Target Soil Moisture Level for Juniper Procumbens nana

Strelf

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Hello,
I am new to bonsai growing and want to make sure that I am doing everything right for my bonsai. I am 99% sure that is a Juniper Procumbens nana. I just bought the bonsai for my desk at work and realized that the pot does not have a hole in the bottom to let excess water out. I am going to buy a soil moisture meter and am wondering how moist the soil should be before watering. I have seen online to never let it get too dry or too wet, but does that mean to keep the soils moisture level right in between the dry/wet marks on the sensor or should the soil moisture level be more to the wet/dry side? I guess what I am really asking is where should the soil meter read (roughly) before watering?

And more out of curiosity, I have a full spectrum plant light that it is under right now, will that supply it enough light? I have it on a timer to supply light from 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM every day of the week. Thank you for all your help.
-Preston
 

n8y

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Hello Preston.

It'll die on your desk. Juniper need to be outside.

Once you get it outside, tell us about the soil it's currently in or post a pick.
 

Strelf

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Hello,
Thank you for your speedy response. Is there any way to get it to survive on my desk? I live in an apartment and don't have anywhere to put it outside. This may sound like a dumb question but why cant it survive on my desk if it gets enough light and water? As for the soil, it is in bonsai soil (I believe) with a black sand top layer to make it look nice.
Thanks,
Preston
 

Microscopic

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I am new to bonsai growing and want to make sure that I am doing everything right for my bonsai.
Hello and welcome!

If you want to start off right, you read as much as you can about a particular tree you want to keep whether it be indoors or outdoors.

The light you have is insufficient for the juniper. But you can try.

Better candidates for indoor bonsai are ficus and umbrella trees. Fukien tea trees can grow indoors too but they can be sensitive to changing conditions. You can find these at big box stores.

Read up, and good luck!
 

n8y

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It'll survive for a little while indoors, but it's a tree and will likely die. It's not decor or a houseplant. It doesn't like your office's HVAC system.

It wants full, direct sun for several hours a day. It needs seasonal temperature fluctuations. It needs fresh, circulating air.

If indoors is your only option, get a ficus or tropical plant better suited for office life.

Do people grow indoors? Yes, but not in an office environment.
 

Gregory

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Are there any windows in your apartment? Maybe ask the building owner if you could build a little shelf for it outside your window?
 

Strelf

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Hello and welcome!

If you want to start off right, you read as much as you can about a particular tree you want to keep whether it be indoors or outdoors.

The light you have is insufficient for the juniper. But you can try.

Better candidates for indoor bonsai are ficus and umbrella trees. Fukien tea trees can grow indoors too but they can be sensitive to changing conditions. You can find these at big box stores.

Read up, and good luck!
I have been trying to read up on my bonsai, but depending on the website I visit the answers change. Do you have any recommendations on websites to go to?

Ok, I will see what I can do about moving it outside.

I am still going to get the water meter to check it’s soil, where would you suggest I keep the soil moisture level? Should i keep it right in the middle between dry and moist or more so towards one direction?
Thanks
 

Strelf

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It'll survive for a little while indoors, but it's a tree and will likely die. It's not decor or a houseplant. It doesn't like your office's HVAC system.

It wants full, direct sun for several hours a day. It needs seasonal temperature fluctuations. It needs fresh, circulating air.

If indoors is your only option, get a ficus or tropical plant better suited for office life.

Do people grow indoors? Yes, but not in an office environment.
Ok I will see what I can do about moving it outside. If I can not, would misting it offset the building HVAC System?
I am still going to get the soil moisture meter, where should I keep the soil moisture? Should it be right in between the dry and moist marks? or should it be more towards the moist or dry mark?
Thank you for all your help on these silly questions.
 

Traken

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Ok I will see what I can do about moving it outside. If I can not, would misting it offset the building HVAC System?
I am still going to get the soil moisture meter, where should I keep the soil moisture? Should it be right in between the dry and moist marks? or should it be more towards the moist or dry mark?
Thank you for all your help on these silly questions.
The HVAC system is only really one part of the equation. The biggest issue is that it's just not going to get the light levels and weather that a juniper needs to survive. Do you have a balcony that you could use to place it outside in the sun?

For the moisture meter, if the soil is open bonsai soil, you probably shouldn't bother. Odds are you won't get an accurate reading. You're likely better off inserting a bamboo skewer into the soil or using your finger to check moisture. For the skewer, sink it to the bottom of the pot and leave it there. When you want to check moisture, pull it out and see if it's damp. With your finger, you can just poke down into the soil a bit and gauge the moisture level that way. I believe junipers in general don't like very wet feet, so you probably want to let the soil dry out a little bit between waterings, rather than keeping it permanently wet.

Pics of the soil would likely help with figuring out what it is. Depending on where you got the tree, sometimes they'll top dress plain topsoil to make it look nice, but in reality it's not the best soil for the tree to be in.
 

Calnicky

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David DeGroot, a bonsai master here in the Puget Sound area, says the only moisture meter you need is your finger. Stick it in and if the soil feels moist, don't water.
 

bonsaichile

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I think that the horticultural conditions in which that tree is living (indoors, pot with no drainage, probably inadequate watering) means that it is doomed. As other people mentioned, get it outside ASAP. Junipers can look alive for weeks or even months after they had died. They need full sun, so pick a bright spot outside. Indoor bonsai are difficult. Even tropicals are hard to properly keep inside, no matter your lightning system. It is simply impossible to replicate the outdoors indoors. And trees grow outdoors. Misting would not do a thing to help your bonsai if you keep it on your desk. Once it is outside, you should go ahead and repot it. Right now in the Northern hemisphere is not the worst of times to do so. Just get a pot with sufficient drainage, of the same size it is now and transfer the tree without touching the roots. If the pot has no drainage, it means the water has no where to go. That leads to poor air exchange, and dead roots. Good luck!
 

sparklemotion

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I'll join the chorus and say that if you bought the tree in this pit with no drainage, I would not be surprised if it is already dead. Mallsai junipers aren't made to last.

My guess is that it is a in a peat based soil with glued on rocks. If so, the answer to you moisture meter question is to water when the top 1/4 inch is totally dry and the bottom of the pot is *almost* totally dry. With no drainage, you'll basically be growing "semi-hydroponically". Google that and you'll find info on applying that type of technique to a number of non-tree plants, and it's not easy even for those.

Many of the people giving you advice right now have been through the cycle of getting excited about their new bonsai hobby, and then realizing that their plans for the tree aren't going to work out because the care needs really are more particular than what whoever sold the tree lead them to expect. Some of us also went through the frustration/stubbornness of not wanting to believe that something "won't work" on the word of a bunch of gatekeeping bonsai snobs and pushing through only to have the tree die after all, just as promised.

You're not going to find a "good" bonsai that will be happy on your desk. Even tropical species want lots of light (and an unsustainable on a desk level of humidity). If you want desk plants - build a terrarium or wabikusa with built in lighting, or find a zz plant or snake plant with an interesting-to-you structure. Or... Get lots of bonsai trees and rotate them to desk duty every other day or so.
 

Minnesota Madman

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sorce

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Just don't water it at all.

In a few weeks, spray the foliage with a shellac, then a green paint.

Try not to touch it much and it should remain "alive and well".

Or just buy one of them plastic ones at Michael's stead a spending money on paint!

Welcome to Crazy!

Sorce
 

Adair M

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It will not get enough light in an office.

Let me ask you... do you get sunburn from the light in your office? No?

How about outside? Will you get sunburnt if you stay out all day with no sunscreen? Yes?

Well... there’s the difference. The light outside directly under the sun is far more intense than office light, and it’s that intense light that a procumbens needs. Otherwise, it’ll starve.
 

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