Recommendation for indoor tree

(Question)

Hello,
I am looking for a 6-8ft indoor tree for our condo. Low-Med lighting conditions. It would be near a west-facing window that gets quite hot 9-12pm in the summer & cool during the winter. The window is next to a couple of forced heating vents.
Our preference is for a narrow, vertical tree & of interest are the “Elephant Toothpick” (Sansevieria Cylindrical) & Japanese Bonsai (Leucodendron & Pine varieties) but we’re not sure where to obtain such a tree.
Do you have any suggestions for us on 1) obtaining the tree & 2) caring for the tree. We are novice gardeners so overwatering comes quite easy to us! Is there a method to accurately test moisture in the soil to help guide our watering schedules?
Thanks for your help.

(Answer)

Well you don’t seem to be that novice a gardener as you have given the latin names for your selections. Kudos to you. The two selections that you have provided are quite different in nature.

The Elephant Toothpick variety (Sansevieria cylindrica), may be a great selection as it is known as a fool proof grower. They like medium to high light levels, warm temperatures but can survive cold spells, and can survive periods of drought. One serious caution,  as you have mentioned that you like to overwater, is not to overwater this plant. They only need to be watered monthly, or less in winter and every other week in the summer. The secret is not to have them standing in water and ensuring that they have a chance to throughly dry out between waterings. They should be planted in a cactus soil mix in a well draining pot. Here are two resources to check out when considering this plant:

https://www.ext.nodak.edu/extnews/hortiscope/flowers/snsevria.htm

https://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/index.php/factsheet/growing-cacti-and-other-succulents-a-toronto-master-gardeners-guide/

The Japanese Bonsai (Leucadendron & Pine varieties) are far more needy as a plant selection. They require continual feeding, watering and pruning. The heat vent that you have mentioned may also create a drying effect that these plants do not tolerate well. The care required varies greatly on the species selected. This MG Guide and two websites provide a wealth of knowledge on all aspects of bonsai selection and care:

https://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/index.php/factsheet/toronto-master-gardeners-guide-to-the-art-of-bonsai/

https://torontobonsai.org/

https://www.bonsaiempire.com/

To ensure that you only water your plants when needed perhaps you should invest in a moisture level reader. This device will tell you when the soil has dried out sufficiently, and the plant needs water. Here are two great sites on watering house plants:

https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/quickref/houseplants/watering.html

https://www.coopext.colostate.edu/4dmg/Plants/guidline.htm

Finally in regards to where to purchase your plant when you have made your final selection.The most important consideration is to find a reputable merchant.  The Toronto Bonsai Organization lists several reputable sellers on their site.

Good luck with your selection and purchase. We wish you a lifetime of happy gardening.