Best Indoor plants Western Australia

Monica Gagliano, plant
Contrary to popular opinion, bonsai trees are not genetically altered in any way. Rather, trees are miniaturized through careful culture. Even though a tree might be huge in the wild, growing the same species in a small pot will naturally stunt its growth. "Bonsai culture" means trimming the roots, snipping off leaves which are too large, and pruning the trunk and branches of the tree to attain the desired shape. Some effects are also produced by wrapping wire around the branches and bending them into a gnarled shape to simulate greater age. For inspiration, go outside, look at the trees around you, and try to imitate these natural forms.

Desirable qualities of bonsai include: a strong, prominent root system, a thick trunk, heavy lower branches, and small leaves, flowers, and fruit. Leaf size can be reduced through bonsai culture; flowers and fruit cannot. Therefore, it's a good idea to start with a plant that has smaller flowers in the first place, and scale the tree's size to match.

This healthy Agonis flexuosa has been trained to an almost symmetrical shape. Select the thumbnail image or plant name for a higher resolution image (20k).
Photo: John Oldland.

Although many bonsai specimens are quite old, it is very easy to obtain the appearance of age in just a few years by planting in a large, deep pot or even outside in the ground, and by allowing the lower branches to grow out, pruning only the top of the tree. This will rapidly increase trunk size and thicken lower branches, giving your tree a natural taper and much "older" look. The root ball can then be gradually trimmed off (not more than one third at a time) and prepared for placement in a shallow bonsai pot. Always trim off a similar amount of foliage when pruning the roots in order to conserve moisture.

Traditional bonsai are grown outdoors, but in the last 20 years, many enthusiasts have begun to grow tropical and subtropical species in their homes. These indoor bonsai are much easier to maintain. Like any other houseplant, they do not require special soil or daily watering, and their beauty can be enjoyed year-round.

Where to Start

Australia offers some beautiful species for indoor bonsai. These can be obtained through specialty growers and seedsman (see list) or from local nurseries in warmer climates. Healthy, nursery grown specimens with evenly spaced branches offer the most flexibility in styling, but twisted, windblown, and lopsided trees are always desirable as long as they are disease-free. These contorted specimens can provide a "bonsai" look very quickly.

Collecting plants growing naturally is often the best way to begin a bonsai. Wind, fire, drought, lightning, and plain hard luck can dwarf and contort trees into amazing shapes. Obviously collection from National or Conservation Parks and Nature Reserves is not acceptable but sometimes a suitable plant can be located on private land. If you find such a tree, think hard about what kind of bonsai it would make. If you wish to collect it, get permission from the landowner, grab your shovel, and think hard again. Be sure you are committed to caring for your tree as a friend; don't dig up a novelty whose charm will pass. Whenever you collect, always refill any holes you dig to prevent soil erosion, and offer to plant a new tree in place of the old.

"Before starting to prune and shape your tree, live with it a while and get to know its character."

Collecting is best started in the spring. Clear away any underbrush and some of the topsoil and check the trunk for disease or rot. If the tree appears healthy, dig a narrow trench around the drip circle (where the branches end) and cut the thick roots with a sharp knife, then refill the trench with soil. If you can return to water your tree on occasion, do so. After a few months, the tree will have grown new roots nearer to the trunk, and you can finish digging it up. If you can only make one trip, trim off about a third of tree's leaves and/or longest branches to conserve moisture and dig a conical hole from the drip circle inward. In either case, quickly get your tree to a shaded, moist, sheltered site where it can rest and recuperate. Do not immediately attempt any further root pruning; plant it on your property or in a large container and allow the tree to rest until the following spring.

Ghetto Gardening in February

2007-02-06 09:31:22 by charlesgeorgetaylo

It’s time to start seeds inside. Spring is right around the corner. Tomatoes and green peppers should begin their germination process at this time. Do not wait until May to buy garden plants at Home Depot or another garden store. Real gardeners cultivate their own plants from seeds and the produce always seems much tastier than what one can buy at the supermarket.
It feels better to give birth to our own plants—adopting them is never really the same.
Plants that are started indoors in the dead of winter keep us going on cold winter nights. They are like pets, curling up in a window, purring for our love and affection

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