I have a bunch of air plants (Tilandasia sp.: xerographica, bulbosa, medusa, streptophyla, other misc), a Corokia, a Ficus varietal, a couple Agaves, African Violet, Bamboo, an unidentified succulent, and a mess of different Philodendrons.
Also have a couple bonsais my buddy is babysitting for me since I moved to the city: Chinese Elm (~20 years old), Lodgepole Pine (~12 years old), and Chamaecyparis obtusa "Spiralis" (~3 years old)
I thought no one on here liked plants, nice thread OP!
I don't have pics of my darlings but I'll try and get some.
That's some sweet aquascaping (can't remember SN)!
Certain species can survive with "relatively" little care, others are incredibly hard to cultivate.
Bear in mind that you are essentially creating a micro ecosystem for a tree, which is a pretty complex plant. Because trees you're hugely limited a tree's ability to uptake resources from a large area (rootzones can sprawl out over many hundreds of feet and often acres and reach incredible depths for something like a mature Douglas Fir or a Sycamore, Oak, etc). This being the case, the bonsai must be maintained carefully to not oversoak, dry up, or burn the roots with too heavy a fertilizer application. Knowing your microclimate where the tree is kept is the first step.
However, not all plants are difficult to cultivate as bonsais. Bear in mind, vines and shrubs are also trained into bonsai; for example Wisteria or Rhododendrons.
Probably the easiest to grow and find at nursery/plant store/plant section would be a Ficus or a Jade. Ficus is a big family of plants, but they're all relatively simple. Jades can be found all over the place and can be grown from a small cutting or even just a leaf. Strong light, a good soil mixture, and appropriate training and fertilization will give you success.
There's lots of little books out there from Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, Reader's Digest, and DK Books that are pretty accessible and give you all the pertinent basic info. You could probably get one cheap through abebooks.com or wandering a used book store.
I would suggest browsing books or the internet until you find a plant you'd like to work with, once you've made your selection, the appropriate container, soil mixture, etc can then be gathered.
My ficus has been totally crispy for about 6 months now. When it first started to dry out and get brown I read that they can be saved. Does anyone think it has any hope now or should I just compost it? I got the ficus in 2007 as a gift and it was doing great until last summer.
I'd cut back all the dead vegetation and keep the soil moist (water just as it dries out) and it might just put out new shoots. But if you haven't seen any signs of life in 6 months then it's probably totally dead.
Thanks, I'll give this a try and see cutting back all of the dead vegetation will help. I have a coffee plant that is getting root bound and it has dibs on the planter if the ficus doesn't pull through.