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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm not sure if this the right place to post this. I've been looking up info on bonsai trees all day and I'm not finding very good info compared to what I'm hoping to get here.

I few weeks ago I was looking into gettting a bonsai tree. I mentioned to my girlfriend I wanted a Chinese elm. I then started looking into caring for one of these little trees, I found out that I do not have enough light outside and growing them indoors with artificial light seems to be a no no.

Last week I was telling my girlfriend how I can't have a bonsai because of my lack of outdoor light(I live in an apartment and my patio is heavily shaded with trees) she informed that I better figure it out because she got me one for christmas and it will be here in the next couple days!

Crap. Now I have to cram all the info I can to keep this tree thriving.

Lighting:
From what I understand I can keep it under dual t8's in a shoplight fixture. The only one I have is in use on a tank right now. I've spent all my money on Christmas presents I do have some stuff laying around. I just don't have a solid answer on how much light I need. What can I use? I have a current USA reef fixture with 4 t5ho's and a 150w mh. I'm sure this would be more than enough,probably way to much and all the bulbs are actinics.
I also have an 18" t8 fixture along with a desk lamp and cfl but I'm not sure of this is enough. I would like to order a 10 or 20 watt led floodlight to hang over this in the near future.
For now, do I use the reef fixture with all bulbs or a combo of what it has? Or the t8 and cfl combo?
In the future should I order the 10 or 20 watt led flood. I'm thinking 10 because the one I have puts out the same lux as a dual t8 shoplight.

Can I water/fertilize with tank water from my high tech?

I also read that I need to put it outside for a couple months a year for a "dormancy period" during this time does it need lots of light? If so I plan on putting whatever led floodlight I choose outside with it.

I really don't want to kill this tree it was not cheap. Any info on bonsai's would be great.
 

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Prodigious Plant Pundit
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We need to know what kind of tree it is. Keep in mind that it is winter, and keeping it inside if it is not a tropical will be detrimental to the tree. It wil continue to grow, but in a year or two it will become exhausted and die because of its figurative lack of rest in the winter.

If it is a deciduous (i.e. Maple, Elm, etc.) then keeping it outside on your patio, even with low light, should be fine. In fact, low light in the winter outside is preferable.

I guess you're going to have to get her to surprise for you and find out what kind of tree it is to properly prepare.
 

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Prodigious Plant Pundit
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Okay, good, it's not a tropical. Here's what I would suggest. Keep the tree outdoors on your balcony. Though it may still have some green leaves now, the tree is essentially dormant and light will not be important. So keep it outside on your balcony, even if lighting is not great there, until the spring, at least. Even then, I would suggest keeping it outdoors with supplementary lighting outside.
 

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Don't keep it soggy wet, but don't let it dry out during the winter either. It's easy to lose winter-dormant plants to desiccation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The tree came today. Temps are supposed to get down to freezing/snow this week. It won't hurt it if I put it outside?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Im trying to understand this "zones" I live in Portland oregon.the temp here does no get below 20 at the coldest I would say. In my very shady situations it seems that I will need more light outside in the warmer seasons I ordered a20w led floodlight 6000k. I was thinking if I have to keep it outside I could put this light outside with a sensor so it turns on during daylight hours. Sound good?

However I would prefer to keep this tree indoors year round. Can I do this with a good amount of light? How much par would I need? And what sort of lighting schedule should I have? If this is even possible?

Geniusdude, this is all your fault lol I saw your avatar and told my girlfriend I wanted one lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I've been doing lots of reading on this subject. I put it outside. I will put the light over it when it arrives. Seems to be my best bet. Any tips I can use?
 

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I've only tried native conifers, so take my advice with a grain of salt. With an imported broadleaf like yours, I'd play it safe and keep it indoors. Just play with the photoperiod and watering schedule to give it a rest period.

The main issues I've worried about are root damage from freezing and needle desiccation from the wind. Aside from moving them out of harm's way, you can soak the container or wrap the branches and leaves. If you're keeping your plant in a sealed, glazed, pot like you've pictured, there's a chance the ice will shatter it. I keep mine in unsealed terra cotta and haven't vere had problems with that strategy.

The USDA Hardiness Zone for Portland is 8b, but if you're elevated in some neighborhood like Mount Scott or the Mount Tabor, it's probably more like 6-7. I've had no problems with keeping my bonsai projects outside during the winter- when an extended freeze is coming or they're forecasting gorge winds, I move them into a warmer and less windy spot like the garage, or an apartment balcony that faces away from the east.

P.S. If you ever get the chance, try a Sitka Spruce or a Western Red Cedar, they really like to branch out and make gnarled forms.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Ok now I'm confused. You wouldn't think a high light tank would be more simple than growing a little tree.....but it is.

In or out? I need a solid answer.
 

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I recently got a bonsai as well, and from the info ive found, unless it is below 20, you should be fine outside. Though, the tree is small enough to move around, so i like to take it out in the morning, and get it at night. It helps me know that its not out in freezing temps [though Rhode Island isnt anywhere NEAR winter weather right now] Also, on cloudy days with no sun, i use a t8 6500k light above it. I did get some advice on various bonsai forums, though i had to join like five, and all five had different things to share, but not at all consistent in answering times. Very frustrating that there isnt a PT forum for everything! lol
 

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They are fine outdoors in Portland OR. A ficus etc, they make decent indoor trees, I take them inside if it hits freezing, bit they stay outdoors otherwise also.
 
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