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Indoor Bonsai and Dormancy? 3 years 10 months ago #59755

  • Nataris
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**Disclaimer: Thank you all so much for your thoughts and advice. I fully understand that bonsai is mainly an outdoor "hobby". Unfortunately for me, outdoor isn't an option. So I will be going forward will my attempt with indoor bonsai. Please respect my decision and do not comment about how this will never work etc. I understand the difficulty. But am seeking knowledge to do my best. Thank you!!

So I understand most plants/trees (therefore bonsai) benefit from dormancy periods during colder months to rebuild there energy as well as protect themselves from the cold. How does this effect indoor plants?

I have a pretty good quality grow light and am wondering if I should make a schedule that allows for less light during the winter months so the plants have time to going into there natural dormancy state. What is the consensus about this? I've been doing my share of research but haven't came to an answer.

My thoughts here are that since indoor bonsai is so difficult, I'm trying to recreate a natural environment for the plants to thrive in. Which means being mindful of how they thrive outside.

The plants in question:
- Chinese Elm
- Ficus "Golden Gate"
- Juniper
- Jade

TLDR: Where does dormancy fit into indoor bonsai growing using artificial lighting? Should it be forced and is it only necessary for outdoors?

Thank you all for your knowledge and advice.

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Indoor Bonsai and Dormancy? 3 years 10 months ago #59756

  • BofhSkull
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As you point out, it is an outdoor hobby indeed, so no direct experience in doing this nor would I encourage anybody in doing it.
That said, if I had to make assumptions, I'd say tropical plants are more or less your only options; of the list above, I guess only ficus and jade.

Amount of sunlight per day is something you can replicate in your house, that's easy. But that's far from being the only factor.
What you can hardly replicate is humidity changes, wind going through the branches, temperatures going above and below what you'd find tolerable in your house. Particularly with junipers, you have to look at what environment they live in, as that's what they're genetically adapted to: usually low-humidity, high temperature differences between day and night and between summer and winter, often windy. Technically, they never really go dormant: they just reduce activity during the cold season, so it's not necessarily the lack of dormancy that would harm them, but all these things together.
Keeping one in an environment where the temperature doesn't really change much or at all (like a livingroom), with very limited air flow, etc, will most likely bring in diseases that the plant would hardly experience in its normal habitat, and for which it would therefore have no countermeasures. Some of them you can treat, some can be systemic and as such almost untreatable.

Again, not saying it can't be done, but definitely not something to attempt without very in-depth horticultural knowledge, IMHO.
I certaintly don't consider myself at that level, so all the above should be taken with a grain of salt ;-)

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Indoor Bonsai and Dormancy? 3 years 10 months ago #59758

  • m5eaygeoff
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Forget the Chinese Elm, forget the Juniper. The other two are tropical plants so will survive inside and do not require cold.

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Indoor Bonsai and Dormancy? 3 years 10 months ago #59759

  • Tropfrog
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However possible to replicate dormancy inside, it is expensive and troublesome.

Light and temperature are both deeply related to the activity in the tree and to each others. So adjusting one without the other Will certanly kill a temperate plant. Look into how People in cold climate overwintering meiteranean plants. However not experienced doing it but for jade . But Will likelly work for the trees mentioned except maybe ficus.

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Indoor Bonsai and Dormancy? 3 years 10 months ago #59779

  • Ivan Mann
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For some reason trees outdoors seem to be able to handle little bugs better than indoors. I have had several different trees that did fine outside and then were habitats for little bugs until a week after moving outside. Orange, lime, Hong Kong orchid, and two or three others were eaten up and finally died. Jaboticaba and baobab have survived, and the ficus has done well.
Good luck.

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