inactive and ALL the trees on it are specimen quality, so it's not clear what he has available.
 

Bob O

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Rock hit the nail on the head. Its the material you start with. If you want good ficus material Jim is a good contact, he has much besides the trees shown online. That being said, there are many Florida bonsai growers that could help out with great starter material.

Bill, is that you sitting with George? Great starter tree!
I have several nice ones thanks to George doing workshops with my club here.

Bob O
 

treebeard55

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Nice, JKL! Bet you could get $80 for it now.

Another seller with good starter stock is Wigert's Bonsai. Give 'em a Google. They include heat packs when shipping trees to northerly locations in winter.
 

treebeard55

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Oops!

Come to think of it, it was Meehan's that sent heat packs with the Ficus burtt-davyi that my wife got me last Christmas. The interior of the package was still warm after three winter days.

Given what I've heard about Wigert's service, I expect they use heat packs also in winter.

I've been happy with my purchases from both. If you want something a little bigger at Meehan's, check out their "Tree Gallery."
 

Bill S

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Bob, um yep thats me, we had George in the year before he passed away.

Durastone (Jim Smith)has a lot of quality stock, the website as most(I assume) have a hard time keeping up with thier photos, but if you call them and talk over what you want they can most likely supply good materials in a price range you pick out.

That tree if mine is a microcarpa - Kingsmen/tigerbark ficus, it handles the lower light levels pretty well. I keep it in an east facing basement window with a 2 lamp x 4' florescent fixture over the top.
 

treebeard55

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subnet rx makes a very good point: adequate lighting is crucial in keeping tropicals happy.

Jerry Meislik's setup keeps his trees growing as if they were outdoors, but metal-halide lamps are beyond my budget. My setup relies on standard 40-watt fluorescents; and while my tropicals don't grow much thru the winter, they stay healthy and don't lose ground. Here's a link to see what I've got, if you're interested: http://bonsaivaultforum.freeforums.org/the-bonsai-crate-t805.html. (I don't think Nut will ban me for posting a link to, ahem, another forum. ;) )

Jerry Meislik's site also has a link to an item on Carl Rosner's "Tree House," which you may find interesting. Carl is very knowledgeable about keeping tropicals in the North.

If nothing else, what Carl and I have done may spark some ideas in your own thinking for a setup that will work for you.
 

BUBBAFRGA

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Jim's nursery has great pre bonsai. Following photos are when I went down last summer. First pic showing his benches, second another area of his Benches with Louise Lester, Past President of Bonsai Societies of Florida, third pic is ficus I got for about 70 bucks, with club discount. Not sure if Jim V. still works there or not but if he is I'm sure he be willing to help just tell him what looking for in size and what you want to spend.
 

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tanlu

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Does anyone have experience with Chinese Elms? I actually ended up purchasing one (imported from China) this past weekend at a local bonsai nursery for $25, a steal really. The Japanese bonsaist who overseas the care of all the bonsai there keeps them in a greenhouse with indirect light and high humidity. All seem extremely healthy. She says she waters them once a week.

Now I don't live in a greenhouse, but my tiny upstairs kitchen has the most humidity in the house, possibly 40% or 50%. It's 65F daytime, 55F nighttime. It's also very bright since there are 3 windows (light from east, south, and west) and the white walls and cabinets reflect it. I've been keeping it there for the past few days. Does anyone have any experience and tips on indoor care for this plant?

I'll post a pic soon

T
 
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