sulabear
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Bonsai identification for beginner

Hi everyone,

I just purchased a bonsai from a farmer's market and need help with its identification and tips on watering. The person who sold it said just water it twice a week and keep it indoors away from sun. Does that sound reasonable?

Thank you so much!
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Bonsai identification for beginner

NO, NO, NO ... wrong on all counts. Lots of unscrupulous dealers out there.

Your bonsai is a juniper tree.

1) It is an outdoor tree. It will DIE indoors. It needs to be outdoors summer and winter.

2) It needs full sun, although if it has been inside, it will have to be gradually adapted to being outdoors and in the sun.

3) Never water bonsai on a schedule. Water when it needs it, which will be different time periods depending on temperature, humidity, soil, plant size, etc. Check the bonsai learning articles here: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/bonsai/ for instructions on how and when to water.

4) It looks like it is potted in dirt or at least potting soil. That is very bad for it. This is likely the wrong time, but in spring you will need to repot it in to real bonsai soil, which is very loose, gritty and free draining. In the meantime, you will need to be very careful not to water too often, since your dirt will be very moisture holding.

Never go back to this dealer! If you paid very much for your little juniper cutting, complete with instructions which were guaranteed to kill it, I would report them to the BBB.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Bonsai identification for beginner

Incidentally if you have any serious interest in the art of bonsai, start reading while your juniper is dormant over the winter.

With some care and shaping, your little cutting might aspire to something like these:

Image
https://www.bonsaiboy.com/catalog/media/a1003.jpg

Image
https://www.homedepot.com/catalog/produc ... 06_300.jpg

Image
https://www.bonsaiboy.com/catalog/media/e1502.jpg


Just for inspiration, here's some examples of what the bonsai masters do with them over decades of patient co-creation with the tree:

Image
https://bonsaitreesandpots.com/wp-conten ... onsai1.jpg

Image
https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/juniper- ... 761993.jpg
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imafan26
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Re: Bonsai identification for beginner

Your tree has a good general shape but it needs pruning. The little bridge is too big for the pot and most people 1) would not use that kind of bonsai decoration, 2) the branch of the juniper is covering it so it is in the wrong place anyway. 3) Most bonsai you will find will use stones or moss as "decoration instead". The idea is to create a miniature version of nature in a pot. You want to display the form of the limbs and the color and roughness of the bark, that should be the focus.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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DDMcKenna
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Re: Bonsai identification for beginner

Good morning. Wow! I had no idea that there were that many dealers out there who would actually sell products like this with such terrible instructions. How can they get away with this? It seems like it should be illegal to provide such instructions that are obviously wrong.

I was at Sam's Club this weekend and at the checkout, I saw a display of various Bonsai trees with a sign above them saying, "Very Easy". They all looked really cool but I didn't take time to examine the little cards that accompanied each of the little trees. I was just thinking that there must be some kind of new vogue culture making Bonsai the "in" thing to do. I am still wondering whether to curse my son or not for giving me such a gift. I don't think a lot of people take the time to think that a "tree" is an everyday outdoor plant but to try and grow one in a handful of dirt presents many challenges.

imafan26
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Re: Bonsai identification for beginner

Really good bonsai that are very old will be very expensive. The juniper you have is probably only a couple of years old. It may be less if it was pot grown and just transplanted.

What people do not realize that putting a pot in a bonsai dish does not make it a bonsai. Neither does lopping off the top of a plant willy nilly. What they really are are just potted plants or if they are at least shaped a form of topiary.

There are bonsai clubs all over the world and the best way to learn about bonsai is to join a club. That way you will learn about the various bonsai styles and forms and how to properly take care of them.
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tomc
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Re: Bonsai identification for beginner

The best bonsai nurseryman has a room or yard that would make a rock weep. And he tries to shoo everybody out of it.

Most big-box or malsai junipers are (more or less) rooted cuttings of an ephemeral provinance. Which only helps them to become terminally dessicated indoors due to a not very developed roots system.

Buy a tougher plant and practice on it first, Then buy a juniper in late April or May.

Providence gave most people an index finger and a thumb to pinch out water-shoot branches--candles.
Think like a tree
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imafan26
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Re: Bonsai identification for beginner

You are right about that Tom. Bonsai usually have their own section and space. A nurseryman usually has his toolbox with pruners, snips, copper wire, wire cutters, fishing weights and lines, spray bottle, alcohol, concave cutters (sometimes more than one size) and different sizes of screens for sifting the gravel for the media. An advanced grower probably also has a turntable too.

I know one or two who like to go hiking and when they find an interesting tree that may be 40 years old, they dig it out, grow it out in a pot for a while and then start reducing it. They don't bother with seedlings much.

I have a friend who joined a bonsai club about a year ago. He's been working on the same tree for a while now and it is looking good.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

tomc
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Re: Bonsai identification for beginner

Rescue (yamadori) trees is a lovely japanese euphimism. Here is the USA its a lot easier to get permissions to collect trees.

And it may be the only practicle way for a working class person to get older stock to work on. Um, let me back up. America is in a perpetual state of remodeling. Making a steady supply of landscape shrubs ideal for bonsai in transit to the landfill. Today is your day to get your shovel in that waste stream and divert a couple to your bonsai bench.

Look at Craigs list, or Freecycle for freebes's.
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imafan26
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Re: Bonsai identification for beginner

Another tradition that I just remembered was that when a child is born a tree is planted. People would create new bonsai from seedlings and it would be the child's to grow up with and take care of it.

I know when people get older and have to move into apartments because of failing health or because they cannot take care of a yard anymore and they have old bonsai, they a like children to them. Bonsai can be hundreds of years old, and can be passed from one generation to the next as a legacy. When someone has to give up their bonsai, they try to find them good homes. Often they give them away to people who they know will care for them rather than sell them.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

sulabear
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Re: Bonsai identification for beginner

Thanks so much for the responses and help! I should have known...the seller didn't seem like the most legit dealer and was just trying to say whatever to get me to buy it. Good thing it was only 25 dollars (though I'm sure he got it for way way less). I will slowly transition it outdoors and hope for the best.

Thanks again!

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Bonsai identification for beginner

$25 isn't a bad price for it; I see comparable things for sale for $30 - $40. But you could go to any nursery and get an actual juniper in a nursery pot for a third of that and have a lot more to work with in terms of eventually ending up with a beautiful bonsai.

https://www.hirts.com/Japanese-Juniper-B ... 7AodyWcAiQ

In fact I would still recommend doing that. End of a season is a good time to find lots of unsold shrubs on sale. You can get a cheap nursery shrub and be able to practice bonsai technique a lot more and it is insurance against the fact that even with better instructions, there's still a good chance your juniper cutting from the sleazy dealer will die.
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imafan26
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Re: Bonsai identification for beginner

The value of the bonsai goes up with age. Twenty five dollars really isn't that bad. The bonsai pot you have is pretty generic and probably was on the low end. The juniper actually grows that way so it doesn't take much training. The bridge in the pot probably cost a few dollars more, but he probably made about $10 on that sale. I can't tell if he actually planted it in a bonsai mix.

Good bonsai pots are heavy. They have to be relative to the tree or they fall over. When you get a pot make sure it is level, many of the mass produced pots like the one you have rock and when you turn it upside down the edge is not flat on the table. While there is no rule that bonsai pots cannot be colorful, most good bonsai pots are earth toned and have a matte not shiny finish. The pot should complement the tree not compete with it.

BTW junipers are definitely not house plants. They need to spend as much time outside as possible. The need to be hardened off if it has been in the house awhile to prevent the leaves from burning.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Bonsai identification for beginner

RE: BTW junipers are definitely not house plants. They need to spend as much time outside as possible.

I would say they need to be outside ALL the time. They are extremely cold hardy, down to MINUS 30 or something like that.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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