CaseyH
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Bonsai Tree Mold?

I am a new Bonsai tree owner, and though I am not very good with plants I really want to keep my Bonsai alive.

I am confused about watering: I was told to water my seven year old juniper Bonsai every day by submerging. But I have also read that over-watering is dangerous for a bonsai. I have been watering every 2-3 days. And now it has some sort of white mold growing on the moss at the base of the trunk.

There isn't a lot - at first I thought it was just the tips of the moss getting dry, but there are a few clumps of mold or fungus now. How do I save my bonsai from this mold?

Casey

Marsman
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Casey, do you have a camera with a Macro setting? If so, take some shots and post them up for us to examine.

And, watering every 2-3 days is much better that submerging it every day. That would kill it for sure.

CaseyH
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Shoot... I can't seem to figure out how to post an image, I really don't speak html... :oops:

I guess there's no 'attach' button? I see the Img button, but if it's just a picture on my desktop does it have a url??

Marsman
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Casey, here's the instructions on how to post a picture: [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3724]LINK[/url]

I use [url=https://photobucket.com/]Photobucket[/url] to host my pictures, then I link them to the thread. (Photobucket is free.)

CaseyH
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[img]https://i801.photobucket.com/albums/yy297/caseyhudecki/DSC05460.jpg[/img][/img]

CaseyH
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That's as close as I could get unfortunately, and stay in focus, even on the macro setting. There are yellow-white clumps at the base of the trunk, and little white bits all over, I hope you can see...

Thank you for all your help so far!

Marsman
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OK, here's my take on it. Get that moldy moss off the tree and give it chance to dry off. BTW, are those rocks glued on?

CaseyH
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No, the tree is planted in dirt with the mossy portion above ground, and there's a layer of rocks sitting on top of it.

Should I be letting the whole thing dry out at all? I try to keep the ground moist at all times, but I sit the whole pot in water and let it drink it up rather than pour the water from on top.

On another note - the spikey green leaves seem to be turning brown in certain areas (you can see it a bit in the picture)- does that mean they're dying, or is it a normal part of ageing?

CaseyH
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[img]https://i801.photobucket.com/albums/yy297/caseyhudecki/DSC05464.jpg[/img]

This is it without the moss - I didn't realize I could take it off - is it just cosmetic? Is it healthier without it? Sorry for all my questions, I feel like a nervous parent.

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djlen
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CaseyH wrote:[img]https://i801.photobucket.com/albums/yy297/caseyhudecki/DSC05464.jpg[/img]

This is it without the moss - I didn't realize I could take it off - is it just cosmetic? Is it healthier without it? Sorry for all my questions, I feel like a nervous parent.
Hi Casey,

Yes, it is healthier without the moss. It was just a cosmetic thing that many outlets put on but it has a tendency to interfere with the tree's ability to respirate properly. Better left off. It's probably a good idea to let the tree dry a bit for a day or two.
I have an important question for you. Are you keeping the tree in the house? We have so many people buying Junipers and not knowing that they cannot be kept indoors. Junipers are an out door tree and will die if kept inside because they are meant for an out door environment. And they also need a rest at this time of year. They need to go dormant.
If you are keeping it inside here are a couple of more questions for you.
What are your daily temps. outside at this time? Do you know if the tree was grown outside previous to your buying it or in a cold green house? Can you find out for us?
The problem here is that they do very, very poorly and most die if kept inside. They just dry out and die. The other problem is that many of us are experiencing a cold winter and if it was grown in a cool greenhouse it can be adapted to outdoors gradually. If yours was grown in the south or in a warm greenhouse the transition to out doors is more difficult.
Please answer these questions in your next reply. It's important for the well-being of your tree.
Regards,
Len

"As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines"
- Virgil
"I rarely agree with most of what I say........." -
- Len
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CaseyH
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Thanks Len,

Yeah, this is something I'm starting to worry about. I'm fairly certain that if I put the tree outside it will die even faster. I live in Toronto, and right now there's snow on the ground and our average temperature this week is around -2 degrees celcius, minus the windchill.

The tree was a gift, so I will have to do some do some asking around about where it came from and the conditions that it's used to. I'm fairly certain it's a Canadian tree, so it must have been grown indoors (at least in the winter). I will be happy to move it outside in the summer, do you think it can live as a half outdoor, half indoor tree?

Also, I've read some mixed information about whether direct sunlight is good or bad. There are a lot of buildings blocking my sun, but I can get my little bonsai an hour or so of direct sunlight in the morning, I am just not sure if that's advisable - especially if it will dry out indoors.

Thanks so much for your help! I'm so happy I found this forum!
Casey

Marsman
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Casey, look around at the landscaping in Toronto. Do you see junipers? I bet you do. They can survive just fine in the cold. Mine are outside buried in the snow, and the limbs I can see are green and happy. Your little baby is a tough breed and can take it, just not all at once. So, get it through this winter and let it acclimate to being outside once the Summer comes. And next Fall and Winter, let nature takes its course and allow the tree to go dormant.

[url=https://s956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/?action=view&current=e71876be.jpg][img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/th_e71876be.jpg[/img][/url]

Oh, and listen to Len. He is one smart cookie! :)
If I say one thing and Len, or Vic, say another. Do what they say. They have way more experience than I do. :wink:
Last edited by Marsman on Fri Feb 12, 2010 2:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

CaseyH
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Oh that is VERY comforting! Thanks Marsman :D

I will try not to ask all the millions of questions that arise from that comment - I don't want to re-ask everything and I have just found the Learning Forum!

Marsman
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Hey, it's Friday. We're all itching to answer questions instead of do any work. (At least I am.) Ask away!

I've got my tools in the office and I'm going to be working on some ficus plants I have in the window here and a large ficus I've been grooming in the office atrium.

CaseyH
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Well ok!! I will ask and then run to work as this bonsai talk has made me late.

You mentioned letting it acclimate to being outside -what kind of a process is that? Is there a time of year when it's best to being it out? (perhaps, after this 'dormancy' period I hear mentioned?)

And now that I have that moss off, I can tell that the soil is still, even after a day and a half still very wet, so I assume I have been overwatering it? It is in direct sunlight now too, which won't last long, but I'm really not sure if that's a good idea.

It totally blows my mind to see your bonsai trees covered in snow! I have not seen bonsais around Toronto, but I'm sure I have not been looking properly. For some reason I just never thought of Bonsai trees in this climate.

Since I"m asking so many questions, I have another - the browning of the leaves - is that normal? Or is my sad bonsai in trouble?

Thanks so much for your help! I'm clearly quite clueless, but I'm going to change that!

Marsman
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When you put your tree out in the Spring, it stays outside. Don't bring it back inside in the Fall. That's what I mean by acclimate.

I'm not talking about just bonsai, but basic landscaping junipers as well. They can take it. Look around you when you're out and about.

Browning of the leaves in not normal, it's a sign of stress. You need to care for your tree until it recovers. If it doesn't recover, take it as a learning experience. Don't get discouraged. You'll kill a few more in your attempts to get it right. We all do. I killed my first tree in an over-eager attempt to make an 'Instant Bonsai'. I had no clue what I was doing, but I joined a club and found this forum. You're doing the right things by asking questions and researching. I've built up a good library of books on the subject.

Again, don't get discouraged. You're starting on a long, interesting and fulfilling path. Keep at it! :D

NOTE: Just did a quick Google and found this: [url=https://www.torontobonsai.org/]The Toronto Bonsai Society[/url]

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djlen
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Casey, basically what most of us refer to as "acclimating" is the process of moving your tree from the environment it's in (inside) to a more acceptable environment. We want to do this with as little shock to the tree as possible.
In your case you want to get it out of approx. 70°F and out into the colder temperatures, outside that you are experiencing currently.
For the sake of the tree, although it can easily handle those 32°F and below temps. in the normal course of events, it's become used to the temperatures in the house and must be adapted/acclimated slowly.
I would suggest that if you have a cold/unheated room in your house or access to one at work or elsewhere, that's where your tree needs to go ASAP for it's own good. It will then begin to slow down and rest as it should have in the fall outside.
You want to give it cooler and cooler temperatures until you can move it outside..........with the least amount of shock to it as possible. It is an evergreen so wherever you put it, it should have as bright a window location as possible. I know that this is a tall order but it's the only thing that will keep your tree from dying between now and Spring, IMO.
Once you move it to a cooler and then colder location it's need for moisture will become less and it will need watering very infrequently.....just barely moist soil.
From that location (2 weeks would probably do the trick) you can move it to an outdoor shed or garage, again with a window for light, where you could probably leave it until the weather improves towards Spring.
Once Summer comes and goes, as Marsman (he's very kind isn't he!! :))
says you can leave it out where it will get the slowly progressing colder temps. of Fall into Winter. Then you will have a happy tree!!
Regards,
Len

"As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines"
- Virgil
"I rarely agree with most of what I say........." -
- Len
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How To Post A Picture

CaseyH
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OH dear... thank you! Now I just need to find cold bright rooms... It's really browning from the inside out, I know this might be impossible to say, but do you think it's possible for it to bounce back at this point?

*fingers crossed!*

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djlen
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Bright is not all that important. The tree will begin to go dormant and need just a little light to hold it over until it can go outside.
By a window in a cool room then a colder room and eventually outside where it should have been from the beginning.
If you get a few days in the 40's take it out and let it adapt outside and bring it back into the cold room at night if it's going to be too cold to leave it out. "Too cold" is an immediate exposure to temps. in the 30's, whereas after a week or two of cold room temps. it can begin to experience temps. in the low 40's and then colder from there. Gradual is the key.
Regards,
Len

"As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines"
- Virgil
"I rarely agree with most of what I say........." -
- Len
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How To Post A Picture

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Tachigi
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I would humbly submit that light is an important thing for conifers during winter. It is an evergreen and will photosynthesis on warmer days of winter. I have had junipers, that have noticeable growth in milder winter. However this year with 6 feet of snow and temps in the single digits is not one of them.

At this late stage in winter, moving a tree gradually outside IMO is not the best coarse of action. If it isn't healthy as you indicated then moving it outside won't help and in fact could hurt it. Think about it...moving a plant gradually (over a few weeks) to an outside environment to have spring move in and temps warm shortly after will make your juni wonder if the apocalypse has arrived...it won't know whats going on...stressing it further.

Move it as suggested to a very cool, lighted (doesn't have to be eye burning bright) room and let it idle while the last bit of winter washes away is the best coarse of action and will stress your tree the least.

One last thing...you mentioned that its browning from the inside out. This in most cases is a sign of root problems. Foliage dies nearest to the roots and then progresses outwards. So with a move to a colder environment you will not need as much water as rapid evaporation is not a really large threat. Let the root ball dry out a bit, with all that moss you had on it and the stones on top I would bet that you have a case of root rot from a saturated soil mass.

Good luck
Cheers, Tom

North Star Bonsai

CaseyH
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Thanks guys!

Right now I have it in front of an opened window as the temperature sits generally just under zero (I have to work on my conversions), and I think there is still a good deal of winter left, I don't see temperatures rising too much until late April, really, though we're kind of having a warm spell now.

I am letting it dry out more, now that the moss is gone and I can actually SEE how the soil is doing it's much easier.

Would there be a point - maybe when spring hits - to un pot the tree just to see how it's root system is laid out and if it's healthy? I would have no idea what to look for, but as I said, it was a gift, so I really don't know what they've got going on under there.

I really hope I can help this little tree pull through! Thanks so much for the help!

Casey

CaseyH
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To Go Outdoors, or Not to go Outdoors...that is the question

So the best I can do, at this point, is open a window in my apartment, and let the second bedroom (office) get very cold. :? I'm still not sure if I should be working to get it outside in the current climate, or just keep it colder until the temperature goes up to 40s and then take it outside when it's less extreme cold. I really don't want to shock it.

I'm trying to see signs of distress in the tree, it seems to be coping alright with the colder temperature, and the roots have dried out a bit (I watered it once this week). If I put it outside (low 30s) how can I tell if it's not coping? It's still browning, but not rapidly, and I believe that's probably a root thing, as was suggested.

Should I build some sort of fort for it on the balcony that would shield it from the cold wind but still expose it to the sun and temperature?

Not to ask the same questions over and over, I guess I"m just wondering if there's a consensus. It seems either way I might kill my little bonsai.

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KasWear
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Hier

Im a noob to, but have you checked the water retention lower down in the pot ... ? People use chopsticks or barby sticks to gage water throughout the pot ... that is all, or i shall be venturing into misty waters... :lol:
We all choose what to think about ...

CaseyH
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Thanks, Fellow Noob! I'll give that a try!
:)

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