lukeg91
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new to bonsai any tips

hi i have just purchased a small bonsai tree and i thought it would be easy to look after. after searching the internet for some advice on care i discovered it was a bit more technical than i first thought.

so i was just wandering if anybody could offer a couple of basic tips to look after it and to hopfully prevent me from killing it.

also if the picture works what tree it is?

thanks in advance

[img]https://i929.photobucket.com/albums/ad140/sax18/54c986a1.jpg[/img]

kdodds
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Can't say for sure from the pic, but it looks like it's probably a Chinese Elm, standard "mallsai" issue in standard "mallsai" soil. It's still a good time for potting in most of the northern hemiisphere, so I'd go ahead and pot it UP into a larger, non-bonsai container. It's pretty obvious that it was recently uprooted and potted and, in oredr to get it potted more quickly for sale, was not root trained. The vertical roots will need to be trained horizontal, probably starting next year, but you can already score the larger ones on repot this year and see if you can get anything out of them. DO NOT do any root pruning this year. This tree has seen enough stress. Make sure the pot you use will encompass the entire root ball, including what is already above ground, plus about 2-3" all around. Use bonsai soil, low to no compost, 50% organic (compost, pine bark, etc.) or less. Get the automatic waterer out of there. Water thoroughly, then let the soil go mostly dry before watering again. If you're worried about fertilizing, use slow release pellets. And you probably will be worried about fertilizing because you'll probably be watering with a hose, because, above all else, if I am correct and it is an Elm, it needs too be outside. There are many, many species that can be kept indoors successfully, so I'm not your typical "no trees inside" type of hardline bonsai guy. I have an extensive indoor collection, none of which are Chinese Elms of any sort. Elms, indoors, under ideal, but less than greenhouse, conditions will, almost without exclusion, die.

lukeg91
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Location: wiltshire

thanks for the advice i will have to go back to the gardn centre today and get a much larger pot and some bonsai compost. should i get a nursury type or standard? also can i put two bonsai trees into one big pot?

thanks for your help

kdodds
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Not bonsai compost, bonsai soil. Compost is 100% rotted organic soil, something you DON'T want to put your trees straight into. If you ask for compost, they'll give you 100% organic soil. If they do not have bonsai soil, you can make your own. I know, getting even more complicated, right? Anyway, you can use calcined clay and/or VERY SMALL lava chips as your base. To this you can mix in organics, but no more than 50%. The organics can be compost or pine bark, both pretty readily available. The clay or lava you might have a hard time finding. If this is the case, you can go with bagged "planted aquarium gravel", like Fluorite or EcoComplete, but not plain old aquarium gravel. This should be available at even non-specialty pet shops.

Potting two tree into the same pot is a very bad idea. Their roots will intertwine to the point where you will never be able to separate them. If you're jonesing for another tree, one you can keep inside, pick yourself up a Ficus. The leaves are thicker and waxy and bleed a white sap when pinched. If you want something for inside, stay away from the other big "mallsai" species, Junipers, Fukien Tea, Pepper Trees, Serissa, and Sweet Plum. Overall, the best indoor tree-like tree (i.e. not Baby Jade), is one of the hardier Ficus species, like F. retusa or F. benjamina. Almost any Ficus mallsai cultivar will be F. retusa.

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rainbowgardener
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different english... luke is in UK where they call all potting mixes compost.

but yes you want a bonsai mix that is mostly inorganic, not peat moss based.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

kdodds
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Huh... you learn something new every day. Me da's straight off the boat from Belfast in the 50's and I've never heard him call soil anything but soil... compost was always, well, compost, fertilizer or peat. Language evolution maybe?

Hey, does this mean we Americans finally have something to chide you Brits about over imprecise/improper use of the language? :D

lukeg91
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Location: wiltshire

Excellent thanks guys I will have to go and confuse my garden centre. The aqautic plant soil sounds a good idea, being a keen aquarist I use the seachem fluorite in all my tanks. Hopefully with your help my tree won't end up like both of my mates bonsai trees (in the bin).

I'm a bit worried about damaging roots, I have been researching allot on the net but still don't feel very confident

Cheers

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Gnome
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lukeg91,

Here is a good place to begin learning about proper bonsai soils, actually a misnomer as soil is generally not included.
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3422

Definitely a typical mallsai type Chinese Elm. Does this look familiar?
https://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basicsdevelopingmallsai.htm

Norm

kdodds
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You don't need confidence to pot up. Rinse the current soil from the current root ball with a garden hose or in a slop sink, getting most of the old soil out. Comb out the roots as best you can, but don't go crazy. You don't need to root prune at all, so no worries there. Here in the US, there's actually a web retailer who sells a house brand of aquatic plant mix that would be excellent. Unfortunately, even if they did ship to the UK, the bargain price would be much less so after postage.

lukeg91
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Location: wiltshire

thanks again for all the help

i have potted the tree in a much larger pot with bonsai soil. i was trying to find what it had in it put there was a compost and a soil so i think i have the right one.

and i am pretty sure its chinese elm



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