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Bonsai selection advice 2 months 1 week ago #71835

  • Fishguy_8
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Hi all! Never had a bonsai before but it’s long been something I’ve wanted to try my hand at. I live in Illinois and have a southern facing sun room that I’d like to bring to life with a bonsai. That being said I wanted to get some advice from the group as to what species of tree to go with, size, and any advice as to what to research, videos to watch, articles to read, where to purchase a healthy plant, or other factors to consider prior to purchasing so I’m prepared and have a plan to be successful. I just don’t want to purchase a beautiful tree only to watch it die because I didn’t do my best to learn how to care for it first. I currently keep succulents and cacti so I’m not completely helpless. Thanks for any pointers super excited to finally do this.

Cheers

Jon

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Bonsai selection advice 2 months 1 week ago #71841

  • Tropfrog
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Indoors trees die, if you dont want to watch a tree die get yourself a tree hardy to your area and keep it outside.

There are another option since you are experienced with succulents. The jade plants (crassula ovata and portulacaria afra) can be grown to look like bonsai and can be kept indoors.

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Bonsai selection advice 2 months 1 week ago #71868

  • Clicio
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Depending on where you are, you could go for a Ficus.
With good care they can grow indoors.
Don't buy a juniper; they will die inside.

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Bonsai selection advice 2 months 1 week ago #71881

  • Fishguy_8
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Thanks for the feed back. I’m reconsidering the inside idea now. What species would be able to handle the harsh winters of the Midwest? I’ve seen people will heel in their bonsai with mulch. What else would I need to do to make sure I protect my bonsai effectively? Thanks for the help! Much appreciated.

Jon

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Bonsai selection advice 2 months 1 week ago #71882

  • Tropfrog
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This is an international forum and midwest could be anywhere. I live in south West and have quite harsh winters, down to -18 and below -10 for a few weeks. How harsh is harsh to you?

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Bonsai selection advice 2 months 1 week ago #71886

  • leatherback
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I am not sure what climate Illinois has. Thats in the USA right?

Normally, it is best to start off with species that are 'native' to your local climate. So the species that you see around your house normally are good starting trees, as they take your local weather.

If you get deep frost, some protection might still be needed. but as said; What is your local climate like?

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Bonsai selection advice 2 months 1 week ago #71894

  • BonsaiSpy
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I agree with leatherback. Choose something that is local to your area, it would be way easier.

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Bonsai selection advice 2 months 1 week ago #71897

  • Fishguy_8
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Sorry, yes Illinois is in the USA. Chicago would’ve the closest city most would be familiar with. The weather in the winter can hit -10 for a few weeks and the summers we can hit 100 with little to no rain for a week or two at a time. The USDA plant hardiness zone for where I live is 5b which calls for annual extremes being -10 to -15. The trees I see most in the area are pines, maples, ash, elms, sycamore, creeping juniper, and oaks. Thanks for all of the help.

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Bonsai selection advice 2 months 1 week ago #71898

  • Tropfrog
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Again. This is an international forum. Hence we use international units. If you which to use old units only used by a handful of countries in the world, please state unit to avoid missunderstandings.

5b us indeed quite harsh. If you get a lot of snow most of your local trees is good to grow. Just put them on the ground in winter and cover them with snow. Under the snow it is seldom less than -5. Watch out for really cold days before and after the snow season. -10, no snow and clear sky risks to kill even local trees. Its called freeze drying in my language. That is a problem where I am almost every year. I keep my trees in an unheated greenhouse all winter. It can be really cold in there at night but often thaw a few times per month and that is good enough.

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Bonsai selection advice 2 months 1 week ago #71901

  • Ivan Mann
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I was in Chicago in January once, and it was -32F/-35C. Why anybody lives there is beyond me. There were trees living outside, though.

You probably want to have an unheated building or room to keep any trees in, protected from wind, and maybe a small space heater to keep from getting too cold. I remember the wind, and you definitely want to protect trees from that.

Chicago should have at least one bonsai club, and they can tell you how they keep their trees alive.

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