sandigirl
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I really need help with my bonsai-leaf problems

:cry: Hello to all on the bonsai forum

I have had my bonsai tree now for only 2 weeks. The trunk and new leaf growth look healthy, but the tree has lost two thirds of its leaves in just 2 weeks since I bought it. Is this due to the extremely hot weather we have had.? I water the tree as told to in leaflet and have fed the tree once upto date. The leaves that are falling off seem to have brown patches on and on average the tree is loosing 20-30leaves a day. There are new shoots growing on the tree at the top of the stems and also in some of the areas where the leaves have fallen. The new leaves are light green in colour and look healthy. I have also noticed that in the soil i can sometimes see very tiny little crawlies, but not many of them. I will be devostated if my tree dies as i have always wanted a bonsai and i have taken such good care of him. Please anyone who can help or give me tips as what to do??? Is it normal for a tree to loose so much of its foilage??? :?: :(

Sharp
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Depends on the kind of tree you have.


Do you know or can you post a pic?

sandigirl
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type of tree??

hi sharp

Im not really sure what type of tree it is, on the leaflet that came with the tree it just says that it is an evergreen house bonsai with the trunk in the traditional s shape :?:

Sharp
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Hrm.... that doesnt help us much. :?
Is it a broad leaf or is it more of a juniper type? Im guessing its broad.

The reason i ask is, some plants can be in distress and drop leaves only to make a strong comeback, but some leaf loss is almost a sign of death.

If its too hot that can be whats causing your tree to drop leaves. WHen watering it, us a toothpick, stick it in the soil and when you pull it out and there is moist soil stuck to it then it generally doesnt need more water. Do th is everyday. Im guessing you are keeping this outside, which btw is usually good. But the hot sun can dry em out...esp if you are in a heat wave like most of the US, is currently in.

Now, my the new growth is promising. Alot of bonsai will drop leaves when changes occur, climate, temp, watering etc.

So as you can see there are alot of variables. It would help greatly to post a pic or you can find a similar tree on the web and post it.

Id also suggest you getting tons of material to read and learn. It will help greatly!

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koiboy01
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Hi,
You tree could be losing its leaves if you are actually watering too much,
let the soil nearly dry out before watering give a good soak and don't water until the soil looks nearly dry again.
koiboy01
anyone who never made a mistake never made anything.

JoeLewko
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i think sharp really covered everything here, but a pic would be really helpful.
If it has new leaf growth, im guessing its dropping leaves due to stress.

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Gnome
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Sandgirl,

An identification should be one of your first points to research, not only in order to better answer your specific question but in order for you to provide appropriate care in the future. Without a proper ID any advice that you receive, outside of general care, is speculation.

Norm

sandigirl
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Thanks for your advise

:) Hi Sharp

For the last two nights I think i have looked at hundreds of bonsai trees trying to desypher what kind of tree I have. Unfortunately I do not have access to a digi camera yet, but it will be my next purchase!!

The type of bonsai tree which I have is a Ficus Microcarpa with an s shaped trunk, which has been shaped in abeautiful way. I know that i have an unbelieveable amount to learn about these wonderful trees!!!

Thank you for your advise and i am hoping that the new regrowth will replace the massive amount of leaves lost. I did go on to a german website as the company who cultivated the tree are called herbae optimae formae and it seems that they specialise in these indoor bonsai?
It was difficult to translate but there was a gentleman with a very similar tree, who seemed to be experiencing the same loss of leaves and green leaves with brown patches on.

Would you still reccommend that the tree is left outside during the day, but not in direct light?? :?:

Thanks for your response and help, its very much appreciated!!! Also thanks to Koiboy, Joelewko and Gnome for their advise too!!!!!!! :D

Sharp
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Re: Thanks for your advise

sandigirl wrote:
Would you still reccommend that the tree is left outside during the day, but not in direct light?? :?:

:D
I suggest that you monitor the watering and light. Those 2 are the biggest things at first you need to master. They will drop leaves when in distress, or in environmental changes. If you are going thru a heat wave id suggest if it doesnt go over 100-105 f (srry i don't know the conversion for that off the top of my head. Blame the american education system lol) you'll be ok. Keep it out of the blaring afternoon sun. If you can id place it in a spot that gets great morning light, afternoon shade. The humidity is a big idea. Mistings and humidity trays could work wonders.

A similar experience i had with my ficus last year. It dropped almost all of its leaves. As a noobie last ditch effort i put it outside, mist it 2x a day and since then its grown all the leaves back and has got about 2 inches on each branch.

Ficus are generally thought of as beginner plants since they can be so forgiving and hardy. ID love to see some pics of yours if you ever are able.

Thanks!

JoeLewko
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With the care sharp described, it sahould get its leaves back. like i said before, if it has new growths, its probably not dead.

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Gnome
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Sandigirl,

Ficus are notorious for dropping their leaves when they are exposed to a new environment, a change in light levels especially. It will probably recover in time. The new leaves will be acclimated to the level of light in which they form.
Exercise extreme caution when watering. Ficus don't enjoy constantly wet feet even in the best of times. When a tree has been defoliated, deliberately or otherwise, water requirements drop dramatically. You should let the soil approach dryness, not just the surface either, before watering thoroughly. Here is a species quide.

[url]https://www.bonsai4me.com/SpeciesGuide/Ficus.html[/url]

Norm

sandigirl
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:) Hi Sharp,
Thanks again for you quick reply. Your advise is really good and I will follow it to the tee. I am going to find a nice place in my garden as you said and let the tree relish in the natural environment.

As soon as i buy a digi camera i will definately send you a picture and from what I have noticed today, the tree seems to be adapting to the cooler weather really well and is sprouting new growth everywhere.

Thank you so much for your help! kind regards!!

sandigirl
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I would like to say a big thanks to Jeolewko for your advise!!
and also a big big thanks to Gnome for your advise on Ficus.

Gnome your reply was really helpful on the watering side as I had been advised to stand the ficus in a bowl of water one inch over trunk level, until it stopped bubbling or for around 3-5 minutes, this is probably where i have gone wrong and as you said my tree has been overwatered. Before that it was okay!!! The tree now has lots of new regrowth and as sharp said i am going to provide plenty of light...... I am glad that you have told me to almost leave the soil to dry as i had been wondering when to water again.

I am using a mist spray and keeping my fingers crossed that all will be okay!!!

Thanks a million for the web address, Im sure it will provide me with plenty of study :D

JoeLewko
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your welcome. I actually came across is by pure luck. i was looking at google images, and i clicked that pic, and i saw the info on the page and began reading. What i really like is that chart about what the leaves can tell you. it helps me a lot, because after i clipped my ficus the other day, it hasnt seemed to be growing, although there are new buds. i thought it was because i cut it, but the site says its not getting enough light. Which makes sense, because it only gets its light from open blinds, and i had been out the past few days, when my ficus was supposed to get afternoon light, but the blinds were closed, because i wasnt there to open them. so i put it outside where it should be. i originally took it in, because it was raining too much, but i put it out fro two reasons. the constant rain has stopped, and i have moss on the soil to help protect from rain erosion/overwatering. I know moss wont keep all the moisture out, but it'll help. Woah, i kinda went on an unrelated rant there...sorry...ill stop now...

sandigirl
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Hi Sharp + Joelewko

Have had a look at both of the links which you provided me with for bonsai ficus - they are great links - great advise.

I have been told to purchase an insecticide called rose clear to get rid of the crawlies in the soil. I have tried to pick them out but the little critters are too fast and too small.

I think if i reduce the watering, which i am leaving the bonsai to dry for a while as it is still very moist and also spray the little bugs that my tree will be okay. (Fingers crossed)!!!!

Thank you both for you help + I will keep you informed as to how I have got on!!!!

Many thanks sandigirl!!

JoeLewko
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the tree should recover.

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Gnome
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Sandigirl,

I'm glad to hear that your tree is recovering, there may be a little confusion that I would like to clear up however.

You wrote:
I had been advised to stand the ficus in a bowl of water one inch over trunk level, until it stopped bubbling or for around 3-5 minutes, this is probably where i have gone wrong and as you said my tree has been overwatered.
When watering, problems arise not by providing excessive water in the space of a few minutes but by too frequent watering. For example, I use a very free draining mix and water runs out of the drainage holes as fast as I can pour it in. This will never be a problem as long as I don't repeat this until the plant needs it. By the way I usually water enough to wet the soil, wait a few minutes and water again. This aids in helping to wet the soil thoroughly.

One thing that you have not mentioned is the condition of your soil. Many times recently purchased trees are in less than ideal soil. I don't mean to overwhelm you so soon, and as long as you monitor your plant and adjust your watering as needed you will be OK for now, but you should begin to think about proper soil mixes before the time comes to repot, especially in light of your ongoing insect problem.

Norm

sandigirl
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:D Hi Norm
thanks for your watering advise. When i first got the bonsai over two weeks ago i was watering from the top soil and just a small amount each day. After seeking advise i was told to emerse in water for 3-5 mins around once a week to provide plenty of moisture.

The tree is in a ceramic bowl with a plate underneath, but I havnt put any gravel on top of the soil or in the drainage tray yet, as i have been trying to monitor the small insects ie ; "spider like" that live in the soil.

I have emersed in water once, a week has nearly gone by and the soil is still quite moist.

I bought a mini bayan fig last week and i have noticed a big difference in both ficus when watering. The small ficus (bayan)soil absorbs moisture quickly and gets dryish in 2-4 days in current heat, but the medium ficus, the distressed one, the soil seems to take ages to dry and this may be as you say bad soil????

I have some rose clear ordered for tomorrow so i am going to try to get rid of the soil pests, i understand that this may take more than one go from research. From reading various articles and info on the net the info on getting rid of soil bugs conflicts. Some people reccommend to spray, wait and repeat if necessary, while others say totally change the soil and run the whole tree including roots, branches and more under tepid water and then replant. I think i will try the insectide first!!! I believe that if you disturb the rootball that this can be very distressing to the tree also??

Sorry about the waffling and thanks norm!!!!!!! :)

JoeLewko
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sandi,

if the soil you are using is taking ages to dry, then it is propablky not ideal. You need a more free draining soil mix. www.bonsaiofbrooklyn.com sells soil, which i ahve heard people testify as the best they've ever used. I don't know if he will ship it outside the U.S. though...worth a try. Also, even though it is not the best time to repot, a ficus can stand to be repotted any time of the year, as long as you take good care of it afterwards. As for your pest problem, i don't know much, im not very knowlegable on pests, as luckily, i havent had a problem with them.

Joe

sandigirl
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Thanks Joe

I think that I will be repotting in better grade soil. I have had a look at the bonsai brooklyn site I left email with them over soil. There is also a local bonsai chap here who may be able to offer me same kind of product?? My next step is to find out the best way to repot the bonsai.

Do I completely tap all soil off the bonsai and replace new, exposing the rootball and gently wash the whole tree to rid the pests or do I keep the soil on the root ball and put new soil around that?? I have looked at lots of sites now and most of them say replace all soil and sterilise the pot if reusing.

Thanks for your advise !!!! :)

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Gnome
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Sandigirl,

A few things to consider, you may want to rethink buying your soil mix from the USA. Do you really want to pay international shipping on what is largely small rocks? You mentioned a local enthusiast, perhaps he can help you locate a local source or even provide you enough to do your repot. If you stay with bonsai and acquire more trees you will eventually reach a point that you will want to make your own mix, but this can wait for now.

A healthy ficus could easily withstand a repotting this time of year. The only concern that I have is that your tree is not in the best of health at the moment. On the other hand the poor state of the soil and the insect problem would indicate a repot now. The decision is yours to make.

If this is a young tree and you are hoping to encourage growth then I would consider using a training pot rather than a proper bonsai pot for a few years. Many times ready-made trees are potted in bonsai pots before they are really ready. This encourages consumers to purchase them but shortchanges the tree in the long run.

Norm

Marie1uk
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Sandi - you need to assess the quality of the growing medium it is in - you have what is known as a mallsai bonsai (mass produced litle trees stuck in a pot, often with very poor soil and glued in rocks). The soil should be very free draining and granular - if it looks like clay you will probably need to repot in early spring next year. Clay like soils have poor drainage and little aeration - 2 factors that can cause root deterioration in Bonsai.

Hi and welcome :P

Best wishes,

Marie

sandigirl
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:D Hi Marie & WOW!!

It is really kind and helpful of you to provide so much info.

I am beginning to think that I have fell unlucky with my first bonsai, due to the poor soil, the leaf detereoration and the bug problem in 2-3 weeks or purchase, but as norm, joe and sharp have pointed out, the care and nurturing that is given to these trees whilst in their native country, in their nurserys is second to none - almost compaired to a newborn baby, and when they hit the garden centres, some of them genuinely don't have the same time and patience or knowlegde, and this maybe where my problems began??

I am determined to nurse this bonsai back to surpreme health and i am sure with the help from you all which i have been given to date, im on my way.

Thanks again to you marie and also to joe, norm, sharp and more!!!!!

I will keep you informed!! :D

sandigirl
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Hi to Sharp, Joe, Norm, Marie and anyone else i have missed out!!!

Just to keep you informed on my bonsai problems. :lol:

I eventually got some really good grade soil from my local bonsai specialist. Gently washed away old soil, washed the whole tree under water, leaves to roots, and then sprayed the whole tree with roseclear, the bug killer, to try and get rid of my bug problem.

The bonsai is now repotted in a better pot and half of the leaves have grown back. I am keeping the tree inside, near a good lit window at the moment as the weather has been bad in manchester U.K we're bad to the cold.

Fingers crossed, the ficus is doing really, really well. The repotting has not distroyed it and the bug sprays have not harmed it. The bugs seem to have gone??

One of the big differences which I do now is to check the water needs with a toothpick as advised by sharp and also to spray the leaves religiously 2-3 times a day even though our temperature has dropped. The new leaf growth looks so green and healthy.

Big thanks to you all again!!!! :D sandigirl

JoeLewko
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the bugs should be gone, since you sprayed the plant, and repotted. im glad to hear the ficus is doing well.

Sharp
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sandigirl wrote:Hi to Sharp, Joe, Norm, Marie and anyone else i have missed out!!!

Just to keep you informed on my bonsai problems. :lol:

I eventually got some really good grade soil from my local bonsai specialist. Gently washed away old soil, washed the whole tree under water, leaves to roots, and then sprayed the whole tree with roseclear, the bug killer, to try and get rid of my bug problem.

The bonsai is now repotted in a better pot and half of the leaves have grown back. I am keeping the tree inside, near a good lit window at the moment as the weather has been bad in manchester U.K we're bad to the cold.

Fingers crossed, the ficus is doing really, really well. The repotting has not distroyed it and the bug sprays have not harmed it. The bugs seem to have gone??

One of the big differences which I do now is to check the water needs with a toothpick as advised by sharp and also to spray the leaves religiously 2-3 times a day even though our temperature has dropped. The new leaf growth looks so green and healthy.

Big thanks to you all again!!!! :D sandigirl

Sweet!

Post pics please! :) :)

Petra26
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yes yes! post some pics! :D i love pictures :D

you should think about getting a humidifying tray for your ficus. i just use a ~12" dia. flat plastic container and filled it with water and just put my bonsai in the middle of it. put some gravel on the bottom so the drainage hole is not sitting in the water and allows for free water flow out of the pot.

2 things that ficus love is sun and humidity. they are tropical in nature but are hardy enough to survive elsewhere. since you are in a house, it is best if you can provide some extra humidity and light to it. especially since you say it is cold out and with the heater going, it is going to be bone dry. if it gets too dry, you might want to mist and then cover your ficus with a clear plastic baggy. then check on it every 2-3 days to see if it needs water and to let it air out some for 20-30 mins to prevent fungus growth. i suggest providing some additional lighting. i just use a desk light and i swapped in a compact fluorescent bulb and place it over my bonsai but not too close to prevent burning. give it 12-16hrs of light and good amounts of humidity and BAM! your ficus will growth like crazy :D

i wrapped the base/root area with saran wrap days and misted the root and checked water needs... 4 days later, i had aerials roots forming and tiny little leaves growing straight out of the side of the exposed roots :D i might prune those since i am mainly trying to get some more aerial roots, not more leaves/branches :D

sandigirl
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Hi Joe, Sharp and a new hello to Petra

I still havnt got a camera yet, but I havnt forgotton, as soon as I purchase one I will definately post in some pictures.

I have a make shift humidifier tray at the moment, with some gravel in the bottom, but I do need a real one!!

I was thinking of getting a flouresant lamp for the tree, but would a normal light bulb do the same job but at a slower rate????

I was wondering if the leaves on the tree are wet, would the light from the lamp burn the leaves in the same way the sun would????

Thanks again!!!! :D

JoeLewko
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a normal lightbulb gives off too much heat, and could burn the plant easily. as for the light burning the leaves...i think you sahould be more worried about the heat.

Sharp
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Its been a while since I had a grow bulb.

Whats the best kind? Just a regular flouresant?

JoeLewko
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i actually don't have that mch experience with growbulbs...i have an area where my ficus can get sufficient light in the winter...all i know is a full spectrum flourescent is the best. (i think)

Petra26
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the hotter the light, the farther away. fluorescent you can put relatively close. regular light bulb you should probably put it further away. put your hands infront of the plant between the light and see how warm it is. if you feel the warmth, move it away until you can barely feel the warmth of the light. best to have the light coming from straight above and pointed down.

as for water on leaves, i don't think it will burn the leaves, but it is a good idea not to keep too much water on the leaves when exposed to any light. it is best to mist and water early in the day when the morning sun will not burn leaves, or late evening when the sun is setting or set.

check out some of these sites for further readings :D

https://www.fukubonsai.com/2b2a2b.html

https://www.fukubonsai.com/2b2a2a.html

sandigirl
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:D Hello Sharp, Joe, Norm, Petra and more

Thanks for you advise on the light bulb or grow light. I am going to stick to our summer light for now but I am seriously considering a grow light for the winter which in England is coming very soon. :(

Thanks all!!! Thanks for the info & the sites Petra!!!

ynot
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sandigirl wrote:
I was thinking of getting a flouresant lamp for the tree, but would a normal light bulb do the same job but at a slower rate????
No, Stick w/ the fluorescent light [Full spectrum bulb] and keepit VERY close to the plant [Like 2"! Light loses massive amounts of energy over short distances] A normal bulb does not provide the proper spectrum of light and generates too much heat for your plant.
I was wondering if the leaves on the tree are wet, would the light from the lamp burn the leaves in the same way the sun would????
Just one comment about the sun burning leaves through the prismatic reflection of raindrops.
I want this to be perfectly crystal clear:
This is an absolute myth, :!: It has no substance or basis in reality whatsoever. If it were true you would see trees in nature with raindropped shaped burns on their leaves caused by this all the time. After all, They do not duck out of the sunshine after a shower do they?
Yet you do not do you?
In fact I'll bet you have never seen it happen at all.
Mist away people! Fear not. 8)

Jevon
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New Bonsai Owner - same problem as Sandigirl

I also have bought a bonsai through the herbae optimae lot, so have no idea what bonsai it is. I am also having the problem of it loosing all its leaves, but also there is some white stuff growing on the lower branches. It is potted in a ceramic pot and I have been resisting the urge to overwater. I have also tried changing its position in the house to ensure it has enough light (the directions said avoid direct sunlight and keep it between 15-30 degrees C (59 -86 F), but nothing is stopping the dropping yet. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. I should be able to post a picture if that will help.

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Gnome
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Jevon,
I should be able to post a picture if that will help.
Yes, please do, in fact post several. Make sure to include in focus pictures of both the foliage and soil. Any other information that you have as well. For instance, describe the soil, how and how often you have been watering it, humidity, etc. etc.

For now find the best spot you have (lighting) and let it be. Constantly moving it around is not helping. I'll check back later. Oh, and please start a new thread with an appropriate title, thanks.

Norm

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