Just Starting Bonsai - Best plant

remist17

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I am just starting Bonsai and found a local grower not to far from me. We are going Friday to take a look.

I am hoping I can be pointed into the right direction. What is the best indoor plant to work with. I have southern and northern windows in the house and the plant can get sun from the south until about 1130am. What is the easiest to work with, shape and learn with. I am good with plants and have no concerns over killing it by not watering or caring for it.

Thanks
 

grog

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Schefflera, willow leaf ficus, and ficus microcarpa are all pretty easy to grow indoors. That being said, any tree you can keep outdoors is most likely going to be much healthier than anything you grow indoors. I have about a dozen or so tropicals myself but if I didn't have access to a greenhouse for the cold months I doubt I would keep working with them. They can survive in house conditions just fine but to develop a tree we need more than for them to just limp along.

Is the grower you're going to on Friday a retail nursery and if so do you remember the name?
 

intelplatoon

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Does it need to be indoors? From what i understand the best trees for indoor growing are tropical species. Don't quote me on this though.

Although common sense tells me that trees are meant to grow outdoors where they can withstand the elements, and thrive.:eek:
 

Mike423

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Just about any Ficus species would be best as a tropical for a beginner. They do well in low light conditions and are very tolerant to over or under watering for the most part.

I do agree with the others though, there is a difference between healthy/thriving to just being alive.
 

Colorado Slim

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the first bonsai... mine was a schefflera, I took some cuttings from it, the original plant died but one of the cuttings is still alive. My second was a very poorly designed "malsai" Tigerbark Ficus I got from Home Depot, it's also still alive :)

Technically, anything can be a bonsai... now that's not entirely true, and certain species pretty much exempt themselves from techniques for varying reasons, but by definition just about anything can be trained.

There is no such thing as a species that is a bonsai, and one that is not. The rules of bonsai are for the artform in cultivating and training a specimen to a specific style (there are many styles). Your best bet is to start learning about bonsai the artform before you settle on a specific species. If you are set on growing it indoors, than you will want to stick with tropical and subtropical species, but do plenty of reading on the care of each species. Training in bonsai is much different than letting a tree just grow naturally, so make sure you do your reading, as many techniques for bonsai will kill a tree without proper care.

Now, let's be honest, who wants to spend a year reading without something fun to practice on. So go out and get a few different species that you find interesting and fit the growing conditions you can provide it. And please don't spend a lot of money yet. This is a great time of year as we're coming into fall and winter when you don't want to be messing with most trees anyway, and this should give you some time to enjoy something you've picked up, and educate yourself over the winter so you can start doing some real work next spring.

Good luck and keep us posted.
 

treebeard55

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Grog took my three top suggestions right out of my -- well, I guess my keyboard. :p

You can enjoy tropicals right thru the cold-brown-and-white months, which is a big reason I keep some. At the same time, as has been implied if not stated, any tree does better outside when temperatures permit. My own tropicals are enjoying the deck until probably mid-October.
 

remist17

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Wow thank you all.

I have been hitting up the local library and ordered some books from Amazon. I understnad that trees are ment to be outside and I will be building a little "green house" soon. I would like to start out with some indoors as they seem to be "cheaper" investment.

I have had umbrella "trees" for several years so I will be working with them soon to try and reduce the leaf size. I also was given several Ginko trees that I had indoors for 1.5 years now. I just put them all in there own mid size pots. I purchased a Ficus Ginseng from Wally world that they had on sale for $5. Later to find out it is a bush.... oh well. I am going to a local grower on friday and they are Meehans's Minitures.

From what is posted it looks like simple to learn on plants are
Schefflera, willow leaf ficus, and ficus microcarpa

I will consentrate on them nad learn as much as I can. Is there any book suggestions. I bought some bonsai soil I am using that is premade since I really am not sure were to get the supplies I need to make my own. Suggestions are always welcome
 

coh

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Two other species to consider (though I think they're actually closely related) would be brush cherry (eugenia) and jaboticaba. I just started doing bonsai last year and I have one of each of these...both worked heavily in a beginner class in the fall, made it through the winter great (lots of healthy active growth), still looking great and enjoying the summer outside. Obviously I cannot speak to the long term maintenance or training of these at this time, but they both seem relatively easy to work with so far. Probably would have to go to a bonsai nursery to obtain either of these as they are specialty items. Incidentally, don't know your lighting situation, but I had these growing under 4 fluorescent tubes during the winter...don't think a window would have provided nearly enough light.

BTW, I'm looking to add an additional tropical to my collection and am considering ficus as well as a few blooming species.

Chris
 

Bill S

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Don't think the ginko will last too much longer if kept inside, these are cold hardy temperate trees, you are growing them with out a dormant cycle.

By the way ficus do not thrive in low light conditions, they tolerate it, can't think of anywhere tropical that doesn't keep much of its daily light and heat. Some understory plants maybe, but by and large natural ficus locations don't go dark like we do in the upper N. Hemisphere. If you are going to be serious about growing inside, get lights.

By the way again, you can get free local hardy materials so trops aren't necessarrily a cheaper investment, got club? See if there is a club anywhere around you, and keep an eye out for conventions, a club will take you miles as compared to solo crap shoots, little two steps forward, 1 step back.
 
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remist17

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Don't think the ginko will last too much longer if kept inside, these are cold hardy temperate trees, you are growing them with out a dormant cycle.

By the way ficus do not thrive in low light conditions, they tolerate it, can't think of anywhere tropical that doesn't keep much of its daily light and heat. Some understory plants maybe, but by and large natural ficus locations don't go dark like we do in the upper N. Hemisphere. If you are going to be serious about growing inside, get lights.

By the way again, you can get free local hardy materials so trops aren't necessarrily a cheaper investment, got club? See if there is a club anywhere around you, and keep an eye out for conventions, a club will take you miles as compared to solo crap shoots, little two steps forward, 1 step back.

Thank you for the Ginko info. I will plant them tonight outside in a bed.

Ficus can be put outside through out the summer. i am building a little area for them and anything I get later. I will bring them in the house for winter. Any suggestions on what I should build let me know.

You make referance to free local hardy materials. Are you referancing cuttings off trees? I thought tropicals would be easier to get my feet wet then go to the trees.

I am not sure how to find the clubs. I live in south central PA. Anyone know of local clubs?
 

rockm

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FWIW,

Meehans is OK, but You can do better in Pa.

Here's a list of clubs in the state from the American Bonsai Society:
PENNSYLVANIA - Erie
Great Lakes Bonsai Society. Contact Mike Golab by phone (814) 456-6186 or by Email: mikego6194@msn.com for meeting dates and locations.

Harrisburg

Susquehanna Bonsai Club. Meets third Monday, 7:00 PM. Contact James and Mary Kay Doyle, 145l Pleasant Hill Rd., Harrisburg, PA 17112, (717) 545-4555 for meeting locations. Club since l98l. Over 200 members.

Huntingdon Valley

Pennypack Bonsai Society. Meets the second Thursday of every month at Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust 2955 Edgehill Road, Huntingdon Valley, PA. Website: http://greenfield.fortunecity.com/panda/121/

Lancaster

Lancaster Bonsai Society. Meets at historic Conestoga House and Gardens at 1608 Marietta Pike (Rt. 23), just west of Lancaster. The club meets in the library every 2nd Wednesday of the month, except for December, at 7:00 PM. Member of Potomac Bonsai Society. Spring and fall shows. Contact: e-mail: ulrich51@excite.com

Lehigh Valley

Bonsai Society of Lehigh Valley. Meets at Bethlehem Area Vocational Technical School, Horticultural Room, 3300 Chester Ave., Bethlehem, last Tuesday, 7:00 PM, except July, August, December. Jim Gillespie, (610) 837-6688. Members come from Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton and surrounding areas of Lehigh Valley. Mailing address: PO Box 1684, Bethlehem, PA 18016-1684. Mid-May exhibit. http://www.bonsaisocietylehighvalley.org


Philadelphia

Pennsylvania Bonsai Society. Meets at Greater Plymouth Community Center, 2910 Jolly Rd, Plymouth Meeting, PA, third Friday, 7:00 PM. Linda Brant, 610-948-6380. Email: lbrant@comcast.net Website: http://pabonsai.org
Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Bonsai Society. Meets at Pittsburgh Civic Garden Center, 5th and Shady Ave., third Wednesday, 7:00 PM. Don Gould, 239 James St., Wilkins Twp, PA 15145. (412) 823- 2090. Seminars, exhibits, workshops, beginner and advanced classes.

Pittston

North East Pennsylvania Bonsai Society meets Last Wednesday of each month at 7:00 pm at Midway Garden Center 1865 Highway 315 Pittson, PA. The Northeast PA Bonsai Society was begun in June of 1988 and continues the mission of providing a place for its members to come together to expand and share their knowledge and skills as well as advancing and promoting interest in bonsai among the general public in Northeastern Pennsylvania. For more information contact Susan Lauer 570-654-6194 selauermgc@aol.com

Reading

Reading Bonsai Society. Club Meetings are held the first Monday of each month at 7pm in the Reading Public Museum Auditorium. Enter through the back security entrance. For more information contact Alan Groff (610) 927-2272. alang@inter-graphic.com. Club website: www.RedRival.com/rbc

West Miton

Augusta Bonsai Club. Meets on the second Monday of each month at 6:30 PM at the United Chridt Church, White Deer Churches, West Milton, PA. An occasional meeting held at members homes. Contact: John Bierley(570) 546-7811, Email: quietspiritarts@hotmail.com Meetings are fun and informal. Occasionally a field trip and every September a picnic.

PENNSYLVANIA (Southeast) - Wilmington, DE

Brandywine Bonsai Society. Meets every third Saturday of the month (except December) at the Brandywine Town Center, Wilmington-West Chester Pike (Rte 202) & Naamans Road (Rte 92), at 10:00 AM. Varied programs include guest masters. Annual bonsai shows in the courtyard of the Brandywine River Museum (Chadds Ford, PA) in June and at Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square, PA) in the fall. Contact: Steve Ittel,302-778-4546 or by e-mail BrandywineBonsai@comcast.net Web site: http://www.gobbs.org
 

grog

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Can't beat getting information like that :D

From what I've read Meehan's has quite a bit of stuff that doesn't make it to their webpage, it should be a good experience to check it out. Looks like Nature's Way has some classes upcoming that'd be right up your alley with two introductory classes and an introduction to tropical bonsai all coming in the next couple months.
 

Bill S

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"You make referance to free local hardy materials. Are you referancing cuttings off trees? I thought tropicals would be easier to get my feet wet then go to the trees"

:) Cuttings off trees, digging up trees, and now I know your are in Pa., good bonsai nurseries up the wazoo, as well as clubs. Several of the ones rockm mentioned I am familiar with, and are part of the Mid Atlantic Bonsai Societies, are active, good people, and know thier stuff, and welcome beginners.

Going back to working with tropicals then trees, is a misunderstanding, the tropicals spoken of, are trees, as are most materials we work with, if ground planted, they will grow pretty much as thier "wild "counterparts.

Juniper Procumbens nana is a good variety of juniper to start with, as is shimpaku, if you can find it, if you are anywhere near Mehans, stop in and see them, they have a good variety of materials and prices. Someone mentioned Jim Doyle has beginner classes , GO if you can, the nursery alone will amaze you, but don't let years of good work scae you off.

Best bet is stay away from Home dpot type nursery, go to a bonsai nursery and find something you can afford, and won't make you jump off a pier if it doesn't make it. If you can get to a bonsai nursery, talk and walk with them and you will most likely come away with a tree, and a better understanding of what we do, as simple as it is, there can be a lot to it, start slow and build up speed. I'll go back to Mehans has good starter materials, as I am sure most of the places that are in the suppliers list in rocks post, depends how far you have to go, or want to up to you. Classes and clubs go a long way. The net and these forums are good, but nothing like some local hands on goods and know how.
 

Colorado Slim

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I have grown a eugenia indoors... it grew very well until I decided I wanted to do a hard cutting on it and it never came back for me, so that is also an idea.

as far as info goes, if you're looking into ficus, I suggest searching for Jerry Meislik on google, his website is, I think www.bonsaihunk.com. He is brilliant with the ficus and very generous with his time. He is a regular on the Bonsai Vault forum and has been very helpful.
 

coh

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ColoradoSlim - when you say "hard cutting", what do you mean? Did you cut it back removing all the foliage? What time of year?

Chris
 

remist17

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Thanks all. The listed groups are hours away from me. The one in Lancaster is about a 1hr 20 minute drive. Not the most practical when the meetings are in the evening. I will keep looking

went to the nursery and it was very very nice. I spoke with a gentlemen that took sometime and helped me pick out two plants. But of course I left the tags at home and dont remeber the one. The other is a brazilian rain tree.

I really can not afford many more from a specialty nursery. So I am going to try for cuttings off the items I have at my house and start outside.

Can you tell me is the following will do any good:
- Flowering crab apple
- Burning bush
- Ash tree
- Pin oak
- Redbud
- Red maple
- Turkey Oak
- Dog Wood
- some sort of Birch sorry not sure
- Wild Cherry.
 

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