PHOENIX PALM

               In researching True Indoor Bonsai,  we seriously investigated ALL possible houseplants and began with several hundred plant varieties.  A number of tropical bonsai grew well for us in our living room window.  But as we began test marketing, we quickly learned that indoor conditions throughout the continental United States presented greater challenges. By the end of the first year of trials we were down to only 25! Only a small number could be trained indoors throughout the year and we would have to stretch the definition of "bonsai." 

                We did this by defining our experimental area as a facet of "artistic pot plants" rather than use the term "bonsai" which meant primarily Japanese style temperate climate outdoor bonsai.  We labelled our rock-grown plants as "Hawaiian Lava Plantings" and trademarked "TRUE INDOOR BONSAI™" to differentiate our products from what other growers were misrepresenting as "indoor bonsai."

                Phoenix Palm (Phoenix roebilini) or Dwarf Date Palm has a solid history as a houseplant and amongst the most durable of all palms.  In a pot-bound situation,  Phoenix Palm continues to be beautiful for many years.  We introduced it only in the medium and large sizes as we could not consistently produce it in the smaller desk size.  In 2000, a palm disease hit Florida and to prevent it's entry,  California banned all palms.  At that time, we decided to discontinue this plant and all remnants have been sold.  The four photos below show one of our early experiment trials.

Phoenix 1.jpg (19284 bytes)
DWARF DATE PALM
        This is a strikingly arrangement that would dominate any professional office reception room! When something is this attractive, it really doesn't matter what it's called.  Besides the bonsai pot, we used a number of bonsai training concepts. 

 

Phoenix 2.jpg (37315 bytes)          Photo 2.  A close-up photo shows that the palms are of different sizes and planted with different height and spacings.   Standard bonsai rock planting techniques were used. The arrangement is placed off-center with the axis of the rock and planting at a diagonal to the viewing angle.   This give the arrangement greater depth and interest. 
Phoenix 3.jpg (37096 bytes)           Photo 3.  The other side is also attractive. Rock plantings whose roots are totally in the rock grow very slowly and this may be desirable. But if the objective is to create stronger growth, it's preferable to train root-over-rock-into-pot.  Eventually the roots will fill the pot and growth will slow. The plant will be rejuvenated if some roots are removed and new planting media used. 
Phoenix 4.jpg (21377 bytes)           Photo 4. Establish the most prominent tree into the most attractive position first. The entire arrangement will take on a character determined by that tree.  For upright palms, the main tree grows straight up.  The smaller trees lean to grow out from under the shade of it's crown with trees at the outer edges being more slanted.   

               Much of my early bonsai education was a Hawaiian version of traditional Japanese temperate climate outdoor bonsai. While challenging and enjoyable, it demands a huge commitment to provide the proper care.   Outdoor bonsai trees developed very slowly. A large amount of patience, skill and discipline are required. 

                True Indoor Bonsai also requires patience, skill and discipline to train. Care is much easier and plants can be grown where they can be enjoyed. By combining traditional bonsai techniques and design practices with durable houseplants, a new category of artistic pot plants was created.  Phoenix Palms are very commonly used as houseplants and become more attractive as artistic pot plants.  Many plants can be utilized and examples will be shown in the following sections.

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