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The purpose of this guide is to discuss how easy and rewarding this type of growing can be and how you can enjoy your tree in the house all year round, unlike the more classic bonsai trees that have to spend life outside for 48-50 weeks a year if they are to thrive.  Almost any type of tropical shrubby or tree-like plant can be raised an indoor bonsai. Basically a bonsai tree is seen as nature 'in miniature'.  Some of the best types are those that grow in 'stressful' locations such as in the presence of browsing animals or in niche environments.  These react to the stresses by growing in all sorts of shapes and by harnessing this ability, the amateur grower can produce some spectacular results with relatively little effort.

Some of the easiest types to grow are the African Acacias or Thorn Bushes, the Baobab Trees and the Figs - although the range is only limited by what is readily available and the imagination of the grower.  The picture below shows a stand of Acacia burkei (The Black Monkey Thorn), the arrangement is around 18 inches

(45 cm) across the base and around 12 inches (30 cm) tall.  It took 7 years from seed to this arrangement and all that has been done is careful pruning to re-create the conditions found in the habitat where grazing and browsing animals shape the landscape, including the trees.

In order to be successful, you need the following:
  1. Suitable source material, either a seedling or better still seeds as they are cheaper and you control all aspects of growing.
  2. An idea of what you want your bonsai to look like when completed.
  3. A few simple tools such as scissors, a sharp craft knife and perhaps some training wire.
  4. A good quality container for eventually showcasing your efforts - there is nothing worse than an otherwise stunning bonsai being grown in a brown plastic plant pot!

Here a Fig (Ficus religiosa) is being showcased against a piece of rock using it's natural growth habit (of twining round a support) to mimic nature.  This specimen is around 9 years old, but has been growing like this for some time.

Look upon yourself, the grower as a means to improve and accelerate what happens in nature.  Look at pictures of fully grown specimens of the type you are growing and be inspired to try to mimic what you see.  Bonsai is about art, but it's not difficult.  You will make mistakes along the way, some you will be able to work with or rectify, some you will not - it's a learning experience.

eBay is a great source for all types of material you can utilise to grow fantastic indoor bonsai. Decorative pots, pruning and training equipment and probably most important of all - good source material by way of seeds and young plants.  Despite the name of my shop, I stock over 300 different types of seed that could be grown as indoor bonsai, after all an indoor bonsai is just a miniature house-plant in the same way that an outdoor bonsai is just a miniature garden plant.  It's all about perspective and where you live.