Indoor bonsais for your home

Ficus selisiflia. Photo: Special Arrangement  

A tree on the table makes for an engrossing sight. But, can a bonsai largely kept indoors stay healthy? Are there any bonsai trees that require less sunlight? Well, as much as we complain about Chennai’s heat and humidity, the city’s warm and humid coastal climate is suitable for hardy, tropical tree species that can be grown as indoor bonsai plants. Nikunj Parekh, Co-Founder of Indo Japanese Association-Bonsai Study Group, says, “Everyone is familiar with banyan and peepal trees. They belong to the Ficus family that has other varieties with smaller leaves and berries such as F. benjamina, F. longisland, F. nuda, F. retusa and F. microcarpa. All Ficus varieties can be grown as indoor bonsais. Evergreens like Christmas trees, mini bamboos, aralias and flowering plants like mini Ixora, Kamini, Chandani and Ravenia spectabilis, with its beautiful majenta-coloured flowers and shining leaves, are good options too.”

Parekh has been instrumental in creating bonsais with many tropical species like Ficuses, Bucida spinosa, Braziliana and rain trees. He adds, “While you can keep your bonsais on your centre table occasionally, it is best to keep them on a window sill or a table by the window (that is kept open for some hours at least) so that they get some sunlight through the day. Don’t forget to turn the bonsai tray around so that both sides of the plant get exposed to sunlight. Bonsais don’t thrive well in air-conditioned environments.” And since bonsais can be grown in tiny trays measuring just a few square inches in area, space is not a constraint. Window sills can be a convenient location for these tiny bonsais. Nevertheless, no plant or tree can do without direct sunlight and fresh air, and even these bonsais need to be placed outside for at least two hours a day. Like with outdoor bonsais, you need to periodically add manure like cow dung manure or vermicompost to indoor bonsai plants. Water sparingly and ensure that the soil is well drained. Before getting started on pruning the bonsai, it might be a good idea to observe the shapes taken up by trees of the same species growing outdoors. This would bring in a far greater connect with reality than any other artistically motivated pruning.

“If you stick to this, you will be left with a graceful tree on your table in a few years. The process of nurturing a bonsai is rewarding,” says Parekh.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 2:46:19 AM |

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