Bonsai tree supplies and bonsai trees - Bonsai of Brooklyn
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Tip of the Week  #11

Welcome to our next installment of  "Tips Of The Week".

This feature is for the benefit of visitors to this site, I would be happy to hear from you if there is something you would like to see covered here in future weeks. Please direct your E-mail to let me know if I should include your first name, last name, city, E-mail address or no acknowledgement.

Interested in past articles? There's a list at the bottom of the page.

During a phone conversation with a customer, I realized that I hadn't touched on growing bonsai under artificial light in this column.   Bob, who lives in Wisconsin, described the winter as lasting about 6 months of the year.  He wants to grow sub-tropical bonsai. The problem is that in areas where the winters are cold, the days grow shorter, the angle of the sun gets more and more shallow, and there are many overcast days.  The only way to keep bonsai indoors in these conditions is with the use of artificial lighting.

This is probably one of the most misunderstood aspects of bonsai cultivation.  There are many different types of bulbs available today.  They are good for many different things, but few will give long term successful results with bonsai.   Because of the amount of heat most bulbs give off, all but fluorescent bulbs have proven impractical for bonsai use.  Fluorescent bulbs are cool burning.  They don't dry the foliage or the soil.   They are also the most economical to use.   There are a number of different types of fluorescent tubes, but the only ones I have found to work over long periods of time are those classified as "Full Spectrum".  (You'll find information and specifications on Full Spectrum Bulbs in our Product Catalog, under "Supplies").   The best way I've found is to set the fixtures up on a 24 hour timer.   To give the trees a sense of the changing seasons, deduct 15 minutes a week from the cycle until late December, then add 15 minutes a week until late June.  If your bonsai are under the lights year round, they will get 12 hours daily in December, and 15 hours daily in June.  That's close to the normal light cycle in most parts of the U.S.A.  The bulbs should be no more then 15 inches from the top of the shortest bonsai.  The tallest can be almost touching the bulb(s).  If there is too much height difference, either use more then one fixture, or make a platform to raise the shorter bonsai.  It's a good idea to hang the fixtures with large-link chain, so you can add & remove links to change the height of the fixtures.  If you move your bonsai from indoors to outdoors as weather permits, get them out as early in the spring as your climate permits.  Trees get a protective coating on their foliage similar to suntan in people.  If they go from artificial light to strong summer sun, the results could be disastrous.  With a little common sense, experimentation, and the right bulbs, you'll find indoor growing a pleasurable extension of a great hobby.  

As always, If you have a question or need some advice, feel free to write to

Interested in past articles? Click for your choice below.

#1-Things to do in the spring

#2-Forest Plantings

#3-Planning a trimming schedule

#4-Trimming Japanese Maples (And other trees with opposing Buds)

#5-Trimming Chinese Elms (And other trees with alternating Buds)

#6-Trimming Conifers (Such as Pine, Juniper and Cypress)

#7-Improving Your Bonsai Skills

#8-Things to Remember During the Winter Months

#9-Some Thoughts About Tree Roots. Their Strengths & Weaknesses

#10-Potting Medium: The Foundation of a Bonsai

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