Bonsai as a house plant?

TheMasterGardener1(5B)September 11, 2012

I was considering a bonsai for a house plant, but I am thinking they grow too slow to want to even grow one.

Anyone have any bonsai house plants that look good?

I met a bonsai grower that said once you learn how to bonsai then you can grow any plant. He said that is why you will see the bonsai snobs.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

It might be helpful for those who might be willing to advise you on this if you give us a bit of information. For example, what is your understanding of what bonsai is? Just a simple definition is what I'm looking for. It might be that bonsai is not what you want, but just something that sorta, kinda looks like it.

Also, do you mean by the term 'bonsai snob'. Am rather curious about that one.

Lastly, do you know anything about the care of a plant that has been trained and cultivated as a bonsai specimen? You know, what to expect in terms of the intensity of care over the course of its life?

If you give us some background on what YOU know, we might be able to figure out how to best steer you. And don't be afraid to admit that you know nothing about'd be in good company, believe me.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 12:17PM
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"Also, do you mean by the term 'bonsai snob'. Am rather curious about that one."

I still don't understand what he meant be it? :) Maybe someone can explain?

Anyway, Sorry for being so vague. ;)

Can Bonsai a Japanese Maple? Which variety? I always wanted a japanese maple right in the living room! :)

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 12:53PM
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Hi MG,

I am going to leave this to Al since he is the expert here on bonsai. As far as the Japanese maple being in your living room, I am not sure about that. It really is a tree that needs a lot of light. Will you be having it in a window that gets direct sunlight for a significant time during the day? Again Al would be the one to ask. I know that with bonsai some of the plant rules are different.


    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 2:15PM
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How about leaving it outside?

How do I stop the pot from freezing?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 3:36PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Light is not the only limiting factor when it comes to considering Japanese Maple as a houseplant. It is a temperate zone plant and requires a cool or cold dormancy in order to remain healthy.

The same goes for any plant that gardener wishes to grow inside as a houseplant....bonsai or not. It must be one that is adaptable to the indoor environment...probably a tropical or semi-tropical zone species. All of our favorite houseplants are native to the warm climates. Japanese maple, as a deciduous, temperate zone species, will not be a suitable houseplant.

Gardener, since you are a complete novice to the culture of bonsai, I urge that you spend some time in the Bonsai Forum...reading. Click on the threads which sound interesting to you. Better yet, do a search in the Bonsai Forum for 'indoor bonsai '. Read before you begin asking questions. You can glean an enormous amount of information by paying heed to the questions of others. We all can.

If you are still interested in delving deeper into the science and art form of bonsai, there are people here who can help......Al, certainly. I am an experienced grower, but sold or gave away my entire collection a few years ago. I'm sure that there are others.

I'll bet that Al might be willing to post some pictures of specimens suitable to being grown inside.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 3:56PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

In addition to all of the above... a bonsai is never "done." It's a process that continues into the maintenance/care aspect for the entire life of the plant. Some of the ones I've seen were over 300 years old and, being in an American conservatory, those don't come close to being in the same league as the real Japanese ones.

I think what was meant by "bonsai snob" are the people who scorn cleverly potted Scheffleras or jades sold as bonsai trees in BBS's. Which is perfectly understandable one understand the time and effort in causing through constant manipulations a real tree - that should be 40 feet tall - to look so similar to the "bonsai" at WM. The stores know people think it's a cool word, so they put it on there. Otherwise, they couldn't charge 4x what it's really worth. Well, yes, they could, I already admitted in another thread I would buy the through-the-rock Scheff, in good company. Knowing it's not really a bonsai doesn't make it any less cute!!

Bonsai is too much of an educational and time commitment for a lot of people, but you may have an interest in arborsculpture - IE shaping your potted plants and even yard plants into interesting and manipulated shapes, often taking advantage of the plants' ability to inosculate. (Going for a 3rd mention this week, who will bring up something appropriate?) Like a braided Ficus or spiraling Dracaena trunk. Fire up the goog, Wiki,, to get the creative juices flowing if it sounds fun.

If that's way off-base, whatever made you ask about bonsai might be good to revisit, for more appropriate suggestions for the new as-yet-unknown-plant it sounds like you want.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 4:37PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Perhaps MG,

If you could tell us (which was asked earlier, but not answered) what do YOU mean by Bonsai?

Our guesses don't really tell us what YOU have in mind.

If you could tell us what you are envisioning, I may have a suggestion for you.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 3:40PM
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I would really like to Bonsai a Japanese Maple. Should I leave it ouside during the winter? How can i protect the pot from freezing even for growing evergreens in containers that are not bonsai. Maybe I may ask that as a seperate question.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 4:02PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

As said above, I don't think you can do a Japanese Maple indoors. I don't know location, nor do I know zones. I believe Japanese maples are OK to winter over in NYC.

Perhaps try a search for Polycias Ming or Aralias as Houseplants & see if you like the look of that, especially the Ming.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 10:33PM
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The Ficus Wrangler

All of the responses are good, and contain good info. I'm not a bonsai expert, but I've read alot, and have a few bonsai myself. First, Japanese maple is NOT a house plant. You can't "grow" it indoors. If you've seen pictures of such things in houses, probably you were seeing plants that have been brought in for a few days for the family to enjoy, then they are taken back outside for most of the year. Second, they have very cold winters in much of Japan, so growing bonsai in cold weather is done all the time. For specifics, you will need to STUDY. I think that's what everyone is trying to tell you - bonsai is a rich and ancient subject, worth studying if you have the interest;asking a couple of questions on a forum without the study will not equip you to undertake bonsai growing. So if you're interested in Japanese Maple, set yourself up a place outside and go for it! If you want some bonsai indoors, there are houseplants that can be grown in a bonsai style, and there are even a few that really are trees, so they do qualify as true bonsai. Once again, do some research and go for it. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 11:55AM
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