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Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:13 am
Location: south africa

URGENT HELP! Think I drowned my tree

Hi There

I got a Acacia burkei - Common names Black Monkey Thorn, Swart Apiesdoring
It looks like the roots are rotting as it looks wet. The leaves come out green and then wilt, the rest of the stem (towards the top) seems pretty dry.

I watered and fertilised as told but I honestly don't know where I went wrong

what can I do to save it?


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Posts: 749
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 7:28 am
Location: Cedarville (SE of Utica) NY, USA

It seems that most of us have little or no experience with Acacia.
But root rot is usually a killer - and it doesn't happen overnight. It develops over a period of time - perhaps even before you acquired it. To my knowledge it is not reversible. If you want to poke around the roots a bit with chopsticks to see if they are all blackened and murky you might determine whether there is enough 'life support' for your tree. Look for white tips. They are the live areas of the root ball. If there are no white tips you probably will lose the tree.
BUT - please try again. Don't give up on bonsai after one disappointment.

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Senior Member
Posts: 262
Joined: Sun Jun 28, 2009 9:03 pm
Location: Escondido, CA (USDA Zone 9-10)

Check this website out. https://www.bonsai.za.org/2009/10/22/information-on-acacia-burkei-black-monkey-thorn/

I don't have any experience on Acacia's, but this what I did for a plant with a similar situation.

I remember one time my lucky bamboo plant(Dracaena sanderiana) was having health problems. The leaves one by one started turning yellow. Then a bad odor would emit from it's pot. I lifted it from it's pot, and good lord, it had the most terrible smell. Many of it's roots were slimy and black. I took a pair of scissors, and trimmed away the blackened roots. Thankfully there were a few white tipped roots left. After a few weeks of babying it, it bounced back to it's former good health.

So here is what I suggest for you;

Trim away any black, diseased, or roots that don't look lively. You may want to re-pot in a new batch of soil. The old soil might still be harboring whatever it is that caused the root rot, and could be a contributing factor to it's declining health.

I'm not sure about how your tap water is in S.Africa, but if chlorine/fluoride, or any other chemicals are present in the water I would stay away from that. And if you must use tap, let it sit out for 24 hours, and boil it to remove the chlorine. Bottled water is a good substitute too.
Watering should never be on a scheduled routine. Water only when the soil is dry to the touch. Do not constantly keep the soil sopping wet. This leads to suffocation of the roots, which in turn leads to root rot, fungal diseases, or other nasties.

Fertilization is not something you want to do all the time. Many fertilizers can burn roots when over used. I would suggest doing this only in the spring growing season.

Goodluck on your Acacia. Post pictures, and keep us updated. :)

Full Member
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Nov 19, 2011 8:17 am
Location: Wisconsin

You can allways use the chopstick trick to check when it needs water. Just stick one into pot and check to see if it wet daily and it should help a bit. If You find it is in fact root rot then you can plant it in spagnum moss its has some anti fungal properties and promotes healthy root growth. not spagmun peat moss its much to fine and wont drain well. Pure spagnum moss for about a year if it survives then repot into a better draining and appropriate soil. you can buy the moss at most garden stores and home depot etc. it is used for air layering and decoration as well. It also is good for placing on top of the soil to keep it moist and prevent soil erosion when you water and helps humidity to boot.

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