konstantinos
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Slimy moss

Hello all,

I am new on here and fairly new on Bonsai. I was given a ilex crenata and it is the first time I have got my hands on a flowering bonsai.

The problem is that it came with this green slime thing covering the soil along with a bit of moss and few root like things poking out. Generally it is very unkempt.

My initial instinct was to remove it immediately but I thought I 'd better ask for some advice before I do so. I have only had the bonsai for 4 days.

Any help would be welcome.

Thank you very much in advance.
Konstantinos

https://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/841/img5479w.jpg

https://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/684/img5481ga.jpg

https://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/208/img5480z.jpg

tomc
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The moss could come off. Soil could be supplimented. What I cannot imagine is why you would have a holly indoors in May in London.
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konstantinos
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Slimy moss

Hello Tomc,

I take the Bonsai out in the morning but bring it in at night as it has been unseasonably cold this spring.

Thanks
K

https://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/710/weathermf.jpg

kdodds
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Trees are not tropical fish, they do not need a constant temperature, they need temperature variations from season to season and even from day to night for some. The only time a specific tree needs to be sheltered is when the environment goes above or below what it is naturally "zoned" for.

I can not speak to any of your questions directly without seeing the images. When I attempted to view just the first, my anti-virus/security software went bonkers. This is a fairly common occurence with Image Shack that, apparently, have not yet gone away.

konstantinos
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Location: Central London

Slimy moss

Hello kdodds

Yes you are right, I guess I have over-reacted. I was worried that a chilly wind and temperatures close to 0 (which some fact sheets say thats the temperature when the tree will need to be protected) will not do it any good, especially as I am not sure how this slimy moss is affecting its health.

Never used image shack before so thanks for the tip. I have now upload the pics to photobucket.

Thanks
K

https://s1242.photobucket.com/albums/gg526/konbonsai

[img]https://i1242.photobucket.com/albums/gg526/konbonsai/IMG_5481.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i1242.photobucket.com/albums/gg526/konbonsai/IMG_5480.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i1242.photobucket.com/albums/gg526/konbonsai/IMG_5479.jpg[/img]

kdodds
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The slimy moss is there because, it seems, the soil is too moisture retentive. I'm not sure what the recommendations are for holly in the garden, but I know what works for me both with landscape I. crenata and as a bonsai. Treat as a juniper. This means free draining soil that is allowed to dry between waterings. I can even see the difference in distinct areas of shrubbery bordering my home. The areas in front of gutter downspouts actually don't perform as well as thos away from those spots. That's for both Juniperus and Ilex. The failing Ilex were chopped to stumps a year or two back, but came back and were removed and potted for bonsai in free draining soil. Despite heavy root chopping, they dropped not a single leaf. I would repot, certainly, into a better soil. This WILL mean, since it's already growing, that you WILL have to keep it protected from freezing temps. It's not ideal, but it seems to be the right thing to do, given the sodden appearance of the soil in the images as well as your description of the slime.

TomM
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I suspect that this tree is in a pot with an attached 'drip pan' or saucer and that it holds water constantly - attributing to soggy wet soil. It never dries properly and this will lead to root rot. Bonsai should never be in this kind of pot.

konstantinos
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Joined: Wed May 16, 2012 8:56 am
Location: Central London

Slimy moss

Thanks for the advice guys,

I will read on juniper and try and repot though I am wary of doing so as its late in the season and its full of buds. But I doubt it would hurt the plant more than leaving it in that soil and slime.

By the way the drip pan is not attached but I have been filling it with a bit of water to keep the humidity when I bring the plant inside at night.

Thanks
K

TomM
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Therein lies the problem - "bringing it in at night". Junipers should not be brought in. They belong out in the cold. That's their native environment.

Bring in plants that are not native to your locale - like a fig tree from Malaysia - to protect it from the cold.

Cold is what junipers are accustomed to. Fresh air. Temp variations overnight. Drying well between watering. Not high humidity and constant warmth. Tropicals like that - but not 'cold hardy' plants.

konstantinos
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Location: Central London

Slimy moss

Hello TomM

It is not a juniper its an Ilex crenata (kdodds recommended to treat it like a juniper) and I have only had it for 5 days now. It was given to me in this state.

I have tried to follow various advice written on the web and books and most of them agree on how to look after japanese holly as in this extract:

"Although Ilex Crenatas are a hardy species they are regarded as an indoor Bonsai tree as they require protection in temperatures below 5c, your Ilex Crenata Bonsai tree will enjoy the summer months outdoors though when temperatures don't drop below 5c. Make sure the humidity tray has the water topped up at all times and as the water evaporates it will rise up through the leaves of your Bonsai tree and help to keep the local area more humid"

Should I take the above with a pinch of salt?

Thanks
C

kdodds
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Yes, you should.

Even the cultivars that like it warmest are hardy to USDA zone 7 (0ºF/-18ºC). Even if you drop a full zone because it's potted, it's still fine down to 10ºF/-12ºC. I just looked at London temps and you're in the overnight lows in the 50ºF/10ºC range, coldest. SO, there's no reason at all that, even after a repot, this bonsai can not go outside. It should go outside. They do poorly indoors.

As for your "source", research not only bonsai, where myths about species may persist unchecked, but the species itself. In some cases, the warnings about dropping a zone or two may be warranted, but in most cases, they're not. The source you've cited seems to know very little about bonsai beyond selling them to unsuspecting buyers. Just about everyone who has kept bonsai indoors for any length of time will readily tell you that the humidity tray should only have standing water in it if the pot is well above the water line.

Oh, and just an FYI, even if you dropped TWO full zones, you'd be in central Florida and temps would still get down in the 20-25ºF range. ;)

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rainbowgardener
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Re the drip pan. Sounds like you were thinking of it as a humidity tray. But the idea of humidity trays is NOT that the pot sits in it where the soil can keep soaking up water. To use a humidity tray, it would usually be a somewhat larger tray (for more surface area to give up water from) with gravel or river rock or something in it. Put the pot on the gravel, so that it is ABOVE the water and not touching it. Then put water in the bottom of the tray. That way the water is evaporated in to the air, raising the humidity of the air around your plant, but your soil can still dry out as it needs to.
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TomM
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my bad - egg on my face! :oops:
What was I thinking? Just the mention (earlier) stuck in my brain even though I clearly saw the picture of your Japanese holly. My apologies indeed.

konstantinos
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Thanks all

You 've been very helpful indeed. I need more advice though on the repotting as I 've never done it before.

The pot the plant came in, is around 5"x3", to my untrained eyes it doesn't look potbound even though it has one very woody root that was pressed against the pot.

Should I go up as size? What about depth?

And lastly, is Kiryu soil acceptable for an Ilex crenata?

Thanks
K

[img]https://i1242.photobucket.com/albums/gg526/konbonsai/IMG_5508.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i1242.photobucket.com/albums/gg526/konbonsai/IMG_5507.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i1242.photobucket.com/albums/gg526/konbonsai/IMG_5505.jpg[/img]

kdodds
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It looks like it's potted in peat... Kiryu is fine, you might mix in a little pine bark just so you don't have to water every single day (or more often). I'd personally go with a 50/50 inorganic/organic. It's difficult to say from the pic how well the roots look. Without having the soil washed away completely, it LOOKS like you might have a lot of nice fine feeders and none of them look sickly that I can see. As to whether or not it's potbound, when the roots fill the pot it's time to either pot up or prune, sometimes both if you're working on laterals.

konstantinos
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Thanks kdodds

I ll try to get my hands on some pine bark too. I ll get a bigger pot but I might avoid root pruning, don't feel that confident yet...

K

kdodds
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:) Yeah, the whole messing with the roots thing can be a bit daunting for beginners. Probably better anyway since the tree might not be showing outward signs but might not be in the best of health from sitting in the wet pot. Look for bulb pans as they'll be more shallow than conventional nursery pots if you want to keep the roots on the shallow side. But if you want the best and quickest growth, go about with about 3" around on all sides and below. This will allow for root growth without being too big and holding water in "dead" areas.

konstantinos
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Thanks kdodds

I found a pot that's more or less as you described so I ll go for that and see how the tree takes it.

I ll try and keep you updated.

Thanks
K

konstantinos
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Hello kdodds

Ok, I know its not a masterpiece (yet!) but its doing fine. The sun is finally shinning and I 've also got a couple of flowers. It needs tidying up and reshaping but I want to let it establish itself in the new pot. Which means apparently that I also can't feed it for a while...

Not keen on the soil surface but apart from covering some of it with moss not sure what else to do.

Thanks
K

[img]https://i1242.photobucket.com/albums/gg526/konbonsai/photo.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i1242.photobucket.com/albums/gg526/konbonsai/photocopy.jpg[/img]

kdodds
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Why would you not fertilize it? As long as it's healthy, and you mix and/or use the ferts correctly, there's no risk and only benefit.

konstantinos
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Hello kdodds

I read everywhere not to feed the bonsai till it has taken to its new pot thats why. But I gathered from your reaction that its ok to fertilise it so I went ahead and did it

Thanks
K

kdodds
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As long as it's taking up water, fertilizing is a good idea, IMO. Most of the "don't fertilize" and "half fertilize" advice is quite old and based more on legends and myths, apparently, than anything concrete. If it were a newly collected tree with a huge root chop, something like that, the advice might be different. But, otherwise, on a repot with no heavy root work, you really don't want to prevent the tree from filling the pot (growing) as best it can.

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