Guidance on Bonsai

brdaniel89August 25, 2010

Before people start to flame and stuff, I have read but guidance from someone who has experience would be nice.

I have currently a Fukien Tea tree and I'm growing a Japanese Maple (five of them) but only one seems nice and strong. What I would first like to know is what can i do to make it stronger and the next steps i should be taking for the Japanese maple

Its about a year old? I think.

And also What should i be doing for the Fukien

Its a bit out of focus (i was using manual focus) I know i have to wait for spring to repot it into a Bonsai pot but what few pointers have you guys got? Thanks alot! Sorry if the pictures don't work.

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Also, I live in NJ fall/winter is coming soon. What should i do for both? In the spring summer i keep them in sun/shade

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 9:42PM
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Hi - The F. tea looks great, what's it planted in, where is it kept re lighting and how is it humidified? The maple(s?) link just went to a blank page.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 10:07PM
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brdaniel89 There is the maple and the Fukien Tea For now I have it on my window sill and move it outside in the shade when there is sun and is warm. And I've had it for about 10 days, I only watered it once like it said soak it then let it drain out. How often should i water it? How often should i water it in the winter? Its in some type of soil.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 10:45PM
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That link goes to a blank page - believe me.
As far as the F. tea goes - don't put it outside and inside and out again, especially as the weather is becoming a bit unstable now - just leave it indoors. It is definitely not a beginner tree and if you can find a local bonsai club to talk to it would be a big help in terms of knowing what it is planted in - "some type of soil" doesn't help much but can matter very much to the tree's survival. You should never 'listen' to the care tags that are stuck on plants - 99% of the time they are literally worse than useless and store clerks are highly unlikely to be any better when it comes to anything more than house plants. No trees should be watered by immersion (standing pots in a sink full of water) but from above, slowly, like rain until it comes out the drain holes, but how often you water depends very much on what the mix is, as well as knowing how to gauge dryness. In any case, wait til the top half to one inch of the mix (which I'll presume is potting soil, made up mostly of peat moss, the scourge of bonsai for it's lack of fast drainage) and then water as above - your tree cannot ever wait 10 days between times - if it's still alive by now. Keep it in the brightest available light you have (they are normally grown 6 inches under high wattage fluorescents for 16 hours a day on timers). A crucial part of keeping F. teas is humidity - lots of it, but don't spray it as that can damage the tree and is a waste of time in any case. Do use a wide (foliage spanning) tray with a 1" rim, fill it with water. Sit the pot on pebbles in the tray to keep it from ever touching the water, so roots won't rot which will happen if water is allowed to wick back into the pot. And do try to find a club to help as your tree will need it.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 5:30AM
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More... Do go to for general basics of bonsai, and to for expert advice on tropicals, plus www.evergreengardenworks for more about 'outdoor' trees and anything else you find on the (terrific) site that you can learn from. Everyone is new at some time, but it's what you do then that counts :0).

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 5:55AM
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Where are the maples growing - inside or out? In what kind of light? Have you planted them in the ground?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 5:57AM
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Maples are growing with sunlight and mostly outside in the shade.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 12:32PM
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The fukien tea looks like it's off to a good start, what you want in the end (size and all) dictates what you do with it now. They will grow in normal potting soil, with about 30-40% aggrigate added to the mix. They must be in a pot which drains well, they like the soil to be evenly moist but not wet. It will also always be a problem because they are very finicky about everything. Larke mentioned about a 'humidity tray', most are not big enough to be of any use -- especially with central heating in a NJ winter.
It will help a little.

If you look at Jerry's set-up carefully he's built a room dedicated to the growing of tropicals. He has provided enough light (with some very expensive but good lighting units) and can water in the normal way.

The key to growing tropicals, with any degree of success, in a northern area, is how much time and money you want to dedicate to them.

The maples are an outdoor tree but now very small, even in the ground they will need some protection from the cold dry winter winds or you will experience dieback from moisture dessication every winter.

You can immerse a pot to water the tree, most growing tropicals indoors in the north don't want to spray down part of the house while watering. If the pot drains well it will also take water up well -- let it soak until it's well drenched then set it aside on a drainboard or another place where the water can drain freely from the pot.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 8:26PM
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Well, just for the record, just about everyone else I've known in bonsai over decades is definitely anti the immersion-in-the-sink technique for watering. Your tree will miss out on getting 02 drawn inside properly for starters, and salts, etc. in the soil don't get washed out as well as they do when watered from above. I think it's important that you listen to everyone here. Most of us in the north don't find it necessary to spray down the house to water our tropicals so don't let that scenario put you off either!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 8:53PM
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Good argument however, the pot and soil are only going to drain at a given rate no matter which way you water. Given though, the more you water (from above) the more you will 'flush' things away. Directly lifting the pot and putting it on a place to drain well is doing about the same thing -- it's only going to hold so much water anyway.

If all you're doing is pouring water into the pot, at the level of the soil, it's about the same as immersion anyway.
Probably worse because the pot will have some dry spots.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 9:13PM
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I live in the north (Michigan) and I purchased a tank for spraying weeds with a wand on it which can be adjusted from a mist to a spray. I fill the tank with water and water all my tropicals in the sink by spraying the soil from the top with a fine mist until the water drains out of the bottom of the pot. Just an idea if you do wish to water from the top.
See this link:

You could also shower with a sink sprayer if you have one, just be careful not to wash all the soil away, spray gently. The lady at our local bonsai shop waters some of her trees by immersion with to problem. It's really a matter of opinion and you need to decide what works best for you. Make sure the pot drains in a location that will not be damaged by the water thoroughly .
Larke is right about your fukien tea though - avoid moving it all around and get some light on it inside.Find a happy spot for it and leave it there. I use a humidity tray on mine exactly as described by Larke as well.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 9:26AM
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