Wintertime in the South is a time that my house fills with all the tropical plants from my bench. Growing indoor bonsai can be a very rewarding experience especially if your new to bonsai and want to keep it close to you. Unfortunately, it can be the most frustrating start to your bonsai career. I started like many others have, with a juniper “mallsai”. It was a gift from my lovely wife. I made the classic bonsai beginner mistake and kept it inside for a couple of weeks. After reading through many of the sites linked to on this site, I figured out that a juniper is for outdoors only. My second purchase was a Ficus Microcarpa and a much better choice for indoor growing. Since then, I have purchased several tropical bonsai that I have enjoyed taking care of.
Each year, I experiment with lighting conditions for these indoor bonsai, and this year is no different. This year, I am trying a 24-inch fluorescent grow light for my smaller bonsai that was actually pretty cheap at Wal-Mart ($9.95). My ficus gets it’s own 100-watt 6500K daylight CFL and my jade gets a 75 watt desk lamp that does a terrible job. This seems to keep them barely happy for the winter months. I really can’t wait for the summer months to put them back outside. They seem much happier in the sunlight. I fully intend to create a new setup before next year that would include 3 24-inch fluorescents of different color temperatures. Apparently, when using florescent, you should try to vary the color temps to cover as much ground as possible. From 2700K to 6500K. Here’s some articles that I run across while doing my research: