Indoor bonsai

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Indoor bonsai

Post  D Mace on Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:13 pm

I am a few days only into being a bonsai enthusiast. I recently discovered that many bonsais (if not all) are kept outdoors. Is there any species of bonsai that can be kept indoors all the time? If not how do you regulate watering outside?

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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  Ryan on Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:30 pm

All plants benefit from some outdoor time, so I wouldn't say there are any trees that would really like being indoors 24/7, at least not without some supplemental lighting. Ficus make great indoor trees though, but, as mentioned, would like to spend some time outdoors in the summer.

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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  fiona on Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:57 pm

Perhaps a good place to start on your long journey into bonsai is with our own tutorial:  http://ibonsaiclub.forumotion.com/t10123-getting-started-in-bonsai-beginners-faqs

Then, the next step is to read, read, read. There is a list of recommended reading in our Tutorials and FAQs section.   We also always advise newcomers to bonsai to go along to a club if they can. That way you will see what can be done, get the best advice regarding what trees best suit your own climate etc.   In your own case, assuming Maryland is the one in the US, you are not a million miles away from the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum in DC. Well worth a visit.

My own personal advice is to find out what grows well in your climate and then actually spend some time looking at top quality bonsai to see what you're actually striving for.

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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  fiona on Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:03 pm

dm1120 wrote:how do you regulate watering outside?

This isn't meant to be a cheeky answer, but one of tricks of bonsai is knowing both when to water and when not to water.  There's no "golden rule" for it and different trees have different requirements - i.e. some prefer/can tolerate a bit more dry and others need much more water. That's why it's so important to know the characteristics of the trees you have in your collection.  I personally adopt a "look and lift" approach: if the soil looks as if it is drying out below the surface, I water, and/or if I lift the tree and it feels light, I water.  Other people like to use a chopstick inserted into the soil to gauge how wet or dry it is below the surface.

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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  D Mace on Thu Jul 25, 2013 1:05 am

I have a lot of research to do in this craft! Thank you everyone, but fiona especially for the detail in your responses today. Oh well, my journey starts here!

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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  Ashiod on Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:12 am

Thanks for posting that Jim, I'll have to copy it down and save it in my files for future reference Smile .  If you're just starting off and plan to grow indoors, Ficus is a good way to go, I prefer microcarpa, but you may like the looks of another.  Since you're in a more northern climate like me, you'll probably have a hard time finding nursery stock ficus to work, but you can get a moderately sized tree pretty cheap on amazon.  It won't be the highest quality material if you go this way and will likely have the ugly, stereotypical mallsai s-bend trunk, but they're great to learn on and cheap to replace if you get a bit too ambitious too fast.  They're also borderline impossible to kill, my original tree has been cut into seven different pieces for the purposes of experimentation(rooting cuttings, grafting, growth of aerial roots, and testing mini-greenhouses Twisted Evil ), and nearly every piece has survived or thrived after having been effectively tossed through the wood chipper.

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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  fiona on Mon Aug 12, 2013 12:21 pm

Please note that the article Jim posted is now in its own thread and not on this one.  You can find it at:

http://ibonsaiclub.forumotion.com/t14029-growing-indoor-bonsai

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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  Guest on Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:22 pm

Ryan wrote:All plants benefit from some outdoor time, so I wouldn't say there are any trees that would really like being indoors 24/7, at least not without some supplemental lighting. Ficus make great indoor trees though, but, as mentioned, would like to spend some time outdoors in the summer.
It is not needed...my ficus are in damphouse all year....in the summer, in damphouse inside the hothouse...they are doing well, also without ANY airflow.

If a owner want to have the trees outdoors during summer, is it because the owner want it so...the trees ( ficus)does not care, they are green, and grow anyway.

Kind regards Yvonne

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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  Xavier de Lapeyre on Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:30 pm

The trees that you consider as indoors bonsai/plants in temperate climate are actually outdoor plants in tropical/sub-tropical climates.
I'm not even considering bringing my trees indoors for more than 1 or 2 days because there would be not advantages in a tropical climate.
If you are in a temperate climate [ freezing winters ] then several tropical and subtropical species will not survive the winter. Tropical winters are usually 10 deg celc or more.
If you still want to grow tropical and sub tropical plants as bonsai, then you need to protect them from frost and extreme cold temperature.
Thus keeping them indoors or in a greenhouse to keep a "cosy" temperature.

But when you reach summer [ or warm seasons above 10 deg celc], it would not hurt the bonsai to be placed outside [ shaded or direct sun depending on the species ].
I would recommend making the transition indoors to outdoors in steps, but I'm sure someone else has had practice on that account.


If you keep your bonsai indoors, there are several factors that you must provide to the plant. Those factors are usually not provided when you place the plant outdoors, but controlled to some extend.
Light intensity, temperature, humidity of the air, humidity of the soil, air circulation.


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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  Guest on Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:42 pm

It is my experience, it is the temperature for ficus ( I can only speak for ficus), that must be kept on about 21 degrees to avoid mold...not airflow..
All of you who say airflow is needed...have you actully tried it, or did you just read it in a book?

Kind regards yvonne

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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  Ryan on Mon Aug 12, 2013 3:02 pm

Yvonne Graubaek wrote:
Ryan wrote:All plants benefit from some outdoor time, so I wouldn't say there are any trees that would really like being indoors 24/7, at least not without some supplemental lighting. Ficus make great indoor trees though, but, as mentioned, would like to spend some time outdoors in the summer.
It is not needed...my ficus are in damphouse all year....in the summer, in damphouse inside the hothouse...they are doing well, also without ANY airflow.

If a owner want to have the trees outdoors during summer, is it because the owner want it so...the trees ( ficus)does not care, they are green, and grow anyway.

Kind regards Yvonne
I know, but sometimes outdoor weather helps strengthen them and gets them to grow faster. I didn't say airflow was necessary.

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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  Guest on Mon Aug 12, 2013 3:25 pm

Hi Ryan

I know you know airflow is not needed Smile 

kind regards Yvonne

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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  John Quinn on Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:40 am

I have never heard the term 'damphouse' so I do not know what you refer to. However, the typical beginner, when speaking of keeping trees indoors, is referring to simply keeping the tree inside, near a window, with uncertain levels of humidity although probably quite low with central air conditioning or central heating. These would quite likely gain vigor by spending time outside in the warmer months both from a light perspective as well as humidity concerns. My tropical trees loved my greenhouse but struggled while inside the house with less light and lower humidity.

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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  Xavier de Lapeyre on Tue Aug 13, 2013 9:35 am

Yvonne Graubaek wrote:It is my experience, it is the temperature for ficus ( I can only speak for ficus), that must be kept on about 21 degrees to avoid mold...not airflow..
All of you who say airflow is needed...have you actully tried it, or did you just read it in a book?

Kind regards yvonne
I guess this will change from region to region or in this case from indoor condition to another indoor condition,
but in my climate, lack of airflow indoors and outdoors is a source of several issues.
It won't necessarily kill the trees, but it does, in my case, helps to decrease vigor and health and invite in diseases and pests.

Most common issues I have with lack of proper ventilation are mildew and dark leaf spots.
I'm not 100% positive about the mealy bugs infestations, but it does favor scale insects once it gets started on the plants.
It also encourages moss and mold to grow thickly on the bark within months if left unchecked which in turn favor creepers and other pests too.

I'm not saying only lack of proper airflow does all this, the high temperatures and high humidity starts most of those issues usually in summer.
But the lack of proper air flow, does nurture those issues and even encourages them.


Maybe you don't feel the airflow, but it could be there non the less.
Small cracks and difference in air temperature are usually enough to encourage air exchange in a room.













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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  Guest on Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:17 am

Hi Xavier

Please go to my topic " ficus in the Cold North"...here can you see the damhouse I have my trees in,,in the summer is the damphouse, in a hothouse...as you can see is there no airflow here, and there has not ben any airflow to theese trees for a very long time.

I found out, if the temperature fall to 15 degrees, will mould happen in a minute...othervise have I not had any problems at all, nothing of the problems you talk about, and I dont think it has anything to do, with the fact that I live, and grow my ficustrees in Denmark...I have not sprayed one  single time for fungus, as there nothing was.

What could be a problem for some people who try this stunt, is. that they Water much to much, leaving the tree all weath, all the time...my ficus is standing in quit dry soil, the damp air does the trick. I can leave theese trees 10 days without any trouble during the Winter...and they have grown when I come back.

I think Ryan keep hes trees fairly weath...hope he will tune in with a comment on this.Smile 

As for outdoor trees native to europe is it a compleetely difrent story, and I dont think it is worth taking this discussion to this tread.

Kind regards Yvonne

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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  Xavier de Lapeyre on Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:44 pm

Yvonne,
I can only bow down to such amazing skills Smile


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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  Ryan on Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:53 pm

Yvonne Graubaek wrote:Hi Xavier

Please go to my topic " ficus in the Cold North"...here can you see the damhouse I have my trees in,,in the summer is the damphouse, in a hothouse...as you can see is there no airflow here, and there has not ben any airflow to theese trees for a very long time.

I found out, if the temperature fall to 15 degrees, will mould happen in a minute...othervise have I not had any problems at all, nothing of the problems you talk about, and I dont think it has anything to do, with the fact that I live, and grow my ficustrees in Denmark...I have not sprayed one  single time for fungus, as there nothing was.

What could be a problem for some people who try this stunt, is. that they Water much to much, leaving the tree all weath, all the time...my ficus is standing in quit dry soil, the damp air does the trick. I can leave theese trees 10 days without any trouble during the Winter...and they have grown when I come back.

I think Ryan keep hes trees fairly weath...hope he will tune in with a comment on this.Smile 

As for outdoor trees native to europe is it a compleetely difrent story, and I dont think it is worth taking this discussion to this tread.

Kind regards Yvonne


Come to think of it, I have noticed that a lack of airflow does allow insects to more easily attack the trees. I don't get fungus or mold, and the trees' soil doesn't stay too wet, but they do get bug infestations every once in a while, so I'd say airflow definitely helps.

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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  Guest on Tue Aug 13, 2013 3:10 pm

Many thanks Xavier...I still have many Things to learn...........

Ryan, it could look as you maybe should spray for the bugs, I dont have the problem, and to blame the lack of airflow, may not be the right thing to do.

Good luck with your trees

Kind regards Yvonne

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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  Ryan on Tue Aug 13, 2013 3:17 pm

Yvonne Graubaek wrote:

Ryan, it could look as you maybe should spray for the bugs, I dont have the problem, and to blame the lack of airflow, may not be the right thing to do.

I don't currently have bugs, but when the trees come in in the winter they sometimes do get them. I do spray when I have them.

I think it is correct to blame a lack of airflow, though. Lack of airflow can cause issues and without fresh air moving around the plants the air stagnates and the plants can become sick. A movement of air around the plants would move the leaves and make it more difficult for the bugs to really set in and reproduce.

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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  Guest on Tue Aug 13, 2013 3:24 pm

you dont think they vere brought in after the stay outside???
When this is said, am I now leaving this tread.

Kind regards Yvonne

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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  Ryan on Tue Aug 13, 2013 3:27 pm

Yvonne Graubaek wrote:you dont think they vere brought in after the stay outside???
When this is said, am I now leaving this tread.

Kind regards Yvonne
No because this year is the first year I've actually moved all my trees outdoors for the summer. When they stay indoors year round they would still get the bugs.

I'm not trying to offend you Yvonne, just stating what I've seen, been told, and read on the net.

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Re: Indoor bonsai

Post  Guest on Tue Aug 13, 2013 3:48 pm

OK, no problem

I use one part cocopeat, and one part leca...may help some Smile 

Kind regards Yvonne

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Re: Indoor bonsai

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