I’ve been intrigued and interested with bonsai since college. I was never satisfied with buying one, even a small one, and getting into the hobby that way. No, I needed the experience and (hopefully) sense of accomplishment that came with growing a plant from seed to a fully grown bonsai tree, which I pruned and trained myself.
For years, I tried and failed. Many years ended up with seed starter trays full of useless dirt and mulch without a single seedling. Some other years, I was rewarded with seedlings only to be thwarted by a ruthless fungus or my own mistakes. In the last few years, I’ve had some success though.
I currently have the following plant species, either in seed or seedling form, or growing as a tree (as noted below). All but the shiso are intended to become bonsai plants.
- Zelkova Serrata (Japanese Gray Bark Elm) – 2.5 years of growth
- Acer Buergerianum (Trident Maple)
- Diospyros Kaki (Japanese Persimmon)
- Acer Palmatum (Japanese Maple)
- Chaenomeles Japonica (Flowering Quince)
- Punica Granatum Nana (Dwarf Pomegranate) – Seedlings at about 3 weeks
- Chamaecyparis Obtusa (Hinoki False Cypress) – 3 trees with 2.5 years of growth
- Perilla Frutescens Crispa (Shiso) – Seedlings at about 2 weeks
Living in an apartment without any outdoor space, my growing setup was primarily limited to my window sills. That worked for some, but not for others. My first attempt at sprouting the trident maples failed miserably.
I’ve since abandoned the window sills and went with dedicated LED grow lights. After a bit of research, I went with the ECRU LED Grow Light Panel. This panel advertises the light spectrum I was looking for and is reasonably priced at about $30 each. Better yet, the flexibility of the panel to be hung, mounted, or even combined in a variety of different ways to accommodate my grow area was very attractive.
I can say there’s been a huge difference after starting to use the grow lights. Growth has been stronger and faster. My first set of seeds were successful as well (the dwarf pomegranates). Best of all, since the light is now coming practically straight down from above, I no longer have to deal with the plants leaning to get more light like I did when they sat on a window sill.
The lights come on at 9AM every day and turn off at 7PM every night. They’re all connected via a power strip to a single smart plug. I’ve been a big fan of WeMo smart plugs and have a handful of them throughout my home to control various devices. In particular, I like the WeMo Mini due to its small size and clean looks. The Wemo app allows customizing schedules and as part of my Google home setup, I am able to control them even when I’m out of the house. I highly recommend them if you’re looking for a smart plug that works well with the Google ecosystem.
Spring is here and the growing season is just around the corner. Hopefully, my seeds will sprout and I’ll have a lot more plants to tend to this summer. Below are some photos of what I’ve got going right now. I’ll be posting updates every now and then on each plant species, so be sure to look for them if you’re interested in a particular one. Hopefully, there will be lots of success to report.
The primary equipment used in this setup include:
ECRU LED Grow Light Panel
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