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JustinBoi
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So I bought a Ginseng Ficus plant a few days ago.

I have just a few questions about my plant (I hope it isn't too much). Okay, So its around the upper 30's here in Florida (amazing) and I wanted to put my plant outside instead of indoors for better growth. Would it be okay if i watered it once or twice a day and misted it several times a day or is the weather too much?
Second, I got it from Wal-Mart and it had this white scrummy stuff on it, I tried to rub it off with water but didn't come off. What is it?

And Third, Should I get the little pebbles glued to the top off asap? And why do they put it there?

Also, I'm gonna be buying a Juniper after Christmas for myself of course :D from Amazon from someone named.. bonsaiboy. Any advice on how to take care of it when I get it? Thanks for all your help <3

From your faithful Gardener,
Justin:)
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manofthetrees
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howdy Justin,
first thing first do not put it outside!!! ficus spieces are tropical plants the temp were they are kept should b no lower than 60 degrees and well lit
the pebbles should b removed definately
as for the watering (soggy soil=dead plant) the soil needs to dry out and then watered throughly.give it 5 to 7 days and stick your finger in the soil about an inch if it's still wet let it wait. you can mist the leaves daily if desired
lastly junipers need a dormancy period and are not recomended for growing indoors so i wouldnt recomend it till spring and plan to have a place to overwinter it

good luck
P.S we jst got 4 foot of snow up here not a good start to winter this year

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JustinBoi
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I'm not sure how long it takes for it to die. It may be fast but weather like this is not typical for Florida. The low is in the morning around middle 40's and the high is like 70. And also, so the plant can be outside but in more tropical weather above 60? And im gonna try to remove pebbles this weekend, I hope they get off. And about the Juniper, theres a GREAT spot in my house in a window where sunlight ALWAYS hits, if I get it after Christmas and keep it in that window till spring, would it live or not?

Thanks for your help,
-Your Faithful Gardener Justin :wink:
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Justin,

Manofthetrees is definitely on the right track. To add a bit though, if I might. The glued on top dressing is there as a shipping aid and no longer serves a purpose. Often this indicates a plant that is not terribly well established in its container so take care with it.

Ficus are indeed tropical and are well suited to your area. They should not need protection for the largest part of the year but you might find that yours will do better inside at times. I have left mine outside in the fall when temperatures dipped into the low forties at night, so such temperatures probably won't be fatal but it is not really going to appreciate it either. Often 50F is quoted as a safe minimum but keeping it above 60F, as mentioned, will keep it happier and growing better.

Water as needed, not on a schedule. You may indeed find that 5-7 days is correct but it will vary according to various factors, one of the more relevant ones is the soil type. Often commercial bonsai are in very poor soil, which lends considerable credence to the idea that watering will be somewhat infrequent, but you never know so better to check daily and go from there.

About the Juniper, again Manofthetrees is correct. Please don't buy a Juniper with the intention of keeping it inside, you will be disappointed sooner or later. I even have my doubts about Junipers outside in Florida but since I have no real experience there I'll leave the research to you.

One thing to consider; do Junipers grow outside in nature or as landscape specimens? If no, think long and hard before buying one. Remember retailers are in it for the sale not for your enjoyment of or success with bonsai.

Norm

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JustinBoi
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About the Juniper, is it an indoor or outdoor plant? And if its an outdoor plant (which I hope it is, since my house stays around 60-70 all year) does it need direct sunlight from the sun or maybe a fragment of sun? I'm not sure.

For the Ficus, what I'm hearing is to take the pebbles off because they no longer have a purpose, in doing so, what is the safest way to take them off without accidently stabbing/cutting into the roots of the plant. Also, Since I have the plant outside right now, should I bring it in and put it infront of the window or keep it outside with the upper 40's?

Both of your responses are very helpful, and I deeply appreciate it. Bonsai is very new to me as I am a Beginner but I'm very excited to grow these Bonsai into their natural beautiful form.

Thanks again,
Justin
P.S. If you don't know the answer to my questions, just tell me to research :)
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rainbowgardener
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I think you need to read the answers you are getting very carefully.

You just asked "about the juniper is it an indoor or outdoor plant"?

You had already received these responses:

manoftrees: lastly junipers need a dormancy period and are not recomended for growing indoors

gnome: About the Juniper, again Manofthetrees is correct. Please don't buy a Juniper with the intention of keeping it inside, you will be disappointed sooner or later.

If you do Search the Forum on juniper you will find MANY places where it has been stated more strongly that junipers have to have cold dormancy and die if kept indoors. They may make it through one winter without dormancy, but that exhausts the plant and it will not make it through the second one. That is why gnome also said " I even have my doubts about Junipers outside in Florida but since I have no real experience there I'll leave the research to you. " It may be that even outdoors in your area it would not get enough cold dormancy.

You also asked again about your ficus: Since I have the plant outside right now, should I bring it in and put it infront of the window or keep it outside with the upper 40's? "

manofthetrees also answered that one the first time:

"First thing first do not put it outside!!! ficus spieces are tropical plants the temp they are kept at should be no lower than 60 degrees"
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JustinBoi
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Sorry, I no Comprende at times especially in the morning. Okay, I'll bring the Ficus inside today, since it can't stand cold weather under the 60's. Then this weekend I'll take those no purpose pebbles out (even if it makes it look nice) since it doesnt help the plant.

For the Juniper, I'm not sure what to do with it. Should I just wait? Not get it at all? Or wait till spring? I would like to get it after Christmas but I don't want it to die.
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manofthetrees
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if your heart is set on having a juniper you may have to buy nursey stock to get it and train it yourself...i think this will b more satifying anyway instead of buying a premade tree.there are many types of juniper that grow in the ZONE 2 climate u r in. i jst searched "zone 2 juniper" and found a bunch.just need to pick a nursery.

best of luck :)

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JustinBoi
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Thanks, but in the part i live in it doesnt seem that there is any Bonsai Shops.
But i'll look around :) I was looking on Amazon and there is some miniature Juniper that is like 4 years old. Right now I'm gonna look up 'zone 2 junipers'.

Also I took out the pebbles already and it looks better but I need to add more soil. There was fertilizer already in the soil, so it should be good for now.

Thanks for all your help.
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JustinBoi
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So, I looked at my Ginseng Ficus today and it has a brown look to it on the stems. Maybe its dying, am I over watering? Too less sunlight? Not enough Humidity? Help :cry:

[img]https://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l612/Justin_Broughton/008.jpg[/img]
Theres a spot there that looks like someone cut it. And the stems are brown.

[img]https://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l612/Justin_Broughton/009.jpg[/img]
The stems in this one are brown too. Thats mostly what I'm worried about.
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Justin,

I don't see anything about your Ficus that concerns me. Branches turn woody as they mature and they will no longer be green as the initial shoots were. If the soil is moist don't water it today. Get a chopstick or wooden kitchen skewer and insert it into the soil. Leave it there and check it daily by removing it and holding it to the underside of your wrist. If it is damp to the touch don't water it that day. When you decide it needs to be watered do so thouroughly, no half measures.

About the Juniper, I think you misunderstood Manofthetrees. Go to a conventional nursery and inquire about Junipers for your zone, which seems to be 9 or 10.
https://www.arborday.org/treeinfo/ZoneInfo.cfm?ZipCode=33770&submit=Look+it+up%21

Once you find a species or cultivar that does well in your area then you must attempt to pick out a promising individual. I say attempt becasue this is easier said than done but it's part of the game. :wink: Then it's up to you to decide how to prune it.

Manofthetrees points out that you will learn more and get more satisfaction this way than by simply buying a mallsai. Also, you will get more tree for your money.

Norm

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JustinBoi
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Thanks so much Norm. I was worrying too much I guess. I'm gonna be looking up zone 9 Bonsais in a minute. I will try the wooden kitchen scewer/ chopstick soon. I just have 1 more question and I should be good for now. How can you determine how old your plant is? (Since I bought mine from Wal-Mart, they were clueless)

Thanks again Norm,
Justin
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JustinBoi
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Okay. So, I just looked up zone 9 bonsais, but there is so many advertisements that I couldnt find any. I hope this is too much, but does anyone know what Bonsais are specified for my area? :( Sorry that I ask too much.

Thanks
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manofthetrees
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:oops: sorry 'bout that zone thing don't no what i was thinking.looked at a zone map for florida it said 1&2 and my common sence didnt kick in.
you cant search bonsai specificaly u hav to pick a type of tree
(ie...juniper,conifers pines) for your zone get some info on what grows in your area then search that specific plant . nurseries ship plants all over the place

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JustinBoi
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Don't worry about it, you were trying to help. And i'll do that. Im VERY interested in the Chinese Elm bonsais. But i need it for cheap, which is hard. I wanna spend like 8-12 dollars not including shipping. :/
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JustinBoi
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Can a Chinese Elm live where I do?
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Justin,
I just have 1 more question and I should be good for now. How can you determine how old your plant is?
You can't really tell how old it is unless you cut it in half and count the rings. I'm not even sure how well that works with tropicals that don't have distinct dormant periods. This tree is going to be pretty young though, they don't hold them for long in commercial nurseries. Old, established stock will cost much more and won't be available in box stores.

Here's the good news, it doesn't matter how old it is. Bonsai is about the appearance the arrangement presents not the actual age. Keep good records and if the Ficus is still alive twenty years from now you will at least know that much.
Im VERY interested in the Chinese Elm bonsais. But i need it for cheap, which is hard. I wanna spend like 8-12 dollars not including shipping...Can a Chinese Elm live where I do?
Yes, and they are excellent trees for beginners. Unfortunately you won't get much to work with for that amount of money. Starter plants are about all you will get in that price range. For instance:

https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/ulmus.htm

https://www.meehansminiatures.com/shop/index.php?action=item&id=258&prevaction=search&previd=&prevstart=12

Chinese Elms will grow from seeds or cuttings if you are interested in that sort of thing but beware this is a very long and drawn out process that can be frustrating for beginners. It will take years of simply growing them out and re-potting them before they begin to look anything like bonsai. Better to spend what you can up front, letting someone else do the grunt work. You will pay, either in Dollars or in your time, but you will pay.

Norm

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JustinBoi
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I can not tell you how much I appreciate all your help, Norm, but not just you but everyone who has contributed to this post trying to help me.

The URLS, sort of helped, but I did some of my own research and found a Chinese Elm, a little out of my price range, but it looks really nice and the seller said most of them look like that.

[url]https://www.amazon.com/Chinese-Elm-Bonsai-Tree-Medium/dp/B000XXZ01I/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1292084237&sr=8-2[/url]

Waiting for a plant to grow is very frustrating especially when it takes twice as long.

Maybe I should go for something that is cheaper or something younger?
Whats your opinion?

Thanks, Justin
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JustinBoi
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I was at Wal-Mart again today but most of them were wrongly labeled. They don't seem like they know what their taking about. Some came with instructions but they all were soaked with water.

I'm probably going to research Bonsai Nurseries where I live, or go to Homedepot/Lowes.

Other than the Chinese Elm and the Ficus, what can grow in my area? :?
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To find a good plant at walmart or the home depot takes quite a bit of luck or knowing exactly what you are (not) looking for...

reason being, they usually don't have anyone on staff with the time or knowledge to properly water and take care of them.
What I've seen in both places so far, was usually a near dead twig in an expensive pot. Not my thing.

going to a nursery is a better idea, they, at least, specialize in plants (growing and keeping alive). a bonsai nursery would then have just that much more specialized knowledge regarding bonsai and not just trees ;)

but, as you noticed, you pay for more specialized knowledge :)

Norm is right saying growing it yourself is more time and work intensive, but in the end it will be YOUR tree...
The most effective way to go is probably to buy a decent size nursery plant and train it yourself - that cuts away the time and space needed for growing it out - but it will still be a few years until you can call it a bonsai ;)
;)

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Very true. thanks
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JustinBoi
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Okay, Here's an update on my plant. I've brought it inside next to the window where all the light comes in since its below 40 outside. Been looking on amazon/ebay for the last few days. I want to buy something that is tropical to Florida but I don't want to be disappointed if its not what I was looking for. Does anyone know or has used a site that its very reliable so I can get a Bonsai that is almost like the picture so I know where my money is going? This task may be hard, I've been doing some research but none seem reliable. I hope you can help. Thanks so much everyone!


Love, from your faithful gardener,
Justin (age 15)
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Justin,
I can not tell you how much I appreciate all your help, Norm, but not just you but everyone who has contributed to this post trying to help me.
You're welcome and thank you for the kind words. We're glad that you are finding the site useful.
Does anyone know or has used a site that its very reliable so I can get a Bonsai that is almost like the picture so I know where my money is going?
The problem is that there is not enough margin in starter plants for the retailers to take individual pictures. The plants themselves may not be that much different than all the others so taking pictures of indiviuals is cost prohibitive and does not serve much purpose.

Have a look here, they are not terribly far away from you. Perhaps you can take a day trip to their nursery.
https://www.wigertsbonsai.com/

Consider joining a local bonsai club. They should be able to point you in the right direction. You may even find an experienced member willing to take you under his/her wing.
https://thebonsaisswfl.com/

Norm

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JustinBoi
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Thanks for the help yet again Norm. I also found a very good Chinese Elm, the reviews said that its packaged well and delivered very soon. So, I'm almost 100% sure i'll get that one. It comes with instructions too but if those don't work I'll rely on you people again.

Thanks,
Justin :o
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JustinBoi
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Also, quick extra thing. Its been getting dark in Florida because of the weather, should I use some light system to keep my plant alive? Any suggestions on what kind of light I should use? Flash light? Lamp? Professional Light system thingy?


Thanks,
Justin :o
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manofthetrees
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the cheapest ( costs nothing but the work) is to collect a wild tree. my fitst tree was a silver maple i found growing in my garden. they are like weeds in my yard so i can expieriment with the seedlings . plus if there growin wild you know they grow in your climate. just don't go into other peoples yards w/out their permission, and no parks if you get caught you can be fined.its may take a little longer to acheive a "bonsai tree" but it costs much less

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JustinBoi
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I would of done that if I didn't already order this one that is coming. It cost $30 for the plant and shipping/handling. Its going to be here before wednesday. I'm very excited, I hope its everything I hope it is.

Also, I put my Ficus Ginseng infront of a 5 bulb lamp. The 1st switch is only 2 bulbs and it is a round bulb and a spiral bulb and thats what I use on my plant. Is that safe for the plant?
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JustinBoi
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I found a little red bug on my Bonsai. It looked like a spider but I'm not sure it was like a mini red circle with legs. Do you think this is harmful to the plant? (Already squished it :) )
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rainbowgardener
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How little? There are red spider mites, but they are VERY tiny, about the size of a period. If you hold a white piece of paper under the leaves of a plant that has them and shake the leaves, they will fall on the paper and look like tiny specks. If you have spider mites, there will be some cobwebby stuff on the leaves and the underside will feel a bit gritty. They are plant juice suckers and will damage your plants.

If they are bigger than that, top choices are likely clover mites or some kind of aphid.

In any case, they are probably not good news for your plant. The first line of defense is just to wash the plant thoroughly. Either spray the leaves off with a strong water spray, or cover the soil with plastic wrap so it doesn't fall out, turn the plant upside down and dip it in a sink full of water and leave it for a couple minutes.

PS re the lights. They are safe. How helpful they will be depends on how close they are to the plant and how long they are on. It is so much less light than sunlight, it needs to be just a few inches from your plant and on for 12-16 hrs a day.
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I've always thought that if I really got into Bonsai, I would get the end of season trees and shrubs from garden centers or even Lowes and Home Depot -- not so much Walmart. You know, when they sell them off for 50~75% off because they're trying to get rid of them?

In my area, those sales happen around late Oct when all the garden departments COMPLETELY switchover to Chrismas decorations and eventually trees, and then I wouldn't be able to prune until late winter/early spring -- probably late Feb/early March. So it's a long time to keep them alive over harsh winter and to wait. But your best pruning time is probably around Jan or something and, for I know, the Garden departments are still active in your area.

Have you seen some of the instructions and videos that abound -- there are links in the Bonsai Library -- for chopping down those trees sold for landscaping and foundation planting? Really drastic and kind of scary, but it would definitely be interesting.... 8)

As it is, I'm just saving volunteer tree seedlings I find around my garden -- so far I have wild cherries, Callery pears, plums, mulberries, elms, crab apples, willow oak ( not sure if this is a good candidate. There are red oak growing around here too....), junipers and barberry, rose of sharons, even a Japanese maple. I'm also growing pomegranates from seed for fun that might eventually become bonsai.... :wink:

I think I would go to nearby public gardens and arboretums that have bonsai in their collection for inspiration rather than buying one.... until I've saved up to afford a REALLY good specimen and am confident in my ability to keep it alive, first, then to keep it in good form? style? (what is the proper terminology here?) :D
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JustinBoi,

Rainbow is correct about the lights. They need to be close in order to do much good. I do have one concern though. You posted:
The 1st switch is only 2 bulbs and it is a round bulb and a spiral bulb and thats what I use on my plant. Is that safe for the plant?
From that statement it is unclear to me if both bulbs are fluorescent or if one is a conventional incandescent bulb. Incandescents produce too much heat to be placed close to the plant and at greater distances are not terribly effective. Best to stick with fluorescents.

Norm

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JustinBoi
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I'm gonna do the thing with filling up the sink and dipping the leafs in the water and keeping it there for a minute.

Also, about the bulbs, I almost positive all bulbs are fluorescent but some are energy saving or they aren't. The 5 bulb lamp only has 2 that keep on the plant and I put my hand near the bulb but to me it isn't even hot.

Okay, scratch that, I put my hand near both bulbs seperately and the spiral bulb doesn't get hot but the circle one does.
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JustinBoi
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Also, my package of my Chinese Elm has still not come. I'm worried it might be dead since it was shipped on the 17th and is still not here. May it be dead?
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froggy
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Worrying won't accomplish anything ;)

And some trees have pulled through worse conditions.
Just assess the situation when it gets there and deal with it. - It will probably just need a good watering.

May sound cruel, but if they promised a delivery date and you find the elm damaged, return it for a replacement.

Anyways, you won't know until it arrives.
Christmas can play havoc with mail delivery. So next time, avoid ordering a bonsai during the holiday season....
;)

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JustinBoi
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Thanks so much for the reasurance, I really needed it. I hope it just needs a good watering and some sun.

I can promise you that I will NEVER do ordering through holiday seasons.

I hope it comes nicely tomorrow (as said by seller).
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