New to Bonsai

greenman

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Hey all,
I'm new to the forum and would like to say hello. I also have zero experience in this art; although I have had many years gardening (indoor and outdoor).

I've been doing lots of research...I don't like asking questions that would waste someones time. :p

First - I plan on starting a Red Japanese Maple..."Atropurpureum"... from seedling (probably 10 or so and keep the healthiest 5). And I plan on doing it hydroponically/indoors. ( I live in Co ). Is this a rediculous idea?

Second - Everything I've read thus far says maples are "outdoor" bonsai... And, you guessed it, I plan on these living 90% of their lives indoors (no taller than 3' max height is the idea). Is that wise?

Third - Does anyone know of any "species specific" bonsai books? Most i've found seem to be general information.

Thanks and glad to be learning a new hobby. :)

...If this sounds rediculous please recommend a colorful indoor species that would be good for a beginner.
 
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JudyB

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Hi Greenman, welcome.
If you want to grow inside, then you'll have to pick a specie like ficus or jade. I don't really do many inside trees, others make it their main focus, so I'll leave the information to them...

You should google and read about bonsai in general, so you'll have a better idea what the art entails. But you'll just get discouraged if you try to grow an outside tree inside. It just won't work.
 

jk_lewis

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Hey all,

First - I plan on starting a Red Japanese Maple..."Atropurpureum"... from seedling (probably 10 or so and keep the healthiest 5). And I plan on doing it hydroponically/indoors. ( I live in Co ). Is this a rediculous idea?

Probably . . . unless you have LOTS of money to build yourself a climate-controlled greenhouse.

Second - Everything I've read thus far says maples are "outdoor" bonsai... And, you guessed it, I plan on these living 90% of their lives indoors (no taller than 3' max height is the idea). Is that wise?

See above . . . but the real answer is NO. Maples do not survive inside for more than a few days without VERY SPECIAL care. Your indoor maples will not last the winter.

Third - Does anyone know of any "species specific" bonsai books? Most i've found seem to be general information.

Peter Adams . . . "Bonsai with Japanese Maples."

Thanks and glad to be learning a new hobby. :)

...If this sounds rediculous please recommend a colorful indoor species that would be good for a beginner.

Ficus, natal plum, serissa (temperamental), etc. Find a book on indoor bonsai.
 

Bill S

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Agree with JKL on your ??? Good reply, although I don't agree on serrissa being tempromental, but thats another issue, they are worth the try, pretty good starter trees. There are others, but ficus and serrissa if you insist on indoors, No junipers inside either.
 

Mike423

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Your best bet would be to work with trees that grow naturally in your area. that way you know they are hardy and can be acquired cheaply or free thus reducing the expensive learning curve for beginners.

As far as books go Peter Adams japanese Maples book is probably the best definitive book on working with that entitled species, but in general 'The Complete Book of Bonsai' by Harry Tomlinson, would be a good book and has a generous index in the back giving care sheets for most main deciduous species. I've seen a book called 'Bonsai, A Care Manual' by Colin Lewis and it also seems to have similar species specific care sheets in the back but I haven't actually read the book myself. One of the most helpful resources for beginners which is usually over looked is your local library which should have some good bonsai books you can read for free.
 

greenman

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Thanks for the quick responses!

I'll take the advice and plant the maples outdoors. But since i've already bought the seeds i'll wait until next spring. :p So looks like I get to go tree hunting this weekend. (and no, not collecting from the wild)

I have ordered "The Complete Guide to Bonsai" by Harry Tomlinson. Can't wait for it to get here. I'll look for the Peter Adams book today.

I can't say i'm not a little bumbed since i'm very fond of maples in general; but i do understand a learning curve. And i'm still excited to get my hands dirty.

I see alot of suggestions throughout the forums about finding local clubs; and i'm already looking into that as well. Things are always more fun when you're successful.

gm
 

rockm

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"I can't say i'm not a little bumbed since i'm very fond of maples in general"

Maples are not all that tough to grow, but they have to be outside and protected a bit in your area from the worst of winter.

The best starter trees, IMO, are elms. ANY kind of elm. They are tough, resilient, cheap and available. They require no special care and can forgive a lot of initial inadvertent abuse in the learning curve. Since they are also deciduous like maples, they can offer direct experience in future work on those.

There is no reason you can't get a maple, as long as you keep it outdoors. They're not overly sensitive or weak trees.

FWIW, trees of any species are not all that comfortable inside. Tropical species can tolerate such treatment alot better than temperate zone trees. Most experienced tropical growers, however, put their trees outside for spring and summer once frost and freeze danger has passed.

You've already got a decent bonsai book on its way. Another good guide is Colin Lewis "Bonsai A care manual"
http://www.amazon.com/Bonsai-Care-M...988X/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1318960064&sr=8-8


Also FWIW, forget the indoor hydroponic approach. It's another dead-endish thing for bonsai.
 

jk_lewis

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I have ordered "The Complete Guide to Bonsai" by Harry Tomlinson. Can't wait for it to get here. I'll look for the Peter Adams book today.

A word of caution about both books, which are excellent books.

They are British. British English and American English differ enough that some terms will not translate exactly. ALSO, the care charts, planting schedules, and tips are based on English weather -- NOT Colorado weather.

Also, there are two books by Adams on Japanese maples. Get the newer one.
 

tmmason10

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Welcome to the forum and the addiction. You've done it all right so far, researching, asking questions, and reading before diving into everything. All I can say is be patient, and keep reading and listening to what the experienced people on this forum tell you. It sounds like you are interested in making an elaborate indoor setup, and I think this is a great idea for your cold Colorado winters. As mentioned there are plenty of tropicals you can choose from that are well-suited for bonsai. And if you like japanese maples, certainly get one that you can keep outside it is a perfect beginner tree. Welcome and have fun
 

greenman

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JKL: Thanks for the heads up on the British/American books. Can't be harder than a Tolkien book. :p I'm looking at starting a scotch pine indoors; and holding off until spring to plant the maples outside, (in pots, I'll bury them in the pots and cover with leaves to keep the roots from freezing when frost hits).

tmmason: My goal is an elaborate indoor setup. Ten years or so seems like a feasible time table, I like to plan ahead. Select what I want now to make a forest later.

rockm: I will look into the Colin Lewis book, probably start reading it after the Tomlinson book. Because knowledge is power! :p And i'll kill the hydro concept; I just had such great results with my tomatoes and peppers.
 

rockm

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Scotch (or Scots) pines are definitely NOT an indoor tree. They require more light and more air circulation than you could even conjure up inside. A pine will die inside three or four weeks inside...Sorry:eek:
 

greenman

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Sigh, well, thanks for the heads up. I'll read a book and get a grasp on this before anymore silly questions. :) Still a lot of info to sort through on this forum alone.
 

jk_lewis

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Sigh, well, thanks for the heads up. I'll read a book and get a grasp on this before anymore silly questions. :) Still a lot of info to sort through on this forum alone.

Here is a page with an OK list of trees that someone thinks are suitable for indoor bonsai. I'll leave it to folks who grow trees inside to cull out those on the lists (and I saw a few) that won't be successful indoors notwithstanding this article.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indoor_bonsai#Plants_suitable_for_indoor_bonsai
 

rock

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And, you guessed it, I plan on these living 90% of their lives indoors

No problem, just choose from those trees that sprout and grow inside of houses...

:D
 

edprocoat

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Just thought you might like to know that many, if not all the indoor specimens, tropicals, can be hydroponics. I have personally seen great Ficus grown this way as well as two different Bouganvillea and a Ligustrum, with captivating, non rotting, root systems that you can actually see. There is a Ficus Micropcarpa I just seen online, not personally just the pics, in a blog I came across looking for a Microcarpa a few months ago online. This guy had a progression series over two years, he had a great looking Bonsai. I think that like many things that are not normally done you will get many opposing views on this but from what I have seen they are very quick growing and develop well with no problems. I have also seen many palms grown this way. I have heard others say they do not grow quality root systems such as fine tender roots, or even that the roots will rot from the excess watering, I believe that as there is no medium such as dirt or something else that can can hold bacteria this is not a problem. I also know that Bald Cypress can be grown employing hydroponics, but not indoors. Stick with tropical varieties for indoor plants. I had a friend who had a two foot tall Ficus Benjamina growing out of his tropical fish tank, he finally removed it as the roots were becoming a problem taking over the tank and crowding out the fish, some of which were two inches diameter in about five years time.

ed
 
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