mandamacd
Newly Registered
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2005 12:42 pm

Zelkova bonsai - any advice welcome

Hello everyone - I'm afraid I am another first time bonsai owner and I have a few problems.

I bought my 5 yr old Zelkova bonsai about 2 months ago. Along with the little card in the pot I also bought a guide to bonsai's as I have no idea how to look after them! The little card suggested daily watering of the tree and sprinkling of the leaves so I have been following this advoce as well as feeding with a bonsai food every 10 days. However, for the last 3 weeks my tree has been dropping leaves like no tomorrow! The leaves turn brown and brittle at the ends then drop off. According to my book this means I am over watering?! I have new growth on one side of the tree so I know the tree is alive but why are the leaves dropping so much?
My tree is planted in a terracotta pot but has no saucer, am I drying out the roots too quickly?

Any advice would be greatly welcomed.

Manda

opabinia51
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

To water your tree fill the with water to a level such that it covers the top of the pot. Leave your tree in the water for an hour. Do this once a week with daily mistings of the leaves and that should be fine. Though, you should test the soil with toothpick to tell if you plant needs water.

Immerse a clean toothpick into the soil and if the toothpick has no dirt on it when you take it out, you need to water.

Are you using a synthetic fertilizer? If so, you may have burnt your plant. (though, every then days doesn't seem to drastic). I would recommend using an organic fertilizer such as liquid seaweed as with this you first of all cannot burn your plant and second, you provide your plants with micronutrients as well as the macronutrients: Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium.

Also, are you keeping your tree indoors? I'm not familiar with Zelkova but, most (if not all) bonsai trees should be kept outside most of the time. Especially this time of year.

I would recommend that you invest in a good bonsai book like THE BONSAI SURVIVAL MANUAL that will teach you the basics of keeping bonsai. Also, there is a tonne of information that Scott has posted here at the Helpful gardener.

mandamacd
Newly Registered
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2005 12:42 pm

Thank you so much, I will get an organic fertiliser today and try those watering tips. I live in the UK, Scotland to be exact and the weather has just started to turn cold, should I protect the tree from frost as I do with some of my other outdoor plants? It is indoors at the moment.

The toothpick idea is genius, so its not just for testing baking!

Will read up on advice,

Thanks again.

opabinia51
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

You are more than welcome. I got the toothpick idea from one of my many bonsai books. (it may have been the Bonsai Survival Manual :wink: )

The watering method that I described works really well. Just remember that there should be no set pattern to your watering because the plant only needs to be watered.... well, when it needs to be watered. Just use ye old toothpick method to check.

In Japan, they actually use chopsticks.

Scotland huh? That's really neat. I've always wanted to visit your country. One day, I'll make it there. You have some of the most breath taking landscape!

Oh yeah, you asked about winter protection. Some bonsai enthusiasts actually bury the pots of their trees in the soil. THE HELPFUL GARDENER recommends that you store your tree in a garage.

I only recommend storing your tree in the garage if the garage door is opened regularly and if there are windows. I personaly believe that burying the tree is your best bet.

Try searching out some local bonsai clubs, they will definately have local tips for you.

Good luck!!! Happy to have you here! :D

mandamacd
Newly Registered
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2005 12:42 pm

You should come and visit, Scotland is a wonderful place and I live up in the highlands, the autumn (or fall!) is my favourite time just as the trees are turning, really can be breathtaking and I never tire of it. The area where I live is called Royal Deeside and although I am biased I do think it is the best part of Scotland.

Well my toothpick is already in place and I have checked it already, just trying to decide where to plant my tree now. I have also sent away for the Bonsai survival guide, if i do well I'm thinking of asking my brother for another bonsai for christmas! :D

My thanks once again.

opabinia51
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

Mandam, you have me drooling even more about your beautiful country! Wow, I just can't wait to come and visit.

One of my Profs is Scottish and I love talking with him about the "homeland" I hope one day to do a lot of hiking in the Highlands.

Good Luck with your tree. They can bring many decades of satisfaction. Be sure to read all of Scott's information on Bonsai here at the website as well. Never can get to much information.

The Helpful Gardener
Mod
Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

The Helpful Gardener has some Scottish roots himself (A bit of the Black Douglas bloodline and a year living and schooling across the Firth from Edinburgh). I have often thought of returning...

I do think it might be over watering and the soaking regimen can be a bit much for some trees; try overhead (hose or can) watering for a week or so allowing things to dry in between. This is a very hardy tree so err to the dry side just a bit for a wee while and see how it does. I suspect it would somewhere in between one or the other; juggle back and forth for a bit to find that happy medium.

I really don't like garages or digging them into the ground; best bet is a sun pit or unheated greenhouse, but I hate to discourage folks by telling them that they need to expend vast quantities of money and labor for their one tree; who would do it? :? These are two options that can be used that make more sense for most folks, so I cut to the chase; why annoy and frustrate with pie in the sky they'll never attempt? :roll:

You've some good info now, so give it a go and let us know where it takes you...

We'll talk soon...

Scott

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