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New Tree.... Brazilian Raintree
Posted: Wed Feb 04, 2009 9:57 pm
I just go a Christmas gift from my aunt. She ordered me a Brazilian Raintree or pithecellobium tortum. It just so happens that she ordered it from Bonsaiboy.com.
I got it and it is in pretty good condition. I read that the leaves close when little or no sun light is present. I find that very fasinating. So I have it out of the box, and I watered it mildly. I had no idea it had long needle like thorns on it so when I went to grab it, it bit me. It came with a very nice teal, glazed pot and a humidity tray. I still have yet to get some material for the tray. I will try to post a picture of it either today or tomorrow.
Anyway, when I got it, it came with a paper that basically told you how to take care of it. I would appreciate it if you could give me some feedback on what they said versus, what you say. Heres the link to the same information, just on a website.
Posted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 3:30 pm
As far as instructions go these are better than most generic care sheets but appear to be just that, generic. They could just as easily apply to a Ficus as a Schefflera. I can't offer any specific advice for this plant as I am not familiar with it.
Lesniewicz, in Bonsai in Your Home, does not list it but does list Pithecellobium dulce
which apparently is also known as 'Manila tamarind'. With these other names you may be able to continue your research.
He writes that this plant requires a lot of light and temperatures between 59-71. Those number seem a little odd to me, trying to be that precise, I doubt the plant would find 55 or 75 too extreme.
Furthermore, according to Lesniewicz, the plant should be kept moist during summer and the soil should be allowed to go partially
dry during Winter. Again, this is not that different from several other species.
Sorry I cant offer anything further, perhaps someone else has grown this plant and will see this.
Posted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:07 pm
I have 9 Braziliain Raintrees in my collection and I agree with last poster that this is a generic care sheet. I can say for sure that your tree can handle temps between 55-90 degrees just fine. I have a bonsai nursery in central Florida and we protect our raintrees when overnight temps get down to about 50. The great thing about Raintrees is that they will tell you when they are stressed by closing up leaves. We have found that dappled light seems to be best but they can handle full sun. Another important note is to always leave 1/2 an inch or so for dieback if you cut a branch, they do not heal very well and I would recomend using wound sealer. On the same note if you want to train branches I don't recomend wrapping wire around branches as this will scare your tree quickly, rather tie strings and guy wires to bend branches without making too much contact.The raintrees should not be let to dry out completely and can do fine in anything from nursery soil to bonsai soil, but idealy should be in a bonsai soil mix with some organic material added to retain moisture. If your tree does get stressed to the point of losing all its leaves, don't worry just get it back in proper conditions and it will bounce back in a couple of weeks with brand new light green foliage. Hope this helps
Best Regards, Scott
PS : you can cut off the thorns if you prefer without harming the tree. I don't like the thorns, I think it throws off the scale of the tree, but my better half likes them more natural.
Posted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:18 pm
Thanks for the tips, nothing beats personal experience. Glad you are with us and stop back when you get the chance.
Posted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 9:25 pm
I will take a look into that book. I am also trying to do some research on them to understand them better. I'm not on my computer right now so I can't upload the pictures right now but they should be posted on either by tonight or tomrrow afternoon.
Thank you so much for the info. A great help. I have it on my counter in my house close to some windows, approx. 6 feet from a big window and 5 feet from the window over my sink. Again, pictures are coming ASAP so we can see if this is a good spot or not. The temperature in my home ranges from the midday when I'm not around which is normally 64, no lower. And then before in the afternoon around 67-70 degrees. Is that too much of a temp difference? I am assuming not but just want to make sure. Also, the leaves have still not opened up from when I got it out of the box around 3 PM EST yesterday. I'm just a little worried about that. I got home today and I already see some new growth. I was very surprised by this. I did not expect it to grow that fast. I havn't poked and prodded the roots yet and don't plan to until spring. How often on average do you have to water your Brazilian raintrees? Im having a bit of a struggle on that. As from that everything seems to being going great. I don't see any major problems with it and am very relieved not to!
I am also very glad to know to leave some die back room. I would have never thought of that on this species. I do need to buy some wound coverup stuff though. I don't have any of that. Also, much thanks on the thorns. When I had first reached into the box to take out the tree, I didn't know what it was. So I reached my hand into the popcorn that covered the entire tree, not knowing what was inside, and it bit my thumb. OUCH! Those thorns hurt. Do they grow back alot or not at all?
I will probably have more questions as my new tree progresses so please stay tuned.
If you do not have a watering can with tiny holes in it to reduce the flow of water, I have come up with a solution. I figured this out on a spur of the moment need of a watering can.
Heres what you'll need.
One waterbottle not yet opened.
One sewing needle.
One desired tree/plant
Heres what you do.
Take the water bottle that has not yet been opened and put it on a flat surface. Then take your sewing needle and start punching in a ring around the edge of the cap inside the ring that you drink from. Your pretty much making your own watering can. Put in enough holes spaced roughly 1/8 inch apart all the around. Then you have yourself a watering tool. Remember, it is best to poke the holes while the bottle has not yet been opened. This makes it more sturdy.
And then, when your bottle runs out of water, just take the cap off that has the holes through it, and either A-re-fill the water bottle or B-go get a new water bottle and switch out the caps.
Now that you have your new watering bottle, go try it out on your tree/plant. Squeeze gently so the water does not become too pressurized to the point that it will blast away your soil or rocks.
Just thought I might share what I created.
Posted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 10:33 pm
I will take a look into that book.
There is not much more information on this species in this particular book. It is a fair work on indoor bonsai, one that I refer to, but I did not want you to purchase it and find it lacking.
Posted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:40 pm
I'll probably get it from the library....
I don't have enough money...LOL
Posted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 12:18 am
lets face the facts for those of us who have more than one tree , for those of us who have an obssesion for bonsai , i find myself always out of money because either i have bought this for the bonsai or i have bought another bonsai altogether
i don't know why my thirst for more species keeps growing and they tend to be the more expensive ones............. think ur in the same boat
Posted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:31 am
Maybe in the same boat. Well........yeah......pretty much. Now that I got a new bonsai, it has reawakened the feeling of want to be an avid bonsai collector. So now I'm looking at some pretty cool trees on Bonsaiboy.com. Infact, I'm looking at getting a Mount Fuji Serissa - Large
(serissa foetida) which is 12 inches tall and 10 years old and is going for 60 bucks. I'm also looking at a Japanese Kingsville Boxwood - Medium
(buxus microphylla 'compacta') which is 6 inches tall, 9 years old, and going for 40 bucks.
But before I even get to that I need to buy new Tropical/SubTropical for this new bonsai and some new equipment. I didn't buy the stuff that is really needed in bonsai. I bought some lousy stuff at Home Depot. I bought the stuff that wouldnt last too. I think the only good thing I bought from there was a bag of pebbles and a branch trimmer.
Theres always birthdays.
Posted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 2:28 am
A few thoughts if you don't mind. Accumulating numerous species can be fun but it can also be difficult. It may be better to concentrate on one or two species until you get the hang of them. Serissa has a reputation for being difficult to keep and I would hate to see you spend $60.00 and not have it do well.
As far a the Buxus is concerned I feel you can do better at most any local nursery. You can get more tree for the money and, by doing the initial styling, learn more to boot. For instance have a look at two of Tom's Boxwoods [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4612]here[/url] and [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7136]here.[/url]
Also keep an eye out for any neighbors looking to remove any from the landscape. You can get some nice old specimens this way.
Posted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:13 pm
Have to agree on the specific care offered by Scott. Pay particular attention to his advice on styling. I prefer to leave the thorns. Because of the zig-zag growth pattern, a lot of styling can be done by simple pruning. Although I've seen other styles, this species, to me, is best suited to a "pierneef" <sp> type of style, which is sort of a modified literati.
Posted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 2:29 am
I think I may have a boxwood outside of my house but I a not sure. Tomrrow will tae some pctures of it and see ifyou know what kind it is. I did note though that you gave me a link to an english boxwood. I am looking to buy a Japanese Boxwood duet the very small size of the leaves. Now, that does not mean I will competely shrug off your advice. You are probably correct in saying that I couldget more tree for my buck. I think I will look for a fairly cheap Japanese Kingsville Boxwood although I have no idea how rare or not rare they are.
I will also take pictures of my "boxwood" out side. Do not hold me on saying Boxwood because I really have no idea what it is
Those pictures of my brazilian raintree will be up soon. The have been taken so its just a matter of picking the right ones. I think you'll like 2 of them. hehehe
Nice to talk to you again!
I am proud to say I have cut off all the thorns. I did not like them. In my opinion, it took away the scaled down look and made it look more bush like.
Those pics should be up soon.
Posted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 4:18 pm
Finally got those pictures uploaded. They are a bit blurry but will do.
I have views of all 4 sides.
Now heres a view of the compound leaf.
Posted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 7:32 pm
wow cool tree i can see that it has good potential especiall as informal or fromal upright
i think it needs abit of work i mean shaping wiring and pinching
what do u guys think ??
Posted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:08 pm
Yeah I am liking that one as well.
Wonder if it back buds into old growth.
Its so tall the bottom looks kinda bare.
Posted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:56 pm
I think the bottom is supposed to be bare. It is a tropical tree so in the rainfores it would naturally compete for sunlight by growing tall and losing its foliage toward the bottom.
Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 1:40 pm
I've not seen any back-budding along the trunk of mine. But, then, maybe if it were chopped down, you might. Back budding does occur along branches, though. The two lowest side branches, if allowed to grow out and then weighted a bit, should produce a nicer, fuller look. The tree's young though, so lots of time for that, and for cleaning up the top portion.
Posted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 9:41 pm
Does your Brazilian Raintree lose some of its leaves everyday? Mine has been losing some leaflets. Normally around 10-20 leaflets in 12 hours. Just wondering if yours does that. I don't know if its from shock(I don't think it would be.....I got it over a week ago)or what.
Posted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:30 pm
Nope, it does not usually shed any leaves. But funny you should mention it right now because in the last few days, yes, it has shed some leaves. Possibly, with the days lenghtening, this is a response that precedes spring growth? I have not had it a full year yet, so I couldn't say if it's normal seasonal "behavior".
Posted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 8:13 pm
That is very possible. But I would think it would take a few years to actually be sure that this what this kind of species does during this time of year.
I thought it might be the dryness of the leaves. I was surprised when I felt the leaves that they seemed very dry. I water it dpending on how much it needs it so the soil moisture was pretty damp. But the leaves were dry. I have been misting the leaves 1-2 times a day and that has seemed to help quite a bit.
Posted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:05 pm
Sorry I couldn't respond to your one question any sooner. Well, acctualy, it wasn't your question, but I thought it might be nice to know Brazilian Raintrees do back-bud. Also, I am no expert on them, but the falling leafs may be happening for several reasons. First, you could be overwatering it. Second, if it was moved from a bright location to a dim one or vice versa, it could be shedding the old leafs not desined to operate in the newer light levels, and may throw out new leafs eventualy that are better suited to do so. Or, this tree could also be seasonaly deciduous as some tropicals are (it's kind of unlikely, though, if you consider where its from).
Posted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:48 pm
It might be possible that I am over watering.
Bonsaiboy and kdodds,
What is your average watering schedule for this species?
Also, I noticed that the leaves are starting to turn yellow.
I don't know whats up but I don't want to lose this tree. >.<
Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 6:32 am
Hello, My name is Lisa, My other 1/2 responded to this question earlier and I have quite a few of the Braz. Raintrees and have some experience. I read over the entire post and thought I could add a couple of things. If the tree was shipped to you it may have experienced some cold thru the shipping process and should have had a heat pack included in the shipping carton considering the weather lately in the north. Shock can take a while to show up and run its course. The Braz. Raintrees will re-adjust their foliage when they are moved around. They will bud back on the trunk occasionally but good luck with it popping out where you want it to! Normal growth appears to start out as a leaflet off a main branch, this leaflet always last a short while and then yellows and falls off. Then a branch will usually pop from this area and this will grow out quickly so be prepared to weight it or wire it in the direction you wish it to grow. It will grow very quickly so be extremely careful when wiring because the tree will grow around the wire and the branch will be permanantly scarred. These trees scar extremely easy and once the dark bark is gone it will not grow back, it will leave a lighter color bark. This is used in styling sometimes and adds a bit of interest, similar to exfoliating barks. The Braz. Raintree likes to dry up a bit in between waterings. The grow naturally near the beaches in sand and are sometimes stuck in straight sand when they are collected. I like the fluted trunks. If you are happy with the size of your bonsai, keep it maintained for the size of the pot, if you would like to grow it larger you can always repot it (at the correct time of the year) in a larger pot and let it grow and keep it trimmed and styled while it grows larger and then repot back to a bonsai pot later on. Pinch and grow is the best method for training branches (directing growth) but remember to leave 1/4 to 1/2 inch for die-back. Once the die-back is done (it will be brown and dry to a point and green behind that point) you can trim off the dead brown area and neaten up the cut. The leaves will close up at night, when it rains, when it is not sunny enough or too sunny and the leaves get too hot and close up to keep cooler. The plant will give you some clues as to what it needs. They can be touchy and drop their leaves when they get stressed but cut back on watering (less leaves, less need for water) and keep them warm and in a filtered sunny spot and they will come back with the most beautiful green sprouts and fill back in really quickly. Use your humidity tray and misting is good but not in direct sunlight and don't put them to bed wet! Check for bugs occassionally and fertilize now and again. If you have any other specific questions, just ask I will check back. Sorry about being so long winded, Good Luck
Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 1:11 pm
Mine gets watered usually once per week (winter) or twice per week (all other seasons), as needed really. Thanks for the info, Lisa. This appears to be what may be happening as I'm now noticing that my yellowing/leaf dropping is coming towards the end of branches, where I've been pruning to keep the shape of the tree and keep grwoth in check. So, perhaps branching is being encourage by this? Mine opens and closes otherwise normally.
Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 8:30 pm
I've seen very TINY bugs crawling around in the soil but I havn't really thought anything of it. I've only seen a few and I can't even describe what they look like because they are so small. Any advice on that?
Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 8:44 pm
Thanks to you as well. We don't have a section dedicated to 'tropical' species but we do seem to have a lot of interest in them. Please continue to post as your schedule permits.
Posted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 3:27 am
Have you checked the condition of the plants roots? Whenever something goes wrong with my plants, I always make sure its not a root-related problem. After all, with the falling leafs and tiny insects insects in the soil, it may very well be a root problem.
Posted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 1:53 pm
Well, mine has pretty much stopped dropping leaflets. It would be interesting if yours has too Ken. Maybe then it is a response in preparation for spring/summer due to the lengthening days.
Posted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:30 pm
I have not yet checked the roots out. It is tedious work that I'm kind of afraid to do on my new tree. Aside from the thought of maybe killing my tree, I would have to use the same soil it is in now because I do not have the material. I am also trying to figure out a way to get the decorative rock out of the pot and keep it out of soil mixture when I do take a look at the roots. I havnt seen the tiny critters anymore but I'm am keeping an eye on it.
The leaf falling has decreased. There are still some that are dry and about to fall but other than that, the foliage looks well. I think I will wait until the leaves stop dropping and then take a look at the roots to see if there could be a bigger problem at hand.
Can you tell me how you keep your Braz. Raintree humid. I have the humidity tray with pebbles in it and some water to keep the are damp. But it drys out awfully fast. And do you use some sort of heating pad to heat the air as well?
Posted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 7:23 pm
I have seen little terrariums before in the gardening section of some stores that you can use to increase humidity. I forget what there called, but there oftentimes used for growing orchids and exotic ferns, that can't stand dry air. No idea how much they cost, but if you could get your hands on one, it would keep the air humid for longer periods. I'll try and figure out what there called.
Posted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 8:39 pm
Something like this??
I've been to this site before. They offer various sized portable greenhouses or stationary greenhouses for a relatively low price.
Posted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 8:48 pm
I found something like this that would be good for you entire collection.
Posted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:25 pm
How about something like this.
Posted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 12:34 am
I took a look at them to see how much height they had to them. They look like they would work great for the little maples but for the Braz. Raintree, it would be too short. Even without the pot and the humidity tray it would be to short for my tree to fit in.
Thank you for the suggestion though.
Posted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 4:29 am
Hi, just a thought as to your humidity issue.... is there an air vent blowing on the tree/tray? Keeping a bonsai indoor can be tricky with all the heat and air vents, the air can bounce off a wall and be directed at the plant which will dry them out extremely quickly. Glad to hear the leaf drop is stopping and you are seeing new growth.
Humidity trays really only work indoors, outdoors they are pretty much useless as they do dry out so fast. To keep your bonsai happy, mist it in the morning and in the afternoon but give the tree enough time to dry off completely before the sun goes down, don't mist after dark or with the tree in full blazing sun as the water magnifies and burns spots on the fragile leaves. As to your bugs in the soil, glad you don't see them anymore, they could be fungus gnats, or just a couple of stray ants seeking water, most likely more of a nuisance than a problem which would affect the health of the tree. Ants can bring pests to your tree though to "farm" them ! so do keep an eye out.
Posted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 12:52 pm
I mist mine once or twice per day or more, no humidity tray, but there is a Juniper next to it that is on a humidity tray. Mine has stopped dropping completely, but yes, there are a few yellowed leaflets that have not fallen yet. At the axils, there are HUGE buds growing all over the place. The haven't opened yet, but they're bigger than I usually see. I don't think they're flowers, though. Right now they look like 3-4mm peas. Perhaps these are new branches forming?
Posted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 3:27 pm
I too see new growth coming in. The largest growth I see is something like pea sized but about half the size of a pea. Then there are much more of them but smaller in size all over the place. I would have liked to see more growth on the bottom branches. I have yet to see hardly any growth on those branches.
Do you mind me asking, what do you mean by axil? I've never heard of that term before.
Posted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 6:16 pm
Yeah, I would say about half the size of a small pea is about right. The point at which the leaf sprouts from the branch, the smaller, "inner" angle. For example, if you pinch say, a Ficus, a new branch will sprout at the terminal axil, the inner angle where the last leaf left is sprouting from.
Posted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 7:04 pm
Ahhhhh.......Ok.......Thanks for that kdodds.
I took off the top stones from my tree. They made it difficult to judge when to decide to water. I also took a general look at the roots. Nothing seems out of the norm. I didn't pry at the roots and get all of the soil ouot because I really don't want to right now. Things look pretty good so far. While I took it out of the pot I did my best airerate the soil and look for anything that shouldnt be there. While the tree was out I noticed the leaves closed pretty fast. They are starting to open up now so it should be fine.
My B-Day is right around the corner so I got my B-Day list submitted to my parents with I think 3 trees in it. I plan on adding a few more as well.
Posted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 3:47 am
Actualy, for the terrarium, I was thinking about what is called a Wardian case. See here https://www.floridaplants.com/HP/warv.jpg and here https://www.fownc.org/images/news53/04.jpg Finding one large enough shouldn't be a problem (its the cost).