Bonsai Newbie

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Bonsai Newbie

Post  kmw07 on Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:23 pm

Hello everyone!

I'm brand new to bonsai via an unexpected birthday gift. I recieved 2 different trees. One is a blue star juniper and the other a zelcova. I was given these with little instructions for their care so any tips for beginners would be appreciated. Also, I've been reading some conflicting information about growing these strictly indoors. Is it possible or do they need to be outdoors? I live in Omaha and it's VERY cold right now. If they have to be outdoors, when would be the best time to move them out there? Can they really survive the harsh winds and snow here? Especially the juniper which is teeny?

Thanks in advance for any help you can give!



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Re: Bonsai Newbie

Post  Storm on Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:46 pm

Well, im new to this, so Ill just offer my 2 cents here.
I dont like what they are planted in.. Atleast not tree number 2. You should remove the stones from the top, can you tell us what kind of soil there is beneath them? So far I prefer to have my trees in a well drained soil, actually just using 100% catsand atm. If you do that, be sure its the brand that isnt clumping or smells. I bought a kind from Coop.
Wait a little while and watch them carefully if the tips get brown or anything. If they dont like it the way you have them atm I would repot it.
I guess the Zelcova would do ok untill it gets a little warmer.
In what way have they been untill now? Did the juniper stand outside somewhere or in a greenhouse etc. If it has been standing warm for a long time, putting it outside where its cold wouldnt be good to it.
I dont have any experience growing these trees, but thats just my small attempts on helping you so far.
When it comes to watering, Im actually just watering all the trees in the same way. Some likes to be a bit drier than others, and some cant stand a small dry out, so Im just keeping the catsand a little wet. I wait untill it gets a bit dry, maybe a cm or something ( about 1/2 inch down) and then I water it so its getting wet all through. Dont feed them too often now. I do it now and then, but mainly once every 2 weeks in the growing period. Maybe a bit more often.
If you are going to have them inside untill the growing season, I would atleast have them in a well lit windowsill.
A little tip there: Get some wax cloth. ( Cant remember the right word for it. The thing some have on their table which water doesnt get through. Under plates etc). Put it under the pot in the window. If dripping trays came with it, that would help, but not enough imo. It prevents getting water beneath the pot and on the wood, which would make the window rot.
So far, dont prune anything, and just watch them every day and see if the tips turn brown or anything.

Lets hope that you get some answers from people near you.
-Storm

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Re: Bonsai Newbie

Post  bonsaistud on Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:35 pm

G'day KMW...

Welcome to the wonderful, exciting world of bonsai...

You would do well to search out bonsai people in Omaha...likely to be very few. However, check with The Bonsai Society of Greater Kansas City (below***). I have heard that they have at least one member from Omaha. It's worth a try...

We will do all we can to help you, but joining a club and hooking up with a mentor rank high on the list of the best ways to get started. Also, check out the American BonsaI Society...http://www.absbonsai.org/index.html. They have a correspondence course that includes a mentor (by email I think). I understand that the course is very good.

Now KMW, IMAFMHO (InMyAncientFeebleMindedHumbleOpinion)…be careful about blindly following advice presented to you...a lot of it may be valid "locally" while not valid for you...in your location. However, Storm's advice regarding "catsand atm" may be very valid in NORWAY, but I doubt that you can find it in the US. I am aware that there are many bonsai people in Europe using "kitty litter" but, again IMAFMHO, stay away from kitty litter in the US...it will get you in trouble.

Storm's advice to get the rocks and gravel removed...that is a must. And, a fast draining soil mix is also strongly suggested. Watering? You should be able to see the water being absorbed by the soil, and in less than a minute you should see water flowing out of the bottom of the pot...less time for smaller pots, more time for larger pots.

Let us know how else we can help.

And, my friend, always remember that bonsai is a trip that requires time and patience…welcome aboard and enjoy the journey.

Pat…mounted on my trusted stead, riding off wildly in all directions…


***
KANSAS - Mission
The Bonsai Society of Greater Kansas City Society members meet each month (except July) at the Garden Center in Loose Park, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO for programs, demonstrations, and workshops. Meeting dates are irregular, check website - We also present several exhibits to which the general public is invited, including exhibits at the Japan Festival, and Powell Gardens. Contact: Brad Short by E-mail.

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Re: Bonsai Newbie

Post  Storm on Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:59 pm

Just a little question there, what do you mean that it would get you in trouble?
I understand that different trees need different types of soils, and drainage. But I dont know why its a bad thing to use it over there.

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RE

Post  kmw07 on Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:33 pm

Yes, there is a basic bonsai soil mix below the rocks. They were just decoration. Is it still necessary to remove them?

I'm perfectly fine with waiting before doing anything. I just really want them to both stay alive and healthy for many, many years.

The juniper was inside a heated greenhouse. Ironically....in the section labeled "indoor growing." So are we saying that the juniper needs to go outside now? I'm in Omaha so it's freezing and snowing. Will he survive indoors long enough for the spring to come? I do live in an apartment, but he could still live outside on our balcony. Once he's outside, will he actually live through our winter or is there just no hope at all for the poor little guy?

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Re: Bonsai Newbie

Post  JimLewis on Thu Feb 18, 2010 1:35 am

You juniper will be OK indoors until spring. Give it as MUCH light as possible (a fluorescent tube) 6-8 inches overhead for 13-14 hours would be great. Also indoors, watch your watering. The soil shold be pretty dry before you water. Junipers do not like wet feet.

In spring (defined when temps stay above 28 degrees F) you can put it outside in an area protected from the wind -- but sunny.

If that is a Zelkova (it may be a Chinese elm) I can't be of much help.

Storm: Most USA cat litter is too fine-grained for bonsai. There appears to be considerable difference between what's available over here and what you folks can find.

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Re: Bonsai Newbie

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Thu Feb 18, 2010 2:54 pm

Instead of cat litter, I go to O'Reilly's Auto Parts Store and pick up a bag of their natural shop absorbant material. It is a baked clay that holds up fairly well. You have to be very careful when screening it because it will breakdown with rough screening.

That and going to the local farm feed store (bulk supplier, not farm\hardware store) they carry poultry grit in several sizes. I usually get the largest and mix it in equal parts with pine bark and the O'Reilly's clay.

Jay

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bonsai newbie

Post  moyogijohn on Thu Feb 18, 2010 11:05 pm

Good advice so far.The kitty litter when wet will turn to mush trust me i tried two different kinds.. keep your juniper away from your home heat sorce but give it all the light you can,,keep moist..the other tree will be ok lots of light keep moist also. hope this helps john

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Re: Bonsai Newbie

Post  Storm on Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:06 am

moyogijohn wrote:Good advice so far.The kitty litter when wet will turn to mush trust me i tried two different kinds.. keep your juniper away from your home heat sorce but give it all the light you can,,keep moist..the other tree will be ok lots of light keep moist also. hope this helps john

Hey, its true that most types of kittylitter will turn into mush, thats why its important to go for the exact type.
I had to drive an hour and a half to get the kind I needed.

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Cat Litter

Post  Dianne Fincham on Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:18 pm

Hi,
I just wanted to say. I don't know if you have a Tesco's supermarket out there (i'm from/in Cornwall UK) but, Tesco Low Dust Lightweight Cat litter which is now in new Pink packageing is supposed to be brilliant! I found out about it by reading up on some 'Bonsai experts' websites who stated that they have used it for for years, and wouldn't use anything else.
I have been doing a lot of reading up about Bonsai both on line and i've purchased several books. I am really keen to get started, i did purchase seed (don't laugh), made a start, and surprisingly (not), nothing has happened so far. Tomorrow (20th Feb) is my birthday, and today i visited my parents and they bought me my very first plant for my birthday. It's a Zelkova. I didn't have any information with it, hense i have been looking things up on line again, found this club, and registered immediately! I think i'm going to need lots of help.
Sorry to have 'but in' on your conversation, but we seem to be in the same boat!
Good luck with your plant
Dianne

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Re: Bonsai Newbie

Post  John Quinn on Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:31 pm

Welcome, Dianne! Be sure to look at the testing forum for instructions on posting pictures on the forum when the urge moves you! Cool

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Re: Bonsai Newbie

Post  kmw07 on Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:56 am

Alright...quick follow up.

1) So for JUST the Elm....will it be fine living indoors?
2) I need to move the Juniper outside once temps stay above 28 degrees F...correct?
3) The only place I have to put it outside would be a South-facing balcony. When the temps around here get up to 100 degrees...will it survive? There is a small overhang that would give protection from the sun for a part of the day, but is that enough? How often would it need to be watered since it's in a small pot and would be outdoors in our heat?
4) What wattage of a fluorescent bulb would be good to use for the Elm/Juniper(while still indoors this winter)? Would a daylight fluorescent bulb like this work?http://www.walmart.com/ip/GE-CFL-Daylight-Light-Bulb-15-Watt-65W-Equivalent-6-Pk/5984219

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Re: Bonsai Newbie

Post  JimLewis on Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:26 pm

kmw07 wrote:Alright...quick follow up.

1) So for JUST the Elm....will it be fine living indoors?

It will survive indoors. It will be happier outdoors.

2) I need to move the Juniper outside once temps stay above 28 degrees F...correct?

Junipers can survive temperatures a lot lower than that. But if it has been inside, suddenly moving it out may not be good for it. So, yes. Next year, it can stay out.

3) The only place I have to put it outside would be a South-facing balcony. When the temps around here get up to 100 degrees...will it survive? There is a small overhang that would give protection from the sun for a part of the day, but is that enough? How often would it need to be watered since it's in a small pot and would be outdoors in our heat?

South is fine. The overhang is fine, too. Water when the soil gets dry. Juniper do not like wet feet.

4) What wattage of a fluorescent bulb would be good to use for the Elm/Juniper(while still indoors this winter)? Would a daylight fluorescent bulb like this work?http://www.walmart.com/ip/GE-CFL-Daylight-Light-Bulb-15-Watt-65W-Equivalent-6-Pk/5984219

No. Get a small fluorescent shop light, or a small fluorescent light that you might hang over a dresser or vanity. The tubes are about 2 feet long. Hang it about 8 inches over the tree and keep it on for 12 hours or so every day.

_________________
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Re: Bonsai Newbie

Post  kmw07 on Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:59 pm

Just any old fluorescent tube? Why can it not be a compact bulb that's fluorescent? Is there a place online I could order one? I want to make sure it's the right light.

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Re: Bonsai Newbie

Post  FrankP999 on Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:11 pm

kmw07 wrote:Just any old fluorescent tube? Why can it not be a compact bulb that's fluorescent? Is there a place online I could order one? I want to make sure it's the right light.
I would worry about the amount of light (wattage) more than the type. The more light you can get the better. I use T5 High Output bulbs ; T-5's require a different fixture than shop lights. T-5 bulds put out much more light than shoplights.

Instead of cat litter, see if you can locate Turface. Cat litters are substitutes for Turface when people cannot find turface. Look for it at John Deere dealers or specialty bonsai stores. I bought a bag last week at Monastery Bonsai. Shipping it is costly so locate some locally if possible.

And yes your juniper needs to live outdoors.

Frank

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Re: Bonsai Newbie

Post  kmw07 on Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:14 pm

I'm using regular bonsai soil...not cat litter. That was someone else's question entirely (in this same topic).

"I would worry about the amount of light (wattage) more than the type." ---- so what is a good wattage for a fluorescent light?

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Re: Bonsai Newbie

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