cnjones83
Newly Registered
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 9:47 pm
Location: Alabama

Is there any hope for little Malachi?!?

Hi! I just recently purchased a bonsai plant from a local Sam's Club, who I've lovingly named Malachi. At first glance he is beautiful, but appears dried out or even dead. I know that I should have probably left him and got another one that had a healthier looking appearance, but he was by far the most beautiful one there. And when I did the "scratch test" with my fingernail on the trunk, it had green, living tissue underneath.

He did not have any exposure to sunlight in the store and I doubt they watered it (he wasnt the only "crunchy" looking one). The leaves are still green and are on the plant, but will break off at the slightest touch. He is in a 8in X 9in X 3in ceramic pot, with those little rocks that are stuck together on top of the soil and it has moss around the trunk. The moss was green when I bought it, but since watering it, it has now turned brownish (which can't be good).

When I first got him, I gave him a 20min soaking in room temperature tap water b/c the soil was obviously dry, but now after a few waterings, it feels spongy. I've read that the soil should be well drained and should have a screen with rocks at the bottom and as far as I can tell there is no sreen, no rocks and it looks like regular old miracle grow potting mix with the little white spongy things in it. I have been testing the soil moisture by touching what I can feel through the drainage holes. (Is giving him tap water ok?)

There has been no sign of new growth for the month I've had him, but I guess that's to be expexted b/c it is winter? The trunk has no signs of apparent disease, I guess. I do not know if I need to give him fertilizer, let him be and just keep watering him, take off all the dried out leaves (which is ALL of them), repot him or WHAT?!?!

From the research that I've done, he appears to be some kind of Boxwood. Please, any suggestions to save my Malachi would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, CJ.

User avatar
Gnome
Mod
Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

CJ,

First, welcome to the site and we'll try to help you. Glad to hear that you have done some reading on your own.
And when I did the "scratch test" with my fingernail on the trunk, it had green, living tissue underneath.
That is, as you know, a good sign.
He is in a 8in X 9in X 3in ceramic pot, with those little rocks that are stuck together on top of the soil and it has moss around the trunk. The moss was green when I bought it, but since watering it, it has now turned brownish (which can't be good).
Please remove the glued on rocks they only get in the way of evaluating your soil and its moisture level. They also inhibit thorough watering when you do water. Dump the moss as well and don't give it another thought.
When I first got him, I gave him a 20min soaking in room temperature tap water b/c the soil was obviously dry, but now after a few waterings, it feels spongy. I've read that the soil should be well drained and should have a screen with rocks at the bottom and as far as I can tell there is no sreen, no rocks and it looks like regular old miracle grow potting mix with the little white spongy things in it. I have been testing the soil moisture by touching what I can feel through the drainage holes. (Is giving him tap water ok?)
I really prefer to water from above, but that one thorough soaking was probably OK if it was as dry as you say. It really should be in better soil (soil-less mix actually) but for now make sure that it dries a bit in between waterings, constantly soggy is bad. If your water is treated (chlorine) draw it a day in advance and let it sit to evaporate the chlorine.

Put it in a cool spot and be very cautious with your watering. A plant with no foliage will use very little water and right now you could very easily rot the roots so be careful. Watch for small green buds at the base of the old leaves. If and when you see them get the plant into good light. Don't remove the old leaves, you may damage new buds that are forming. Just let it be for a while and don't let it dry out again.

Your other option is to return it and spend your money on something else that has a better chance of survival, but that is up to you.

Norm

cnjones83
Newly Registered
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 9:47 pm
Location: Alabama

Thanks so much

Thanks so much for responding so fast!! :D

Well, I took your advice and removed the rocks and, yes his soil looks like regular miracle grow potting soil. I actually had to add a little more b/c of the depth of the rocks into the soil. I tried not to disturb his roots, but to look at them, I kinda figured that they'd fill the pot a little more (well a whole lot more) than they actually are. I've never seen bonsai roots b/4, but I kind figured they fill out the pot more. The root ball looked like it was only about the size of the palm of my hand which is only about half the length of the pot. Maybe this is a good thing or maybe it normal but I don't know. Any ideas on this?!?!

Oh yeah, and there is no screen at the bottom of the pot and no rocks. Do I need to worry about this now, or just let it be?

cnjones83
Newly Registered
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 9:47 pm
Location: Alabama

Also, if I posted some pictures, do you think you could help me definitely identify him and would it help for giving a better diagnosis on his condition?!?!

ynot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1219
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:49 pm
Location: USDA Z:5a Sunset Z. 41 IL

Re: Thanks so much

cnjones83 wrote: Well, I took your advice and removed the rocks and, yes his soil looks like regular miracle grow potting soil. I actually had to add a little more b/c of the depth of the rocks into the soil.
You will find that entirely new soil would be the best thing as far as soil goes. Not MG by the way.
I would simply remove what you added, Please read the sticky on bonsai soil.

A bit more about bonsai soil can be found here: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3422
I tried not to disturb his roots, but to look at them, I kinda figured that they'd fill the pot a little more (well a whole lot more) than they actually are. I've never seen bonsai roots b/4, but I kind figured they fill out the pot more. The root ball looked like it was only about the size of the palm of my hand which is only about half the length of the pot. Maybe this is a good thing or maybe it normal but I don't know. Any ideas on this?!?!
I have no idea what the relative size of the root system you described is to the tree. [What's the size of the tree?]
A healthy tree [In proper soil] has a full fibrous root system that will eventually fill the entirety of the soil with roots.
Oh yeah, and there is no screen at the bottom of the pot and no rocks. Do I need to worry about this now, or just let it be?
I wouldn't worry to much about the drainage layer/screen for the moment though eventually you will need screen for the drainage holes.

The soil is a bigger issue.
Also, if I posted some pictures, do you think you could help me definitely identify him and would it help for giving a better diagnosis on his condition?!?!

Pictures would absolutely positively help.

Once we can see what were talking about we can more effectively help you.

Please read this and DO post some pictures: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3557

ynot

cnjones83
Newly Registered
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 9:47 pm
Location: Alabama

I hope it works

I don't know exactly what Im doing, but I hope that this works. Here is the link: https://community.webshots.com/album/557272646nEMMiq
I've posted pics of the entire plant, his soil, and various pics of his leaves and branches. Sorry that they arent that close, but its as close as my camera would allow. I hope it helps!!! Any advice is very, VERY much appreciated.
Also if it helps, he was much fuller, but lost alot of his foilage in transit back to school.
Thanks again, CJ.

User avatar
Gnome
Mod
Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

CJ,

Since the photos are a bit out of focus perhaps we can approach this from the other angle. If you do a google search on boxwood you will find many pictures, look for higher resolution pictures of the foliage. Here is one of PRESSED foliage by way of example. Does this seem to be it?

[img]https://www.preservedgardens.com/images/pressed-foliage/Boxwood.JPG[/img]

If it recovers it will need a better soil mix at the next re-potting.

Norm
Last edited by Gnome on Wed Feb 07, 2007 8:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ynot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1219
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:49 pm
Location: USDA Z:5a Sunset Z. 41 IL

cnjones83,

Thank you for the pictures.

Looks to be a hurting boxwood you have there.

1. New soil, The current soil looks very wet and loamy.

It would be extremely beneficial to get it into a much more coarse granular soil.

Your soil seems to consist of mostly peat moss/potting soil [with a few bits of perlite on top], This is an inappropriate mix for bonsai as it is composed of very very fine [small] particles which stay wet for too long and do not allow for aeration of the soil during watering.

I have included two examples of the soil I use for your comparison, The first is Almost 90% organic [And is not my typical mix but is a reference for the size of the particles.]
The second is my standard mix 90% inorganic 10% organic.

[url=https://img527.imageshack.us/my.php?image=ficuscuttingflatnebari0002xp6.jpg][img]https://img527.imageshack.us/img527/4259/ficuscuttingflatnebari0002xp6.th.jpg[/img][/url]
[url=https://img348.imageshack.us/my.php?image=9518so7.jpg][img]https://img348.imageshack.us/img348/6268/9518so7.th.jpg[/img][/url]

Did you read the sticky on soil? You will find it has a lot of info you can utilize.

2. As Buxus are temperate trees this guy really should be in dormancy outside but we will deal with that after we get your soil straightened out.

Here is a bit about Boxwoods for you: https://www.bonsai4me.com/SpeciesGuide/Buxus.html

ynot
Last edited by ynot on Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

cnjones83
Newly Registered
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 9:47 pm
Location: Alabama

That's it

Wow, thanks guys! That is it! :o Malachi is a boxwood! Well, so now that we know this, Im eager to get him in the proper soil. Can you recommend a link to a good soil for him? I don't know if he'll need a special soil since he's in such bad shape or will any Bonsai soil do? Ive already searched through some of the links attached to this website and others, and I am a little overwhelmed with all that's out there. Can you please reccomend a brand that you prefer or think will be best?

-CJ

ynot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1219
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:49 pm
Location: USDA Z:5a Sunset Z. 41 IL

Re: That's it

Well, so now that we know this, Im eager to get him in the proper soil.
Ive already searched through some of the links attached to this website and others, and I am a little overwhelmed with all that's out there. Can you please reccomend a brand that you prefer or think will be best?
lol... Slow down a bit, Patience is the name of the game here. A few days spent researching and absorbing the info about soil will pay big dividends.
I am trying to teach you to fish here instead of handing you a fish...:wink:

Can you recommend a link to a good soil for him?
Sorry, I cannot link to a retailer, [Forum rules]
I don't know if he'll need a special soil since he's in such bad shape or will any Bonsai soil do?
As I make my own soil so I have no brand to suggest, I am not sure what you mean by 'special soil'...

More specific questions wrt what you are having trouble with as far as soil goes would be easier to answer.
Not trying to be a pain but it is a large topic and specifics are easier to address.

We will help all we can [img]https://img241.imageshack.us/img241/1939/u4jchinaec9.gif[/img]
ynot

cnjones83
Newly Registered
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 9:47 pm
Location: Alabama

Well then, here are my questions:

1. Since he's in such bad shape, will he need any special additions to his soil? By this I mean more than the normal amount of organic matter to offer more nutirtion or will he need less organic matter because he's been in such soggy soil already and since he doesnt have any live foilage, then he wont really need that much moisture retention capabilities any ways. . . right?

2. And what should his organic to inorganic ratio be anyways?

3. Would I need to give fertilizer now or just let it be?

4. Also what particle size soil should I look for? Fine, medium or coarse

5. And does he need to be outside for dormancy or not?!?!

What do you think?!? Your advice is VERY much appreciated

User avatar
Gnome
Mod
Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

CJ,
1. Since he's in such bad shape, will he need any special additions to his soil? By this I mean more than the normal amount of organic matter to offer more nutirtion or will he need less organic matter because he's been in such soggy soil already and since he doesnt have any live foilage, then he wont really need that much moisture retention capabilities any ways. . . right?
The amount and texture of the organic material in the soil now is a large part of the problem. You are correct in saying that a tree without foliage or with foliage in such poor condition wont be able to use a lot of water, especially this time of year. So go easy on the water. By that I mean frequency not quantity.
2. And what should his organic to inorganic ratio be anyways?
I have mine in a general type bonsai mix (I too make my own) probably about 15%-25% organic. Not all organics though will be appropriate, fine peat moss will tend to impede drainage. I use Pine bark.

3. Would I need to give fertilizer now or just let it be?
No fertilizer right now. After it is in a free draining soil and putting on new growth, then fertilize.

4. Also what particle size soil should I look for? Fine, medium or coarse
Those are relative terms. In my mind, medium, but you might look at it and think it is coarse. Look at the picture Ynot has posted and make sure that you read the stickies, (again) if necessary.
5. And does he need to be outside for dormancy or not?!?!
Yes, but. Starting this spring it should go outside and remain there, possibly with some protection.

Do you wish to make your own soil mix or purchase it ready made?

Norm

cnjones83
Newly Registered
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 9:47 pm
Location: Alabama

Preferably, ummm, to purchase it premade I guess. :?

ynot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1219
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:49 pm
Location: USDA Z:5a Sunset Z. 41 IL

cnjones83,

Excellent questions :),

I completely agree with Gnomes answers to your inquiries. the only additional note I have [for the moment] is in reply to this:
...By this I mean more than the normal amount of organic matter to offer more nutirtion
The majority of the nutrients used by your tree will be supplied to it via your fert regimen, Not the inorganic material in the soil.
Generally speaking, Underfeeding is not a major concern [Unless you simply don't do it, [fert] Then it will eventually deplete the resources available to it.]

IE: Many bonsai pros use only inorganic materials as a potting medium.
[Me too for some of my trees, They are only fed when I feed them... :lol: ]

I use just a bit less organic than Gnome. On average, About 10% to 20% either Pine or Fir bark.
Gnome wrote:
So go easy on the water. By that I mean frequency not quantity.
An excellent point Gnome that is so rarely stated.

Again, Very insightful and perceptive questions. 8)

ynot

cnjones83
Newly Registered
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 9:47 pm
Location: Alabama

Well, Ive taken everyone's suggestions into consideration and Ive repotted Malachi into well draining bonsai soil. I don't know if Im allowed to mention the brand but some of its components include turface, coarse sand, pine bark conditioner, and osmacote. I havent ferilized it yet b/c he still hasnt put off any new growth.
No fertilizer right now. After it is in a free draining soil and putting on new growth, then fertilize.
And speaking of fertilizer, do you reccommend using a fertilizer that doesnt have any Nitrogen in it and is supposed to be root stimulating and used during the dormant season. I fgured it might be a good idea since he's been through so much and has just been repotted? Please let me know what you think!!!
Thanks alot! :)
CJ

ynot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1219
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:49 pm
Location: USDA Z:5a Sunset Z. 41 IL

CJ,
Well, Ive taken everyone's suggestions into consideration and Ive repotted Malachi into well draining bonsai soil. I don't know if Im allowed to mention the brand but some of its components include turface, coarse sand, pine bark conditioner, and osmacote. I havent ferilized it yet b/c he still hasnt put off any new growth.
Please, Tell us what you used.

:shock: :shock: EDIT: I am a bit concerned with both the type of soil you have and your talking about ferts later on in this post when your soil already has fert in it...?????


Osmocote IS fertilizer

More details on your soil please [Pictures of the soil & packaging a link perhaps...] The N-P-K if it's given...ect.
Gnome wrote:No fertilizer right now. After it is in a free draining soil and putting on new growth, then fertilize.
As Gnome stated, It will be a month minimum before you need to worry about ferts. [ Fert is not a band aid or a cure for an ill, stressed, or weakened tree.]
And speaking of fertilizer, do you reccommend using a fertilizer that doesnt have any Nitrogen in it and is supposed to be root stimulating and used during the dormant season.
[ Actually, Nitrogen stimulates foliage growth-Which is why you want less of it during the off-season. I am just rephrasing what you meant for clarity]
It's true that normally that would be the case as it is the dormant season, It is also true that your tree is not dormant.
There is no need to over-complicate this, By the time you do need to fert just use a balanced one.
I fgured it might be a good idea since he's been through so much and has just been repotted? Please let me know what you think!!!
No, It is not a good idea. As I said before: Fert is not a band aid or a cure for an ill, stressed, or weakened tree.
It is nutrients that your tree is most likely too stressed to utilize anyway.

I assure you it will not starve to death in 4 to 6 weeks in a commercial bonsai soil. [I would like to see a picture of the new soil also please :)].

Looking forward to the pictures:

ynot

User avatar
Gnome
Mod
Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

CJ,

As Ynot has noted, Osmocote is a slow release fertilizer and since it is included in your soil you will not need to even consider any further fertilization for some time. Do not panic and re-pot it again, this is not the worst thing that could have happened. To borrow a well known phrase "stay the course".

Be aware that your watering, dare I say it, schedule will need to be adjusted. Now that you have it in a free draining mix it will dry quicker and need to be watered more frequently. It is important that you completely wet the entire soil mass each time you water. This will take a little bit of adjustment on your part just be vigilant. Please keep us posted.

Norm

ynot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1219
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:49 pm
Location: USDA Z:5a Sunset Z. 41 IL

Good catch...

CJ,

I really didn't mean to impart such a sense of urgency into my previous post... :oops:

I didn't read it that way initially, But upon a re-read I see it could be construed that way. [Hey, I gotta be me :)..]

As Gnome noted to take care with your watering.

Gnome, You are forgiven... You know what for. :razz: ;) :lol::lol:

ynot

cnjones83
Newly Registered
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 9:47 pm
Location: Alabama

Oh wow?!? I don't know if I did wrong or did right?!? :shock: :? :shock:

Sorry for being so unclear, but much to yall's relief, I DID NOT fertilize him yet...I just repotted him into some better draining soil. I wanted to know what yall thought b/4 I did give him fertilizer. :D

I purchased the soil from a website and they didnt give me any breakdown of the N-P-K. I don't know if thats a good sign or a bad sign. Also my camera batteries are dead, so Ill have to wait until I can make it to the store, but I will post some pics of the soil as soon as possible. Here's a link to the website though: https://www.shbonsai.com/

Please tell me what you think!

Oh and to ynot, its cool! :wink: It just lets me know how passionate you are about what you do.

Thanks again,
CJ

User avatar
Gnome
Mod
Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

CJ,
I DID NOT fertilize him yet...I just repotted him into some better draining soil.
some of its components include turface, coarse sand, pine bark conditioner, and osmacote. I havent ferilized it yet b/c he still hasnt put off any new growth.
These two statements are at odds with each other as Osmocote IS fertilizer.
I purchased the soil from a website and they didn't give me any breakdown of the N-P-K.
Soils will not be identified in this way, N-P-K is a measure of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. This is a measure of how much of these nutrients are in fertilizers.
I wanted to know what yall thought b/4 I did give him fertilizer.
No need to fertilize for a while now as there is already a slow release fertilizer included in your soil. Just take it easy, continue to monitor the moisture level and let the tree be for a while now.


Norm

ynot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1219
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:49 pm
Location: USDA Z:5a Sunset Z. 41 IL

cnjones83 wrote:
Oh and to ynot, its cool! :wink: It just lets me know how passionate you are about what you do.
Thanks CJ, [img]https://www.mainzelahr.de/smile/big/12.gif[/img]

On occasion I get asked to not 'yell' so much :lol: ;)...

It is good to know that you [IE:] understand all my colors and bold, italics, etc... are simply emphasis to draw your attention.

Not everybody 'reads' it that way.... :shrug:

Gnome makes some excellent points wrt to not panicking, And as he reiterated Osmocote IS fert. So if it is in your soil you already have ferts in there.

Again: No need to fert for quite a while. As Forest Gump would say: "one less thing to worry about."

It was me that brought up the N-P-K query and as it is most likely a fairly low dosage and all will be well ...
[Most likely- Don't get all stressed Cj, This is supposed to be RELAXING..;) :lol:]

Looking forward to the pics:

ynot

Return to “BONSAI FORUM”