Growing Bonsai Indoors

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How do they feel about being inside? One of the most common misconceptions about bonsai is that they should be grown indoors. With the exception of tropicals and sub tropicals, all bonsai should be grown outdoors. Temperate climate woody plants must go through a period of cold dormancy in order to survive. This dormancy completes a yearly cycle. In deciduous trees this is a very obvious phenomenon, however, temperate evergreens such as juniper also need to go through this cycle. Tropicals and similar "houseplants" can be successfully trained for bonsai and grown indoors year round. In mild climates, temperate bonsai should remain outdoors year round. In cold climates, temperate climate plants should be grown outdoors during the warm seasons of the year, but will need winter protection.

The Need for Strong Light The major problems in indoor growing are the lack of intense light. Even if you kept your bonsai in an unobstructed south facing window, I doubt that the light would be sufficient for many species of woody plants. Most people just don't understand how dark it is in the house, even in front of a window. Consider that, outside, the light comes from not only the direct sun, but from 180 degrees of sky plus all the reflected light of objects in the other 180 degrees.

Light from a window is little better than a point source of light. You can correct this by putting your bonsai in the sunniest window of your house, but not too close to the glass or it will experience excessive heat buildup. This light may be too intense for some tropicals that are used to growing on the forest floor, but for most woody temperate climate plants it is still insufficient. Couple this with an overhead fluorescent lamp for these species. Keep the lamp about six inches above the plant. Twin forty watt fixtures are inexpensive to purchase and use. Special bulbs are not necessary, I personally use a mixture of cool white and warm white in my indoor fluorescent light fixture for indoor bonsai growing. Keep the lamp on 12 hours a day to augment the sunlight. If you lack a window with sufficient light for even low light tropicals, you can safely use fluorescent lamps as the only source of light. Download free Growing Bonsai Indoors.pdf here

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