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Newb With Some Basic Bonsai Questions 7 months 3 weeks ago #67397

  • Green Nail
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Hi there, I'm new here. :)
The other day I was walking through Kroger's and saw this cute little Juniper bonsai and purchased it ($14.95). The first thing I noticed that the nursery in Florida who had created this had glued a layer of gravel across the surface of the soil. So I went home did some research and have gotten interested in growing this and maybe others.




So here are my questions:
* Would this Juniper be considered a good starter bonsai? Or was it sold as the "final product"? Any potential here?
* Is this the right kind of pot for training a bonsai? I am assuming no. It had no drain hole, so I drilled one in it. I removed the "glued-on" rocks and replaced them with pea gravel.
* This pot seems kind of deep as compared to what I've seen online, for training. Unless I hear otherwise, I'll assume it's not a good training pot.
* How important is a moisture tray, that this pot did not come with?
* What kind of plants are considered good starter bonsai?
* I have a weeping cedar tree (full size about 12' tall, out back that I took some cuttings from and if I get them growing might try to do a bonsai with them, but have no idea if they would be good or bad candidates.
* I live in Houston, Texas. It's lovely in the winter, but gets freaking hot here in the summer. I'm assuming with watering requirements, It would not be a good idea to keep some types of bonsai outside in the sun to bake, although Junipers like full sun I think. Comments?

Thanks in advance! :)
-Dave

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Last edit: Post by Green Nail.

Newb With Some Basic Bonsai Questions 7 months 3 weeks ago #67400

  • m5eaygeoff
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Outside. Let it grow until you have learned how to water it. This plant does need some work but it is the wrong time of year to be pruning. Pot is no good, but will do for now.
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Newb With Some Basic Bonsai Questions 7 months 3 weeks ago #67402

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Outside. Let it grow until you have learned how to water it. This plant does need some work but it is the wrong time of year to be pruning. Pot is no good, but will do for now.


Thanks for the reply.

Of note, the directions that came with this plant were: 62-80deg F, indirect light, and feed with liquid fertilizer eery 2 weeks. What do you think of those directions? I know that regular junipers like full sun, but this would be a juniper in a small pot subjected to a hot sun, usually in the 90s during the day unless the idea is to keep is in the shade? We do have a gazebo with a table on it where it could go, but would get no direct sun there.

I think I have learned how to water it: It's either once a week, or do a soil moisture check with finger, or use a humidity tray, water it until water drips out of the bottom, and then keep an eye on the water in the humidity tray. :) Btw, besides reading online, I did order a used book: The Complete Book of Bonsai: A Practical Guide to Its Art and Cultivation by Harry Tomlinson for reference. Decent book? Any other books I should consider?

What time of year is pruning done?

This pot is substantially deeper than the normal bonsai pots I've seen which are shallower. When I was putting a drain hole in this pot, I took took out the plant and the roots were about 3" deep. Would the plant benefit by moving it to atraining pot now?
Thanks...

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Last edit: Post by Green Nail.

Newb With Some Basic Bonsai Questions 7 months 3 weeks ago #67403

  • Tropfrog
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I think this beginner enthusiasm is so uplifting. But really patience is the key in bonsai. You have done the most important thing. Got the glu gravel out and drilled a drainage hole. Now just give it a full growing season to recover from transit. No prunning, no repotting, no styling. Just fresh air, good watering and if it pick up growth some fertilizer. And off course study your book and your tree When fall comes, if it has grown strong in your care you can start to take small styling steps. If not just repeat another growing season. If you dont have much frost the period for working on it is quite long. Late authum to early spring.
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Newb With Some Basic Bonsai Questions 7 months 3 weeks ago #67404

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Of note, the directions that came with this plant were: 62-80deg F, indirect light, and feed with liquid fertilizer eery 2 weeks. What do you think of those directions? I know that regular junipers like full sun, but this would be a juniper in a small pot subjected to a hot sun, usually in the 90s during the day unless the idea is to keep is in the shade? We do have a gazebo with a table on it where it could go, but would get no direct sun there.


Junipers in general are full sun plants, all year round.
So go for as much sun as you can; you’ll have to keep a constant eye on watering tho. During summer even 3 or 4 times a day, particularly with a pot that tall and assuming the soil is as draining as it seems to be.


I think I have learned how to water it: It's either once a week, or do a soil moisture check with finger, or use a humidity tray, water it until water drips out of the bottom, and then keep an eye on the water in the humidity tray. :)


You’ll quickly find out that water trays are pointless at best and harmful in some cases.
But if you do keep the soil moisture under control (again several times a day in summer and particularly when windy, all year round), you’ll be ok.
Remember that if the soil drains well, you can’t really overwater it, so one too many is better than one too short.

What time of year is pruning done?


With junipers any time except when it’s waking up in spring. So, not now (assuming you’re in the northern hemisphere). From late May it’s better, but your mileage may vary depending on your climate.

This pot is substantially deeper than the normal bonsai pots I've seen which are shallower. When I was putting a drain hole in this pot, I took took out the plant and the roots were about 3" deep. Would the plant benefit by moving it to atraining pot now?
Thanks...


Leave it alone for now. It needs to grow a lot before you can do anything dramatic to it, so you can keep it in there for a couple of years even. Just know that taller pots mean more watering, so again, keep an eye on your baby...
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Newb With Some Basic Bonsai Questions 7 months 3 weeks ago #67414

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Junipers are very hardy trees, and if you figure out how to water them, they are difficult to kill. The one guaranteed way to kill a juniper is to keep it indoors. Poking the soil with a finger is a very good way to figure out if a plant needs water or not.

Like everyone already said, don't do anything else in the first year. Every time you water the tree, look at it and get acquainted with it. When you get to know the tree, it will tell you when to prune, which branches to wire, when to fertilize, etc. etc.
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Newb With Some Basic Bonsai Questions 7 months 3 weeks ago #67416

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You are in a hot, dry place if my geography is not failing me. Midday full sun MIGHT be too much to keep track off in summer. That being said, when we get hot summers, usually they last a few weeks with temperatures in the low to mid thirties, my junipers are in full sun, watered twide a day.

People often say junipers are dry substrate plants. I do not agree with the assessment. Do do not like to have soggy wet soil. But equally they do not like soil to dry out too much. My substrate is coarse and mostly inorganic, meaning I drench the pot twice a day in summer and never have issues with compacting soggy soil.
Not sure what the substrate is, and how it responds: You will have to trial a little.
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Newb With Some Basic Bonsai Questions 7 months 3 weeks ago #67425

  • Ivan Mann
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If somebody glued stones on the top of the soil and put it in a pot with no drainage hole I would not trust them on any other directions, particularly temperatures.

My trees in Birmingham, Alabama, are in full sun all year, except that the neighbors have very tall trees blocking late afternoon sun. Our summer is much like Houston, but you are probably a little longer. I would worry about the pot heating up and scorching the roots, but nothing else, so long as you water it.

BTW, congratulations on figuring out the stones and drainage hole.
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Newb With Some Basic Bonsai Questions 7 months 3 weeks ago #67429

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Thanks much for the enthusiastic , encouraging replies. Since my first post, I have been reading some more, and if I have a concern about this possible hobby it is the need for daily watering, or even 2-3 times a a day. Honestly this is a deal breaker for me. I don’t want to be tied to a plant in this manner.

From what I’ve read, for a bonsai to live in such a small pot, it needs aerated roots, and soil /aggregate where the water basically just flows through the pot and minimally retained, to allow the air in, hence the need for daily watering. My wife and I can be gone from several days to 2 weeks on trips. Quite frankly I think this is a deal breaker for my routine, unless there are workable compromises, such as use more organic soil in the mixture.

Now we do have an outside automatic watering system where a zone could be configured to water daily with water lines , but that would still just be daily waterings, which I don’t really want this kind of commitment, because it means a lot of time spent, where a slip up and that time is wasted if a plant dies.

Of note this juniper I bought, it came with regular soil and vermiculite and seems quite happy being watered once a week or so and currently it sits in a southern window. Now long term, based on what I’ve read, I’m not making any bets on it’s survival. ;)

But the question remains, with an indoor bonsai *(which kind of plants are ideal for indoor?) can a compromise be made on soil composition where a bonsai might be happy enough?

*I think due to 4 straight months of 90F in Houston, a bonsai would definitely need daily watering, which I want to avoid, hence an indoor plant, possibly a drought tolerant plant. Note, I already have some succulents, and they are wonderful in this regard. :side: Thanks again!

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Newb With Some Basic Bonsai Questions 7 months 3 weeks ago #67433

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You can pot the tree up in a much bigger pot with a lot of organic soil in it and you will be fine with watering once or twice a week. That is what I do to most of my trees until they are ready for refinement.

Most of us find watering trees relaxing and enjoyable. If you dont like to water, yes, you might picked the wrong hobby :)

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