D_Brofi
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New to Bonsai--- need lots of advice!

Cheers everyone--- I received a gardenia bonsai yesterday as a gift and have fallen in love with it. I feel like a new parent, eager to go out and buy all the right tools and care products etc. I really want my little tree to last a long time, so, I would like to know, what sort of tools should I buy (and which construction materials are best), what kind of potting soil and fertilizer, as well as basic caring instructions (how/when to repot, feed, prune etc)--- Which books would be good for a beginner?

Thanks so much for any info you all can help me with!!

peace is the word
Bunny M.

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Lotsa reading to do; hit the articles here, flipping through the forum is a good idea, and here's a thread you need to read...

[url]https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1464[/url]

Whole article on books (two really), and there's a bunch of good bonsai books in there. I like The Bonsai Survival Guide for beginners...tools should just be ikebana shears to start; fine for maintenance pruning...

And learn how to water; it's where newbies always mess up. It's in the Bonsai articles

Scott

D_Brofi
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Thank you so very much for the references! I've been researching online and reading through these forums, and I greatly respect your input. I will take a trip to the bookstore sometime and try to find the book you mentioned.

One thing I noticed from the first day is that a few of the leaves have these light brownish, round spots on the top--- does that mean anything?

Thanks again for your help!

peace is the word
Bunny M.
The Helpful Gardener wrote:Lotsa reading to do; hit the articles here, flipping through the forum is a good idea, and here's a thread you need to read...

[url]https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1464[/url]

Whole article on books (two really), and there's a bunch of good bonsai books in there. I like The Bonsai Survival Guide for beginners...tools should just be ikebana shears to start; fine for maintenance pruning...

And learn how to water; it's where newbies always mess up. It's in the Bonsai articles

Scott

The Helpful Gardener
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Sounds fungal, but could be insect. Pictures would help...

HG

D_Brofi
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Unfortunately my camera stopped working a few days ago, so I can't show you exactly what they look like at the moment. But it looks something like the leaves in this image:

https://www.bonsaihunk.us/ficusforum/FriendsPicsBonsai/LeafDamage.jpg

Except on mine the brown spots are a bit more circular and the leaf more mottled green and yellow. A couple of them have fallen off

I will see if I can borrow a camera later today and take some pictures of it. Hope my tree will be okay . . . :cry:

Bunny M.
The Helpful Gardener wrote:Sounds fungal, but could be insect. Pictures would help...

HG

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I defer to my last post, but in the meantime, get some neem oil as it will help with either problem. Follow the directions...

HG

D_Brofi
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I'll see if I can find some when I step out later. I understand that gardenias are rather uppity little plants and their leaves will turn yellow and drop for all kinds of reasons . . . It seems to be mostly the biggest leaves that are doing this

So I'm noticing that little buds are appearing and I'm wondering if that means that it's going to want to be fed soon-- perhaps that's why the leaves are yellowing? I've read not to fertilize it while it is in bloom though so I'm kind of confused. :?: Didn't think it was supposed to bloom for another month or so anyhow but maybe the unusually warm weather makes it think it's time . . . ?

During the day I keep it on a south-facing windowsill with a good deal of sunshine through the late morning - late afternoon, with the window open for circulation. At night it stands near my misting humidifier. Might any of that also be causing its leaves to turn yellow?

Bunny M.

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I suspect photoperiod (amount of light) might be another culprit; new buds and growth are a great sign but wait for warmer weather to accelerate growth by fertilizing. If the tree has really got fungus or bugs it needs rest...

Scott

D_Brofi
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When to repot?

Well my little tree has stopped dropping leaves and is actually turning out quite lovely--- thick, lush, shiny green leaves, and buds that seem to appear and grow overnight! :shock: Needless to say I'm quite pleased with myself for having maintained it thus far-- I was really nervous and afraid that I wouldn't be able to keep it alive.

The other day I noticed while watering it that it's starting to "push up" in its pot, with the top part of the roots starting to come through the soil, and it seems to be getting thirstier more often. My reading tells me this means its time to un-pot, but I'm hesitant because I understand this is a rather stressful thing to do to the tree and I don't want to hurt it while it's budding . . . also I'm scared of damaging the roots because I've never done anything like that before and I Really Do Love this little tree :)

It seems like it's wanting to be unpotted fairly soon. If that's the case, what sort of soil mix would you personally recommend? I'm a bit overwhelmed by the different elements and combinations out there, and I don't think I'm ready yet to venture into the science of mixing my own, so I will probably make an outing to the local nursery and take a look at what's available.

Thanks so much for all of your help, your input has given me much sureness in this new venture! :D

Bunny M.

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Yea, you just got this guy back to good; let's let it rest before repotting (very stressfull). Spring will be better...Here's the potting article including a soil recipe for ficus; write with questions...

[url]https://www.helpfulgardener.com/bonsai/03/soil.html[/url]

What we can do is make sure that restricted root system doesn't have to work too hard. once we get a single green leaf on any branch we're gonna pinch off the new tip past the leaf (fingertips will work fine). Less leaves means less transpiration (breathing) and that means less water use (and a lot more back-budding; good for the look of the tree). A good soaking once a week will help keep moisture in the soil (read the watering article; here...

[url]https://www.helpfulgardener.com/bonsai/03/care.html[/url]

Glad to hear you're getting the hang of it; experience is the best teacher...

HG
Last edited by The Helpful Gardener on Mon Feb 13, 2006 2:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Yea, you just got this guy back to good; let's let it rest beffore repotting (very stressfull). Spring will be better...Here's the potting article including a soil recipe for ficus; write with questions...

[url]https://www.helpfulgardener.com/bonsai/03/soil.html[/url]

What we can do is make sure that restricted root system doesn't have to work too hard. once we get a single green leaf on any branch we're gonna pinch off the new tip past the leaf (fingertips will work fine). Less leaves means less transpiration (breathing) and that means less water use. A good soaking once a week will help keep moisture in the soil (read the watering article; here...

[url]https://www.helpfulgardener.com/bonsai/03/care.html[/url]

Glad to hear you're getting the hang of it; experience is the best teacher...

HG

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

Yea, you just got this guy back to good; let's let it rest beffore repotting (very stressfull). Spring will be better...Here's the potting article including a soil recipe for ficus; write with questions...

[url]https://www.helpfulgardener.com/bonsai/03/soil.html[/url]

What we can do is make sure that restricted root system doesn't have to work too hard. once we get a single green leaf on any branch we're gonna pinch off the new tip past the leaf (fingertips will work fine). Less leaves means less transpiration (breathing) and that means less water use. A good soaking once a week will help keep moisture in the soil (read the watering article; here...

[url]https://www.helpfulgardener.com/bonsai/03/care.html[/url]

Glad to hear you're getting the hang of it; experience is the best teacher...

HG

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

Yea, you just got this guy back to good; let's let it rest beffore repotting (very stressfull). Spring will be better...Here's the potting article including a soil recipe for ficus; write with questions...

[url]https://www.helpfulgardener.com/bonsai/03/soil.html[/url]

What we can do is make sure that restricted root system doesn't have to work too hard. once we get a single green leaf on any branch we're gonna pinch off the new tip past the leaf (fingertips will work fine). Less leaves means less transpiration (breathing) and that means less water use. A good soaking once a week will help keep moisture in the soil (read the watering article; here...

[url]https://www.helpfulgardener.com/bonsai/03/care.html[/url]

Glad to hear you're getting the hang of it; experience is the best teacher...

HG

D_Brofi
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Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 7:20 pm

Great, thank you for the articles, very informative . . .

I'm not sure exactly what the current mix is made of but it appears to be some kind of soil (majority) mixed with that Japanese gravelly kind of grit . . . seems to work well for watering, and looks nice too. Hopefully I'll be able to find more of it when it's time to repot. I've pinched back a few terminal buds and leaves and gave it a full immersion watering this morning, so I guess we'll wait it out till spring and see what happens . . . in the meantime I'll start gathering my supplies.

Thanks again!

Bunny M.

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S'all good Bunny! Talk to you soon...

HG

D_Brofi
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Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 7:20 pm

I was able to locate the same potting mix materials my tree currently has (pine bark + exploded clay/ turface) and some MiracleGro for acid-loving plants (which I understand is for sometime Later after repotting, etc). While watering this morning I noticed the roots are really wanting to get out now, pushing up just under the surface of the soil and so forth (it actually kind of freaked me out when I first realized what that was :shock: Soo-- would this be a good time to repot it? It hasn't flowered yet but it does have buds and is doing very well.

I've transplanted flowers before, so I don't think I'd have a problem removing it from its pot and resituating it. The part that I'm a bit nervous about is trimming the roots. A lot of the bonsai resources I've looked at say to remove something like 1/3 of the root mass but I've also read that for gardenias it's best not to remove more than 10% of the root mass at once. I don't want to change the pot size of my tree, just take it out and tend to it and replace it in the same pot. Also what kind of cutter do I use? The Dallas Bonsai Garden sells some toolkits online that look interesting; would you recommend something like [url]https://www.dallasbonsai.com/store/combo_tool_sets.html[/url] as far as quality, necessity of use, etc? I know I need at least some good pruning shears and cutters.

Thanks for all of your help!

Bunny M.

The Helpful Gardener
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Sure those kits look fine, but don't use pruning shears for root cutting; I use kitchen shears and they work fine...

10% is fine for the gardenia; I too have found the tree to be tricky (means I killed one :cry: ). Just know it will be slow to rebound, but then you will have to watch as the roots will fillthe pot quickly, and that will mean more frequent watering...

Slow at first, then keep an eye out... :wink:

Scott

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