FMDio
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Newbie - No Idea Where to Start

Hello!
I'll jump right in. I've always been fascinated with bonsai. I've wanted to get into it for a long time now, and I am finally committing to doing so. The problem is that I don't even know where to begin. Outdoor bonsai is unrealistic for me, to the point of being downright impossible. I've been researching to the best of my ability, and it seems, sensibly so, that indoor bonsai is substantially more difficult. As such, I wanted to come to a community of knowledgeable people, instead of pictures, and discussions that go way over my head. :)
Would it be a trouble for you kind folks to set me in the right direction? It would be nice to get suggestions on what kind of tree is good as an introduction, where to acquire such a specimen, and a general idea of what I should expect, and what is expected of me. Really, I'll take anything.

Thank you!

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Gnome
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Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

FMDio,

Good for you for asking first, now my turn. What kind of lighting are you able to provide? Do you have a good bright, preferably south facing, window? If not, are you willing to invest in some form of supplemental lighting?

Are you interested in purchasing a fairly developed tree or do you wish to start with younger material. Younger, less developed trees are less expensive and can be found at many local garden centers. More advanced specimens come at a premium and will not be as easy to locate.

Do Jade plants or Portulacaria (Google them if you are unsure) interest you at all or do you wish to grow something that presents a more traditional appearance?

Are you willing to purchase online? Also your general location might be relevant as there may be a bonsai nursery nearby.

Norm

horticulture
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Location: Illinois

I am fairly new to bonsai myself, but I can help out a little :)

To start a Bonsai from scratch as in using a seed will take a long time and I am sure since it is your first time you will enjoy a young, planted and grown tree like myself.
I know that the Ficus is like the perfect tree for indoor bonsai and doesn't need much light. Correct me if I am wrong norm, but can I keep my tree on a counter top that does not get any sun but it does get light?
Check out this guys site, he is very knowledgeable on indoor bonsai, Ficus in particular.
https://www.bonsaihunk.us/

I know I have seen some Bonsai tree's at wal-mart and stores like that. You might be able to find one at your local grocery store. And I am positive you can find one online to order. If you do not really want to order online, you should try giving some local stores a call such as wal-mart, a couple different grocery stores, nurseries and ask each place you call if they might know where to find one. You can also try googling bonsai and your zip code or city/state.

I don't have much information but I gave you what I could and I hope this helps a bit.

Have a good one and I hope to hear from you more often and I hope you get your Bonsai itch going :wink:
Peace, Frankie.

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Gnome
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Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

Frankie,
I know that the Ficus is like the perfect tree for indoor bonsai and doesn't need much light. Correct me if I am wrong norm, but can I keep my tree on a counter top that does not get any sun but it does get light?
Ficus is indeed a good choice for indoor growers and while they can do pretty well under low light conditions, they will do better with brighter lighting.

Norm

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GardenerX
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Location: Cleveland, TX

Hello,

I'm also new to Bonsai and it seemed I would ask all the wrong things as for you, man you got it I have 2 ficus trees and now I'm working on my first PONYTAIL PALM well I have a larger one outside but this one is still a baby so I'm going to work with it....

Anyways I keep mine by my window but I also have a lamp with a phloresent light bulb in it so it doesn't burn any of the plants, I keep the lamp on just in case my window doesn't get enough light. I made my soil out of small pebbles and ground up bark that I got from my local Petco in the reptile section, it works very well. I hope this helps you....

P.S. heres a pic of the bark from Petco
[img]https://i549.photobucket.com/albums/ii365/dragondude_2009/9761275004B.jpg[/img]
GOOD LUCK :wink:
signed GardenerX,
Plants are children of Mother Earth and Father Time, as they cling to their mother for comfort today, Father Time works his ways to shape their FUTURE...

FMDio
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That was quite a response! Thanks, you three.

First, I'm located in Dayton, OH. I discovered that North Dayton Garden Center apparently acquired a bonsai wholesaler, so I can safely assume I now have a good source within a reasonable drive.

I would definitely prefer something younger. I feel I would learn more if I committed to more responsibility and made a few mistakes, than if I were to buy an already-developed specimen. And, Hort, you're definitely right -- I think I would get much more enjoyment out of it as well, it being my first one. I've found some info on starting from scratch, and but I think that may be a bit over my head at this point. :)

I sort of got the short end of the window stick. I live in an apartment with two windows, both facing the same direction (northwest), and a deep overhang in the roof. Thus, I anticipated that I might have to resort to artificial lighting. Hort, good call on www.bonsaihunk.us. He had a lot of useful information, especially pertaining to lighting. Would a one- or two-bulb fluorescent fixture be enough for a tree or two? I don't have much expendable income to speak of, but I am able to purchase some measure of artificial light fixture if it doesn't set me back too much.

I like the Ficus option, especially after reading through sections of Bonsai Hunk. I looked into Portulacaria, and that definitely interests me as well.

The setup baffles me. I think, though it sounds silly to say, I might be having a perspective issue, as trees to me were always considerably taller. :P Obviously technique is something that has to be learned over time, but how does the actual planting work? Is it similar to a houseplant?

GardenerX - I've actually had a bag of that same Repti Bark for over two years with nothing to use it for. :D Great idea! Thanks for the tip!

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GardenerX
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Location: Cleveland, TX

np glad I was able to help oh and I have only one light for both of my trees it also warms my other plants as well like my herbs and my ponytail palm speaking of Poytail Palms you should look into those they are quite a remarkable species NOT SAYING BUY ONE THOUGH :lol:, me myself I have a large one out in the yard that does very well and I just bought a pot with like 5-6 in it 'babies' I'm going to try to make 2 into a Bonsai so oh I got off track anyways here are some tools you might need I have these,

1: spray bottle
2: screen to put at the bottom of the pots over the holes
3: ok heres a little secret guys I didn't want to pay $30 and up for the Bonsai clipper things so I went and got me a pair of steel wire cutters and they work just as well

here's a fact sheet on them I found Ponytail Palms I found

https://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https://img.docstoc.com/thumb/206/8390621.png&imgrefurl=https://www.docstoc.com/search/ponytail-palm-bonsai-tree-replant/&usg=__4zQmF3mwnEOsXKwdCEZpOusMBmk=&h=265&w=206&sz=64&hl=en&start=14&tbnid=Vxlpc2d8iS_ROM:&tbnh=112&tbnw=87&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dponytail%2Bpalm%2Btree%2Bbonsai%26gbv%3D2%26hl%3Den

and here's a pic of a Ponytail Bonsai
[url=https://s549.photobucket.com/albums/ii365/dragondude_2009/?action=view&current=P324_330x370.jpg][img]https://i549.photobucket.com/albums/ii365/dragondude_2009/th_P324_330x370.jpg[/img][/url]
signed GardenerX,
Plants are children of Mother Earth and Father Time, as they cling to their mother for comfort today, Father Time works his ways to shape their FUTURE...

Sunnydaze
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Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:57 am

Hi there!

I'm a complete newbie to bonsai as well, but if you're still interested in some input I have heard that Hawaiian Umbrella Trees are nearly indestructable. From what I've read they can survive quite a range of conditions, and are quite forgiving.

I would suggest if you get something from Wal-mart or some such place that you change the soil when it is feasable, since my poor bonsai died of aweful soil conditions and my lack of experience. Hopefully, you have better luck =)

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Bonsai Nutcase
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Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 7:33 pm
Location: SW Florida

Sunnydaze wrote:Hi there!

I'm a complete newbie to bonsai as well, but if you're still interested in some input I have heard that Hawaiian Umbrella Trees are nearly indestructable. From what I've read they can survive quite a range of conditions, and are quite forgiving.

I would suggest if you get something from Wal-mart or some such place that you change the soil when it is feasable, since my poor bonsai died of aweful soil conditions and my lack of experience. Hopefully, you have better luck =)
I second that, they are super easy to grow indoors! And you can find good size ones at Home Depot or Lowes, usually 2-3 stalks in a pot (which means you get 2-3 bonsai plants in 1 pot! Maybe for $10-$15, what a bargain!)
Angela

To those who say "We can't afford to go green" I say "We can't afford not to".

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