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Mr. Orange
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Beginner seeks advice for indoor bonsai.

Moderators Note: This thread was split from another that had begun as a discussion on Pines but began to lean toward indoor bonsai.



I apologize for the double post and typographical errors in that last post, i sent it from my phone, and i couldnt really scroll through to spell check. here are a few of the trees i was looking at from amazon.

[url=https://www.amazon.com/Brussels-Bonsai-DT9017SJ-Snow-Rose/dp/B003AU5TPS/?_encoding=UTF8&tag=thehelpfulgar-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325]https://www.amazon.com/Brussels-Bonsai-DT9017SJ-Snow-Rose/dp/B003AU5TPS/[/url]

[url=https://www.amazon.com/Oriental-Weeping--Ficus--House-Plant/dp/B000NPUF0C/?_encoding=UTF8&tag=thehelpfulgar-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325]https://www.amazon.com/Oriental-Weeping--Ficus--House-Plant/dp/B000NPUF0C/[/url]

[url=https://www.amazon.com/Brussels-Gensing-Grafted-Ficus-Bonsai/dp/B003AU5TR6/?_encoding=UTF8&tag=thehelpfulgar-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325]https://www.amazon.com/Brussels-Gensing-Grafted-Ficus-Bonsai/dp/B003AU5TR6/[/url]

tomc
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Mr. Orange wrote:I am on a very tight budget, so anything more than this will not be an option for a while. Tell me what you gus know about purchasin trees online or how much certain trees should sell for
Being retired and also on a very tight budget, and being enamored of bonsai; the only thing I think that separates us, is I killed my first 100 trees or so.

i would like to let you off my personal petard. I might subscribe to your local freeecycle. I might also start to forage for free or almost free sources for crushed stone, and bark mulch. Your search in also on for nursery and bonsai pots (free is the best kind of cheep).

Now is not too soon to start looking for good candidates for pot training in your zone. White pine is at best a maybe candidate.

I'll veer back to freecycle. people remove as unwanted shrubery in the northeast examples of Boxwood, azalea, highbush and upland blueberry, alder, larch, just to make a short list of trees often being removed as unwanted. Most any of which will give you candidates to start to try and keep alive.

The bigest "but", that needs to come first is the stuff for soil. trees live in pots in extreemly fast draining soil made almost entirely of coarse sifted sand (or crushed granite) and sifted bark mulch.

I fell into training trees in pots at a rental that had a very mature bloodgood Japan maple. I was not able to just run over the volunteers with a mower.

I killed more than 100 of those long ago saplings before collecting the right stuff for their soil. I had fewer casualties the more I raised them with the things that met their horticultural needs.

if you want to succeed your going to supply the same things to your trees.

It is not possible for me to buy my way into bonsai to train. I must therefor forrage for their needs.
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SvetSad
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I recently purchased 3 pre-bonsai junipers on DallasBonsai.com all 3 for 18$, plus shipping, but i've had them for about a month now, one of them isn't doing too great, but i don't care since i didn't spend a lot of money. But if you go to their website, on the left side of the screen there will be few options one of which being sale items, and that's where u can find it.

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Mr. Orange
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Excellent! thank you svet! i couldnt find any on amazon for less than 13 bucks. I will check them out

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Mr. Orange
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do you think you could post a picture of them so i could see what they looked like when they arrived?

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these pictures were taken when I first got them, but not much has changed since then, except one was lightly trimmed and one is not doing too great, its been getting duller in color

[img]https://i1186.photobucket.com/albums/z375/SvetSad/002.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i1186.photobucket.com/albums/z375/SvetSad/005.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i1186.photobucket.com/albums/z375/SvetSad/009.jpg[/img]

i would say the trunk is about the thikness of a regular sharpie marker.

:)

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Mr. Orange,

If you are trying to find a species that can be grown indoors then I suggest that you avoid Junipers. This is not an appropriate species for indoor culture.

It might be to your benefit to start a new thread in the indoor bonsai section. A good title indicating that you are new and seeking suggestions for indoor species should lead to more likely candidates. I'm afraid that my experience indoors is limited to Ficus and various succulents such as Jades and Portulacaria.

The latter might be a good plant to start with. The problem is that, although starter material won't be expensive, a decent sized trunk will probably cost you a few bucks. I got mine as a group of three at one of the box stores, they were inexpensive but small. It has taken more that a few years to get to the point that I can begin training in earnest.

Norm

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Gnome, you're absolutely right. It totally slipped my mind that the thread started to go toward indoor i was still thinking conifers. Because Junipers are outdoor ONLY. And also, living in the south, i almost forget that the weather is cooling off and the seasons are actually changing up north.

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I'm not a bonsai grower, but I do grow houseplants. One I have is a schefflera. It is easy to grow as an indoor plant, does fine with low light and other conditions in the house, does not need a dormant period. I know people make bonsai of these. If you don't buy a bonsai, but just a regular umbrella tree, sold at as a houseplant, you should easily be able to find one for $15, maybe less in an end of season sale at a garden store. Then you can cut it down to bonsai.
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RBG,

You're completely correct about Scheffs, in fact I have one and it completely slipped my mind earlier. They are fast growers too, at least mine is during the summer when it's outside.

Mr. Orange,

If you decide to look for one of these make sure you seek Schefflera arboricola. This species has smaller leaves than the full sized Umbrella Tree, sorry I forget its proper name.

Norm

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Mr. Orange
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AWESOME! :D I am glad to have gotten such helpful responses and from a large group of people at that! I will look into a shefflera some time tomorrow and might be able to update with a question about online retailers?

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Mallsai are sold in their uncounted thousands by big-box stores. Many (if not most) are then neglected to death.

Nursery pots utility ends when the shrub is planted.

Often these pots turn up at yard sales, transfer stations, or on freecycle.

They are quite literally everywhere. Look.
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Mr. Orange
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This is the second time that freecylce has been mentioned in this thread, and while i did a search for one in my area, i couldnt seem to find any such organization that fit into the description you all have given it. I found a sort of job listing site, but nowhere on the page, or any page that resulted from the search showed any type of listings regarding shrubbery, pots, or any sort of used/unwanted items/materials. I know of craigslist, and the free section on there, but i think that may be my only option in the Ballston Spa/Saratoga region of new york

Edit: I didn't want to waste space with another post, but I just started classes today, and I am going to pick up a book from the library right now. The only one on file is called Bonsai master class By Craig Coussins, has anyone read this or own it? Just wondering if there might be a better resource available, though one that is free is better than nothing :wink:

tomc
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Mr. Orange wrote:This is the second time that freecylce has been mentioned in this thread, ---><8 snip 8><--- I know of craigslist, and the free section on there, but i think that may be my only option in the Ballston Spa/Saratoga region of new york
Sorry Mr O., Yahoogroups has many localised "freecycles", it is an email list specifically dedicated to keep stuff out of landfills. Go to yahoogroups, and search using "freecycle & your town-state". I have both found pots and trees via FC, and given both away via freecycle.
Edit: I didn't want to waste space with another post, but I just started classes today, and I am going to pick up a book from the library right now. The only one on file is called Bonsai master class By Craig Coussins, has anyone read this or own it? Just wondering if there might be a better resource available, though one that is free is better than nothing :wink:
Bonsai is the study of small. Inasmuch as my 24" tall small, is nothin' like Zeko Nakamura's 4" small. there is probably as many shades of this grey as there is hobbyists.

Craig Coussins book if my memory has not failed uses stock collected and styles it, vs using nursery seedling stock.

My urgeing you to collect somebodies unwanted boxwood, or ditch larch, and Bonsai Master Class will fit together very well.

I still think your pyramid of need is: (greatest) soil suitable for bonsai, (middle) discarded nursery pots, (smallest) trees to work on.

I killed a whole brigade of bloodgood Japan maple seedlings getting to a 'dirt first', model of need.
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Mr. Orange
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Thank you tomc, You said earlier that a soil mix should consist mainly of coarse sand, and some sifted bark mulch, is that correct? I have two large bins of compost in my back yard, however it is unsifted. i have put just about everything organic when it comes to waste in my house in these. They produce a very nice soil when all is said and done, and did wonders for the vegetable garden this season (especially the lettuce!). could I sift this down to remove sticks and other chunky material and mix it with some sand from a nearby sand pit thats in the neighborhood? Or should I be going all out and buying vermiculite and peat moss, etc.

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Mr. Orange,

Please read this thread concerning [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3422]the basics of bonsai soils.[/url] You are going to need one or more inorganic components. Bonsai soils are not really soils at all and in fact seldom contain any actual soil. Many 'recipes' call for mostly inorganic materials sifted to remove the particles that are too large or too small. Often tropicals (usually tropical species are used for indoor bonsai) do well with a higher percentage of organics but you will still need the inorganics as well.

Norm

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Mr. Orange
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I just found this on amazon, in the details of the $9 seller, it says that these starter plants typically come at a minimum of 4"-5", would this be too small/young to start with? The details also say that this is a slow growing plant. It does indicate that it is a schefflera arbicola trinette, which i found is just a variation of the arbicola with yellow variegation in the leaves. The color doesnt bother me at all, but does anyone know if this coloration comes with a slowed growth characteristic?
here is the page I am referencing:
https://www.amazon.com/Varigated-Schefflera-Arbicola-Trinette-Starter/dp/B004JZFNOK/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1315413749&sr=8-8

By the way, the damned school library either misplaced or someone stole the book i was talking about, so i am going to have to find one elsewhere

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Mr. Orange,

Yes I believe that the characteristic of variegation and slow growth often go together. While this might seem to be a plus for bonsai culture it can actually be a hindrance if you are developing small stock. I've gotten pretty good growth in just a few years with my standard green Scheff.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=18867

Norm

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My eldest who is now flirting with her fourtieth birthday once described bonsai soil as: "A bag of gravel with a little bit of bark mulch dragged through it". To a neighbor.

Her description was and remains apt.

I'll hunker down here for a day or so and let others describe the particle size of the soil they use.
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Tom,

This is a portion of a screenshot I took on Amazon. It was included in a review of BonsaiBoy.com.

[url=https://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/36/rockscopyp.jpg/][img]https://img36.imageshack.us/img36/7894/rockscopyp.jpg[/img][/url]

No matter how you might feel about them, you have to admit this is funny.

Norm

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For me it is a short walk to the phrase; 'anything worth doing, is worth overdoing'.

So when I was ensconced at my old program, I took the time to find cheep sources for soil. I have not really rebuilt that degree of soil production, and don't know if I will in the future. Its not the expence or the labor that is off-putting. it just even half of a nursery is not all that mobile. I found shrinking my collection of tree-children traumatic. A year and a half post-move and I'm still sore.

OK enough about me. lets do dirt.

Your local feed store has several products sold as chicken scratch. I preffer crushed granite (#2 I think). One local brand name was "Granni-Grit" it sifts out easily (more on that later), sells in fifty pound bags, and retails at like 7-9 dollars per bag.

Just about any big box store sells crushed pine bark mulch in fifties, it too sifts out easily and retails at 3 to 5 dollars a bag.

?Sift? Yea, what ever will not pass through a 1/2" hardware cloth screen is too big. Also what ever will pass through a 1/16" (window) screen is too small.

The next upsize past scrounging sand from a sand bank or bark mulch from a saw mill or the chistmas-tree shredding, was for me, to buy the stuff by the ton or cubic yard. I would go through 4-5 30 gallon barrels of sifted granite grit per year.

Where ever gravel gets crushed, often connected to a concrete plant, make a fair bit of waist sandy looking stone dust. it was like $10 per ton if I picked it up...

I probably still make my soil too wet by the minor addition of compost and or peat, but most of that goes into azalea soil. I won't tell ya to use salt shaker size additions of that fine particle size soil component, to a wheelbarrow of crushed granite and bark mulch; but would not be too shocked if others did.

Mr Orange mentioned being a student. he may well be stuck to a couple of screens and a five gallon pail or two. Thats OK he will have his chance to jump in the deep end of the pool if he likes tree-babies.

Gnome, mentioned Bonsai-boy, I'll bring up evergreengardenworks. I think EGW-Brent Walston a better value. Both do a good service in that they provide plant material suitable for training. Selected by a knowledgable bonsai grower. In order to be in business thay gotta make a living.

What no retailer is going to sell is much more than a seedling. Developed stock that sells, is done on their site, and for more money that I got. FWIW I never had any trouble selling Bloodgood japan maples, and I never spent a nickle on advertising. Actually in NH, there was rather more of a demand for them, than I was ever willing to part with.

Again I have digressed, first we gotta get Mr Orange hooked, by a couple of actually living trees. Mr O, if a China-man living in not much more than a shack can successfuly keep a couple of tree babies on his back step, with only a few rudimentary tools, we aught to able to too.
Last edited by tomc on Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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tomc
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This morning I'm not finding the "edit" button. My last post should have said regarding sifting: "what ever will pass through a 1/16" window screen, is too small".

Sorry.
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Mr. Orange
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Sorry to pull the subject away from soils, but i noticed that there are a lot of japanese maples in this area. I have read that they are suitable for indoor bonsai, are these difficult trees to care for as a beginner?

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Japanese Maples are definitely NOT suited to indoors. Outdoors, they're not difficult at all, but may need some shelter in the winter depending on how upstate you are.

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I'm curious - where did you read that Japanese maples (or any other kind) are suitable for indoors?

Indoor plants are those that thrive on 65-70 degrees - constantly - year round. Think about that. MAPLES? No way!

Do they grow outdoors where you live? What does that tell you? They are outdoor trees. Have you noticed that they lose their leaves in Fall as they get cold and go dormant?

In my 65 years I have never seen, or heard of, an indoor maple.

One more thing - Japanese maples are not 'easy beginner trees'. Start with tropical (indoor) trees.

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In upstate NY or the lakes region in NH, a collected seedling Japan maple could be an afordable way to start with that part of the acer family.

What it will never become is an indoor tree.

Indoor trees are fig, olive, TX Ebony, Barbados cherry, acacia maybe. Even those live out of doors as weather permits.
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so.. my stepmother gave me a jade plant this afternoon as a birthday gift, and i am not sure if these are considered bonsai material. there are 3 or 4 trunks coming out of the pot (i cant be sure if two of them are joined under the soil.. if you could call it that. see, there are the infamous pebbles glued down over the top of the soil, and it is in a terra cotta pot that has no drainage holes. what can i do to remove these cemented pebbles? do i have to break the pot? or should i just take a hammer and chisel and break them away bit by bit? my flash player is giving me some trouble right now so i cant upload pictures, but i will soon. thanks again all!

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SO......Mr Orange,
You started this thread "seeking advice"
Since then you have not taken any advice offered you.
Re-read through the whole gamut.
Why offer you any more?
You're not listening anyway.
:roll:
Happy birthday

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Mr. Orange,

Jades are not generally considered traditional bonsai candidates, but don't let that stop you from growing and enjoying your new charge. I have more than a few of these and they can make presentable bonsai. Baby Jades, or Portulacaria afra, are even better as they have much smaller leaves.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=82337#82337

Having no drainage holes is bad M'kay. You must get it out of that pot in the near future, . If you don't wish to keep it you can just go ahead and break it apart. Even a conventional nursery pot is better than what you have now.

The problem is that you don't have any proper soil on hand yet. Jades can go without water for extended periods of time so as long as you don't water it you can leave it as is while you acquire some better mix, but do it quickly.

Norm

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Noting as you have that a mass-market plant, comes ill equiped for long term storage (in the soil & pot) as it arives.

I'm gonna repeat my hard learned pyramid of need, as it comes to training a plant in a tray.

A., First-greatest: very fast draiining soil made mostly of coarse sand or coarse (sifted) granite grit, with probably less than half its volume of sifted bark mulch.

B., Second: shallow pots with adaquate drainage holes.

C., Least: live plants-trees.

Again you're jumping ahead to collumn "C". if you want your jade to flourish, your gonna have to go back to collumn "A".

Or not.
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Mr. Orange
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thank you tomc and gnome, and tomM, why be rude? i didn't label this thread, it was separated from another, if you re-read the whole gamut, you would see that. and as for taking advice, the plant was given to me after mentioning an interest in the area of plants, i do now have pots and i am working on gathering suitable soil. I am sorry that I havent posted to let any of you know that i have been doing that in the mean time. i did take the advice and have posted on my local reuseit yahoo group, as there isnt a freecycle around here. why come into this thread just to be a jerk? just wondering, because in my opinion its just a waste of a post if you arent trying to help or have something nice to say. just my opinion though i suppose..

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Orange,

I'm sorry for the rudeness. Guess I got your attention now. I wrongly thought that you were just jumping all around and not really absorbing the help offered by good people here. Glad to hear your plans and that you've started a class.

I appreciate your enthusiasm - I'm seeing it from other younger 'newbies' as well.

As for your glued-on-rocks chip away if you can. Try to pry with a narrow screwdriver. But be careful as the pots often break when doing this. Eye protection is important. Good luck with it.

Again - happy birthday!.

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Thank you for the birthday wishes. Im glad you werent just trying to be ajerk just for the sake of it. The forums ive participated in in the past were full of young kids just trying to act tough behind their computer screen, so forgive me if i seemed immediately irritated. This is certainly not a forum for 'trollers' or 'flamers' as they say. Anyways i think tomorrow i will have enough time to finish gathering my soil mixture components, and i may look around at one of the local garden plant stores that i heard had schefflera's. Hopefully the slight bit of cash i got from a card will be able to buy me a small one, otherwise i will be resorting to putting something on my credit card from the internet, which i really don't want to do, as they arent fully paid off yet >.< maybe if i amblucky someone will have responded to my reuseit request by the morning.

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Try to find the dwarf variety. Smaller foliage is important.

Take your time - don't rush. Better to look around a bit than to take the first that you see. It can be a bit frustrating, but we all need to exercise patience with bonsai. Maybe you can earn a few extra bucks and get something a little nicer and pay cash (not credit). Chores, lawn mowing, yardwork.

We're not jerks here. Well, maybe I am sometimes. Sometimes it's hard to steer people in the right direction from afar. I say something weird to get a point across even it is a bit gruff. No disrespect intended.

Spend your birthday gift $$$ wisely, or just save it until you can add some to it and get the 'next step up' for your beginner tree. Meanwhile read all you can about the type of tree you want to get. Learn what kind of care it needs so that will live a long and healthy life as bonsai.

TomM
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Had another thought too. Since you are in Upstate NY you might want to consider this - if you are able.

We've been hit hard recently with one big storm after another. Severe flooding, wind damage, etc. Local nurseries and landscapers are 'swamped' and 'inundated' (puns intended) with work. Look around for a local place like that for some part-time, or even voluntary, work. Believe me there is plenty of repair to be done. Work with things that you enjoy doing.

Hang out with others with shared interests in plants, trees, landscaping and design. Expose yourself (no pun intended this time) to working with trees and to these special interests of yours. Good things will come of it. You might be able to find just the bonsai material you want in exchange for your assistance.

Your local county BOCES or Co-operative Extension Service probably offers classes in Soil and Water Conservation, horticulture, landscape design or related fields. Take a class. Get involved. Some big name bonsai experts started out this way.

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