Identify my bonsai

Spencer

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I'm new to bonsai and I need to know what kind of tree I have that way I can care for it properly.IMG_1123.JPGIMG_1124.JPG
 

Bonsai Nut

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Procumbens juniper!

Welcome to the site :)

This is an outdoor tree... are you keeping it outdoor in the full sun? Some of the foliage isn't looking too happy...
 

Spencer

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Procumbens juniper!

Welcome to the site :)

This is an outdoor tree... are you keeping it outdoor in the full sun? Some of the foliage isn't looking too happy...
I got this today and I was told it was and indoor tree which most likely means that the people I pruchased this from did not properly care for it.
 

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No it is not an indoor tree... not by a mile.

Where do you live? What kind of tree are you looking for? Maybe someone can point you in the right direction for a friendlier indoor bonsai experience. Truth is, it is really hard to grow bonsai - any bonsai - indoors. People say you can do it because they want to sell "indoor" bonsai trees, but there isn't a bonsai tree around that wouldn't do better outdoors.

Conifers (pines, junipers, spruce, cypress, fir, redwood, etc), in particular, are darn near impossible to keep indoors - unless you are willing to shell out serious money for artificial lighting.
 

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And by the way... welcome to the hobby! Your first tree is pretty exciting. Wait until you have 100 :) My first tree my parents made me stick back in the ground after I had tortured it for a couple of years because I didn't know what I was doing. That tree is now about 40' tall :)
 

Spencer

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No it is not an indoor tree... not by a mile.

Where do you live? What kind of tree are you looking for? Maybe someone can point you in the right direction for a friendlier indoor bonsai experience. Truth is, it is really hard to grow bonsai - any bonsai - indoors. People say you can do it because they want to sell "indoor" bonsai trees, but there isn't a bonsai tree around that wouldn't do better outdoors.

Conifers (pines, junipers, spruce, cypress, fir, redwood, etc), in particular, are darn near impossible to keep indoors - unless you are willing to shell out serious money for artificial lighting.
I live in Alabama. I'm fine with an indoor or outdoor tree but I am a newbie and I don't know if I can handle a particularly difficult tree.
 

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Your juniper is a robust and hearty tree and relatively easy to care for. Find a nice spot for it outdoors - on a patio or in your garden - where it gets full sun and you can water it regularly (probably once a day - or once every two days if it is humid). You keep it outdoors 365 days per year - even through Alabama winters. Your main challenge will be to make sure you water it properly - not too much so the soil turns into a swamp, but not too little so that it dries out like a desert. Otherwise it can handle a fair amount of abuse.

Living in southern California, all my junipers sit in full sun, all year long. I have my bonsai garden on an automatic sprinkler (like a lawn sprinkler) so I don't have to worry about watering if I go on vacation.
 

Spencer

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Your juniper is a robust and hearty tree and relatively easy to care for. Find a nice spot for it outdoors - on a patio or in your garden - where it gets full sun and you can water it regularly (probably once a day - or once every two days if it is humid). You keep it outdoors 365 days per year - even through Alabama winters. Your main challenge will be to make sure you water it properly - not too much so the soil turns into a swamp, but not too little so that it dries out like a desert. Otherwise it can handle a fair amount of abuse.
How should I deal with rain. Could that be a problem.
 

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Rain is not generally a problem if your soil is good. Because your bonsai is in a pot, you want to make sure that the soil is porous enough that it can drain freely and not turn swampy. If you water your tree, and find that the water doesn't pour through the soil and out through the holes in the bottom of the pot, you need to fix the problem. In a perfect world, you would repot your tree into new bonsai soil and get rid of the old crappy, compacted soil. However if you repot your juniper at the wrong time of year - like the heat of summer - it will have a hard time dealing with the stress. Best time of year to repot a juniper is early spring. So if it rains a ton, and you find your bonsai soil is getting swampy, in the short term you can poke a chopstick into the soil from above (to loosen the soil) and from below (to open up the drain holes). Otherwise let it rain :)
 

Spencer

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Rain is not generally a problem if your soil is good. Because your bonsai is in a pot, you want to make sure that the soil is porous enough that it can drain freely and not turn swampy. If you water your tree, and find that the water doesn't pour through the soil and out through the holes in the bottom of the pot, you need to fix the problem. In a perfect world, you would repot your tree into new bonsai soil and get rid of the old crappy, compacted soil. However if you repot your juniper at the wrong time of year - like the heat of summer - it will have a hard time dealing with the stress. Best time of year to repot a juniper is early spring. So if it rains a ton, and you find your bonsai soil is getting swampy, in the short term you can poke a chopstick into the soil from above (to loosen the soil) and from below (to open up the drain holes). Otherwise let it rain :)
Thank you for the advice. Is there anything else I need to know, like training and fertilization?
 

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The good news about bonsai is it is a hobby that allows you to pause and research before you do anything. Rarely is there a bonsai "emergency" where you have to do something in the next 12 hours or your tree dies (with the possible exception of when you forget to water for a week :) )

There is no way I can tell you what you need to know about training... I would have to write a book :) Hang out on this website and read threads and see what people have to say about training their various trees. In your case, focus on keeping your tree alive and in one year you will know a ton more and your tree will be ready for some pruning and/or wiring.

Because your tree is in a container, you want to fertilize carefully. Yes, your tree will benefit from fertilizer, but it is easy to over-fertilize any plant in a pot. Many people with bonsai only use organic fertilizer (not chemical) because it is impossible to burn a tree using organic (which is very weak). Slow and steady is better than fast and burn.
 

Spencer

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I am curious... why did you buy a bonsai?
I have always admired bonsai trees but up until now I have never had an opportunity to buy one. They aren't normal trees and there is something about them that kinda calms me down. Plus I felt like I needed something to do and this seems like the perfect hobby.
 

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I have always admired bonsai trees but up until now I have never had an opportunity to buy one. They aren't normal trees and there is something about them that kinda calms me down. Plus I felt like I needed something to do and this seems like the perfect hobby.
It's all good... I am always curious. I can't explain why I keep these trees so I am curious why others do.

Just remember - they ARE normal trees. You can take your juniper and stick it in the ground and in a couple of years it will look like any other landscape juniper. The trick - the ART - of bonsai is to take a normal tree or shrub, and style it so that it looks like an old tree in nature. If you pull it off, the impact is sublime.

There are some really good videos available today on YouTube... here's a nice one from Ryan Neil @ Bonsai Mirai:

 

shinmai

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That was particularly gracious, diplomatic, and welcoming. Speaking as a novice with less than a year doing this, it can be really scary and intimidating to enter into a community of artists, all with beliefs and opinions, and try to find one's own footing. That being said, I have found the folks on this site to be an especially welcoming and supportive bunch, for which I am genuinely grateful.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Check out the Living Arts Bonsai Society. They meet on the 3rd(?) Tuesday at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. Really a nice bunch of people with some years of experience and nice trees. PM me if you need a contact.
 

NorthTXacer

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And by the way... welcome to the hobby! Your first tree is pretty exciting. Wait until you have 100 :) My first tree my parents made me stick back in the ground after I had tortured it for a couple of years because I didn't know what I was doing. That tree is now about 40' tall :)

Where's the before and after pics???
 
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