Have you had problems growing bonsai trees indoors?
Below are some growing tips and plants you may not have considered.
As a friend once told me "God never created house plants."
To keep any plant healthy indoors, the more you duplicate its natural environment, the happier it will be.
Keep in mind, not all plants will thrive indoors. It is important to select bonsai that have the best potential for your particular environment.
For indoor bonsai, the best plants are tropical and subtropical species.
Two species which are especially good bonsai for indoors are the dwarf Hawaiian umbrella tree (Schefflera arboricola ) and many small leaf Ficus varieties.
Photo shown here is S. arboricola bonsai by Dale Cochoy
The Schefflera bonsai was made famous as bonsai by David Fukumoto in Hawaii. He calls this plant the "True Indoor Bonsai". It is definitely one of the easiest!
Ficus 'Tiger Bark'
Ficus varieties such as green island, willow leaf fig (Ficus nerifolia) and the Chinese banyan are among the best figs for growing bonsai trees indoors.
The Chinese elm is real winner and another one of the easiest.
Dwarf Powder Puff is a plant often ignored for indoors.
The amazing part of growing this bonsai indoors is how it continues to flower!
As beautiful as all of these treasures can be, there is no magic that allows any of them to grow in the dark.
Indoor bonsai hobbyists often create total mini-environments in their homes. Some, in very cold climates, keep their tropical and sub-tropical species inside all year. Others move their bonsai outdoors in spring and back in again come fall.
By following some basic care instructions for indoor bonsai, many of these plants not only survive, but thrive in their artificial environments!
The basics for growing bonsai trees indoors are not much different than those of house plants indoors. Can't grow houseplants?
Check out Houseplant Care Tips for more advice.
Things to Remember: the larger the plant the more light it needs; over-watering can be a problem and keep an ever vigilant eye for pests.
For some growers, a window with a bright exposure is sufficient. Artificial light such as grow lights and fluorescent tubes are frequently used.
No mention of growing bonsai under fluorescent lights is complete without mentioning Jack Wikle!
Jack is growing bonsai trees indoors under 4 ft long 40 watt, two tube, cool white fluorescent fixtures, 16 hrs a day. No, not special ‘grow lights’.
An economical timer turns the lights on and off automatically.
Jack is also the only person I know growing bonsai trees, who has managed to keep two junipers as indoor plants under lights for twenty years!
Yes, I’ve seen them!
(However, junipers are not recommended indoors for the novice or faint of heart.)
Check out Jack's article to see the details of his amazing light and stand set-ups for Growing Bonsai Trees Under Lights.
In addition to fluorescents, large bonsai especially, may require more powerful (and more expensive) metal halide lamps.
Not only do they have great intense light, they exude a certain amount of heat that tropicals will love.
Bonsai hobbyists growing bonsai trees under metal halide swear by them!
Most homes do not have enough humidity in winter to support tropical plants. Air blown heat (especially) depletes the necessary humidity.
Growing bonsai trees indoors will enjoy some hunidity. However, misting does very little if anything to create humidity in a room. Humidifiers are much better and easier. They are often used by many indoor plant people.
If you think a humidity tray will help create humidity, I disagree. (Although I do recommend them for another reason.) Please see the section on the Bonsai Myths page to read about the
Humidity Tray Myth
Instructions such as water "every day" or "once a week" are not reliable. Be sure you have explicit instructions and see the watering bonsai page.
Find out if your plant likes to be "evenly moist", "wet" or "a little dry between waterings." In winter, never use ice cold water directly from the tap!
Even the large old banyan
trees of South Florida drop leaves in nature when the temperatures fall below
50oF. They know it's cold! Tropical bonsai like to be warm. Be cautious
indoors about cold windowsills and drafts.
Although cold drafts and direct hits from air conditioning can be harmful, air movement is necessary to keep down the plant pest population. In most cases, an oscillating fan works just fine for growing bonsai trees indoors.
If you've gone way beyond your allotted window space, a small greenhouse may be the answer for your tropical bonsai trees in winter.
Be sure to see both of these impressive pages: One page is about more than one Amazing "Greenhouse". All of which are either attached or in homes.
A 'Not So Small Greenhouse' Idea is a definite winner. (Not for everyone.) However, if you have the right circumstances, it's perfect! I think you will enjoy the story.
For specific care information about your bonsai species, look up the bonsai by tree name.
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