Jared1991
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Newbie need advice

Hello all,
I have been in love with bonsai trees for a long time. I finally decided to try my hand at making one. I have a couple questions though.
1st, I'd like to find a small tree outside like oak or maple.
Can I do this and trim the tree to size?
2nd, do I have to have bonsai soil. Or would it be better to use the soil the tree is currently sitting in. Finally, the last question is that even small trees have bigger leaves compared to what I normally see on a bonsai. Should I trim some of the large leaves off tree or leave them?
I don't know if it matters but I'd like the tree to be about 2ft tall.
Thanks for any and all replies I'm very excited to start just need info lol.

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Gnome
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Re: Newbie need advice

Jared1991,
1st, I'd like to find a small tree outside like oak or maple.
Can I do this and trim the tree to size?
Yes, starting with an established trunk is a common way to start. It cuts years from the process of starting with very young material.
2nd, do I have to have bonsai soil. Or would it be better to use the soil the tree is currently sitting in.
Field soil is entirely inappropriate for potted trees. Definitely research the properties and objectives of using a proper, free draining, mix Look here:
http://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... =36&t=3422
Finally, the last question is that even small trees have bigger leaves compared to what I normally see on a bonsai.
Leaves can be reduced but starting with a plant with relatively small leaves makes things a whole lot easier.

As far as what to do now, you kind of missed the spring window of opportunity so transplanting most things now is problematic. You can scout for a specimen to be dug next spring. Depending of species, you could also prune a tree in the ground in order to get a head start on the training process. Severing some roots (opposites sides) with a sharp spade also helps the plant to form new roots close to the trunk thus easing the evetual trasplanting.

Nursery plants are another potential source but it takes a good eye to pick a winner from the bunch.

Jared1991
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Re: Newbie need advice

Are there any good potted trees from lowes I could get

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GardeningCook
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Re: Newbie need advice

Your enthusiasm is wonderful, & I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but have you done any research or reading re: bonsai? Because your questions sound like you don't have a lot of bonsai experience. Do you have any finished or ongoing bonsai at the moment that you've been able to keep going in a healthy manner? I'd definitely do some reading/research (as boring as that might sound) before attempting to start one from scratch. Bonsai are wonderful, but there's quite an almost science to it - proper pots for each growing stage, proper soil mixes, proper pruning - the list is almost endless & each item really does require proper attention. There are no shortcuts.
My body is a temple. Unfortunately, it's a fixer-upper.

Jared1991
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Re: Newbie need advice

Hi and thanks for the input. No I don't have a lot of experience growing bonsai. I had a tree a long time ago and it did great, tho I didn't get technical about it. I had to go on a business trip and was gone for 2 weeks and my old dog turned it into a chew toy after knocking it off desk. With that said I was wanting to learn how to grow them, because they are amazingly cool. I have been doing homework as well on pruning and wiring and shaping not so much on soil just yet but I'm getting there. And research on this is hard because there's different ways that everyone does the same thing lol and each species has different info than the next. Anyway my wife heard me talking about wanting a bonsai and she went to Walmart and found a very young bonsai. Got it for 8 dollars and some miracle grow all purpose plant food. But anyway I was needing help with an id on this tree. I think it's a fiscus but I'm not sure. I'll see if I can post a pic.
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Jared1991
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Re: Newbie need advice

Here's another.
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Jared1991
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Re: Newbie need advice

Also on lighting I don't see much on the web. Besides fluorescent or iridescent. Anyway I have some high power t5ho light that I used to grow coral and aquatic high light plants would this suffice, or would it be to much

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GardeningCook
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Re: Newbie need advice

Not a Ficus, but definitely a tropical, which means that it will be an indoor bonsai except for perhaps the summer months depending on where you live. It will, however, indoors need the very brightest light you can provide. As in the very sunniest window you have. I don't have experience growing bonsai under artificial light, so can't help you there. But as far as indoor tropicals go, I'd find it difficult to believe that any artificial light would be "too much".

Nix the MiracleGro. Bonsai really need urea-free fertilizers. Some nurseries sell it, or it can be bought online via Amazon. Look for "bonsai fertilizer". Comes in concentrate form that will last you for a long, long time.
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Jared1991
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Re: Newbie need advice

Thanks for info, as far as the light goes, my house is surrounded by trees front and back no light penetrates so the house can get dark so artificial light is a must and I was looking at ordering the bonsai fertilizer and the soil. Also a pot as well,it looks very cramped in the one it's in.

Jared1991
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Re: Newbie need advice

Let me ask this, I'm going to move the bonsai to a bigger pot, is there any soil that I could possibly pick up from lowes? The reason I ask is I tried to order from online and the card Is messed up it for some reason won't go through I even called customer support and finally the bank with no luck.

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GardeningCook
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Re: Newbie need advice

Normally when bonsai are repotted, the soil is gently removed from the root ball, some roots are trimmed, & then the plant goes back into the original pot with fresh bonsai soil mix. If you move the plant into a larger pot, it sort of defeats the purpose of bonsai, as the plant will automatically begin to increase in size.

But frankly, you actually might be better off allowing your plant to "un-bonsai", as it's doubtful that the leaf structure will ever reduce down to bonsai size. That happens with a lot of tropicals. In that case, you can really use any type of soilless potting mix available to you.
My body is a temple. Unfortunately, it's a fixer-upper.

Jared1991
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Re: Newbie need advice

Ok thanks, the issue with the pot its in is the tree trunk is touching both sides of the pot. The leaves on the tree are definitely big and probably not the tree I would have got but my wife did her best lol. id hate to hurt her feelings by in bonsai'ing it. And we don't have room for another large tree as I have a ton of palm tree that I've grew for years and now they are huge. Also I live in Kentucky so I can't replant tropicals outside as they would die from the cold winters we have here.

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GardeningCook
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Re: Newbie need advice

Okay then, but do stick to just a slightly larger bonsai pot - NOT just any garden-variety pot. And if you can't purchase a commercial bonsai mix (recommended only because it's super easy & convenient if you just have one plant), then do a websearch on bonsai soil mixes for info on mixing your own from items easily available from big box stores, etc. You cannot just use ordinary potting soil. Here's just one site example of many:

http://www.chinesebonsaigarden.com/best ... -soil-mix/
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Jared1991
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Re: Newbie need advice

Thank you for help. Also I heard that cutting the leaves could reduce the size of the new leaves that would replace the old

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GardeningCook
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Re: Newbie need advice

Re: purposed defoliation. I wouldn't attempt that if I were you. Your plant is already stressed & not being kept under optimum conditions, nor does it sound like it will be quickly (light, new potting, soil, fertilizer, etc., etc. are all stressful). Defoliating it will most likely kill it.

I strongly suggest you spend some time doing online research or visit your local library to read up more on bonsai growing, care, & training methods. It's not something that gives immediate gratification - there's a lot of patience involved. But it can be very rewarding.
My body is a temple. Unfortunately, it's a fixer-upper.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Newbie need advice

Re what you can buy at your local big box: cactus mix is better than potting soil. Or buy potting soil and mix it with coarse sand/ perlite/ bark chips/ clay pebbles, etc, basically mineral ingredients that won't break down, will stay loose and will provide lots of channels for air and water circulation. The mix you end up with, should be no more than half potting soil, maybe more like one third.
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