coqui
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Chinese Elm Bonsai in Puerto Rico - Help

Help.
I just received a Chinese Elm bonsai shipped postal from New York. It took three days in getting to Puerto Rico where I live. It was not dry when I received it. What concerns me is that it arrived with no leaves at all (well around 6 green leaves!). It has a very dense branch system and around 19 inches tall. It still has some brown leaves around 10 or a bit more. I suppose it is in hibernation, due to the winter environment where it came from. If I scratch the branches they are green. I have read all kinds of info on how to handle my bonsai, but it seems it all comes down to water or little water, sun or little sun, outside or indoors. Question is how much is little water or little sun? Inside or outside. I currently have it in my outside balcony looking east out into the blue carrribean sea. It gets around 2 hours of direct morning sun and then its bright daylight all day. It's around 82 in Puerto Rico this time of year. I am watering it every other day. I will not fertilize it since it still has not started sprouting leaves. Is this scenario ok or is it down hill for my elm? On a final note it smells kind of funny, but it just might be the green moss that I am not used to. What should I expect on getting some type of growth like leaves?


Thanks for your advice
UPDATE: Check out my tree after two weeks!
[url]https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=60518[/url]


This is my sad looking elm:
[img]https://divorciadosonline.com/images/MyElm.jpg[/img][/url]
Last edited by coqui on Sun Mar 01, 2009 10:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

MyBonsaiBuddy
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Hello and welcome to bonsai. That is a beautiful tree which you have received. Do not worry, your plant was shipped from New York and unlike Puerto Rico and Florida to an extent they actually have seasons. The chinese elm is deciduous or semi deciduous depending on where it is living. Up north they lose all their leaves and in Florida, it depends on the tree... but most leaves drop and what does not drop pretty much turns brown on the branch. This dormancy is the trees resting period and should be encouaged in winter by watering less and the shorter days (less sunlight). Now that the tree is back in spring/summer weather it will soon come out of dormancy and fresh green leaves will soon begin to sprout. Since you are keeping the tree outside check the soil daily and if you wiggle your finger into the soil about an inch deep and the soil feels dry, water it... if it feels slightly moist... wait and check it again the next day until it feels dry. Since it is 'naked', I would not give it the full direct sunlight. The morning sun is good but the tree can get sunburned in full sun without its foliage to protect it. The less leaves the tree has the less water it will require. As the foliage increases, increase the amount of sun and continue to check the soil for watering needs and water as necessary. One thing I did note from your photo was the moss which is growing on the trunk, this is not really healthy for the tree and should be removed... gently. Use a toothbrush and brush off what you can. Moss on the soil is good if you like it but it should not be allowed to grow up the trunk. Also make sure when you water the water is penetrating through the moss and not rolling off the top. You can water ocassionaly by submerging the pot in a container large enough to hold the pot,( I use cat litter boxes) to insure you are watering to the center of the rootball. You are correct about not fertilizing, you should wait at least 3 - 4 weeks and if you are seeing the new foliage coming out you can begin to fertilize as long as the shipper of the plant did not give any different instructions. Hope this helps you get started. Good Luck

kdodds
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Just a ditto on the great advice already given. And I also wanted to say that that is one very nice looking tree. From whom did you buy it?

coqui
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Thanks for the prompt and very detailed reply. I really want to start off in the right foot since I wish to se myself buying a few more trees as I get a handle on the required maintenance and care. I will reassess the tree location so it just gets the bright light of the day, but limit its direct sunlight until it has more leaves. I will remove the moss as soon as I get back from work today. I had read somewhere it was not a good idea to have it on the tree and you just confirmed it, so bye, bye moss. I will continue to get acquainted with this site. I also ordered the Bonsai Survival Manual and another smaller book 101 Bonsai… should be arriving early this week. In regards to where I bought the tree, it came from Hollow Creek Bonsai who had it sent very well boxed and reached Puerto Rico in 3 days which I believe was pretty fast, limiting the time and shock. Their service was very good. Again thanks.

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uzeyr
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wow that is a really nice tree i really like it :D

thesdbux
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Beautiful!!

Pictures when it green and leafy please.

Kenshin14435
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I think I will take a look at that site!

That looks like it shall be a GREAT tree when it gets foliage on it!

Take CAre and Good Luck
~ Ken ~

Kenshin14435
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Well,
I must say, after taking a look at that site. I am very impressed with the level mastery incorporated into some of their trees. I saw many trees between $60 to $500. But then I took a look at some of the other trees they offer and they will slightly dent your wallet at $1000 - $4000.
I will consider buying from this supplier if I buy a tree online.

(They even have a nice lot of Braz. Raintrees and Japanese Maples(all varieties) for around $100 - $200)

Nice selection.
Nice trees.

Take Care
~ Ken ~

kdodds
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I'm familiar with them, they have some really nice trees as well as some of the mass produced variety. Personally, though, I've only purchased pots from them.

coqui
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It was an uphill ride trying to decide what bonsai to buy, especially when this was one of those things you do out of the blue. It was planned as a gift for my wife who has a great hand with orchids. I did some home work on the internet visited a dozen or more sites, some did not ship to PR, some were not in my price range and some were darn negative. I was going to start with a cherry bush, but they just seemed too much like just a plant (at least the ones I could afford). Then there was the Fukien that was just too high priced. I finally found the elm (who was displayed with leaves at that time!) and went for it. I managed to get the moss off it today. Funny thing about the process of working on the bonsai, there was this certain calmness and inner peace as I gently removed the moss and took time to pull out small grass leaves that were sprouting from the moss. It felt really good. Took that extra moss and have it in a jar so I cultivate it for later use. It seems moss is good, just not on the tree trunk and not completely covering the full extension of the surface of the bonsai ground, at least that is what I have read. The elm is in the house for now close to a bright glass sliding door with a lot of day light, but no direct sunlight. Will keep you posted on any development.

Kenshin14435
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I looked on Hollow Creek Bonsai earlier and found the tree you bought listed as sold. Nice purchase for that price.
I've been looking at some chinese elm mame bonsai. Not too rexpensive but a little high for some of them. Not nearly as bad as Japanese Maples Mame....they range from $150 - $300.

Take CAre
~ Ken ~

coqui
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Kenshin I had to look up mame, still in diapers in regards to bonsai:( It seems to me that mame are a smaller version of the bonsai trees. Also read they were harder to grow making them even more wanted. Indeed Hollow Creek had good prices, but what really impressed me was their service. Just finished watering the Elm and to my astonishment I found a whole section of the branches sprouting tiny leaves. Here are the facts; the tree was received on the 14th no new leaves at all. Today it's the 17th and a whole section with new growth. Is that not incredible (three days!) That is what I call a wakeup.

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Gnome
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coqui,
Kenshin I had to look up mame, still in diapers in regards to bonsai:( It seems to me that mame are a smaller version of the bonsai trees.
I would phrase that slightly differently. Mame are only one size classification of bonsai which can range from just a few inches tall to four feet or even more.
The elm is in the house for now close to a bright glass sliding door with a lot of day light, but no direct sunlight...Just finished watering the Elm and to my astonishment I found a whole section of the branches sprouting tiny leaves
You initially had it outside, correct? Is there a reason you have the tree inside now?

Norm

rhinosaur
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Hey, sorry for the off-topic post here--

I don't know anything about Bonsai but I just wanted to say how beautiful PR is. Me and the girlfriend spent some time there last spring, and it was amazing. Great beaches, and El Yunque was awesome. We'd go to sleep every night to the sound of those frogs. "Coqui!" :)

coqui
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Gnome thanks for the correct definition for mame, like I just know enouph to kill my bonsai:) But then there are Forums like this that really lend a helping hand.

In regards to why the tree is back inside the house? Simple answer I am scared that it may die. So far one of the things that I have indeed learned about bonsai is that not every one agrees on a standard set of rules, and then even these change depending on the tree type. It had been outside the first two days but then I read about not having the bonsai in direct sunslight cuase it could burn, Puerto Rico's direct sunlight is pretty hot so I decided next best thing inside my apartment by the sliding door. Sun comes up by the east, sunlight flows in through the sliding door and hopefully will sufice the elms needs. Another thing about not having the elm in the balcony, it is a bit windy out there so it would dry out faster. Good investigative work you did there in figuring that It was outside and then went back in, attention to detail. Gnome what is your take on this scenario, the back in the house part I mean.

And rhinosaur you figured out the Coqui nick I use. Coqui is a small frog native to Puerto Rico. And I do live around 15 miles from El Yunque, actually I see it from my front door. I am glad you enjoyed Puerto Rico, people that work here don't have as much time to enjoy as they wish they could, but so is life.

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Gnome
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coqui,
Gnome what is your take on this scenario, the back in the house part I mean...I have indeed learned about bonsai is that not every one agrees on a standard set of rules, and then even these change depending on the tree type.
It is definitely true that different species require different care and it is certainly true that you can ask different people and get different answers. My position is that there are no such things as indoor trees. Yes some species can be grown indoors if given the proper care but that means that more is required from the grower and, IMO, also allows for a greater chance of failure especially where novices are concerned. If given the option of inside or outside I will always choose outside unless there are compelling reasons to do otherwise.

Most trees will be stronger and healthier outside. I keep a few species of tropicals inside over the winter but I have no choice here. I get them outside as soon as the weather warms up and they really do much better outside. But your window is a better location than my basement (with fluorescent lighting) so that is not really a fair comparison.
In regards to why the tree is back inside the house? Simple answer I am scared that it may die.
With proper care your tree will do fine outside.
It had been outside the first two days but then I read about not having the bonsai in direct sunslight cuase it could burn, Puerto Rico's direct sunlight is pretty hot
Actually MyBonsaiBuddy wrote:
Since it is 'naked', I would not give it the full direct sunlight. The morning sun is good but the tree can get sunburned in full sun without its foliage to protect it...As the foliage increases, increase the amount of sun
See the difference? I take it that you have only two choices, inside or outside on the balcony. You earlier wrote that your balcony faces east and only gets two hours of direct sunlight a day and this, presumably, when the air is cooler.

In my location I would not hesitate to leave it outside under those circumstances. Actually I seek an area that gets full sun, or as close to it as I can manage but my climate is much different than yours. Remember these are only my opinions and, as you have found, others may disagree.

In reviewing this thread I don't see where anyone gave you any specific tips on watering. What I always tell people is that proper watering is more about frequency than quantity. Always water thoroughly, until the entire soil mass is saturated. This may take more than one application depending on the condition of the soil. The key then is not to water again until the tree requires it, that is where there can be room for confusion.

If your soil is free draining, which it probably is, you will probably reach a point where you are watering every day. But, as noted, without foliage the tree will require watering less frequently at first.

Earlier you wrote:
This is my sad looking elm:
Not at all, that is a fine looking Elm it is simply dormant and will soon leaf out as you are now seeing. You made an excellent choice. Please make sure to stop back and post pictures of it when it is in full leaf.

Norm

Kenshin14435
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Norm,
From what I've seen in various places, Mame is described as small, down to scale trees approx. 4-7 inches in height. Then after the Mame stage there is a category called Shohin. I don't know the heights for that category.

Take Care
~ Ken ~

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