New Bonsai Tree - Trying to verify if I am giving it what it needs

jlins

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For Christmas, my mother gifted me a bonsai tree. I do not have a lot of windows in my apartment so growing lights are a must. I got these 18W LED flexible growing lights and both strips are focused on the tree for 12 hours of the day. My tree is next to a window and does receive some light but not as much as it likely should. My lights turn on at 6 am and turn off at 6 pm. I am also using a moisture meter to determine if it needs water and I will water when it is at the low end of the moist scale. Am I doing everything right? DO I need to upgrade my light? Too much water/not enough?

Also, If anyone knows the type of tree I have, that would be fantastic. It is supposed to flower in spring.
 

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Microscopic

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Welcome aboard dude! You just got gifted a Fukuin tea tree.

Your plant might be more well served if it was closer to the window for as much sun as possible, even if it's indirect. Not sure if this two light strips are of any value.

If those are glued rocks on top, take them out so roots can breath and soil can dry between watering. What is this watering meter you speak of?

I read Fukuin tea can be temperamental and drops leaves when moved around too much. Maybe that's why yours is kinda scrawny. But if they likes the place they're at they should bounce back soon enough.

Good luck. And most of all, don't be discourage and have fun!
 

Bonsai Nut

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Welcome aboard dude! You just got gifted a Fukuin tea tree.

Welcome to the site! It would help us if you could tell us where you live... though you are asking about an indoor tree so it doesn't matter too much in this case.

To embellish on what Microscopic said, your Fukien Tea is a tropical tree from Southern China. It loves the light and high humidity. It it gets plenty of both, it will grow dense, dark green foliage, and may even bloom for you. If it doesn't get enough light, the foliage will turn lighter green and the growth will get leggy. Note - high humidity does not mean soaking wet soil. I think many people make the mistake of over-watering this tree in the hopes of providing enough humidity. Your approach of using a moisture meter is a good one. Just don't let the tree sit in water-logged soil.

How long have you had the lights?
 

jlins

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Thank you for responding!! I live in Utah, it’s pretty dry here. Should I buy a humidifier? I attached a picture of the moisture meter. I got the lights yesterday so I should see the results until later I presume. Thanks for letting me know the breed!

The rocks are not glued. Free standing. It’s about as close to a window as it can get
 

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I'd probably water the plant when the meter gets to the 3-4 range. I would imagine that at that point, the top layers of the soil would have dried out a bit and the meter would be reading the bottom layers. Maybe even in the 4-5 range would be a good place.

I would start, at this point, feeling the soil with your finger to check dryness so you can begin to tell when it needs water without the meter. If it starts to grow well, you'll know you're watering at the right level of moisture. I wouldn't let the meter get into the 'wet' part of the meter - it could lead to root rot and bad root growth if left to sit that type of wet soil for too long.

I have no idea about the grow lights.

Good luck with the tree!
 

jlins

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I'd probably water the plant when the meter gets to the 3-4 range. I would imagine that at that point, the top layers of the soil would have dried out a bit and the meter would be reading the bottom layers. Maybe even in the 4-5 range would be a good place.

I would start, at this point, feeling the soil with your finger to check dryness so you can begin to tell when it needs water without the meter. If it starts to grow well, you'll know you're watering at the right level of moisture. I wouldn't let the meter get into the 'wet' part of the meter - it could lead to root rot and bad root growth if left to sit that type of wet soil for too long.

I have no idea about the grow lights.

Good luck with the tree!


Thanks for the advice! I’ll get used to the soil with my finger. Are there any recommendations on feeding the tree? What frequency and what kind?
 

coltranem

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It is hard to tell from pictures but those lights dont seem that bright. For indoor lighting I do 16 hours with pretty bright lights (100 W led). I keep the area heated and some what tented to drive humidity to 50%.
 

Bonsai Nut

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It is hard to tell from pictures but those lights dont seem that bright. For indoor lighting I do 16 hours with pretty bright lights (100 W led). I keep the area heated and some what tented to drive humidity to 50%.

Because those lights are plant specific grow lights, they will look dim to the human eye because their spectral bandwidth is very heavy blue and red (bands that plants use for photosynthesis) and not very heavy yellow and green (bands that the human eye best absorbs). A watt is just a unit of electricity usage and though it will tell you how much electricity your light is using, it has limited relevance when it comes to understanding how much and what kind of light your fixture produces. I could show you three different light fixtures, all of which consume 100 watts, and each of which generates dramatically different light.

I started a plant lighting guide a while ago, but got side-tracked before I finished it. There is still some interesting info there if you are interested:

https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/plant-lighting-for-beginners.21116/

I got the lights yesterday so I should see the results until later I presume.

Yes, that is why I asked. I assume it would be at least a month before you would see anything.
 
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jlins

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The fact that the lights are so weak (18W) scared me so I ended up ordering a 150W overhead hanging LED light. Was going to hang it approx 10 in above the tree, that should be enough right?
 

eb84327

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The fact that the lights are so weak (18W) scared me so I ended up ordering a 150W overhead hanging LED light. Was going to hang it approx 10 in above the tree, that should be enough right?

is the actual wattage 150w or was the light advertised as the equivalent? You need to look at the lights paper work and see what the PAR rating is at that distance.
 

Bonsai Nut

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The fact that the lights are so weak (18W) scared me so I ended up ordering a 150W overhead hanging LED light. Was going to hang it approx 10 in above the tree, that should be enough right?

Read what I wrote :) 150 watts means nothing. It could be a 150 watt incandescent bulb, and be worse than nothing because it would burn up your tree while delivering almost zero photosynthetically usable light. You need to look at PAR ONLY. Your 18 watt high PAR growing lights could actually be better than a 150 watt fixture with low PAR.
 

jlins

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is the actual wattage 150w or was the light advertised as the equivalent? You need to look at the lights paper work and see what the PAR rating is at that distance.

I’ll have to see when it gets here but it’s advertised as 150W.

Here’s the link
150W Full Spectrum LED Grow Light Indoor, Derlights Plant Led Flood Lights with Blue 460nm and Red 630nm, Growing Lamp for Indoor Plant Greenhouse Hydroponic (150W) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075F2SSPB/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_NwJlCbMT2P8QM
 

jlins

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Read what I wrote :) 150 watts means nothing. It could be a 150 watt incandescent bulb, and be worse than nothing because it would burn up your tree while delivering almost zero photosynthetically usable light. You need to look at PAR ONLY. Your 18 watt high PAR growing lights could actually be better than a 150 watt fixture with low PAR.

I’m looking for a PAR on the website listing but cannot seem to find it. I’ll have to look at the paperwork of my 18W light when I get home. I just know when I spoke with the local bonsai shop here, the owner told me the ones I got were not the best to get.
 

eb84327

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Bonsai Nut

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Check out this video. I do not necessarily recommend any of these products, rather I think it is a great video covering what I was trying to say above about total PAR (in terms of quantity and quality of photosynthetically available radiation) and PAR per WATT (in terms of efficiency / cost to drive that PAR rating).

PAR comparison of some popular grow lights

Additionally... note that the PAR levels reported in this video are very high. PAR requirements of freshwater plants maxes out at about 200 (µE m2sec). For coral reef tanks, it maxes out at about 450 (µE m2sec). When you have a light that over-delivers on these values, it typically means you can mount the light higher, and cover more space / more plants. (Light diminishes based on the square of the distance - light twice as far away is 1/4 as bright).

The people who really have taken this to an extreme are the cannabis growers, since their profits are directly related to getting the largest, highest quality harvest for the lowest price (in terms of the hardware cost, and operating electrical expense). Look at this plan for how one grower ramps his lights up and down depending on the life stage of his plants:

(24 hour on lighting)
250 PAR - Seedlings
450 PAR - teens up until around 9 inches of height (they should be ultra dense and bushy)
(Switch to 12/12 lighting)
750 PAR - Mid bloom
850 PAR - mid-late bloom
400 PAR - Last three weeks (shade them in simulation)
 
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jlins

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Check out this video. I do not necessarily recommend any of these products, rather I think it is a great video covering what I was trying to say above about total PAR (in terms of quantity and quality of photosynthetically available radiation) and PAR per WATT (in terms of efficiency / cost to drive that PAR rating).

PAR comparison of some popular grow lights

Additionally... note that the PAR levels reported in this video are very high. PAR requirements of freshwater plants maxes out at about 200 (µE m2sec). For coral reef tanks, it maxes out at about 450 (µE m2sec). When you have a light that over-delivers on these values, it typically means you can mount the light higher, and cover more space / more plants. (Light diminishes based on the square of the distance - light twice as far away is 1/4 as bright).

The people who really have taken this to an extreme are the cannabis growers, since their profits are directly related to getting the largest, highest quality harvest for the lowest price (in terms of the hardware cost, and operating electrical expense). Look at this plan for how one grower ramps his lights up and down depending on the life stage of his plants:

(24 hour on lighting)
250 PAR - Seedlings
450 PAR - teens up until around 9 inches of height (they should be ultra dense and bushy)
(Switch to 12/12 lighting)
750 PAR - Mid bloom
850 PAR - mid-late bloom
400 PAR - Last three weeks (shade them in simulation)

I just watched that video and it explains everything quite well. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction! Curious as to how much PAR my lights are putting out.
 

Csmdad

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Rookie question... but would a full spectrum light (like an Ott Light) better provide for the plant than a traditional incandescent, LED, or other?
 

jlins

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Update- I cancelled the order for the 150w light and ordered this instead.

Phlizon Newest 600W LED Plant Grow Light,with Thermometer Humidity Monitor,with Adjustable Rope,Full Spectrum Double Switch Plant Light for Indoor Plants Veg and Flower- 600W(10W LEDs 60Pcs) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0752CL6KJ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_xrMlCb2T83WQ1

This company documents their PAR levels and it seems like it’s worth the money. It also comes with a temp/humidity monitor so that’s a plus.
 

coltranem

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@Bonsai Nut I understand that you cant just compare wattage (particularly LED vs incandescent) but for two things that are marketed as LED growlights it is a starting point. PAR is the way to go for a real comparison. However 18 w cheap LED growlights are not going to grow much more than seedlings.
 

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