Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Indoor Bonsai fact or fiction?

I have come to resolve the question, are there bonsai that can be kept indoor without extra lighting? To some this is a foolish question. I had an experience on reddit where I proposed the idea that some species of tree can be made into bonsai and kept indoors. Someone ardently accused me of propagating a “bonsai myth” (I am not sure if those are like bonsai seeds like the one seen on ebay). I had never questioned my belief in indoor bonsai. However, I would rather admit I am wrong than keep promoting a falsehood that may harm someone's beloved and cherished bonsai. Here is what I found out.

What is an indoor plant?
Wikipedia says, “A houseplant is a plant that is grown indoors in places such as residences and offices. Houseplants are commonly grown for decorative purposes, positive psychological effects, keeping fresh or health reasons such as indoor air purification. Plants used in this fashion are most commonly, though not always, tropical or semi-tropical epiphytes, succulents or cacti.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houseplant)

I know it's wikipedia, you should take things with a grain of salt. Purdue university says this, “First, realize that most of the foliage plants known as house plants are native to tropical areas. This is why, for instance, most indoor plants prefer a humid atmosphere and indirect light.” (https://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-39.pdf)

The common denominator is that they have to be tropical plants. These plants require less light and less light intensity. Thats it, thats the big deal.  

What kind of trees can be kept indoor?
Bonsai empire said. “There are several trees that you can grow indoor, but by far the most common (and the easiest to care for) is the Ficus bonsai. The Ficus is tolerant to low humidity and can withstand quite a lot; a good choice for beginners. Other popular indoor bonsai trees include the Crassula (Jade), the Ligustrum (Privet), the Carmona (Fukien Tea), the Schefflera Arboricola (Hawaiian Umbrella) and the Sageretia (Sweet Plum).” (http://www.bonsaiempire.com/tree-species/indoor-bonsai)

Jerry Meislik of bonsihunk fame says, “One of my favorite trees for indoor bonsai is the Chinese Banyan, scientific name is Ficus microcarpa. In the tropical foliage trade the same tree is called Ficus nitida or microcarpa. In this article I will refer to it as Ficus microcarpa or the Chinese banyan.” (http://www.bonsaihunk.us/info/ChineseBanyan.html)

Where can you read about indoor plants?
http://www.bonsaihunk.us/ is a great website for all things ficus. Jerry Meislik has written extensively about ficus as an indoor bonsai.

Bonsai empire has a good section on indoor bonsai. http://www.bonsaiempire.com/tree-species/indoor-bonsai

You can also read these books:

Indoor Bonsai

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Cassell; Reprint edition (February 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844037274
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844037278
  • Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 0.5 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces

Indoor Bonsai for Beginners: Selection - Care - Training

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Cassell (February 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844033503
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844033508
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces

Growing Bonsai Indoors (BBG Guides for a Greener Planet)

  • Series: BBG Guides for a Greener Planet
  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Brooklyn Botanic Garden (May 12, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 188953885X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1889538853
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces

In conclusion, yes you can have a bonsai inside. It is important where you place it. People have kept indoor bonsai for years. It is not a myth. You do not need special lights as long as your tree gets enough light through a window. Cheers.

1 comment:

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