Growing a baobab indoors

Discussion in 'Caudiciforms and Pachycaul Trees' started by fouddah, Aug 21, 2007.

  1. fouddah

    fouddah Member

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    Hi, im new to growing exotic trees, and have sprouted quite a few seeds of various plants.

    Im trying to find information on growing an african baobab (Adansonia digitata) indoors.

    Ive only found information so far on growing them outdoors in pots in warm climates, and id like to know if anyone has had any luck growing them indoors here in BC. Im trying to find out things like what kind of soil to use, what size of pot to grow it in, and things like what time of year it goes dormant.

    Also, can i move it outdoors in the summer or is it too cold, i live in a zone 7 (some years 7b) area that gets alot of rain in the summer.

    Any help would be great, thanks.
     
  2. edleigh7

    edleigh7 Well-Known Member

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    I don't think you would be able to grow them indoors in your area. All the ones I see over here are in full sun in the north of Australia, sub tropical-tropical, but you never know I suppose

    Ed
     
  3. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    I've had plenty of success the past few years growing caudiciforms and pachycaul trees indoors during the cold months. Many of the arid-climate trees, like baobabs, will have a dormant period when brought indoors when the temperatures start to drop in the Autumn. Many species are deciduous (will drop their leaves) and will appear dead while wintering indoors. Water only when the soil is completely dry. I have been using bonsai soil, pots, and techniques to keep their size in control. Once the weather warms up in the Spring you can bring them outdoors,...gradually introduce them to the increased light...shady site for a week or two, partial sun, and then full sun for the Summer and into early Autumn.

    If you do an internet search, you will find several bonsai enthusiasts that have very nice baobabs and other pachycaul trees.

    I believe the key is to allow them to be outdoors for a few months to stimulate some active growth. I am a firm believer that allowing plants to experience wind, rain, and day-night temperature fluctuations makes for a healthier plants. I am not sure that they would do well if kept exclusively indoors unless you have a sunroom, greenhouse, or conservatory where they could get full sun and warm temperatures.
     
  4. fouddah

    fouddah Member

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    Well, i also have a greenhouse, should it spend the summers in there?

    edit: actualy, my home is well suited to growing plants, we have LOTS of windows, and receve direct sunlight well into the house from early morning untill almost dusk. Also, we heat our house with a woodstove in the winter, so we have high daytime temps (usualy around 25c), but at night the temperature drops to around 10c. also, we have high vaulted cealings, with windows right to the top. Summer temperatues inside often reach 40c because the house works like a greenhouse.
     
  5. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    I believe your temperatures are appropriate. However, there is nothing like the intensity of full sun to make these plants thrive. I too, have high ceilings and lots of southern exposure windows, but the glass filters the light quite a bit, in addition it tends to come from one side, so you end up rotating the plants every few days. A "full sun" window indoors often has less light, overall (time, intensity, and degrees of exposure) than a shady spot outdoors...check it with a light meter sometime.

    Don't hesitate to bring your plants outdoors during the warm months. A good rule of thumb is to watch your local weather and when the overnight temperatures are consistently above 10C/50F, then you can keep arid-climate/desert plants, as well as many tropicals outdoors.

    Baobabs and many other pachycaul trees enjoy full 360* light...not just from a sunny window. As said in the previous post, they will do OK during the cold months indoors, but it is not likely they will thrive over the long term. If you want a nice, fat baobab, then full outdoor sun is likely necessary...otherwise it will likely grow tall and thin.
     
  6. fouddah

    fouddah Member

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    thank you very much, you've helped clear up alot of my questions.

    Just a few more things to add.

    First off, to try to help deal with the windows, i grow all my plants under lights to try to simulate a more equitorial day/night cycle, and to help the small seedlings grow upwards. I have the lights hooked up to timers, so they are the same length, and at this time of year turn on just after sunrise and stay on for 12 hours, and thats just after sunset now.

    Another thing is i often get very cold nights suddenly in the summer, as i live only a few hundred meters from the ocean. This also causes heavy fogs in the summer. Will all the mosture do any harm to an arid plant that likes to stay dry?
     
  7. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    Do not worry about moisture and humidity with arid-climate/desert plants. I live in west Michigan and I get frequent heavy rains, lots of morning dew, and the relative humidity is rarely below 60%. If you live in a relatively damp climate, the key is: 1) plenty of air circulation and 2) a very loose, well-draining mix. I use bonsai soil, vermiculite, perlite, and large-grain (2-3mm) sand. I generally don't let the mix hold water for any more than a day, or so. As soon as the water enters the top of the soil, it should be draining out the bottom...you're just getting the roots damp...these plants are extremely efficient at extracting water from the soil. The roots should also have plenty of air circulation for transpiration and removal of trapped gases.
     
  8. fouddah

    fouddah Member

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    Here is my baobab as of last week, i now move it out into my greenhouse during the day, but back inside at night. Im not sure if the leaves should cause the plant to fall over, but i stood it up with pipe cleaners and some posts, i didnt like how much it was flopping around when i moved it
     

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  9. defeyter

    defeyter Member

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    Hi,

    I am living in North Saskatchewan and started to do some experimenting with Baobabs indoors. I planted 5 seeds last November (2007). After 4 weeks, one seed germinated.

    Currently, the tree is about 10 centimetres tall and it has 4 real leafs and 2 germination leafs. My soil is a mixture of potting soil (2/3) and Perlite (1/3), planted in a pot with a 15 cm diameter. The plant is standing in full light.

    This winter, we are experiencing temperatures between -20 en -48. That is a little too chilly for the plant to be outside (lol). I keep the plant in my living room, with enough light and a temperature between 15 and 20).

    Our summers are dry and with temperatures between 10 and 39. Would those temperatures be okay for my Baobab to go outside?

    Chris
    Saskatchwan
     
  10. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    Those temperatures will do just fine. Growing them outdoors when it is warm is exactly what you should do. Just keep pinching the growth back every few sets of leaves on a new branch. It will induce more branching, keep the height in check, and create the fat pachycaul trunk. You may want to plant them in a raised bed and then pot them in the Fall when the weather starts to cool.

    According to the book A Guide to Growing Pachycaul and Caudiciform Plants by Philippe de Vosjoli, most pachycaul trees benefit from growing in relatively large, shallow pots or raised beds with plenty of drainage. Whether it is indoors or outdoors, it shouldn't matter as long as there is plenty of natural light and warm temperatures (minimum 80*F/27*C).

    Mark
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2008
  11. fouddah

    fouddah Member

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    Just an update on my baobab growing.

    Spider mites are terrable! both my seedlings from last summer quickly died from a mean spider mite infestation when i had to go to vancouver for a few days, by the time i arrived home i had 2 wilted leafless dead sticks.

    Going to try a few more this seasons, last year i didnt start growing anything untill june, ive got a good head start this time around, so hopefuly i will have some luck, i'll take pictures if they ever make it
     
  12. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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  13. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    I finally gave up on my Clerodendrum tree just a few weeks ago after fighting with spider mites on/off for the past year. The trunk was just starting to get fat and spiny, but those little mites were persistent. Historically, I've had issues with the broad-leafed trees and spider mites despite frequent cleanings, insecticidal soaps, etc. I have had a lot better success with the more succulent species as they seem a little more resistant. Although they will tend to get the scale insects and mealy bugs...but those seem to be easier to treat for me.
     
  14. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    I've been having very good success with a group of small beetles known as Chilocorus nigritus. Although not inexpensive, they will totally eat purple scale, or at least eat enough of the pest to kill it. They fly so I'm not sure how well they would work inside a home. A vial of 50 cost close to $100 but they multiply quickly so you don't have to buy them often. In a greenhouse they work quite well so long as you can keep the humidity up and the doors closed. The females will lay eggs on the undersides of leaves. Do an internet search and compare prices. One company offers substantially lower prices. They are also great pollinators since they seek out pollen as a portion of their diet.
     
  15. latetothediscussion

    latetothediscussion New Member

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    Just FYI - I've got an indoor Baobab in California growing hydroponically that's happy in a bright corner of the living room. Every couple of years it thinks it is going to drop most of its leaves but seems just fine indoors. I've had my share of the dreaded spider mites but remedies from the local hydroponic supply store have wiped them out.

    (leaves are a little curled in this image because I'm letting it go through a short dry spell, but this should give you an idea of how the baobab can look inside...)
     

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    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
  16. MaliBaobab

    MaliBaobab New Member

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    Beautiful Baobab, latetothediscussion! I also live in California (Lake Tahoe) and have a 3ish year old tree that I grew from seed from a baobab in Mali. It's about 2 1/2 feet tall, skinny, and has about 15 leaves or so right now. I'm wondering if you (or anyone else) can give me some advice? I didn't know about the dormancy thing until recently, so decided to stop watering at the end of October. The leaves are now just starting to wilt a bit, but no rapid yellowing or fall off as I have seen mentioned in other threads. It is in a sunny window box that is definitely the coldest place in our house. The house is warm though, generally about 65-70 degrees. It is way too cold and unpredictable to keep it outside in the fall, winter, and sometimes spring seasons.

    Do you think I should expect this tree to go dormant and drop leaves? Should I continue to withhold water til spring? Any other advice? I think it did go dormant the first two years even though I kept watering it, never lost all its leaves, but did stop growing for several months.

    Thanks!
     
  17. latetothediscussion

    latetothediscussion New Member

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    I've never been one for "dormancy". Sometimes my tree decides to drop its leaves; sometimes it flourishes. I keep it pretty wet in puffed clay hydroponic media.
     
  18. Terry Phillips

    Terry Phillips Member

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    My Baobab forest growing 6 types in BC have about 45 trees
     

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    Last edited: Sep 12, 2015
  19. Liz Connell

    Liz Connell New Member

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    I have a baobab started from seed almost 15 years ago. I have let the tree grow (did not attempt to bonsai) and it is now almost 6 feet tall. I pruned it once in the hopes that it would get bushier. It has a very regular dormant period where it drops its leaves in December and buds start showing up in April/May. When it has no leaves I don't water it. I keep this plant indoors in a south facing winder year round now because of the Japanese beetles we get in the summer. One year they devoured half its leaves within a few hours and I was afraid for its survival.

    Looking to prune it again, but want to know if I should do it now while still in dormancy or if I should wait until the leaves come back. Also looking for any advice on how much to trim back.
     
  20. Terry Phillips

    Terry Phillips Member

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    Well I can only say what I do , I trim in the end of dormant time which is coming up soon have not done yet
     
  21. Liz Connell

    Liz Connell New Member

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    Thanks! Any suggestions on how much to trim? I was thinking of cutting the main stock back quite a bit - either to the red arrow or the purple, but don't want to kill it by cutting off too much. What is the best approach to pruning a potted Baobab?

    129464-38de35940bad956a5382867c3f9611ec.jpg
     

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  22. Terry Phillips

    Terry Phillips Member

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    Way more than I would , in picture white line about a foot from top of ceiling start there this year & see what happens next year but cut at your own risk ?
     
  23. Liz Connell

    Liz Connell New Member

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    That was the kind of approach I took last year (now that I think of it I have pruned it twice, last year and about 5 years ago). Maybe I'll try that for a few years... Thanks!
     

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