Indoor Bonsais - Growing them and Winter Care
What is the difference between indoor and outdoor bonsai?
Plants that are naturally tropical or subtropical are Indoor bonsai. They can be treated almost the same year around. Outdoor bonsai plants are hardy plants that need a winter rest period at a specific temperature each year in order to survive. They cannot be kept indoors continually·
People believe that the bonsai should be grown indoors. But with the exception of tropicals and sub tropicals, all bonsai should be grown outdoors.
Temperate flowering plants should be grown outdoors all year round. Unlike, Tropicals and Sub tropicals are grown Indoors all year round.
Coming to the type of plants which can be grown Indoors are the Temperate flowering plants, that to, only after a period of dormancy in winter.
Among the bonsais, Indoor bonsais are preferred as they can be easily grown indoors as there may be space constraints nowadays.
The Requirements for the growth of Indoor plants
- Light: 50% of light is very essential for the plants as most of them are Woody. Less light means leggy and problematic plants.
- Dormancy: Dormancy of 6-8 (30F to 40F or lower temperatures) weeks is most essential for the temperate woody plants. Without this dormant period, deciduous species will continue to grow for two years, then go dormant no matter what the season or temperature. This poses stress for the plant, and it is sometimes fatal.
- Water: There is no particular schedule for the watering of plants. Only when there is a need of water, give them.
- Fertilizer: Fertilizing to a schedule is the best way. Fertilize every week when the plants are actively growing and stop at the beginning of the dormant period. Unlike for tropicals, continue to fertilize as long as new growth is evident.
- Humidity: Many tropicals need high humidity, temperate climate plants do not, but it is important not to let levels approach desert aridity, which can happen inside during the winter.
- Insect and Disease Control: Mites, aphids, woolly aphids, mealy bugs, scale, etc, pests can be controlled by spraying with an appropriate insecticidal soap.
If all these factors are satisfied, then the plants grows to their fullest.
Some Sub Tropical and Tropical plants for growing Indoor plants: Ficus benjamina(the Weeping fig), Ficus salicifolia(willow leafed fig), Schefflera arboricola( the Hawaiian umbrella tree), Crassula ovata(the jade plant), Portulacaria afra( the dwarf jade), Dracaena marginata(The dragon plant), Zygocactus(the holiday cactus), and small succulents like Hatiora salicornioides.
Some examples of Temperate plants are maples and junipers.
Growing Indoor Bonsais:
Though the bonsai tree is an indoor tree, periodically it should be placed outdoors to ensure its daily bout of outdoor atmosphere. When the night temperatures are not below 40 degrees in summer, you can place the bonsai tree outside on a patio, terrace, garden or balcony. It is always advisable to place the indoor bonsai tree where it receives maximum sunlight and where it can be viewed like a table, wall or bench.
- Miniaturization: Scaffold branches are allowed to prosper, while the excess branches are mercilessly pruned off. Bonsai trees are intentionally allowed to become root-bound in their containers, and the roots, too, are pruned. But root-bound plants won't thrive forever in that condition and, indeed.
- Pruning and Wiring: Pruning of branches is performed in spring. Much, but not all of the new growth is removed. Required branches are wired (Wiring)to control the direction in which they grow.
- Fertilize: Fertilize (when the soil is wet) the bonsai trees with a water-soluble fertilizer once or twice per month during the growing season. Fertilizer may vary depending on the species.
- When the soil begins to dry out, give water.
- Record the water levels before and after watering, maintaining the optimum levels.
- Do not overwater or underwater.
Repotting: Repotting is essential every 2-3 years for successful growing of bonsai trees.
Winter care for Indoor Bosais
- There is a need for winter protection as temperate woody plants require a dormant period where temperatures drop to less than 10C continually for a period of between 260 hours and 1000 hours (depending on individual species).
- Keep the plant indoors during severe cold, with temperatures not below 60 to 65 degrees.
- It is always better to place the indoor bonsai tree in a shallow tray that is filled with a layer of gravel during the cold months.