Hydroponic Bonsai

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Hydroponic Bonsai

Post  malambrec on Tue Jan 12, 2016 7:07 am

Hello Everybody,

I currently own a General Hydroponic AeroFlo 20. (20) 3" netted pots are sprayed on root systems and partial submerge depending on the water level chosen.

I recently ordered seeds for Acer Rubrum and Acer Ginnala (two maple trees). I am hoping to experiment with growing them from seed with my hydroponic system mentioned above.

Has anyone grown or heard of Hydroponic Bonsai Tress?

What are peoples thoughts on how the trees mention above or even just overall how trees would do Hydroponic.

Excited to hear back from everyone and will be sure to keep everyone updated on my projects!!

AeroFlo20 system photo below for reference


malambrec
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Re: Hydroponic Bonsai

Post  leatherback on Tue Jan 12, 2016 7:16 am

No responses?

Hm.. I am not sure why you would want to do that.
I am sure your trees will grow. I am not sure how this system will deal with root/crown balance trimming.

Note: Growing bonsai from seed is a very long process; It is often a lot more satisfying on the long term to -also- grow things from established plants.

It is not for me, but wish you the best of luck.

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Re: Hydroponic Bonsai

Post  Norma on Tue Jan 12, 2016 5:37 pm

Hello....Interesting topic you have brought to us....so I did a search and found a well know bonsai author has done successful tests with bonsai and hydroponics.
http://www.bonsaihunk.us/info/Hydroponics.html

Best regards, Norma

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Re: Hydroponic Bonsai

Post  Leo Schordje on Mon Jan 18, 2016 5:15 pm

I too am surprised at how few responses there are here.

Bonsai encompasses a wide range of techniques. Propagation is viewed by many as the "nurseryman's activity". Most tend to pick up their trees years to decades past this point in development. Majority of articles are about what to do with nearly fully developed trees. In general, I feel this end of bonsai, the propagation and the training required to become a "pre-bonsai" tree is critical. I think hydroponics can greatly speed up the process for the propagation aspect of bonsai.

That is a nice set up. I may invest in one myself at some point. For propagation, these systems can not be beat.

I am also considering an ebb and flow table for trees that are in larger pots, further along in development.

Biggest issue I see, to get good, tight, meaning short internode growth, you need full sun. And you need full sun right from the beginning with trees like Acer rubrum. Few people have intense enough light gardens to manage this indoors. A greenhouse would be required. Running systems powered by electricity outdoors is always a problem. Requires planning and special ground fault protected wiring. OR you risk electrocuting yourself. Its not hard to do, just another level of "complication". Another complication is that Acer rubrum and most trees commonly used for bonsai will need vernalization, exposure to cold, possibly including freezing temperatures. The hydroponics systems won't work in freezing weather. So obviously, these set ups are only good in warm weather, all the trees will have to be transplanted in autumn. Most prefer to do repotting in spring, Autumn repotting is not impossible, but you then need to protect your trees from extreme cold.

So these set ups are perfect for rooting cuttings, and getting quick growth from the cuttings. But they are for temporary use, in the early phases of development.

However
I do love shohin in tiny little pots. I can't seem to keep such little pots well watered, I have a life and often can not water more the once a day. I often have to leave my trees for up to 3 days without my being home to water. An ebb and flow table would be perfect to be able to water trees in tiny pots several times a day. On an ebb and flow table, the dimensions of a pot are not that critical. Use props to keep the top edge of all the pots at one level, just above the max water height, and turn it on. You can then go away for a weekend and not have to count on the neighbor kid to water your trees three times a day.

I like it.

Mist propagators, and ebb and flow tables. I am surprised we don't see more bonsai people using these. Anyone out there using an ebb and flow table?

Leo Schordje
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Re: Hydroponic Bonsai

Post  Carterbeall on Wed Jan 20, 2016 12:24 am

I have an ebb and flow system and have thought about using it for bonsai and may still, but I have around 100 trees (not all bonsai) that need to be watered, and my system is not nearly that big.
Some of my trees require water twice a day during the summer, so I set up a 30' radius sprinkler on a timer and set it to go off twice a day when I am gone. It uses a lot of water, but is fine for a week or less and is much less expensive and complicated than using individual drippers or ebb and flow systems for the trees. I originally got the idea here: http://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basics%20Holiday%20watering.htm

It is by far the best method I have found and would definitely recommend this, though it is still a good idea to ask someone to check on the system to make sure that it is working.

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Re: Hydroponic Bonsai

Post  Eric F on Tue Jan 26, 2016 5:48 am

Do you know about aquaponics? Same idea but your tank has fish and there waste is filtered in the plants, fertalizing them and watering them all the time. In a flood and drain type bed I think some trees may thrive. Plants in these systems grow roots exactly like good bonsai have, no tap root just fine white roots. They transplant into a pot later in my experiance with severel plants, without much problem. I use the same gravel in my grow bed as in my tree "mix" , making it even easier. For a show you could trim a few roots and pop it in a pot a couple days then back in the grow bed. Lots of info is out there on the subject but not mixing bonsai with AP. So Im trying it. I have two beds and am working on more. I use localy caught tilapia and other ciclids plus plecos. And a turtle for fun, rescue

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Re: Hydroponic Bonsai

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Wed Feb 03, 2016 4:26 pm

Actually, just place the trees in Leca pebbles.
Option - add compost by the teaspoonful and water in. When the compost stops disappearing, use a complete fertiliser.
[This is how I have some growing and hope to use only compost tea]

b] treat as full Hydroponics - place bonsai pot in a container and do as for a hydroponic set up.
Laters.
Khaimraj

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Re: Hydroponic Bonsai

Post  Leo Schordje on Wed Feb 03, 2016 5:45 pm

These systems are excellent for material early in development.

A key aspect for bonsai is DISPLAY. When a tree in development is approaching the quality needed to display, most of the hydroponic, aquaponic, mist propagators and other systems don't lend themselves for handling trees in bonsai pots.

As Carterbeall mentioned; automatic watering systems, either with overhead spray nozzles or individual drip tubes are probably a better way to go. This set up lets you have a bench with various pot sizes and pot shapes, This is the only "higher tech" type of system that I've seen that really works well.

But for propagation, and early development, these systems are great. Many of us have our "inner engineer" we need to get in touch with, and these systems can give you as good, or sometimes even better growth than more conventional methods.

The commercial guys, who propagate in mass quantities, will use greenhouse size mist propagation beds, with heat mats and tightly controlled humidity. But for small scale propagation, you can't beat the mist propagators, the "cloning machines" of the time the OP showed.

Aquaponics, which is basically an ebb and flow table with fish living in the reservoir, have one draw back. You can not use synthetic fertilizers to get more rapid growth. If you add too much fertilizer, you kill the fish. Fish waste alone as the "fertilizer source" will give you nice "organic" bonsai, but the growth will be slower than conventional systems. Also you will be limited in what you can use for pest control. Especially if you want to eat the fish when they reach pan size. So aquaponics has its draw backs.

I knew an orchid grower, in Wisconsin, who built a greenhouse that was largely "solar" in design. Greenhouse was low on a hill, partly dug in, and he ran a channel from a local spring into the greenhouse, it entered at about 4 feet above the floor. He had made a concrete tank, the 30 foot length of the greenhouse, with the stream channel entering at the uphill end of the greenhouse, and the tank draining out the downhill wall of the greenhouse, and into a channel that returned the water to the stream. The thermal mass of this huge 30 foot long 48 inch deep and 60 inch wide tank kept the greenhouse cool in summer and warm in winter. He raised trout in the tank. And he fed his family of 6 trout nearly every week. Downsides? His orchids were terrible, he had insect infestations that would wipe out any orchid in the greenhouse. He would have to every summer remove every green living plant from the greenhouse, and then scrub and clean until there were no bugs or pests left hiding anywhere. Then he would treat the orchids, away from the greenhouse, and only bring them in once free of pests. Once everything was back in the greenhouse, things would be fine for a couple months. Then a new round of insect pests would start. Because he was eating the trout, he would not use any pesticide, by middle of winter half the orchids would be dead because of pest infestations. He was always purchasing more orchids to replace what he lost each year. (that's how I came to know him, I was selling him orchids) Down side to Aquaponics is that you are very limited in what you can do for pest control.

It was a cool system, and for a few months at a time it was idyllic. But then the insidious mealy bugs, aphids, and spider mites would get going and it would look like a war zone.

Leo Schordje
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Re: Hydroponic Bonsai

Post  Eric F on Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:09 pm

I just want to comment on aquaponics a little more, as I believe it is much better tha hydroponics.
My strawberries had yellow leaves and I was told they lacked iron. I was told to add chelated iron to my water, a little at a time. I couldnt find it here in Costa Rica. I did find a product labeled organic with iron and other nutrients for plants. It worked and my fish are fine, like they didnt notice. My berries grew 2' tall almost and super green.
I grew some peppers in my system but they got in the way, so I planted them in gravel and soil, like a bonsai mix. When I pulled them the roots were awesome. No taproots, just fine white roots in a perfect circle. They didnt even wilt from transplanting, but did loose flowers and fruit. Strawberries also transplant into soil for me, no problem. They just grow slower and smaller. My beds are not on the ground thus eliminating lots of bugs. I found an organic spray with fertalizer, fungicide, and bug repelent all in one. No more bugs, no dead fish. So problems can be solved, it just takes a bit of looking. But if I can solve those problems in Costa Rica I think anyone should be able to also.
About the orchids, I dont think AP would work for them. And up north they get lots of pests. But I have seen a misting system work great for them in Fl. I think the problems the guy had were more to do with orchids not having defences against northern pests but I could be wrong. I tie orchids to a chunk of wood and out them anywhere. But there native here, so they dont compare well with up north in a greenhouse.
AP is a great system, and the problems can be solved. Look up Murray Halloway in Australia, he is very friendly and he/they have forums and lots of info and solutions to the problems. They have answered me and been happy to help even though I dont buy from them. He does classes around the world and is sort of an AP guru.
I have a couple years experience with my system, a d while Im no expert I will be happy to help anyone wanting to have AP for whatever.
As far as displays go, AP is not going to work for obvious reasons. But I bet to show a tree it could be transplanted for a couple days then back in the system. Or just use it for a fast growbed. I use the same gravel in my AP as in my bonsai pots. Soil for bonsai and the components are hard to get here so I use what there is. I do add organics for bonsai.
My system is being moved/ redone/ expanded right now for more food. But a few trees will be put in the system because now Im addicted to both AP and bonsai. A couple f benjis are going in and Im sure more species are going to be added depending on how it goes. I guess for the bonsai crowd I will document and post results for those interested.
I hope that this info helps, and if I can help more just ask. Im new here but very easy going and love to help however I can. Feel free to ask..

Eric F
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Trees for hydro/aero/aqua

Post  Boscology on Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:29 am

I think one of the reasons OP may be leaning towards more creative growing methods is because he lives in MN like myself. Our growing season is pretty short so even if you have plenty of space to collect, plant, or propogate you may have to wait quite a while for the results.

I always understood hydroponics was a way to turbo-charge the early stages of a plants life while also giving it a consistent and measurable amount of nutrients. I think you could work at it for a while and produce very nice early stock at a good speed. Since you have a somewhat more controllable environment you can figure the exact amounts of nutrients to give it.


From one Minnesotan to another; if I had that and if in some bizzarro world the girlfriend would allow it in my basement I would use it for some of the hardy japanese x korean species that just came around recently like Acer pseudosieboldianum x palmatum 'Hasselkus' (Northern Glow) or some others. I plan to get a #7 clump of them this year from Gertens I believe it was. I also have heard that Griseum (paperbark maple) would be fine up here but they are quite rare. You might find some value in production of strong boutique trees.

As far as the "Northern Glow" I plan on planting one in the ground at a few different family member's houses, I think its interesting that we can finally have Japanese maples hardy enough for minnesota.

If you arent sold yet, the northern glow was created by a professor in Wisconsin who is a contributing member of the Wisconsin Hardy plants society. It was first introduced in 2011 and so I imagine the ones being offered at nurseries around here are just about that old. In this newsletter of theirs they have a short writeup of this and other works.

Edit: guess i cant post links for 7 days pale I had 3 nice and handy hyperlinks all embedded. Sorry

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Re: Hydroponic Bonsai

Post  Eric F on Wed Feb 10, 2016 6:00 am

Thanks for writing back. I personaly like aquaoinics over hydro. I like that its organic and doesnt need all the testing like HP does. I found a fertalizer thats organic and adds iron and other nutrients but doesnt hurt the fish. My experience has been good and fun too. It truly makes awesome salads, the best. I even grew corn in mine! So Im trying some trees since I have the system and trees.
Thats cool that your finding more species to try. I doubt there available here in Costa Rica. But you never know here! My conditions are as far from yours as could be, we only have a half hour change in daylight all yeAr. Stuff tends to grow more during the wet season but they grow faster in dry season if they get water. The 12 hours of light along with watering early make for good growing. I mostly use local strangler figs but I have a ton of fruit trees too. None are bonsai yet but there coming along. Its kinda crazy learning bonsai with only a cell phone and internet! No clubs here on my end of the country. Books and pots are non existent too. Its okay, Im learning easily.
Im from Florida, I cant imagine living where its so cold and dark. I was up north in the summer once and it was too cold for my liking. It must be hard living up there.
Thanks again for answering. Good luck and good growing!

Eric F
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Re: Hydroponic Bonsai

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Wed Feb 10, 2016 9:06 am

Kinda hydroponic,

8 mm clay pebbles [ hand rolled ] with compost added on top and watered in.
Ficus p.
Doing very nicely.

To be frank, I have discovered that everything thing grows well in 5 mm builder's gravel and compost or clay pebbles [ Leca ] and compost or 3mm glass spheres and compost.
The changeable factor is how much compost [ organic water retainer/ fertiliser trapper ] is not used.

I suspect peat moss in even smaller % by volume will also work or coco peat.

Think - Ball Bearing principle
[ thank you Ms.Iris and Yvonne G. ]

Hence my testing compost tea and composted soybean meal for tea.

Ground growing for the trunk and first 6 branches, oversized pot for finer branchlets, bonsai pot to finish.
Laters.
Khaimraj [ fading away Kevin ]

Fat ficus trunk is related to long extension first branch which still has to done.


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Re: Hydroponic Bonsai

Post  Eric F on Wed Feb 10, 2016 8:37 pm

Today I got another aquaponic bed up and running, flooding and draining. Its full of 3/8 or so gravel. I put a f benj, two local strangler figs and two types of crotons. Later I will stick some other species in there too. Its an experiment that is cheap to try. The benji cost 3 dollars and the others are collected and from cuttings. All 3 live here in six or seven months of daily rain so I think there good species to try. And there small enough to only use a little corner of the growbed. Anyone have other ideas for species? This week I will be starting up some wicking beds, so I will naturaly try some trees in there too. I will post findings as I learn them, good bad or ugly.

Eric F
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Re: Hydroponic Bonsai

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