Optimum conditions for plant growth. Man has invariably provided optimum conditions for plant growth but nature does not, at least not all the time. Plant growth is affected by certain specific known areas like soil structures, nutrient levels, temperature and light fluctuations, water availability and genetic vigor of the specie (like the differences existing in seed-grown as against grafted cultivars). I have observed that in many forums that the experts have inadvertently enforced an image of narrowness to growing conditions which plants can endure. I believe plants are most resilient and their known parameters of endurance is unbelievably wide. Nowhere is this observation more rampant than in the world of bonsai, where the art has been so well refined that the specimens live in a totally protected world. So I would venture to look into the unnecessary limitations that have been arbitrarily enforced and such an action has somehow frightened away instead of encouraging newcomers into bonsai. For brevity I would concentrate on two more common specific areas: water and light. Water: I am sure many of us have had the successful experience of rooting stems by standing them in water. Please refer to my post entitled "Watering your bonsai" in the Japanese garden section. Plants do adapt (or acclimatize as I would prefer to use) to a wide range of soil wetness. Bonsaiists have an aversion to over-watering due to root rot; but my experience rather shows that more here encourages more vigorous growth. For ease of watering my seedlings of a few different families, I just pour water out of a bucket into the liner floor containing pots of seedlings until a depth of half to 3/4 inch. I have yet to lose a seedling to root rot, not even when the soil medium is totally Sunshine No 4 ( most peaty soil). In fact the seedlings receiving an abundance of water show superior growth to those which are watered by misting or by sprinklers. The many cases of having our home tile drainage system blocked by plant roots searching for water reinforces this notion that plants like more rather than less water especially for tropical varieties. So for 'freshies', take what your peers claim as the absolute 'must have' with a pinch of salt. Light: Here there is no qualm or dissension on the issue. For optimum growth sufficient strong light is best unless you are dealing with shade loving plants. But it is useful to realize that most plants can tolerate a very low level of light before they succumb. How often we have managed to help our plants in the basement to pull through the winter without resorting to the use of artificial lighting. Let me show these 2 contrasting specimens to illustrate the growth rates of plants when both water and light act in combination. The jade in the pot was positioned in my daughter's basement which received very minimal light and received very infrequent watering something like once every 10 to 14 days. Thus we expect the growth to be sluggish with tiny leaves but surprisingly looking more greenish than normal (it needs more chlorophyll to help make more food). This plant is already 8 years old from the date of purchase. In the second pic., the other jade was only an inch high when I rooted it in a pot with a mature Hibiscus plant. It is south facing and receives maximum light and I water it copiously twice a day in summer. It had only one summer growth but already achieved a height of 11 inches and the pic shows the difference of growth vigor most distinctly. So here we have the same specie growing under different conditions each doing what it knows best i. e. adapting to its changed environment. Thus newbies should not unnecessarily fear as plants are most accommodating to your negligent errors and ways.