DrewT
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Help ID this tree please

I recovered this bonsai from a store front I live by (they don’t sell plants, they had it as décor). I have been watching it over the last couple months, while it began to look worse and worse. One day I noticed it was missing, so I went in and inquired about it. They had moved it to the back of the store and planned to pitch it, so I just took it off their hands.

Now I have it and have the challenge of identifying it and then trying to bring it back to health. Unfortunately I have little knowledge of its history as far as watering, feeding, age.

Identifying factors
1. Small white flowers (five points)
2. Whitish gray bark that is somewhat cracked and scaly
3. Fuzzy buds at new growth areas.
4. Leaves are tear shape, smooth edges, simi-ruff leaf surface

I think it is a Fukien Tea, but I am not 100%. The leaves that are remaining don't have the three points at the top of the leaf like a fukien.

The problem
1. The few leaves that remain are dried out but are reluctant to fall off, actually are attached quite firmly.
2. The branches are all still alive, I pruned several to see if they had any green in them and they do.
3. The tree has survived indoors for years.

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Drew,

It sounds like you have identified it correctly. If you search the forum you will find numerous posts concerning Fukien Tea. I don't grow them so I can't offer much.
The leaves that are remaining don't have the three points at the top of the leaf like a fukien.
One thing I have learned from looking at pictures other members have posted is that not every leaf exhibits the characteristic notched tip that you mention, so don't let their absence throw you.

I don't know what you can do for it now except maintain it in a proper environment and wait it out. Consider a humidity tray to help keep the air around it from becoming too dry. a Tree without functioning leaves will not require as frequent watering as one tha tis actively growing so watch how often (not how much, which should always be plentiful) you water it.

If it does begin to push new leaves you have to consider how much light you are able to provide. Our homes are usually not as bright as most trees would like.

Sorry for the general nature of my comments but as I said I don't own one of these. Perhaps someone else can help more. In the meantime have a look at this.

https://www.bonsaihunk.us/info/FukienTea.html

Norm

DrewT
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Thanks Norm.

Waiting it out is what I have been doing. Generally speaking...do you think it is a bad idea to re-pot this tree, it is near winter where I live, but I have no idea to the condition of the roots.

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Drew,

Generally I avoid re-potting a tree in distress unless I have a strong indication that the soil is the problem. What condition is the soil/medium in? Would you describe it as loose and gritty or dense and peaty? When you water it does water pool on the surface for extended periods of time, does it drain slowly but steadily or does it drain away immediately? Water shoud not pool or drain too slowly.

Are there any indications of insect activity? Apparently Fukien Tea is known as a pest magnet so it could have been weakened by insects before you rescued it.

Norm

DrewT
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I agree about the re-potting, but I have reason to believe that the soil is denser than it should be. I have had the plant for a few days, and the soil is still quite moist. I have not watered since I've had it because of fear of over watering, therefor I am not quite sure how freely the water would flow through the soil.

Do you think I should just give it a watering and see how it goes?

I have inspected for insects and fungus, nothing seems to stick out.

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Drew,
I have not watered since I've had it because of fear of over watering, therefor I am not quite sure how freely the water would flow through the soil.
If the surface of the soil is still that damp after several days then it probably is denser than it should be. Bonsai soil, particularly ones with a high percentage of organics, will degrade and collapse over time. The soil in your specimen may have been marginal when it was initially purchased and over the years it seems to have become too dense.
Do you think I should just give it a watering and see how it goes?
I wouldn't, if it is still damp don't water it yet. Try using the skewer method to determine when it requires watering. You will find it outlined here:
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1479

You could also try to gently remove it from the pot to inspect the roots. If it is as dense/wet as it seems it will likely remain intact. This can give you some indication of what you are up against.

Before you seriously consider re-potting it you need to have the appropriate medium on hand and some idea how to do it. If you try using conventional potting soil you won't gain anything. Please read this thread:
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3422

Norm

DrewT
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Norm

I have a couple other Bonsai that I re-potted earlier this year (Azalea and Ficus), with rootopia soil from Joebonsai (for a lack of knowledge of better options). The trees have flourished in this medium. I have enough of that to re-pot the tree.

Is there a specific soil that you find works particularly well?

I have a moisture meter that says it is wet down near the roots. So, I think I will try to lift the tree gently, as you said, tonight to asses its condition, I will let you know how it goes.

If there is evidence of root rot, I will have to reference the forum for tips on how to combat this issue.

Thanks for your advise thus far. It has been great to have a second (obviously more knowledgeable) opinion.

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Drew,

I checked on the soil that you mentioned and although it definitely is superior to commercial potting soils it appears to be a little heavy on the organics. I mix my own soil and use a variety of components according to whatever I can find at the time. In the past I have used as my inorganic component/s Turface, Haydite, lava rock, diatomacious earth, creek rock and Perlite. I just got a lead on a new, to me, component, chrushed brick.

My mix is at least 50% inorganic and that is for tropicals such as Ficus. Pines, are potted in an entirely inorganic mix. Others, such as decidious trees or broadleaf evergreens, are potted in a mix that falls somewhere in the middle.

Let us know what you find when you examine the roots.

Norm

DrewT
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https://repotbonsai.com/bonsai-mix/Tropical-Imperial-Bonsai-Mix.html

What do you think about this mix, it is 75% inorganic, 25% organic.

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Drew,

That's a very interesting site you found there, thanks. I never heard of a service that mixes [url=https://repotbonsai.com/bonsai-mix/SelectABlend.html]custom blends[/url] before, especially on such a small scale.

About the blend you mentioned; I don't care for the inclusion of the [url=https://repotbonsai.com/bonsai-potting-media/Peat-Moss.html]Peat Moss[/url] in any mix I use. It is really too fine for me and I avoid it. If you want to include Moss then I feel that [url=https://repotbonsai.com/bonsai-potting-media/Chopped-Sphagnum-Moss-Full.html]Chopped Sphagnum Moss[/url] would be a better choice. I also like the looks of their [url=https://repotbonsai.com/bonsai-mix/Deciduous-Imperial-Bonsai-Mix.html]deciduous mix[/url]

I'm sure you can come up with an appropriate blend from this company but since I don't grow Fukien Tea I find myself at a disadvantage when it comes to exact ratios of particular components.

It appears to me that they don't screen their mixes and leave that up to the customer, so plan on sifting it yourself and discarding a portion. If you read the description of any of their components you will find the following disclaimer:
Bonsai require free draining water retentive mixes. Sifting various material available here by you to the appropriate size and make-up that is right for your particular application is assumed.
I'm not trying to be negative and if truth be told I screen all of my components anyway. You'll just be doing it after it is mixed rather than before as I do.

Norm

DrewT
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Look egor...WE DONE IT

Fukien Tea Bonsai:

14 days later the tree is full of foliage. I decided not to re-pot it at this time, even though the soil doesn't drain as well as it should. I have watered the tree, and found that the water will run through the soil and out the drain holes in the bottom. The tree is potted in a somewhat deep pot, I guess this is why it is holding water for a prolonged period. Also, I have placed it where it receives substantially more filtered light (4-6 hours), and I have been misting 2-3 times a day.

Question: With a tropical plant like this, surely it is not good for it to maintain foliage year round. Will this tree go dormant at some point? Is there a way to help the tree rest its roots?

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Drew,

I'm glad to hear that your tree is doing better, sometimes slow and steady does win the race. :wink:
Question: With a tropical plant like this, surely it is not good for it to maintain foliage year round. Will this tree go dormant at some point? Is there a way to help the tree rest its roots?
Tropicals do retain their foliage year-round, temperate, deciduous, trees shed their leaves in the fall and enter dormancy.

No single leaf lasts forever though and even tropicals shed old leaves. I don't grow a lot of tropicals besides succulents, and they are a little different. I do grow Ficus and, more recently Schefflera, and find that they tend to drop older leaves when I move them in/out in the fall/spring.

Some trees like Chinese Elm or Pomegranate fall somewhat in between and react according to their environment.

Norm

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