Office Bonsai

office bonsai...This concept came about when I wanted some plants for the office. What I did flies in the face of traditional bonsai, and the books on bonsai you read will totally disagree with what I say here. It is my opinion that most bonsai masters are so out of touch with the average person who wants to keep a bonsai, that their advice is really wrong, and so out of date that is is useless. Yes, if you want to be a bonsi master and devote half of your house and yard to the hobby, go ahead and read all the books. For the rest of us, we just want a plant that survives and looks nice, that we can take care of for years and appreciate. So here goes. I list the hurdles as 3 issues...

Issue #1: The problem in offices, generally, is that no one is around on the weekends, and often long weekends. That means no daily watering. A huge no-no for bonsai based on their pot design and soil type.
Solution: Large and deep pots with water retaining soils. This came into conflict with basic bonsai techniques--especially the ratio perscribed for container size relative to trunk diameter. This led me to a little research and I came to the conclusion that the "low and wide" container convention is a modern invention passed on as doctrine. For example, if you look at the woodblock prints below, from the 1800s, you see in the background what bonsai used to look like: big deep pots. This is eminently more practical, and was probably the practice of people who kept bonsai but were not "hobbists". In addition it needs to be a glazed containter to minimize evaporation. A regular terracotta unglazed pot will dry the plant out over the weekend.
office bonsai
This second print is hard to see, but look very carefully in the center of the print in the back and you can see the plant.
office bonsai Now, bonsai soil is generally coarse and well draining. This is good except that it basically ties you into daily watering. By changing the soil mix to a well draining, but water retaining mix the plant can go days without watering. This is accomplished by adding peat, sand, and clay to the mix and making sure the bottom one third of the container is stone to prevent deadly waterlogging of the roots.

Issue #2: If you are lucky enough to have a window the light may still be poor relative to what is needed for plant growth. And, if you do not have a window then you probably have low light levels.
Solution: Shade loving plants or grow lights. Only certain plants are suited for indoor growth. The include Ficus, and Fukien Tea, and the Jap. Elm. There are others, but they are slow to grow, have big leaves, or are really hard to find. But really, except for a southern facing window, you will need a grow light. It sucks to have to resort to this, but without enough light the plant will weaken and die. Sorry. The good news is the grow lights let even the cave like cubicals have office bonsai.

office bonsai......

Issue #3: Water stains from water escaping the bottom of the container.
Solution: Use containers with matching dishes. Most classical pots sit on wood stands. Yeah, that's gonna last. I need something I can water easily without fear of screwing up the table.

office bonsai

Email me if you want to converse. My address is: jsciarra(at,ya know the at symbol)earthlink(dot,or point)net. Mention the office bonsai in the subject or you will be treated like so much spam.
Thanks for visiting....

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