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Fukien Tea losing all leaves and limbs turning brown

Posted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 1:48 am
by Mjstone
Hi! I am very new to bonsai gardening, and I need help. My father gave me a fukien tree bonsai that he purchased the day before from a nursery specializing in bonsai. When I took it home, I noticed that a lot of leaves were caught in the middle of the topiary, dead. I shook them off and probably 1/4 of the leaves came off. I believe that they had repotted it for him also, and I suspected it was in shock from that. Since then, three months or so ago, the leaves have dropped, some look perfectly fine, and some are brown and shrivel before they fall. Now, all the leaves are almost completely gone, and I have tried everything that I know to do. I only water every two weeks or so, and it gets 4 or more hours of direct light, and bright light the rest of the day. The temp is moderate, about 68 degrees. Please help!!! Any advice is greatly appreciated!! :!:

Posted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 12:41 pm
by TomM
MJ - Are you able to post a photo with close-up of the leaves? Two things come to mind. Watering only every two weeks sounds suspect. Is the soil really dry between watering? Except for jades and other succulents most bonsai need more frequent watering than that. You will see other posts here on when to water - watering too much, etc.
Another concern, and you will see frequent mentions or this forum, is that fukien tea trees are very often plagued by scale insects. That is why a good close-up of your leaves would help. Scale can spread very quickly when they hatch out and suck the juices of the young green stems and leaves.
A little more info from you would help to ID the problem.
Hope to hear from you again.
PS - have you sought any advice from the bonsai nursery?

Posted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 3:51 pm
by Mjstone
Thanks for answering Tom!! Now that I think about it, I have probably been watering it more often than that. I usually just touch the surface, and if dry, then I soak it. I have a feeling that it is not drying out enough between waterings, now that I have read that this is a common problem. I know that it doesn't have scale, and I have wondered if it has a fungal problem, because the mature leaves have a mottled black and green apperance before they fall off. Now even the new growth has turned brown and shriveled. I have tried to figured out how to post pictures on this forum, but can't yet :cry: . I will work on trying to get you a pic. Another thought is, now that most of the leaves are gone, how do I prevent it from getting worse. I heard do not water AT ALL, while a plant has no leaves, keep it out of the direct light, and no feeding. I did take it back to the nursery, this was before it looked this bad, and showed them the leaves, and some of the leaves had a white powdery residue on them. They said it was from watering with hard water. There was also some mold growing at the base of the trunk, which they sprinkled some kind of organic substance that eats mold. They told me not to water it so much. I am kind of embarrased to bring it back now, it looks so bad. I will work hard on getting a pic on this evening. Thank you so much for helping me and my tree!! :)

Posted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 2:51 am
by Mjstone
Finally, here are some pics, hopefully you can see them..


Posted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:58 am
by maveriiick
That tree is not a Fukien Tea. Looks more like a ficus. Watering frequency is usually the culprit. And daily light requirement should be high (i.e. 12-16 hours under compact fluorescent light bulbs).

Posted: Sat Apr 03, 2010 2:01 am
by Mjstone
OK, then could it be a brush cherry? I received two bonsai from my Dad and one of them is a brush cherry and one a fukien tea. Anyway, the soil is still very moist and I haven't watered it in days!!! It's like the pot is not draining or the soil holding too much moisture. Is there a faster way to dry it? I'm sure repotting it would kill it, it has completely lost all its leaves even though I have stopped watering it. Thanks for your help!!!

Posted: Sat Apr 03, 2010 11:14 am
by TomM
Does your pot have drainage holes - allowing quick draining of water? Water retention in the soil is a frequent problem with potted trees, unlike the houseplant.

Your tree should be outdoors with natural light, normal temperature ranges. It probably does not like a/c and dry air. The weather in Dallas should be to its liking. But the tree would need a very sheltered location at first, shaded from full sun and gradually brought into brighter light. But brush cherry does not like full sun in the afternoon - dappled shade is best late in the day.

Read up on your trees - get to know them. GOOGLE (and other sources) has many good places to start.

I would be tempted to prune back and hope for the best. Pray it is not too late.

Posted: Sat Apr 03, 2010 7:22 pm
by manIK
Given the fact that the tree has next to no leaves, I'm not surprised the soil is staying moist for so long. At this point, I would think root-rot would be the biggest concerned; given the fact that the moister levels will drop about as quickly as a cup of water would.

Just my 2c. *shrug*

Posted: Mon Apr 05, 2010 2:51 pm
by Bonsai Nutcase
I would increase the amount of time it has in full sun. Brush cherries (and I question whether this is actually a brush cherry) really like lots of sun. That will also keep it from staying too wet, the sun will help to dry it out faster.