RPM_Sprout

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Coming back to the bonsai world having grown one 20 years ago and failed miserably. This time through I want to really make sure I choose the right kind of tree and now have the time to dedicate some quality time to the art.

First question...indoor out out. I like the idea of indoor but feel that limits the potential species. I think I want to either go with a short needle conifer or possibly go towards a Japaneese maple. I like in the midwest US with hot summers and cold winters.

Ideas on species that would work outdoors in this climate as well as indoor suggestions?
 

Woocash

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Welcome! One thing to bear in mind is there isn’t really anything which is actually an indoor tree. I know that sounds obvious, but if you have the outdoor space then use it. Certain species manage inside well enough such as ficus, certain species do ok under lights such as bougainvillea, but the vast majority will be better outside and you have a much wider choice of subjects. For example, conifers and maples belong outdoors. Barring very few exceptions such as Norfolk Island Pine (and not with particular ease) they just wont survive inside.

I’ll not particularly recommended species because I’m not privy to your particular climate and what’s a good starting point, but someone here will be able to help well enough. JM and Junipers are the archetypal bonsai species though. Both are attractive and good for practice too.
 

Tieball

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I’m outdoor-only.
I work with deciduous trees that are natural to my location. I find that most helpful. I focus mainly on American Elm. Several American Elm trees. Then I also have a Hornbeam, Korean Hornbeam, Field Maple, Oak and a Zelkova. All the trees are outdoors all year....even during the worst winter can deliver.

I started outdoors....because I like it outdoors...I get out of the house....and in the winter I give myself a break from all care and focus more planning and researching. The outdoor trees, put in the ground at the end of October, will only be touched by me again in April.

You should add your general location to your profile.
 

BrianBay9

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If you have several trees you can keep them outdoors most of the time, and rotate them through an indoor display, a few days or a week at a time.
 

RPM_Sprout

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Thanks Tieball and Brian. I think outdoor is going to match my taste and I have a large backyard that has a good mix of both sun and shade. I'm a bit of a researcher and am looking to read a fed beginner books. I'm looking at getting "Bonsai 101 Essential Tips by Harry Tomlinson" and "The Bonsai Book: The Definitive Illustrated Guide by Dan Barton" to aid in my tree selection and initial planting as well as planting vessel to keep it in as well as weather info for my climate. Any feedback you have would be greatly appreciated.

Great forum, btw. Very helpful and full of insight.
 

Japonicus

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Hello @RPM_Sprout welcome to the forum. I kill indoor bonsai but have kept junipers outdoors beyond 20 yrs
(in bonsai pots). I believe you'll want to dig in and get started soon, even some online pre-ordering now, or
there are some eBayers with good pre bonsai, some gouge hard too and local nurseries once Spring gets closer.
Then you also should get some projects to grow out in the ground.
Last year I dug a Mountain maple I planted in the ground 10 years ago.
It had been a bonsai project I gave up on since I was geared more for conifers, now going to give it a go again.
Easy as pie are mugo pines and most junipers. Shimpaku, procumbens and similar Sargent junipers are worth while
and lend themselves easily to the hobby. Japanese black pine and JWP follow suite.
So have a run through of several nice nurseries and big box stores and see what's on the local menu.
These types of trees will give you an idea of what will flourish in your local climate.

Remember in pots unprotected, the USDA hardiness zone tends to need to be a number lower than your rating.
Franklin county Ohio is zone 6a,
https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/# (click on your state to zoom).
so you'll want to get plants rated for that, with some protection (or lower
with little to no protection). Protection for us generally means placing on the N side of the home or structure,
maybe mulching around the pots that are frost rated or plastic or wooden pots to protect the roots a bit.
More in other threads on that.

What is working for me is junipers-shimpaku, procumbens, sea of gold, sea of green, old gold, Sargent
pine-pinus Nigra, JBP, JWP, Mugo (mugo-don't pot in Spring) and EWP (dwarf) which doesn't conform well for most to the hobby
including myself. Just pre-ordered 2 Canadensis dwarf hemlocks, though dwarf may not be the way to go
in the short run. Also Hinoki cypress do well in our zone if you can keep them from getting too wind and root dried.

Whatever you do, when you prune in your beginning, leave on more foliage than you think you should.
Keep inner foliage that will be where you want new buds to form. Without inner foliage it may not happen there
and the branch becomes longer and leggier rendering your work wasted.
Deal with bar (opposite) branches, and whorls early on. As far as whether to style of pot up 1st, there's threads on that too ;)
Best of luck this time around!
 
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sorce

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Welcome to Crazy.

You're more likely to find a neighbor here than in a book. Hence, more and better information!

The midwest is a rather big place, and sometimes folks call "Great Lakes", "Midwest", and these are 2 totally different regions. Southern MN ain't Northern TX etc...

Indoor and outdoor should be seperate learning adventures, or you're bound to moss things and mess up more.

Sorce
 

Tieball

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Sounds like you have a good backyard...with good sun exposure. I started all my trees as ground growing....especially the American Elm trees. You might find some local species and create a growing ground....I found the horticultural part of the growing ground particularly interesting and engaging.

Ohio.....similar weather to mine maybe minus the sub zero wind chills and the Lake effect snow.

I have books....but learned a lot more withe the Bonsai Empire courses. I particularly like the ability to pick and choose courses of interest rather than a blanket subscription to everything. I don’t have Pines....so deciduous courses appeal more to me. You might check out the courses. For me the courses are perfect for wintertime research and planning.

I have probably 20 books but really only use 3. These are the 3 that I found, and still find, the most helpful. Each book has a good practical explanation of steps, lots of step photos and a good variety of trees that meant something to me. I bought my books as used from a second-hand book store in Chicago. eBay also has used books at times...I’ve never been disappointed in used. I like to ”use” books myself...I don’t treat them like they are some rare collectible item....I bought them to use them.

0E721939-E4CA-4C51-BEEB-8576506CF506.jpeg5677A4B3-E65C-42FF-8BAC-D6D7DCC2F95C.jpeg39DD9B6B-1F4E-4E76-8D2B-FFE4A781DD58.jpeg
 

Tieball

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As you move along....remember that the USDA zone number is based on trees in the ground and in full contact with the earth.

I forgot one constant use book....
18A21B35-2BA1-47CD-B960-6DAB4CBC01B6.jpeg
 

RPM_Sprout

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@Japonicus @sorce Thank you for the info. This is great.

@Japdo you typically keep yours in the ground or potted? Or do you migrate from pot to earth? I like the idea of a JPB, Hinoki and the JWP but will browse around. Again, thank you for your insight.

@sorce Agreed on the "Midwest" region. I'm on Ohio so its definitely Great Lakes region which isnt TX or NB. 🤣
 

Warpig

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They thick in here. Hundreds a y'all!

Sorce
Don't you know Ohio is the new California! Some talk has started between clubs about getting together once or twice a year for bigger events.
 

Japonicus

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@Japonicus @sorce Thank you for the info. This is great.

@Japdo you typically keep yours in the ground or potted? Or do you migrate from pot to earth? I like the idea of a JPB, Hinoki and the JWP but will browse around. Again, thank you for your insight.
So I just ordered a couple of hemlocks. I'll size up the internodes when they get here this Spring
and will inspect the roots. They may just be in "plug" form at 1-2 yrs old and inspection of the roots
may be silly, have to wait till they get here. To answer your question, these 2 will most likely go in the ground
at an angle to grow out and gain some girth. Most of my plants are in pots. I have 5 or so maples in ground
a BP, and maybe 4 junipers growing out. Most of the rest ~3 dozen are in various stages of growth in pots
be it nursery cans, bonsai pots or home made wooden...pot, or pond baskets which air prune the roots as they
grow into air and drainage is king. I have a clump of mugo I separated a while back in a pond basket.
Mugo are slow pokes typically. Hinokis demand pruning the outer foliage and keeping inner foliage
for bonsai, as they do not back bud as JBP do. You can get some idea, doing searches on 5 year progression
of JBP here on BN, as to what steps to take to grow out BP.
I'm not positive your USDA Zone is stated correctly in your info unless you're in that one little blue area off to the
North in Knox county vicinity. There are some really nice retail plant nurseries in Columbus where you'll be able
to get some really nice starter plants. For instance, when I go looking for mugo for bonsai here, I may find one
in 4 or 5 nurseries, every 4 or 5 years, that I really like for the hobby. You may find 1 every year, IDK.
You have to really pick at them to find a good trunk unless you're looking for an 8 year project to get into a
bonsai pot.
 

JudyB

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You can find Columbus Bonsai Society has monthly meetings, and they are getting better about bringing in good teachers for workshops than they used to be. I think you can go to a meeting to see how you like it before joining actually.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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I second @JudyB 's recommendation. I'm sure there is no problem attending a meeting or two before deciding to join. I have walked through a couple shows in Columbus, at the Franklin Park Conservatory, and they are a good group to join. Especially now that as Judy says, they are getting better about bringing quality artists. Nothing beats getting to see bonsai in the real world, 3D. It is difficult to grasp styling from photos or computer screens.

I have several of Colin Lewis's books, I think he is one of the better authors publishing bonsai books. His older books are good too. Check where they were written, his book written while he was living in UK was not "as good" regarding winter hardiness, but since he moved to Massachusetts some 20 years ago, he has got a good grasp of North American winters now. He was a graphic designer before he got into bonsai, and his books are well laid out and very readable.

Indoor - Outdoor, really I suggest some of each, as "nobody can have just one." The Japanese origin of bonsai, the average Japanese home was too small to devote space to raising bonsai, they were all raised outdoors, in the yard, or on the balcony. Just before guests arrive, one would be brought in and placed in the Tokonoma. (the household alcove used to display family heirlooms, or as a temporary Shinto altar or other similar use). Bonsai set up, guests welcomed, then after the guests leave, the bonsai goes back outdoors. This way the tree is seldom indoors more than a few hours. That is the original tradition.

If one had 25 + trees, in the back yard, you could have each tree spend a week at a time indoors, twice a year and you would have the year covered. Only caution is, bringing a winter hardy tree indoors in middle of winter will cause it to loose it's adaptations to winter cold. As little as 24 to 48 hours will decrease the trees ability to survive cold to the limit of its normal tolerance. For example, a blueberry, cherry, or plum, brought indoors in January, after 48 hours indoors will no longer be able to tolerate -20 F if put back outside. They might have bud damage at temperatures as warm as 0 F, even though they all are listed as hardy to -20. So if a winter hardy trees spends time on display indoors, it should be moved to a sheltered area where temperatures are protected from dropping significantly below freezing. Especially trees that are brought in to flower, such as Ume, cherry & plum. Hard freezes, below +25 F or +28 F can cause damage to vegetative buds that have begun to grow.

Interestingly witch hazel, which blooms in late autumn, and the spring blooming with hazel which blooms in late winter - they usually do not have any trouble with damaged vegetative buds from cold after blooming. They stand up well to being brought indoors a day or two in middle of winter.
 

Japonicus

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As little as 24 to 48 hours will decrease the trees ability to survive cold to the limit of its normal tolerance. For example, a blueberry, cherry, or plum, brought indoors in January, after 48 hours indoors will no longer be able to tolerate -20 F if put back outside.
Leo - Your examples were fruiting trees. Would this go for a hinoki I am babying along with heat tape around its' pot
keeping the soil between 40 and 46ºF? It nearly died and still may, due to the previous owners late potting up last October.

Then too...we are having such a mild Winter, that it was colder in November (Fall) than Winter has been.
Will this affect how our say zone 5 trees handle -15ºF should that be revisited? I mean I saw -18º here 2 years ago
and so far this Winter our coldest temps seem to be positive teens and far between at that.
It's actually unchartered territory for many, this warmer trend, and the answer may not be but a guess, IDK.
 

canoeguide

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I think it makes sense to have at least few species outdoors that are hardy down to a zone (or 2 or 3) less than where you live, and balance that with a few tropicals to scratch your itch indoors during the winter. It's worth at least having a couple of tropicals if you have a good window or two.
 
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