Light is the fuel that allows plant growth.  So the more light that it receives, the better the growth .  .  . USUALLY,  BUT NOT ALWAYS!   Like the Canadian and Alaskan snowbirds that flock to Hawaii in February or the Idaho and Minesota flock that arrives in March,  it's not advisable to sleep on warm Hawaiian white sand beaches without sunscreen!  Plants burn too!


                Fuku-Bonsai only sells plants that have proven histories of growing well in bright indirect light and pre-acclimates plants for these conditions by growing them under shade cloth.  Our plants will slowly adjust to brighter direct sunlight and grow with more vigor as long as they are in their temperature range, if their watering is adjusted and fertilizer application is within their range of tolerance.  If acclimated incrementally over a several weeks, the plant may be able to grow outdoors in full direct sun.  You'll notice that new leaves will be heavier, smaller, and overall growth will be more compact.  But if you live in a region where night temperatures fall below 60F,  you'll have to bring our plants indoors. 

                Tropical plants will react by dropping leaves.  With a lower amount of light, the plant has reduced ability to send nutrients up to meet the needs of all of the leaves.  In extreme cases,  a plant that may have 12 leaves will suddenly have 9 turn yellow and fall off due to the abrupt reduced amount of light.  The plants usually will adjust and the first leaf that develops will often have a long leaf-stem.  This will also happen when a plant is shipped from Hawaii and placed into very low light. Ideally, give the plant as much bright interior light as possible.  It will especially enjoy being within a foot of a window where it receives a few hours of morning sun. 

                 If a plant reacts differently when moved if you're moving cross-country, or receiving it as a gift and your home is in a different climatic zone,  help the plant to adust by giving it a high-humidity environment like a sealed ziplock bag or terrarium.

     PROBLEM:  New leaves are thin and elongated.

     CAUSE:  Lack of light creates weak leaves that must stretch to break through the dense canopy.

     SOLUTION:  Cut off new leaves, thin out the old leaves (those farthest from the growth tip) so light can penetrate and you can see through and appreciate the structure of the tree.

      STANDARDS:  Generally allow the light to hit the points where the new leaves emerge.  If the canopy is too dense and insufficient light penetrates, the new leaf will be extra small and the leaf stem will stretch as shown above. Keep about 3 or 4 leaves on each growing tip and remove the oldest leaves to allow light in and you can view the structure.  If leaves form a relatively compact canopy and are about the same size, you're okay.  If leaves enlarge, to reduce leaf size, you're going to have to prune and remove the ends of the entire branch. New growth will emerge with smaller leaves.  


                We obtained a low voltage Halogen lamp as set it in a dark area as the primary light source.  We noticed that the leaf stems began to stretch and in just a few weeks, the leaves were reaching for the light and eventually getting burnt by it! Tropical house plants grow towards the light!  They should be turn every so often for even growth.  

                WINDOW LIGHT IS IDEAL!  If plants grow towards the light, growth will be sideways.   This is ideal for bonsai as generally we are always trying to curb top growth and encourage side growth to try to create the illusion of a low wide aged tree.  This observation indicates that simply providing additional artificial light may not be adequate.  Although the light may be more diffused than the Halogen light in our experiment,  it still comes from the top.  Recommendations from the low-light Alaska gang:

        1.     Try to combine additional artificial light above plants already receiving window light for an overall higher light level to lead to more compact growth.

        2.     When window light is weak or non-existant, consider placing a wall behind the growing lights and surface it with mirror tiles to salvage reflected light.  

        3.     In stead of having two light tubes above,  try to get one (or both) repositioned to be lower at pot level.

        4.     Under artificial light, keep the plant thinned out to allow light to penetrate throughout the plant. 

        5.     Use as much light as you can afford,  place them as close to the plants as possible,  and grow several small bonsai instead of one larger one.


               Plants can adjust to different light levels by changing the efficiency of its leaves. This is easy to observe if some plants are in the full sun and others in the deep shade.  Those in the sun will have thicker heavier compact leaves while those in the deep shade will be noticiably thinner.  When you move the plants to very different light levels, the leaves will react in different ways. 

                Some may develop black spots and fall.  Others will become droopy. Still others will turn yellow and as many as half the leaves may fall off.  Our plants are shade grown to try to pre-acclimate them for indoors.  If they go into very dark areas, they'll react by dropping leaves, becoming droopy, or developing black spots and fall. If they go into full sun, they may get sunburned! 


Guest essays:

                I am very pleased to include two outstanding essays from two good bonsai friends who are amongst the most experienced at growing bonsai under artificial light. 


2.    BONSAI . . . MY WAY!  by Jerry Meislik (Whitefish, Montana)

                This series of articles will attempt to explain the various factors affecting plants.  This will continually be amended to include recommendations or suggestions of how to improve your enviroment to get the best possible growth. Continue to:

                  *     Water, Watering, Humidity & Moisture
                  *     Fertilizing
                  *     Problems, symptoms, & first aid
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