Many of us who spend a lot of time cooped up in an office can find ourselves day dreaming about spending time outdoors. Although having flowers can help to jazz the place up and also lift the general mood of a space, they can get costly if you are on a budget. That’s where having a plant comes into it’s own, buy one and with a bit of tender loving care it will be with you for a long time and in the case of a Bonsai a really really long time. I think these hardy trees are perfect for an office or in fact other indoor places where space might be limited.They are elegant enough to match with the styles of various office decor. They also stand out just enough to be a conversation piece without being too overwhelming like a larger plant might be.
I should mention from the beginning that however attractive they are, they require more care than regular plants. The effort is worth it though because they can have such a calming effect in indoor spaces.
You might be wondering what type of tree to get/ how to choose the perfect tree for your indoor space. Hopefully this article will provide enough guidance to make the process easier.
What Bonsai tree should I have for my office or indoor space?
When choosing plants for the indoors, just to make sure that the odds are in your favor when it comes to your plant surviving, it is a good idea to choose ones that can thrive indoors.For our purposes, tropical or sub-tropical trees are well documented as being able to survive indoors. There are certain species that have been proven to be better adapted to indoors.
It is also important to consider the requirements that the plant needs to stay alive. For indoor spaces like the office, since you might not be there over the weekends or holidays, things like how your plant will get the required amount of light and water in your absence should be thought about. Luckily there are solutions for when you are not in the office discussed below.
Below are examples of trees that would do well indoors.
Is named after the region in southern China where it originates. It is known by different variations including Philippine tea. During flowering, it will develop tiny white flowers that if not removed will in turn develop into small fruits that can be red, green or black.The white flowers, dark glossy leaves and grey bark make this plant a true beauty.
- Small leaves and an interesting trunk make this plant suited to bonsai
- It can make a good beginner tree
- The plant will survive indoors as long as it gets access to adequate light since it loves bright locations
- To ensure that the tree is getting all its light requirements, you might need to get artificial light
- Like most indoor trees, it can be prone to pests. To prevent pests from invading your tree inspect it regularly and remove any that you find. You can also use pesticide of a weak solution.
This is one of the most popular choices for indoor bonsai because there are so many different varieties to choose from (more than 600) ranging from evergreen, deciduous and even tropical.Common for indoor include the weeping fig (ficus benjamina) benjamins fig or ficus tree which in its natural habitat can grow as tall as 98 feet(30 meters).Usually when a tree is referred to as a ficus, it will be this one.Another common variety is the ficus neriifolia a type of fig tree native to Asia.
The one pictured here is a Ficus microcarpa ‘Gensing’.
- The variety with small leaves are especially good for bonsai
- Needs a lot of light which can be direct or in direct for plants kept indoors. They can thrive under grow lights.
- They have been documented as one of the best choices for indoor trees.
- They grow quickly (for bonsai)
- Good choice for beginners
- They are generally tolerant of varying optimum conditions for their growth including lighting and soil conditions
Watch out for pests. The most common when it comes to the ficus would have to be scale which are tiny insects that live inside a shell which can be either black or brown in colour. Other pests include mealy bugs and mites on the roots of the tree. These can be treated with insecticides that do not contain Malathion.
Why are the leaves on my ficus falling off?
In the event that the leaves are falling off your tree it could be that it is too dry or too wet. For example you might have moved the location of the plant or been over enthusiastic when watering. For other signs and symptoms that all might not be well with your green friend this article
Also known as Schefflera arboricola, or Dwarf Schefflera, this beautiful tree is a native of Taiwan. In the wild it grows a shrub.With lush green leaves,that are shaped like an umbrella, any bonsai lover will appreciate this beauty.As it is evergreen, its leaves remain interesting and lovely to look at all year round. It makes a good indoor and beginner tree but can also be kept outside during the spring and summer months.
The perfect location for it would be on a window sill or table where you can show off its impressive proportions although honestly this tree would look good anywhere.
- It stands between 14 to 18 inches
- Evergreen tree that will remain green all year round and not drop its leaves
- Perfect for beginners as it is not a very picky tree that can do well in lower light
- It is planted in ceramic rectangular pot that shows off its massive trunk
Water: Relatively low maintenance. It should be watered regularly and soil should not be allowed to dry out.
Shaping: The umbrella shape of the tree can be maintained by thinning and shaping the dense leaves.
Humidity: It prefers high humidity therefore a humidity tray can be used to regulate moisture levels.
Taking care of your indoor bonsai plant
Below are general steps to ensure that you have a happy and healthy tree.
One of the most important factors when it comes to indoor growing is ensuring that you have adequate light. Lack of enough light can have various consequences for a tree ranging from slow grow rate and in the worst case scenario the tree dying.
This is even more important for an indoor plant since in most cases it will not get adequate light. Your Bonsai tree needs to have access to light. Ideally, it should be placed near a window. However if this is not possible, you could probably use a light fixture hang above the tree.
How much light
The amount of light needed will vary from specie to specie and indeed from plant to plant therefore there is no general answer. Consequently plants will need anywhere form 5 hours to between 16 and 18 hours of light a day.
To ensure that your plant is getting adequate light, I would suggest that you ask at the garden centre or nursery when you get the plant. Most times, they will have experts to guide you more specifically. Another suggestion is to get the scientific name of the plant for future reference when searching for information either on or off line.
To cater for weekends and other times that you are not there to turn in the light, get one that has a timer.
Once you have determined your light needs you might realise you need to supplement natural sunlight. One way of doing this is by using grow lights.
Which lights to get
Artificial lights for example fluorescent tubes and grow lights are popular choices.
For times when you are not there and also just not to waste energy in times when you are there but might be too busy /forget to turn the lights off, I would suggest getting one that has a timer so that the plant always gets the required amount.
Similar to lighting, water requirements also depends on the on the species.
When to water
Deciding when to water can be confusing especially when you are just starting out. To prevent over watering or not watering enough, before watering, check if the soil is dry by using a finger to scratch under the soil surface, you can also carry the plant up and check if it is lighter than usual. This is more effective than using a schedule since the needs of each plant varies depending on its environment.
For times when you are not in the office
If you will be away for long periods of time, water your plant before you go away. In situations where you might have to ask someone else to water the plant for you to ensure that they do not go overboard, you can use a wand that has a control setting for turning on and off.
Your plant will need to have plant food but do not worry as this will generally not be a lot. Choose a water soluble one which will be dissolved in water. It is not advisable to fertilize while the soil is dry, you will need to water the plant first with only water, and then you can add the fertilizer to the moist soil.
Generally speaking indoor plants will require added humidity. In some offices you might even have air conditioning which alters the conditions in the room.
Some solutions used to remedy this include humidity trays (to be honest the jury is still out there on how effective these are but some people say they notice a change in their plants condition while using them.)I have not used them to supplement humidity myself therefore I cannot say how effective they are for this. I have however found them very useful for preventing the place from getting all messy during watering. Using them also means that you do not have to move the plant around during watering for example taking it to the sink or outside to water.
An alternative would be good drip tray.A drip tray is basically a tray that is placed below a plant pot to prevent water from going on to floors during watering. The tray is usually larger than the pot and sometimes it there is a way to raise the pot off the tray so that the roots of the plant will not be immersed in water for long periods of time.
If you are into DIY here is a video that shows how to make your own drip tray
You can also get a humidifier for the room.
More resources on general care can be found in this article
I hope this article is helping in guiding you along this exciting journey.