Indoor Bonsai ‘All You Need To Know’

Indoor Bonsai  'All You Need To Know'

Well as you can see I’m wearing my lovely tropical Hawaiian shirt and it’s the last day of March and we are locked in and not a lot to do but I thought that I should give you a little talk about indoor bonsai in the bonsai is a subject that one side peers don’t often like to talk about and they don’t like to talk about it quite justifiably because most bonus I or in fact all bonsai actually grown outdoors I remember when I first started doing bonsai seriously and that was in 1974-75 when I joined the British bonsai Association and in club service bonsai was just octo on-site if you refer to indoor bonsai that was a dirty word you never mentioned the word cleaned up on a site because all bonsai was considered to be outdoors and justifiably so because tropical plants which are grown in the West as in no bonsai in the tropics they’re grown outdoors many of you will have come across my books and in the books I often give you the history of how indoor bonsai started indoor bonsai is really an invention of the Western world in the fifties and sixties after the Second World War when things were recovering and people wanted to beautify their homes there was a trend to grow indoor plants and indoor plants were really tropical plants which because they can’t stand the cold and the frost outdoors they could be grown indoors but in know plants do not grow successfully indoors because in the tropics in their native habitat they grow in hot humidity bright sunshine and you have all the conditions of the tropics which make these plants thrive so when you try to grow a plant indoors they are never successful this is the same about the SoCon indoor bonsai although the bulk of people who come into once I come via the indoor bonsai root I often tell them that this is not really the bonsai that you should be growing and I have never been a very good salesman if I was a good salesman my business would have expanded and I would be a mega millionaire but because I was a purist I always tried to people keep people away from the so called endo bond I just called the outdoor bonsai and of course the market for the October 9 this much more limited than indoor bonsai because most people hanker after growing a plant indoors whenever I have a nursery customer come to see us the first thing they ask is where of all the indoor bonsai and they are a bit disappointed when I show their body beautiful outdoor bonsai and the indoor bonsai are rather drab I’m standing in front of a beautiful loropetalum which is red there are very few bonsai that are in fact actually red they are all just a plain green color so let me say something about in the bonsai and how you can grow them successfully when you look at the environment that I’m standing in which is our indoor greenhouse this is where we sell our indoor plants this is not rarely typical Western living room where the temperatures are about 20 to 25 or even 28 degrees centigrade which in the whole money is like mid 50s to the 70s Fahrenheit and it’s very warm and dry the environment in this greenhouse is in the winter it goes down to freezing and then they dip time in the sun shining bright it can rise to about 15 or 20 degrees in the summertime of course it gets as high as the mid 30s and even 40 degrees centigrade which is very very warm and then we open all the doors today on the 31st of March the ambient temperature in here is I think about 15 to 60 degrees centigrade and tonight it will probably go down to 3 degrees and of course I keep watering the parts so there’s always very high humidity so the environment here is not like the environment you would get in a typical living room and therefore the end of bonds I always tend to suffer there is no two ways about it but having said that you can still grow them successfully if you grow them in a heated conservatory in the winter where you can provide the conditions very similar to this greenhouse you will see that they will grow much better I have had some customers some dear old ladies who’ve been coming to us for the last 20 or more years and they grow them successfully in con heated greenhouse or in the conservatory and they have had Chinese M’s which they’ve had for about 20 or more years and they’re ever so healthy and strong so it is possible to grow indoor bonsai successfully what I will now do is to go round and describe all the different varieties of the more popular indoor bonsai that are on the market so let me take you for a little tour around give no greenhouse and my conservatory to show you what can be grown by far the most popular variety of so-called indoor bonsai that is sold on the market the Western market is the Chinese elm the Chinese arm is an L and although in Europe they refer to it as L cover poby flora that is in fact the wrong name zelkova is the name given to the Japanese gray buckle and the truth I’ll cover is Kovas errata in Japan it has grown mainly as a broom style bonsai and it’s very popular as a street tree or mini tea tree so when they call it self kava parviflora this is the wrong name I won’t go into the politics of why this was called zelkova but suffice it to say is that the Elm was regarded as a dangerous species because there there was Dutch elm disease in the mid 60s and early 70s when all the Elms throughout Europe were decimated by the Dutch elm disease so people are afraid of him so they don’t call it Elm the Chinese elm is not calling him and they call it zelkova but it is a true helm I would just say in passing that there are many types of elm there’s the rough bark elm that comes from Japan which has coffee bark and the Chinese elm which is produced in China they have the smooth bark and they have these leaves if they are fertilized well they will have this lovely deep green color some of my arms here are only just coming into leaf so they have these fresh green leaves and they’re really healthy and strong all these leaves which are about 4 inches long the stems are all this year’s growth and this greenhouse is not heated so it just gets the sunlight to keep it warm I have all sort other realms which I grow outdoors and in case you’re wondering why you can grow the Elm outdoors all I would say is that the Elm is a very very Hardy species now I’m going to show you two really big old helms they are just coming into leaf they’ve only come into leaf in the last two weeks this has a trunk of about five to six inches in diameter gnarled and old so is this one and these are all the new leaves that have started emerging from the tree so they lose all the leaves in winter because I keep it outdoors and it goes through the process of shedding leaves in the autumn and they get the new leaves in spring so the Elm is one of those few species that can be grown both indoors or outdoors if you grow them outdoors they grow much better because you treat them like a normal bonsai but if you grow them indoors you must keep it in a very very cool environment so the success of the Chinese elm depends largely on the temperature in which you grow it in so if you grow it in a cool room with a lot of light and make sure the soil never dries out that is okay sometimes people say oh my arm has got yellow leaves in this spring and summer this is perfectly normal because when you get the new leaves the old leaves will drop so don’t worry about that the arms are also susceptible to disease so mainly the aphids and sometimes you get a white fly if you see that you are the jetted off with a jet of water or your spear insecticide and you will soon get rid of it don’t worry about the leaves some being bed big and some small look at these two Elms side-by-side that out has got very small leaves that may be a slightly different species while this one has got big leaves so so much about the helm so the secret to growing up successfully indoors is to keep them in a cool room with lots of light and they grow better if they’re grown outdoors then the next most common plant that is grown as indoor bonsai is the SAG eritrea the secretary is the tree that appears in my first book one side the art of growing and keeping miniature trees that was probably the first ever secretary imported into Europe and that was imported by tokonoma bonsai and it was in the Chinese exhibition at Chelsea in 1980 so that is a lovely tree and it’s a favorite tree of mind unfortunately it didn’t survive it died only a few years ago and the young leaves of cigarette here are this lovely pinky color so all the segments I have these new leaves that are this lovely color and of course this shed the old leaves as the new leaves emerge cigarette here is sometimes referred to as bird plum cherry because the Chinese or the Cantonese word for cigarette here is joke Mui joke means bird and Mui is the plum or the plum blossom so joke Mui means the plum blossom which the birds are very fond of hosting on so much for cigarette here sometimes you get very large specimens but on the whole modern societies tend to have small trunks which are sold commercially we don’t have very many big ones now I used to have them so segorita is the next common one I will show you another example so these are all cigarette here this is what we call the broom style all the new tips of the leaves and sometimes they’re trained in the S shape with the curly shape so much for the cigarette here the next variety I’m going to talk about is what we call the pepper tree sometimes people refer to it as such one pepper I’ve heard it referred to the Japan pepper but the botanical name is zento xylem people rhythm so you need to check this in the encyclopedia and they have these compound leaves and apparently these leaves have an aromatic smell and I believe that it is used for garnishing and can be used as a salad it’s got a lovely smell like lemon or lime leaves and they have tiny little flowers in the summer very insignificant crimson type flaws which are hardly noticeable but in this continent in Europe they seldom produce the seeds or the peppercorns because we don’t have warm temperatures or temperatures which are not warm enough for them to produce seed so that is so much for the pepper tree the next variety I want to talk about is the Chinese privet privet is ligustrum so I’m not sure of the exact botanical species is just called the Gustavus finances or whatever but it’s certainly not the one that is grown as hedging plants in Europe but you can see that the leaves are definitely a privet type leaf there are two varieties the only green variety and the variegated variety so that one is simply called Li gusto very again in the West we grow them as a golden form not so white as this and again that is used for hedging and very popular shape are these s shapes they do lose some of the leaves in winter so you got to be careful by the way don’t be worried when indoor bonsai lose their leaves look at that these are the pepper leaves pepper tree leaves that have fallen so when you get leaf drop in the spring and also in the autumn this is quite common so do not panic when you see leaves falling off the trees it’s perfectly natural for it to do that so this is ligustrum this is a Lucas trim for that one of our staff have made so you can plant several together to make a forest so so much for ligustrum now let me turn to Porter coppice because while I’m here this is a photo compass forest again one of my colleagues have made Podocarpus is sometimes referred to as the Buddha blind this one has got the large needles of the large leaves there are two varieties I will show you another one with the large leaves this one is the large leaf Porter compass so is this but there are other varieties that have much smaller leaves in Japan it’s called Maki I think and the Chinese are very fond of it and most of the tree is not that I’ve grown in Japan are in fact exported to China because the Chinese absolutely love Porter Karpis is supposed to be a very lucky tree that tree is every bit four to five foot tall look at it in the greenhouse I bought because they’re just nice but the chances of selling it for someone to grow in the living room are very slim because who would have a large living room to cognate that tree maybe a bank or an architect’s office might have it now let me turn to some of these smaller ones many of them are grown in these in formal shape some of them have got the a shape so there are some width which have large needles some have got small needles so this is Porter compass the new foliage is really nice see how it contrasts with the old darker foliage and then I have some really dinky ones smaller ones here this is Podocarpus as well now that next variety I can talk about it is d the next variety that I’m going to show you is the Japanese Holly this believe it or not is actual Holly and has all Hollies they produced fruit I’ve just spotted one that has fruit if I home and can you see those blackberries this is what the holly berries looked like little black round fruit they’re not red in color but it produces holly berries although they’re not red so Alex Renata is the name for the Japanese holly and very very popular look at these small ones they grow ever so easily from cuttings sometimes going in the S shape in for an upright shape and this is the same variety that is often grown as garden trees you see them as 1 1 & 1/2 2 metre tall garden trees which are quite expensive to buy but I’ve seen many people grow them in their gardens outside in England and in Europe if you live in the Mediterranean countries they will survive outdoors but he will grow them in cool temperate countries like England Germany Sweden they will not survive the winters so don’t be do not draw them as an outdoor tree they will not survive I’ve seen many people grow them in the Japanese gardens thinking it will survive like the pine it does not survive and the same applies to the Porta corpus if they’re grown as large garden trees and you try to grow them outdoors they will not survive the winter so the Japanese Holly you’ve got to be careful the other popular tree which I will now show you is the Mediterranean types which include mainly our citrus now there are many types of urges citrus there is this very tiny ones I think is called citronella or whatever and these kumquat beautiful little things they were just gone for the novelty of the fruit given a slight twist so they come from the warm countries of the Mediterranean so if you grow them indoors you again you’ve got to give a lot of humidity and make sure that it’s not too hot or dry while I’m passing this little structure is a bubble plastic structure I keep my ficuses in here because I can’t afford to heat this large green earth so I just keep the ficuses and the jade trees in here because they can’t stand the cold we also go these funny sea domes they’re just novelty things and that’s a pepper tree while I’m passing grown in the funny cascade style all these trees come from China there’s a ficus there ficus reducer with all those massive aerial roots I’ll talk about ficus in just a moment I have just spotted a tree which I don’t like selling because it’s very very difficult this is the carmona or Fukien tea although I have had a few of them in the nursery I find that there extremely difficult to keep alive so although they are nice and green and if they’re grown properly they produce a little white flowers I think the botanical name is also right here religiosa but in the West in in the UK Germany and countries like that they do not survive well so I would not recommend growing the carmona because it’s never such a difficult variety to grow as a same good to talk about ficus in more detail in a minute while I’m in this part of the nursery there are lots of these lovely brush cherry and the breath cherry is a variety that is only recently become more popular sometimes I think this is also called Barbados cherry I’m not sure because I don’t know this species so well but the botanical name is Sicilian micro filler because it has small leaves they have a little white pom-pom light flaws in the summer and after flowering they produce little dark crimson almost deep red berries which makes it very attractive as a plant but again be warned it is not an easy indoor species to grow although the spring growth like this is tipped with little red shoots they all have these lovely red shoots now now that spring is coming you’ve got to keep it in a very very cool room and with lots of humidity if you keep it in a warm room they will die a lot of people are not successful with it and I would put this as one of the more difficult varieties difficult in the sense that if you don’t give it enough humidity and don’t keep it cool they will struggle to survive so do be of the brushed cherry it is a difficult variety to grow I’m just trying to see what other varieties there are in this greenhouse before I move on now I think I’ve shown you most of the varieties in here I’m going to talk about the ficuses and the Jade trees in just a moment oh yes I should perhaps talk about the Mediterranean varieties and I’ll take you to another greenhouse now the olive tree is a Mediterranean plant we have quite a few olives here with beautiful trunks and the olives we tend to grow them as a semi hardy tree in the sense that we grow them undercover in the winter that means in an unheated greenhouse look at these ones in the massive trunks we grow them in an unheated greenhouse and you can keep it in a living room provided it is very cool but very moist as well if you keep it in the room which is too hot and dry the leaves will dry out and they will suffer so these olives here go down to freezing because this greenhouse or this tunnel is not heated so they survive the winters zero degrees of minus 2 minus 3 and then in the summer we bring them out there are many types of olive these large leaves type they produce fruit but there is also a very small leaf one which is called the wild olive and that doesn’t produce fruit so readily so they are grown sometimes as indoor bonsai but you’ve got to be very careful and you’ve got to keep them in a cool room and don’t let it dry out another variety which is relatively recent as an introduction to bonsai is this one which is pistachio pistachio is a Mediterranean plant and the leaves are aromatic compound leaves and I was reading somewhere in Google that pistacia was used by the Romans like the way you use chewing gum if you chew the leaves it leaves a nice fragrant smell to the mouth so it must have been used for you know preventing bad breath so this is the history of this plant and it is a Mediterranean plant and used for bonsai in the autumn they have nice foliage but again remember you got to keep it on the dry side so while I’m here a lot of lemon trees here lemon trees are very very Hardy very easy to propagate from cuttings and people grow them because they have the lovely scented flowers and fruit also while I’m here the pomegranate again is a Mediterranean plant so these are pomegranate my sash shape and because they’re Mediterranean plant they have to be kept on the cool side and although it’s only the end of much look at them they’re already flowering beautiful flower and the buds and all these they all started to flower so they have a very long flowering season right from March till I would face September they can be in flower and they produce lovely fruit this is the miniature variety so they have small flowers and small fruit I think I’ve shown you this room of us before this is our den meditations and or Yoga Center we do Tai Chi we also dance and this is where I use my rowing machine I use it religiously every day and I show you this room because we keep our ficuses in here especially the large ones there are only a few of these large ones left in here because we’ve repotted about three or four very large ones so they’ve been taken to the greenhouse so they’re no longer in here I brought you in here mainly to show you the jade trees the Jade sea of money tree this variety with the small leaves is called pot you like area aspera obviously because it may have come originally from Africa so this is another one for Tillich area after this is a very large tree I’m gonna work on that in a demonstration one day to transform that tree when I used to go to India I used to love working on these trees they can be wild I never thought they could be white but they can be wired this is the small leaf jade tree and I called it the lazy persons tree because they don’t need a lot of water because being a succulent like a cactus they like dry conditions so you can neglect this tree you may not even water it for one or two weeks at a time in winter and they will survive so they are extremely happy not being watered regularly but I would say they cannot stand frost in fact you mustn’t let it fall below four or five degrees centigrade if it goes to freezing then you could have killed the tree so be very careful with the street they cannot stand the frost stalk of all the so-called indoor species I would rate this as the single most easy or the number one lazy person’s tree the J tree they are widened into this s-shaped now that is the small leaf Jade there’s also the larger leaf Jade which a lot of people grow as a house plant and this tree here is about four feet tall and the trunk diameter and the base is about 12 to 15 inches there were about five trunks and I broke two or three of them off because they were too heavy and bulky so they’ve calloused you can see it’s got this massive trunk it was given to me by a dear gentleman who since passed away he grew it for forty five years and he gave it to me maybe about 20 years ago because he couldn’t handle the tree anymore it was too big and heavy for him and I’ve had it ever since I’ve made many many cuttings on that tree this type of jade is such an easy tree to propagate if you just let the leaves fall on the ground they will produce new shoots look at this one this little leaf you can see the new shoots are coming from the leaf that will make a new plant just from the leaf I remember as a boy when I used to grow plants in India there are many types of plants in this category of this family I think mainly wood they were called briar films and they always send out roots from the fallen leaves look at it that would make a new plant so very easy to propagate you just break a little trick this plant here is a cutting from that tree so it was so easy to grow and these are not that easy to are not like the small leaf what popular carrier I think that one is called Portola carya ovata and this one is potty luck area ephra now I’ve brought you into the conservatory of my home this conservatory is about I would say 40 foot long and about I would say 10 foot wide and the height and the apex is about 12 feet so it’s a very small relatively small volume of space and because I can’t afford to heat the large green earth which is massive I just hit this little room to keep my ficuses alive in the winter ficuses cannot stand cold temperatures the ideal minimum temperature would be no more than I would say 3 degrees or even 5 degrees ideally it should be like 7 to 10 degrees and in the summer it can stand any degree of warmth or heat I would say the ficus is by far the most reliable indoor bonsai but again as with most in Nobles I’d be careful they are not always evergreen because they can shed the leaves in winter so like this variety that’s another variety that’s not the reducer that is more like the benjamina family that I shed most of the leaves and it’s only getting the new leaves again so most of the focuses on though they are evergreen they do shed some leaves so be warned there are other varieties I will show you about coming to the ficus as long as you keep it damp humid it’s a very humid environment and give it a lot of light the focus is by far the easiest of all the indoor varieties I was telling you about Carmona I will show you some kimono that I have here they are kept in this very warm environment see this one lost all the leaves but the new leaves are coming again but I would not recommend carmona its ever such a difficult tree to grow this is sirisha cerissa with the exposed roots typical Chinese stars expose root bonsai and they have little white flowers there’s a variety of serozha that has variegated leaves and little purple flowers serosa fitted her feet today refers to fetus so it has a very musty smell so don’t rub the leaves because you won’t like the smell of the leaves the other plants that I haven’t shown you is the bougainvillea in India and other tropical countries bougainvillea is such a beautiful plant these are flowers that were from last year but in this country they’re hard to grow but we still manage to keep them alive their Mediterranean plants another variety which is difficult is this one is called Q fear they lose all their leaves they’re getting new leaves again they’re not dead these plants are not dead but a very difficult variety to keep so q fear is a difficult one so if you were to ask me which species would you recommend for a beginner I would say every time the ficus is by far the easiest and next in line if you are lazy person it would be the Jade tree this one is do run to us we missed it duronto is usually a hedging plant in the tropics again a difficult variety but if you are careful they will survive I’ve just come across this one which is your land Tala it’s got very pungent leaves again an extremely difficult one form Western Europe they grow well in the tropics and you go and of course Mediterranean countries you go to Spain Italy Greece they grow wild as Scot plants in the hedgerows and they literally line the streets wherever you go so I hope I’ve covered comprehensively most of the plants and I’ll just go back to the other greenhouse and say I often get asked by people why can’t I grow these lovely maples indoors can you grow an indoor plant outdoors well the answer to that is yes you can grow the indoor ones outdoors in the summer but if it can’t stand the frost you can’t roll them outdoors in the winter but the outdoor trees like the maples they may survive being kept indoors for two or three months and then they will begin to look sick and healthy so the answer is if you want to grow an outdoor trees inside your living room be careful it is not the end ideal environment I’m not going to say that little time instantly but they will not survive for long so outdoor trees should be grown outdoors don’t be tempted to grow it indoors unless you want to try it as an experiment but I can assure you it’s not that easy to do I brought you into this green earth because I want to show you the edible fig or the ficus carica now these are edible fix these have been drawn in a warmer environment so they’ve got their leaves coming out first so these produce these lovely things look at that fig from last year and all these beautiful little baby figs are starting to grow so this is sometimes grown indoors but do be careful you’ve got to keep it well watered and they don’t like the room being too warm they are really outdoor trees but they can stand some Frost but not a lot of frost so I hope I’ve now covered all the varieties that can be grown either indoors or in a greenhouse but the division between indoor and outdoor is a very fine one because a lot of the Mediterranean plants are neither one thing nor the other so that can be confusing I will now end by showing you my book this was written in 2012 originally called the bonsai Bible but I now think the publishers have called it the bonsai beginners Bible and it’s like a mini encyclopedia of all the different species of trees their likes and dislikes so this describes both the outdoor varieties and the indoor varieties and handy little reference book to have so with that I hope you’ve enjoyed this little talk and tour of indoor species I’m sure there are more indoor species that I could have covered but I can’t do everything but what I’ve told you I hope you have found helpful [Music]

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