Zeke
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New tree dying after 1 week

I received a bonsai tree from a local department store here in Michigan for Valentines day, and it looks to be on the brink of death already. The tag on the tree never mentioned anything about what kind of tree it was. It said to keep it in indirect light, and that was about it. The soil type is hard to determine. Rocks sit on top, and feel to almost be glued together. There is a drainage hole in the bottom where I can see dark, moist soil when I look up it.

When I first got the tree, almost all of the leaves were soft and green except for a few that were dried and brittle. I took the tree to work and began to notice more and more of the leaves growing dry and brittle, as well as developing white spots on the leaves.

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I began to water it more frequently as I saw the leaves getting more dry. I would water the plant, and could hear it trickling through the pot and coming out through the drainage hole, so I thought at the time that the soil didn't whole water very well. When I started noticing the white spots, I applied some fungicide with a spray bottle to the leaves.

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It's been a little over a week, and all the leaves are dry and brittle and have the aforementioned white spots. Without knowing what kind of tree this is, is there anything I can do to save it?
Last edited by Zeke on Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

kdodds
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It's a dead Fukien Tea. Sorry about that. Likely, the soil was highly moisture retaining and the rocks glued in place. Some of the mass produced ones even have stoppers over the drainage holes. All of these things are recipes for rapidly killing a Fukien Tea.

Zeke
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That's really unfortunate. So those white spots came about from over watering?

In any case, I really like the pot and I'm planning to reuse it. I'm a little overwhelmed with all the information available on the internet, but this has really piqued my interest.

Thank you for your help.

JTred
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Re: New tree dying after 1 week

Zeke wrote:When I first got the tree, almost all of the leaves were soft and green except for a few that were dried and brittle.
It may have already been on its way out based on this statement. Like said before, it was probably lack of drainage that did it.

Also, I don't know exactly what the white spots you were talking about looked like. If they were large they could have been powdery mildew. If they were tiny spots then it could be natural, fukien tea have characteristic white or gray spots on their leaves.

See:
[img]https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c1/Fukien_Tea_Tree_flower.jpg[/img]

kdodds
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The "white spots" I see on the pictures are normal features of Ehretia leaves.

JTred
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Really? I typed in fukien tea into google and that came up. I guess I have to work on my identification. Fukien teas do have characteristic white spots though don't they?

Zeke
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That picture of the fukien tea looks very similar to what my plant looked like when I first got it, except for the little notches in the leaves. It did have green buds like that though. I don't recall if it had those tiny white spots on the leaves when I got it.

In any case, I removed all the dry brittle leaves that were left on it and pruned some that weren't able to just be brushed off. Feeling the bottom of the pot, the soil is still very moist. I plan on just letting it grow out from here and checking the soil for moisture content.

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Zeke,
In any case, I removed all the dry brittle leaves that were left on it and pruned some that weren't able to just be brushed off. Feeling the bottom of the pot, the soil is still very moist. I plan on just letting it grow out from here and checking the soil for moisture content.
Although kdodds has alluded to the problem of having those rocks glued in place no one has out right suggested you remove them. I suggest you do so immediately if you are to have any chance of this tree recovering. The soil underneath can be either too wet or too dry and you would have no way of judging it.

When we see trees with that glued in place topdressing usually the first thing we do is to recommend removing it. It was a shipping aid and has noting to do with health of the plant.

Norm

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Away with glue!

I agree, I Purchased a Schefflera bonsai from Safeway on a whim one night and noticed that no matter how regularly the waterings were it would constantly drop leaves. I removed the glued rocks and found that It was just a mushy root ball stuck in gravel. I have since repotted it and it's exploded with growth.

Definitely take off the glued rocks, and rinse off all the crap department store soil. Put it in a proper well draining soil and try to find a plant vitamin called Thrive Alive or Super Thrive, it's different than a fertilizer and it helps revitalize plants that are sick or in shock. My local hydroponics store sells little bottles of the stuff for $9, it's super concentrated though: 10 eyedrops per L of water

Zeke
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I went ahead and repotted the plant in diatomaceous earth. After reading around, it seemed to be a fairly good choice for a potting material. As was suspected, underneath the glued rocks was dark potting soil. After having not watered it for two days, the soil was still very moist. As I was cleaning some of the potting soil off of the roots, I noticed that there was clumps of gel in the roots. Is this a common part of fertilizer or anything I should be concerned about?

I noticed where some of the dried leaves used to be, there's a little amount of green peeking through. Hopefully, there is some life still left in this plant.

[url=https://imageshack.us][img]https://img4.imageshack.us/img4/9827/dsc01542.jpg[/img][/url]
[url=https://g.imageshack.us/img4/dsc01542.jpg/1/][img]https://img4.imageshack.us/img4/dsc01542.jpg/1/w800.png[/img][/url]

JTred
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Zeke wrote:I went ahead and repotted the plant in diatomaceous earth. After reading around, it seemed to be a fairly good choice for a potting material. As was suspected, underneath the glued rocks was dark potting soil. After having not watered it for two days, the soil was still very moist. As I was cleaning some of the potting soil off of the roots, I noticed that there was clumps of gel in the roots. Is this a common part of fertilizer or anything I should be concerned about?

I noticed where some of the dried leaves used to be, there's a little amount of green peeking through. Hopefully, there is some life still left in this plant
The green buds are a very good sign. Your tree will probably recover in no time. Now that it's in a fully inorganic medium (that's what you said right) it will need fertilized. I would go with the superthrive mentioned earlier and after about 2 months switch to a good balanced fertilizer with a 10-10-10 NPK rating.
Also, now that you mention it I remember gel like clumps in mine too. Now I'm curious what it was too.

arboricola
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The gel is used to keep the roots from drying out during shipping. The glued on gravel serves the same purpose.

As with any store bought plants, the roots should be looked at as soon as possible after purchase. Glued on gravel should be removed and the old soil gentlely washed off. Repot in a good store bought mix. This will solve 90% of problems for beginners and experts alike.

Phil....

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Zeke,
I went ahead and repotted the plant in diatomaceous earth. After reading around, it seemed to be a fairly good choice for a potting material
Good for you, you may have rescued your plant from certain doom. And thanks to GreenBrain for suggesting it.
As was suspected, underneath the glued rocks was dark potting soil. After having not watered it for two days, the soil was still very moist.
This was the cause of your difficulties all along. Roots need Oxygen as well as water and this dense, wet mix excludes air.
As I was cleaning some of the potting soil off of the roots, I noticed that there was clumps of gel in the roots. Is this a common part of fertilizer or anything I should be concerned about?
This is the first time I have heard of this being used in mass produced bonsai. I am not certain but it sounds like the grower included water absorbent polymer in the mix so that the plant would survive shipping and being at the retailer. So along with a dense, water retentive soil they included some jelly-like stuff to hold even more water. Then they topped it all of with a nice glued on lid to keep everything in place. :twisted:

You are going to have to be very observant while you and the plant adjust to the new medium. The new medium drains and dries much quicker so be careful about watering too infrequently now.
I noticed where some of the dried leaves used to be, there's a little amount of green peeking through. Hopefully, there is some life still left in this plant.
It sounds like you may have caught this just in time. Make sure to keep us posted.

As and aside; Superthrive is not fertilizer and should not be considered a replacement for such. There is much debate concerning the efficacy of this product and I don't intend to get into that here, but you will still need to start a fertilization plan and sooner rather than later, in my opinion.

Norm

kdodds
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JTred wrote:Really? I typed in fukien tea into google and that came up. I guess I have to work on my identification. Fukien teas do have characteristic white spots though don't they?
Ehretia = Carmona = Fukien Tea, sorry. ;)

I've seen Fukien Tea at this stage too many times before to offer you much hope, sorry. If it comes back for you, that would be a wonderful thing, and no mean feat, but getting your hopes up because there is still some green would be irresponsible of me when I know from experience that it doesn't mean anything unless there are actual leaves forming and growing. THEN, you might say it has a chance. Sorry for the doom and gloom, but that's just my experience. Fukien Tea are right behind Serissa as some of the most frustrating "indoor" trees to work with.

Zeke
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It's Alive!

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Well it's been sitting in its new soil for over a week and it's showing some green. Most of the new leaves are showing up around the thickest parts of the plant. Some of the ends of the branches aren't showing any green yet either. For these "dead" branches, how long should I wait to see green before I trim them back? Also, how far should I trim them back?

Thanks for all your guys help. I didn't have much hope to begin with, but we were able to turn it around.

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Zeke,

I would not be too anxious to trim the apparently dead portions unless there is insect activity. If the tree recovers it will be easy enough to determine where to prune later. Keeping my fingers crossed for you.

Norm

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