New to Bonsai trees! Any help?

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New to Bonsai trees! Any help?

Post  AlunDowdeswell on Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:43 am

Hi! I'm new to this and have only just bought my first Bonsai tree, and was just wondering if; as it grows, the roots change/get larger or intertwine more. The Bonsai is a decor piece for my house, and that's the reason I bought it; I mistakenly didn't read up on them first! So don't know much about them!

Any other information about them would be helpful (any must do's or any definitely don't do's!)

Thanks to anyone that replies.

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Re: New to Bonsai trees! Any help?

Post  my nellie on Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:08 pm

Yes, the roots are growing of course since they are living but there are techniques one applicates so that they form just the right size...
Just search and read, search and read...
I hope you will find the time (and patience and affection) needed to care for your plant and upgrade to a dear tree rather than just a decorative element.
Wellcome to IBC!

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Re: New to Bonsai trees! Any help?

Post  JimLewis on Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:00 pm

Bonsai make very poor "decor pieces." You can't just put them anywhere. They are living things and need specific care. They need light -- lots of it -- a fluorescent tube hung 5-6 inches overhead for 13 hours or so every day. Even a south windowsill will not provide sufficient light for most (or many) species. They also need sufficient humidity -- more than the average home will supply them. They need just the right amount of water -- too much and they'll die. Too little, and they'll die. They need occasional fertilizer in the right amounts.

What kind (species) of bonsai did you buy? Very few plants can live for any length of time indoors.

I suspect you are in for some disappointment in your "decor piece."

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Bonsai.......

Post  AlunDowdeswell on Tue Feb 22, 2011 7:36 pm

It isn't ''just'' a decor piece, I have looked after it for 3 weeks now and it has been fine and is growing knew shoots. Its a Fiscus. I work in a gardening centre where we grow them and all of our specimens have been growing well for 6 years. They don't have the lamp and are not kept in any warmer condition than a normal home.

I just asked for some general tips on how to look after it, because I don't want it to die.

Is there any specific kind of pesticide you need to use on a fiscus? I spotted some black flies on it earlier and have read up that they aren't any good for it.
Also, when do I know when it needs re-potting? Its a small plant, less than a foot tall, but looks rather 'big for it's boots' so to speak Smile

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Re: New to Bonsai trees! Any help?

Post  Bob Pressler on Tue Feb 22, 2011 7:42 pm

Pictures always help.

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Re: New to Bonsai trees! Any help?

Post  Paul B [Swindon] on Tue Feb 22, 2011 7:57 pm

Books can give you conflicting advice, as they don't take account of your local weather conditions or climate. For example, Jim suggests it needs better light, maybe on a window sill, not a good idea in the UK, it will get hot during the day and cold at night, especially during the Winter. This will stress the tree.

Best advice is to check where your closest Bonsai club is. Not only will they be able to give you advice, face to face on how to look after your tree, but they will be able to advise you with your next purchase. It is one of those hobbies that once you have one tree, you just can't wait to get another. Try a web check on your area of London.

As you will find, Bonsai is a huge subject and can't be covered in a few sentences.

Paul


Last edited by Paul B [Swindon] on Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:04 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Pictureess

Post  AlunDowdeswell on Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:02 pm

I will post a picture as my avatar soon, It won't be great because my camera is terrible

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Thankyou Paul

Post  AlunDowdeswell on Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:18 pm

Thanks for your advice Paul. I have had it on a window sill for now, I keep the room relatively warm and spray it with water daily as to maintain humidity, it doesn't get too warm during the day and I bring it away from the window sill at night to stop it being affected by the radiator and the cold window. It seems to be doing well for now. Its leaves are a deep green and new shoots are light green (from my limited knowledge of plants I take this as a good thing?). I bought some specialist feed for it as well which tells me to use with water during the 'growing season' of March - October.
Is this the right thing to do?

In addition, I am completely knew to pruning a Fiscus Bonsai; so any light tips on that too would be helpful.

I am continuing to read up on them as much as I can, but on the topic of going to a club, it's difficult at my age to find the time; with university and all the rest of it.

Thankyou for your comments everyone.

Regards, Alun.

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Re: New to Bonsai trees! Any help?

Post  JimLewis on Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:21 pm

That's a so-called "ginsing ficus." Probably F. microcarpa, but others know figs better than I. At any rate, ginsing ficus is a house plant, not a true bonsai.

Those black bugs sound like Fungus gnats and that means your soil is too wet. Water a ficus ONLY when the soil is dry. And don't mist so often. The bugs will go away when you start doing that.

The folks in your garden center should be able to give you better advice than we do as they should know your climate and should know how the things they sell grow. Have they truly had the same plant inside for 6 years? or do the plants come and go as people buy them? I suspect the latter, as no store would keep merchandise that long if it didn't sell.

Figs (some figs) may need less light than many other plants, but do not expect them to do well if you don't give them supplemental light, and a good deal of it. As for pesticides, don't use them unless you see the insect damage on your plant. Your garden center should sell a dozen kinds of houseplant pesticides. Any will do for most things. READ THE LABEL for a list of plants NOT to use it one, and for instructions for proper use.

Repot the summer after you see roots coming out of the drainage hole.


Last edited by JimLewis on Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:24 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Reply to Jim.

Post  AlunDowdeswell on Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:34 pm


Thanks Jim!

Your advice on the bugs and pesticides is helpful as it sounds like the case (the soil is a little wetter than maybe it should be)
As for the garden centre, the trees I am referring too are that of Dave's (our indoor plant manager) not the ones on sale (which only only stay on sale for max 3 weeks before they're purchased; and, rather tragically, are sold in pots without drainage holes, just in ''pretty pots'' to ensure a sale).
I have been asking him for advice, but he does only work once every 2 weeks (partially retired) so talking to him is a scarce occasion. That's why I enrolled on this site.

thanks again for your advice.

Regards, Alun

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Re: New to Bonsai trees! Any help?

Post  fiona on Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:36 pm

I just sent you a PM, Alun. It has some details you might be interested in re where to see (and buy) bonsai in the UK in the next few months.

Hope it helps.



Last edited by fiona on Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:44 am; edited 1 time in total

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Thanks for the Pm

Post  AlunDowdeswell on Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:38 pm

Thanks for the PM Fiona; although now I feel rather disheartened as my Fiscus seems condemned to death! however; my determination for it to survive is high!

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Re: New to Bonsai trees! Any help?

Post  Paul B [Swindon] on Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:51 pm

Alun

I have lost the leaves on mine 3 times, but it keeps coming back. Shame really, I keep hoping that it won't cause it's a pain. A little feed and often, better too weak a mix depending on conditions. I only keep mine as it was a present from my Mother, bless her.

Only grow natural trees mainly from the Uk and they stay out all year round. so very little care needed. So say indoor trees are so finicky to look after

Paul

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Re: New to Bonsai trees! Any help?

Post  kingbean on Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:21 pm

Hey Alun,
My first bonsai was a serissa foetida but soon found out that its not about indoor bonsai its all about propa trees.
I still have a cutting of the serrisa its about 8yrs now but still battling to keep it alive.
The mother plant died.
I think that i just lost interest in moving it, in and out of the house with the seasons.
When winter time comes its a drag of where to keep it.
So now i have a nice collection of outdoor trees.
Read books for knowledge its the best way im sure there is one just about ficus.

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New to Bonsai Trees, Any Help

Post  bonsaisr on Wed Feb 23, 2011 10:39 pm

I don't think it was emphasized enough: A ginseng Ficus is a HOUSEPLANT. IT IS NOT A BONSAI AND NEVER WILL BE. That fat triple trunk is a collection of storage roots. They will never produce leaves or branches. The cluster of branches on top with the thick roots underneath and the crown up in the air is not a form that is desirable in a bonsai. It can't be changed without endangering the life of the tree.
You can grow the plant better by repotting it in the spring in a better draining soil. A soil for succulents & cacti is good for most figs. Don't mist it. You can feed it any houseplant food. It will probably survive the winter on a south facing windowsill. For the best health, put it outdoors all summer in full sun.
You can probably get all the information you need in a general houseplant book with a chapter on figs. Your species is Ficus microcarpa.
Now, if you want to grow bonsai, that is a different proposition altogether. You need to start with suitable bonsai material. Is that what you intend to do?
Iris


Last edited by bonsaisr on Wed Feb 23, 2011 10:41 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : add my name)

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Re: New to Bonsai trees! Any help?

Post  Paul B [Swindon] on Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:56 am

Alun

Iris suggests Ficus microcarpa put that into any search engine and there is loads of info on the web, also check out the other Ficus groups for general info.

Don't get disheartened and enjoy it for what it is. The subject of Bonsai is huge with many different speces, ideas and suggestions, we all started having a go at the beginning. Hand on heart, I don't know a bonsai grower that hasn't lost a tree or two in the beginning.

It's not until you join a club that extensive knowledge and personnal help becomes available. Usually then your collection of trees increases due to new found friends donating them to you to experiment on.

Then your experience grows with looking after them and will increase your interrest. Then you will want to experiment with different species of trees and also different shapes and styles. You can get these from the bonsai traders as they are more reliable than garden centres, as they are specific growers for that type of tree and not just general horticulturists. The traders will also be able to give you general advice on what you are buying.

If you want Send me a PM with the area of London that you are in and I will try and find you details of any shows, bonsai sales and traders in your area

Hope this helps
Paul


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Re: New to Bonsai trees! Any help?

Post  fiona on Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:31 am

Alun, all this is exactly what I said to you in my PM, and far from trying to dishearten you, all that people are trying to do is point out that if it's a bonsai you want, then there are plenty plants that are ten times more suited than what you have currently got. Again I state that I don't want to denigrate garden centres but as Paul says they are not specialists in bonsai. The guys who have answered your post really know what they are talking about and if you are serious about getting into bonsai it would be very much to your advantage to go along to a club even if it's only once every so often. Also the Best of British exhibition I mentioned possibly is in your uni holiday period and is a great way to see what bonsai is all about. You'll be surprised how much new knowledge you can glean in the short space of a one weekend exhibition, but even if you managed up for one day, it would be really beneficial.

The bottom line is to enjoy your hobby and if your ficus is all you want then of course that is your choice. But I think we'd all like you to try bonsai "for real" before making that choice.

Look forward to seeing your show trees in the future.

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Re: New to Bonsai trees! Any help?

Post  Charles M on Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:45 pm

Alun:

Check the website in my signature. I have a care page on Ginseng ficus, with photos and video. While most traditional bonsai artists will not work with Ginseng Ficus, my wife bought one, and being a bit of an iconoclast, I decided to take on a challenge and see how it would respond to proper bonsai technique. My opinion right now is, in two to three more years, I will have a Ginseng Ficus bonsai -- other than the reverse taper at the base of the roots. But then, Baobabs and Adeniums don't follow the rules either.

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Re: New to Bonsai trees! Any help?

Post  fiona on Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:57 pm

But I'd not have to guess very hard from your avatar and your link, Charles, that you are not a beginner in bonsai and would therefore have more chance at getting something to work. You also live in a nice sunny and warm climate - again unlike Alun. While I don't dismiss out of hand what you're saying (a lot of the things we call progress in life have started out with people trying to get something to work against the odds) all we are trying to point out is that there are a lot better options for him as a beginner among trees native to the UK - ones that will offer him a better guarantee of success.


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New to Bonsai Trees, Any Help

Post  bonsaisr on Mon Feb 28, 2011 6:19 pm

And he hasn't been heard from since. Exclamation
Iris

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Re: New to Bonsai trees! Any help?

Post  Paul B [Swindon] on Mon Feb 28, 2011 7:30 pm

Alun

Like Fiona says, you don't have to go mad getting a local tree. The photo is a Japanese Larch [has smaller leaves than European] it was thinner than a pencil when I got it about 5 years ago, for £1. It is now about 8 inches and being kept small, it is now starting to take on a tree shape with a little bit of pruning and shaping with wire.
It stays outdoors all year round. As long as I keep it damp, it loves it. It's not a very good photo, but gives you the general idea

Have fun and enjoy the bonsai
Paul

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Re: New to Bonsai trees! Any help?

Post  Russell Coker on Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:42 pm

Good Lord, Iris is right! Y'all need to let this one go. Save the advice for someone who really wants it. In case you missed the second sentence of this thread, here it is again...

AlunDowdeswell wrote:The Bonsai is a decor piece for my house, and that's the reason I bought it; I mistakenly didn't read up on them first! So don't know much about them!

At some point you expect the light to turn on, but it ain't happening here. How does that old expression go? "You can lead a whore to culture, but you can't make her think", or something like that...

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...........

Post  AlunDowdeswell on Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:40 pm

A negative to begin with. Some people here are actually quite rude. I am very busy and don't always have time to check my email for updates, besides; I haven't been replying because I have been in Wales all week without the Internet.

I have read through all the messages and I thank everyone who has replied with useful advice and images Smile
However, I have decided that instead of giving up on my Fiscus, I am going to look after it and see if I can keep it healthy and growing before I move on to better and more widely used Bonsai trees. I am not used to indoor plants/trees and am no expert, so I think looking after this relatively simple tree will help my confidence and knowledge.

Smile

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Re: New to Bonsai trees! Any help?

Post  JimLewis on Tue Mar 01, 2011 1:40 am

Good idea. However, they are VERY hard to kill. It may not be much of a learning experience. <g>

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Re: New to Bonsai trees! Any help?

Post  Russell Coker on Tue Mar 01, 2011 2:21 am

No one here told you to give up on your ficus, or condemned it to death. You made that jump yourself, a little over dramatic I think. You've been given good advice on keeping this ficus alive indoors, and what to look for next. Good luck!


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Re: New to Bonsai trees! Any help?

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