Thursday, November 21, 2019


A new opportunity

I've had a little experiment going in the kitchen, since winter. Involving an old bonsai planter, I was gifted a few Christmases ago. My niece and nephew gave this wonderful present, but unfortunately, the plant in it, died that summer. I've learned a lot about keeping indoor plants, since, and wanted to rejuvenate the old container again.

So it was time to find a new plant, that would better suit the location, at the kitchen sink. I mean, the old-timer, looked truly lonely. With his sunken fishing rod, and broken hand, the cobwebs moved in and didn't make for great company, either.

Needs a friend

So what kind of plant, would do better here? It receives great light in winter, being a north facing window. During summer though, the light dims, and well...some plants don't like that, at all! As I was to discover with my initial, experiment.

Since the original plant died from lack of water, and hot summer temperatures, I figured I'd try a less water demanding plant, this time around. Like a succulent...

Elephant Plant

I've grown this successfully in my garden, just off natural rainfall. It was a cutting I took from the outside plant, earlier. If you've been around here a while, you'll know water can get pretty scarce. So I had high hopes, this faithfully performing plant, would do exceptional at the kitchen window too. And it did - through winter, with the much higher light levels.

I wasn't much of a fan of the straight look, however. It was all vertical, and not in the alluring, bamboo kind of way. Fortunately, with bonsai, you can train a specimen to the shape you want.

Receiving early morning, winter light

Using a toothpick and some twine, I bent down the branches I wanted to splay more. One stem, bent in one direction, then the opposing stem, in the other. It was pretty simple to set up, and the succulent didn't seem to mind either. During winter, it appreciated all that direct sunlight, pouring in.

If you couldn't already guess, succulents love light! They tend to grow leggy, otherwise. Along with some other unpleasant traits, I will recount soon.

Bracing, removed

After a month, I removed the twine to see how it would hold up, all on it's own. The branches weren't as low as I'd have liked, but considerably better than straight up! I replaced the old fishing rod, with a new kebab stick (cut to size) too. So the lonely fisherman, wasn't looking as retired in his vocation anymore.

As much as I would have loved this plant to succeed though, with spring, the light, gradually shifted away from the window. Then some substantial complications arose.


The succulent started to defoliate, rather drastically. New leaves emerged to replace them. However, another problem, presented itself with this particular location. The kitchen blind, would sometimes swipe the plant, if let down too quickly. I won't mention any names (*cough* love of my life). Even though I suspected the new leafs, would adapt to the new light levels: and pruned the stems back, to help in that regard - honestly, it was a bust!

Any plant you have to spend that long, getting to transition, and has bare branches for most of the time, as it does - is the wrong plant for that location. It was time for a new plant selection. Something that could tolerate both high, and low light levels, as well as handle some accidental damage from the blind.

Round two

I was going to try a Korean Box hedge, and see how it performs instead. Hedges can handle a bit of accidental traffic damage. They're also known for their adaptability, in both shade and full sun. So long as they have the right moisture levels, at the root zone.

I must confess, I got this idea from a stroll around Bunnings. I saw their bonsai collection with a range of different plants. A box hedge was one of them. I've had experience growing a small box hedge outside, until the drought killed them. But for the many years they were alive, I know they tolerated fluctuating light levels, really well.


The specimen I had purchased, came with a lovely deep root system. I was going to unashamedly brutalise the plant, to fit into my small bonsai container. You can see the size of the roots from the old succulent, next to the new box hedge. So quite a lot had to go.

In doing so, I was sure to balance the operation, by pruning the top foliage, as well. Selectively removing, quite a few branches - as it was rather bushy. Just to help it handle the sudden change in feeding roots, and not transpire more moisture, than it could hold.


This is what it looked like, directly after transplanting. It reminded me of a small citrus tree, and have to say, it suited the pot much better, than the vertical succulent did. With placement, I chose to position the longest, arching branch, towards the fisherman. Eventually, I would like to have him sitting under the shade of a tree. As that would be a pretty magical place, to fish from, I think.


This is what it looks like, a month later. No leaves have dropped off yet, despite a few accidents with the blind. Can't say the same for the fishing rod, though, lol. I moved the bonsai to a new window, just for this photo. As the lighting is terrible this time of year, to get a decent shot at the kitchen sink. But for the rest of the time, my little bonsai, still lives there. And doesn't seem to mind.

I was disappointed when the first plant died. But always intended to make further attempts. Because so much effort went into making this handcrafted container (especially the fisherman) it was a shame to see it empty! Plus it provided a valuable learning tool, for further experimentation with indoor plants.

The perfect fishing spot

With a new plant friend to keep him company, my little fishermen was ready to cast off again. I like having this bonsai at the kitchen sink, as I'm visiting it multiple times a day. Not only does it invite me to look at it, but there's ample opportunity to see when this plant needs watering.

Small containers often need more watering, than larger ones. As they dry out, much faster. Something I'm learning, the more plants I keep. In fact, I have quite a substantial collection amassing, which I haven't shared with you yet. Another post for another time.

Have you rescued something from the cobwebs, recently, and put it to better use?


  1. Wow, what a brilliant bonsai, I have a acer which has lost it leaves, I have put it I a sheltered spot, it needs to be outside. But I have a spare bowl, might have to look at plants.

    1. Thanks M. Do you mean an Acer ginnala, or a small maple? I think that would be so awesome. We used to have a small Japanese maple, outside a house we once rented too. It was right next to a window, and I loved looking outside at it's delecate leaves. They're really very beautiful.

  2. Good luck with your latest experiment, looking good So far. Proper bonsai are actually outdoor plants that are rotated inside for only a week or 2 at a time.
    I'm sure the library would have some very inspiring and informative books to help you get a good result this time.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Margaret. I will have to check the library out. They usually have a nice selection of plant books. Spending time outdoors, is something I was contemplating for my bonsai too. Just have to set up an area, the cane toads cannot jump into, lol. They've destoryed a couple of potted plants, because they're trying to get into the moist soil.

  3. Good on you for persevering, Chris. I have never been all that interested on bonsai to be honest. I have two plants in the house and would like to get more once all the tradies have finished working.

    1. I know where you're coming from Chel. If it wasn't a gift, I never would have contemplated doing bonsai either. I've never seen myself as a bonsai person, lol. But then opportunity knocks, and begs my curiosity to participate. I'm sure you'll love having your place back from the tradies. A couple of plants would do very nice.

  4. The new plant is much more attractive than the old one. I hope it succeeds for you this time.
    I had a go at bonsai many years ago with some success; bought a lot of pots and books about it. The pots are still in a cupboard somewhere and the books are buried in a shelf somewhere too. I'm tempted to have another go but the bigger garden calls....
    I remember, I started some native plants off from seed and bonsai-ed those. It worked well, because you're starting training from scratch with a seedling and many natives have small leaves, which suits bonsai well. But I do agree with the other commenters that bonsai need to be outside for most of their life. I got over that by having several and bringing one inside for a short time on a rotational basis.

    1. Thanks Bev, I like the new plant much better too. Rotating containers between inside and out, is something I've considered setting up also. Because it's hard living inside a house without optimum light conditions. Full time, at least. Glad to receive the feedback though, as it confirms what I need to do. Enjoy your time outdoors, with the bigger garden. :)

  5. You've reminded me that I have a little bonsai pot, languishing downstairs in my pile of "might use somedays", that I should probably try to do something with. I like the box hedge and hope it grows well for you. Sometimes it takes time to find the right plant. Meg:)

    1. I have plenty of, "might use on day" items as well. Like several old sheets, with worn patches, I think I could turn into something else! Stuff like that, lol. But thankfully, the box hedge is still doing well in the re-used bonsai pot. Definitely the better plant. Succulents are best outside, where they love the intense light.


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