declan
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Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:09 am
Location: Rochester

Unskilled novice seeks bonsai care advice

I've been reading articles and posts here for a little bit but I was hoping that if perhaps someone had five minutes to kill, they might be able to help me.

My situation:
I got a bonsai tree from my cousin for christmas (8 months ago) with a single sheet of instructions. I've been following them to the best of my knowledge but it seems to be an uphill battle. I know I'm doing certain things wrong but not sure how to remedy them.

My tree was 4 years old when I got it, and it's some sort of conifer. It has needles but grows in a "Y" shape rather than an "A" shape like a normal sized coniferous tree. I can take a picture if it would help.

She's about 5" tall and 6" wide at the crown. I would say the trunk is 1/4 to 3/8" in diameter, but I'm not a great estimator.

Anyway, I've been misting the tree every day and watering to saturation once a week or so. There's an evaporation tray underneath the pot but I've just now found out what that's for. I'll begin using that as well.

I understand that my watering procedure has been flawed in the past and I'm going to start submersion watering tomorrow. Tips on this would be appreciated.

The tree has not grown appreciably in the 8 months that I've had her. Is this bad? Will pruning encourage growth? Is the pruning process different for an indoor plant?

I want to point out that this is an inside tree only. If I were to begin exposing it to outside conditions, what would be the best way to do so? Is it possible to keep it inside under a flourescent light and direct sunlight?

Also, the climate in Rochester, NY kind of sucks. We have a relatively short, unpredictable summer (can be 90 and 60 in the same week) and a cold, brutal winter. Spring and fall are swampy and depressing. Is this ideal for growing anything but mold? How can I keep the tree safe from hard rain or excess heat?

I've kind of been worrying about this for some time, but have finally decided to seek aid in the matter. My girlfriend and I have grown rather attached to the tree and I'd very much like to keep it alive, so if there are immediate steps I can take, please let me know!!!

Thank you,
Declan

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bonsaiboy
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Pictures would help. From what you have said, I'd guess its a species of Podocarpus, but we need pictures. Anyways, when watering, dig your finger into the soil, and only water when the soil is almost dry. This goes for almost all bonsai. And it is probably not a good idea to imerse the pot, but just stick with overhead watering for now.
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declan
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Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:09 am
Location: Rochester

here she is

[img]https://i303.photobucket.com/albums/nn147/declanspictures/eleanor.jpg[/img]

looks a tad brown around the edges, but the brown panelled wall probably doesn't help. :(

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bonsaiboy
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This tree is a juniper. It was probably sold under the name indoor tree, but it isn't. Best move it outside to partial shade. I don't know much on junipers, so maybe someone who knows more will come by to help.
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kdodds
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It does look like it's on the way out. Generally, when these Junipers start browning/drying, it's already too late. For future reference, though, any of these trees (Juniperus) should not be kept indoors for any length of time, they need to be moved outside ASAP. It also looks like you have one of those mass-produced, commercial potting arrangements where the surface dressing is glued to the soil/pot. This is a VERY bad situation, and should be remedied as soon as possible after purchase. IOW, if you buy one of these trees, the best thing to do is repot it into a proper situation upon bringing it home and get it into a (for the time being as it recovers) a sheltered or semi-sheltered location outside. Even still, so many of these trees receive so much abuse that many are purchased already "on their last legs". If you want a Juniper, a better bet is to study bonsai form a bit and then head off to your local nursery and look through some of the low-growing landscape material Junipers for something promising.

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