spitzaf
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Location: Daytona Beach, FL

First Bonsai, first pot, first help session

I recently took a trip over to Epcot and noticed the many Bonsai on display there. I've always been fascinated by them, so I decided to purchase a small one to start my adventure in Bonsai raising.

Its nothing special, as it was only a $15 baby Bonsai, but for a first timer I didn't want to get too elaborate and ruin a potentially good tree. My digital camera is ancient, so I will post a picture in a day or so after I can borrow a friend's. I would like any help you can give on identifying the type of plant. I have searched a number of websites trying to find pictorial examples, but the ones I found were difficult to compare.

My question for now is about the first potting and caring for a baby Bonsai. The tree came with a small pot, pebbles, soil, small amount of fertilizer, moss for decoration, and a single training wire. It has the following directions about potting:
  • - Cover the bottom of the pot with a layer of pebbles 3/16" deep
    - Gently loosen the soil and roots with fingers, do not disturb the root mass
    - Spread roots around the pot in a loose, comfortable manner
    - Place the fertilizer around the base of the tree
    - Fill the rest of the container with soil using fingers to pack firmly
As a logical person, I can only assume the vagueness of these directions will lead me down a path that may be hard to recover from.

I have read the stickies but found most have to do with repotting, pruning, etc. I am prepared to undue the initial potting I did (only a few days ago) if needed, as well as purchase better soil and necessities (within reason, I am a college student on a budget).

Looking forward to quite a learning process but I'm sure it'll be interesting.

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Gnome
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Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

Spitzaf,

Welcome to bonsai and this forum, we'll try to help you with your new tree. Does it look anything like [url=https://www.littletrees.com/images/juniperbig.jpg]this?[/url]
That picture is a Juniper, a common species often targeted at beginners. Not too difficult to care for given some instruction but also sometimes sold already pre-killed, saving you the trouble. :roll: :wink:
As a logical person, I can only assume the vagueness of these directions will lead me down a path that may be hard to recover from.
Yes, these type of instructions are often incomplete at best, and at worst fatal.
I have read the stickies but found most have to do with repotting,
This is what you have already done, never mind that it was the first time. Please tell me that the pot has a drainage hole. Glad that you're researching by the way.
I am prepared to undue the initial potting I did (only a few days ago) if needed, as well as purchase better soil and necessities (within reason, I am a college student on a budget).
Slow down, you've just potted it and don't even know the species yet. I have killed trees by too much mucking around with them. We have not yet seen the tree, the soil or received a description of such. Pictures will help.

You are aware that, regardless of what the instructions may say to the contrary, your tree belongs outside, right? You have watered it thoroughly the first time, correct? If so then your tree is outside now, I hope. For now locate it where it gets some good sun in the morning and is sheltered in the afternoon. This may change depending on species and how well/soon it recovers.

Since you have read the stickies I wont admonish you to do so, but [url=https://www.bonsai4me.com/index.htm]here[/url] is another. Good luck and please post pictures as you are able.

Norm
Last edited by Gnome on Fri May 11, 2007 7:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

spitzaf
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Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 6:40 am
Location: Daytona Beach, FL

Does it look anything like this?
The link you provided was a banner ad for FreePersonalProfiles.com, but from looking at other Juniper pictures I believe you may be right.

Yes, the pot does have a drainage hole, and the soil that came with the tree looks more like normal potting soil (dirt and small white rocks, sorry I'm not a gardener) rather than the course inorganic soil I have read on other pages. What kind of effect will this soil have on the growth of the tree?
sometimes sold already pre-killed, saving you the trouble.
There are a number of brown spots on the tree, but since I have had it there is already new growth. I haven't pruned anything until I know it is safe to do it with such a young tree.
You are aware your tree belongs outside, right?
I realize this is the best way to raise it but will it matter greatly if its inside? For the next few months I am still in an apartment until I move to a new job (just graduated). I have a couple north- and a single east-facing window.

ynot
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Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:49 pm
Location: USDA Z:5a Sunset Z. 41 IL

Hello and welcome to the forum:
spitzaf wrote:
Does it look anything like this?
The link you provided was a banner ad for FreePersonalProfiles.com, but from looking at other Juniper pictures I believe you may be right.
https://www.bonsai4me.com/index.htm This is the page Gnome linked you to previously.
You are aware your tree belongs outside, right?
spitzaf wrote:I realize this is the best way to raise it but will it matter greatly if its inside? For the next few months I am still in an apartment until I move to a new job (just graduated). I have a couple north- and a single east-facing window.
Junipers require a dormancy. Read this: https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/dormancy.htm

Here also is an excerpt from the [url=https://www.bonsai4me.com/SpeciesGuide/Juniperus.html]species guide[/url] at B4M referring to Junipers
bonsai4me wrote: Never try to grow Junipers indoors, though they may seem to tolerate indoor cultivation at first, poor humidity, lack of light and dormancy will eventually kill them. Do not trust a vendor, seller, book or website that claims Junipers can be grown successfully indoors! Dead Junipers can continue to display normal foliage colour for weeks or even months after they have effectively died.
Yes, the pot does have a drainage hole, and the soil that came with the tree looks more like normal potting soil (dirt and small white rocks, sorry I'm not a gardener) rather than the course inorganic soil I have read on other pages. What kind of effect will this soil have on the growth of the tree?
Possibly, Excessive moisture retention [Risks root rot], Compacts easily which Inhibits soil aeration. Please reread the stickys [links included] and these as well:
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3530
https://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basics_Soils.html
https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/soils.htm
sometimes sold already pre-killed, saving you the trouble.
There are a number of brown spots on the tree, but since I have had it there is already new growth. I haven't pruned anything until I know it is safe to do it with such a young tree.
Possibly a lack of light, There are too many variables to consider, Pictures will be helpful here. :)

ynot

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Gnome
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Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

Spitzaf,
The link you provided was a banner ad for FreePersonalProfiles.com,
My apologies for that, I checked the link and it should have displayed a photo but... Anyway I edited in another for future reference.

The soil you describe is less than ideal and an indoor location is as well. It is, of course, your choice how you deal with your tree but I hesitate to encourage you to re-pot it again so soon. This is always a tough call for me, not wanting to encourage poor practices, nor wanting to further stress a new plant. Sorry I cant tell you exactly what to do but it is not a black and white issue.

Norm

ynot
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Posts: 1219
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:49 pm
Location: USDA Z:5a Sunset Z. 41 IL

Gnome,

That link worked for me [Just FYI]

Spitzaf,

I second Gnomes last paragraph above, I should have put it more clearly but today I am hurrying a bit and playing catch up...:oops: Sorry about that.

ynot

spitzaf
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Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 6:40 am
Location: Daytona Beach, FL

What I may do in terms of the tree being an outdoor plant is find a somewhat secluded area around the apartment building where it will not attract too much attention from the children, that way it can be outside without fear of it being taken or ruined.
Junipers require a dormancy. Read this: https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/dormancy.htm
Dormancy will be a problem here since I live in Florida for the time being. However, I am planning on moving back up north by fall, so by the time the tree wants to go dormant, the right temperatures will arrive. I am worried about humidity requirements though because its necessary here to have AC going in the summer.

Pictures coming soon, sorry for the delay :roll:

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