In the past few months, I've started picking up a few houseplants to brighten up my house. I started thinking about how cool that bonsai trees look, and considered trying to grow one. After reading on your forums and other websites though, I decided that I might be in over my head with one, between my work and travel schedules, climate that I live in, and the fact that I'm a novice to plants. Then today I received a beautiful Juniper bonsai tree as a gift from my girlfriend. Her intention was that I would keep it on my desk at work and enjoy it. It's the same one as this one:
Unfortunately it sounds like I won't be able to do this and have it stay alive for a long time. Even though I know it will be very difficult, it was a very thoughtful gift, and I want to keep it healthy and beautiful. I tried to read up on the basics as much as I can, but I have a few questions to get me started:
1. Most importantly, what do I do with it right now? I understand that it needs a dormancy period in the winter? I don't know what conditions that it's been kept in. All I know is that all day today it was displayed on my desk at work at room temperature. I live in Ohio, so the winter conditions can vary a lot. It's 21*F right now outside, it was 5* when I left this morning. Winter conditions can vary from negative temps, to high 50s here. Do I put it directly outside tonight? I feel like this would shock the plant. Can I keep it in my garage where it's cooler? Can I put it in a refrigerator or something? These solutions won't give it any light.
2. Assuming that I figure out the winter dormancy, is it acceptable for me to keep it inside during the spring/summer/fall months? She bought it for me to look at and enjoy it, and I don't feel like I will get much benefit from it sitting outside all the time, plus I can give it better care if it's inside with my other plants.
3. It says to water by submerging the pot in water for 20 minutes to allow the soil to soak. Is it okay to use tap water for this? Same for the humidity tray (or will I not even be using that if it's outside)?