Brad2226
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Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2012 7:44 pm
Location: Central Texas

Bonsai 911!

I live in central Texas. My brother bought a bonsai and the guy he bought it from told him that it needed direct sunlight. So the genius put it outside, exposing it to the intense Texas heat. The needle turn yellow and started dropping. So I took it and have been keeping it in a climate control area, watering it, and misting the needles and branches regularly. Now it has begun to turn from the dirty yellow to a light yellowish green. 1. Is there anything more I can do to speed up it recovery? And 2. what ratio of fertilizer should I used? And 3. the roots at the base of the trunk are slightly exposed, should I cover them with mulch or potting soil?

TomM
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Location: Cedarville (SE of Utica) NY, USA

Welcome Brad. First things first. Glad you came here for help.

Now please acquaint yourself with this forum and with bonsai. Note that many other posts are similar to yours. Lonestar (also from central Texas) had a problem with a Chinese juniper - though not from yellowing. Still - you need to know that bonsai with needles (probably a juniper) can not be grown indoors. Even in Texas (I spent many years there) any needled tree that I can think of belongs outside. Read all about junipers. Understand that they grow in the ground as landscape material around your nearest 'golden arches' place or any other fast food joint. But not inside one. Think Christmas tree.

Yours may have been inside for a period of time due to improper retailing/handling - then went out in the blazing sun too quickly and burned. Regardless it belongs out there. We can not tell you if it will recover with or without fertilizing. Yes you can cover up any exposed roots with just a little of the soil mixture from the pot.

Please describe your "climate control area". Could you post pictures?

Brad2226
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Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2012 7:44 pm
Location: Central Texas

The area is a bay window facing east by south east, which I keep cooled via portable a/c unit at between 80-85 degrees. Herbs and other plant have done well there. Lots of direct light and at night I open it together air flow. It has begun to regain some color, but I don't want to subject it to triple digit heat and burn it again. If it recovers by winter I would consider putting it out side so that it can acclimate naturally through the seasons, but until then it seems to be recovering well.

The Ficus Guy
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Location: Gaineville, VA, USA

It needs to go outdoors, it's an outdoor tree. Just don't put it in direct sunlight. Place it in the shade for a week or two, then move to sun, slowly. It will die indoors, Junipers belong outside.

TomM
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Without pictures we still haven't established what kind of tree this is. I jumped to the juniper ID prematurely. If that is correct the triple digit temperatures alone will not kill it - but air conditioning will.

The Ficus Guy
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Well I'd say most "needled" trees should belong outdoors.

kdodds
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Location: Airmont, NY Zone 6/7

Brad2226 wrote:The area is a bay window facing east by south east, which I keep cooled via portable a/c unit at between 80-85 degrees. Herbs and other plant have done well there. Lots of direct light and at night I open it together air flow. It has begun to regain some color, but I don't want to subject it to triple digit heat and burn it again. If it recovers by winter I would consider putting it out side so that it can acclimate naturally through the seasons, but until then it seems to be recovering well.
Trees don't need to "acclimate naturally through the seasons". They're not farm animals that need to shed and grow a winter coat. I have no idea why, but this is a common and gross misconception amongst new bonsai enthusiasts. The best thing for a tree that belongs outside is to go outside straight away. As to species... it's almost a 100% guarantee that your tree is either a Juniper or False Cypress. Pines, Spruces, and Firs are not mass marketed because they grow too slow and are too difficult to produce in large quantities quickly. Podocarpus are faster growers and do well indoors but can not be mistaken for any type of needled tree, but are occasionally available as mass market trees. So... with a VERY safe bet that it's either a Juniper or False Cypress, you should know that they die slowly. Therefore, it's entirely possible that the tree was already dead/dying when it was purchased and the yellowing just took time to show.

Brad2226
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Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2012 7:44 pm
Location: Central Texas

First, the plant is a dwarf garden juniper. And they grow indoors extremely well. My father kept many of the same variety, and has managed to keep his alive for more than thirty years (indoors). In fact the only time he had problems was when he put it outside. Second, Plants Evolve in certain climate zones, regions, and elevations. Texas shares none of the indigenous characteristics for this plant. No matter what you think should be done with a plant if you put a non-indigenous plant out-doors you risk exposing that plant, not only to a climate it isn’t use to, but parasites and diseases it has not evolved to handle. Third, yes you do have to acclimate plants to different temperature, botany 101 sudden and dramatic changes in temperature, say from 80 degrees to 100+ you will send the plant into shock. Same as if you dump ice water on a plant in the summer time. This is exactly what happened, the needle began to expand to twice their normal size and twisting, a clear sign that the plant was being exposed to excess heat and humidity. This is a plant from a dry temperate region, and the humidity here hasn’t dropped below 80% in the last few months. I appreciate your unsolicited advice, but it was just such advice that nearly killed it. What I am doing is working. Like I said the foliage is regaining color, and the branches are becoming less brittle. I wasn’t asking how you all think I should care for my plant. I was asking how to speed the recovery of it. What nutrients would help, what should be done about the exposed root structure? And so far I have only gotten advice about one of these questions, which, I was already going to do anyway. Y’all have been absolutely no help, as for putting it in the shade. With ambient temperature in the triple digits, it wouldn’t matter how much shade it was under, it would cook either way. And if that’s what I wanted it would be much more efficient to just stick in the oven on bake. So unless somebody has a suggestion on the proper fertilizer ratio, or any other nutrient that might help my plant recover, then you are of no use to me and I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.

The Ficus Guy
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Joined: Thu May 31, 2012 3:30 am
Location: Gaineville, VA, USA

Brad2226 wrote:First, the plant is a dwarf garden juniper. And they grow indoors extremely well. My father kept many of the same variety, and has managed to keep his alive for more than thirty years (indoors). In fact the only time he had problems was when he put it outside. Second, Plants Evolve in certain climate zones, regions, and elevations. Texas shares none of the indigenous characteristics for this plant. No matter what you think should be done with a plant if you put a non-indigenous plant out-doors you risk exposing that plant, not only to a climate it isn’t use to, but parasites and diseases it has not evolved to handle. Third, yes you do have to acclimate plants to different temperature, botany 101 sudden and dramatic changes in temperature, say from 80 degrees to 100+ you will send the plant into shock. Same as if you dump ice water on a plant in the summer time. This is exactly what happened, the needle began to expand to twice their normal size and twisting, a clear sign that the plant was being exposed to excess heat and humidity. This is a plant from a dry temperate region, and the humidity here hasn’t dropped below 80% in the last few months. I appreciate your unsolicited advice, but it was just such advice that nearly killed it. What I am doing is working. Like I said the foliage is regaining color, and the branches are becoming less brittle. I wasn’t asking how you all think I should care for my plant. I was asking how to speed the recovery of it. What nutrients would help, what should be done about the exposed root structure? And so far I have only gotten advice about one of these questions, which, I was already going to do anyway. Y’all have been absolutely no help, as for putting it in the shade. With ambient temperature in the triple digits, it wouldn’t matter how much shade it was under, it would cook either way. And if that’s what I wanted it would be much more efficient to just stick in the oven on bake. So unless somebody has a suggestion on the proper fertilizer ratio, or any other nutrient that might help my plant recover, then you are of no use to me and I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.
All righty bud, best of luck to you. FYI, no trees grow "extremely well" indoors. There are no indoor trees, and Junipers are no exception. They NEED a cold period. Are you sure your fathers Junipers are real? Good chance that they're fake.... :wink:
Last edited by The Ficus Guy on Sun Jun 24, 2012 7:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

kdodds
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Location: Airmont, NY Zone 6/7

Great, you paid attention in HS biology, unfortunately, HS biology is SEVERELY limited in what it teaches you. The "dwarf garden juniper" is Juniperus procumbens 'nana', which has an accepted USDA zoning from 4a through 9b, which encompasses ALL of Texas, and then some. FYI, "central" Texas would be anywhere from 7a to 8b, well within keeping for this tree. So, Texas does, indeed, share "indigenous characteristics". There is NO juniper species that grows well indoors. In greenhouses, perhaps, but not in homes. If your father has 30yo indoor junipers, I'd love to see them, because he would be the ONLY person I know of who specializes in indoor juniper keeping. Perhaps you can get him to give you the details of his setup so we can share it with the (quite literally) dozens upon dozens of people here (and thousands elsewhere) killing their junipers by keeping them indoors. Search this board. Seriously.

You seem not to understand the concepts of diseases, pathogens, parasites and predators in horticulture. Lanscape species are landscape species for a reason. They're RESISTANT, even moreso than natives many times over. Take a look at Lonicera, Euonymus, and a whole host of other landscape materials that "go wild" in environments that they "have not evolved to handle". The saving grace with landscape confiers is that a) they are slow growers and b) poor reproducers. Some, in fact, can not reproduce at all unless certain conditions are met (i.e. wildfires).

Acclimation for plants revolves more around humidity and moisture levels than temperature (provided they're kept zone appropriate). Moving a plant from 80ºF to 100ºF is NOT a problem. In fact, the temperature shifts from day to night that is has evolved to handle, and indeed may require, may be GREATER THAN THAT. You will not "send the plant into shock". I've been doing this for better than 2 decades, and the only time I've seen "shock" like this is when a) tropicals are moved out into too cool nights too soon, b) humidity levels are too low, or c) the tree is light tender, grown in shade, and moved to full sun (which has nothing to do with temperature).

Dumping ice water (although I have not tried it) is not a valid analogy. Assuming a summer temperature of 90ºF, and an ice water temperatore of 35ºF, you're talking about an INSTANTANEOUS drop of 55ºF which is NOTHING like moving a plant from 75ºF to 100ºF (peak, remember, it's going to drop at night), you just have to manage watering and moisture, and possible keep it shaded.

Just so you know, junipers take VERY high humidity levels very well. They just don't like to have their feet wet. In fact, they can be grown very well in greenhouses with humidity levels well over 70%. What they do not like is the super low ambient humidity in homes, which is almost always less than 30%, and more often than not under 25%, somewhere around 20%. Now, you want a real shocker? That's drier than the Sahara, where MOST trees can not grow.

I think you may need to do more research on junipers. Juniperus procumbens 'nana' is from southern Japan, which is NOT dry and is, in fact, mild temperate. Kind of well, kind of like the less dry areas of, well, Texas.

By the very fact that you posted here LOOKING FOR ADVICE, ahem, soliciting advice, clearly defines that any advice given is NOT unsolicited. If you don't like the collective knowledge of, quite literally thousand and thousands of bonsai growers from all levels of experience, by all means, thumb your nose at "authority" petulantly. BUT, don't ask "how to speed the recovery" and expect ANYONE who knows ANYTHING valid about these trees and this species to blindly agree with what you're doing when what you're doing has blindly killed thousands upon thousands of trees in the past.

Nutrients will not help if the tree isn't absorbing them. Junipers kept indoors (particularly in air conditioned rooms) will not be able to take up enough nutrients to fuel the most rapid growth. So, over fertilizing might lead to root burn, especially if you're battling indoor dryness by overwatering, thereby causing root rot. It's a descending spiral into failure, really. But, by all means, try out the snake oils, they can't hurt when the conditions are all but certainly going to induce death.

For your "exposed roots", without seeing them, it's pretty much a given that any advice would be blind, which is something I think this thread needs to avoid right now. Strict facts are going to help, here, if anything will.

And to this last:
Brad2226 wrote: Y’all have been absolutely no help, as for putting it in the shade. With ambient temperature in the triple digits, it wouldn’t matter how much shade it was under, it would cook either way. And if that’s what I wanted it would be much more efficient to just stick in the oven on bake. So unless somebody has a suggestion on the proper fertilizer ratio, or any other nutrient that might help my plant recover, then you are of no use to me and I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.
Well, really, isn't that what you were going to do anyway? If it's so glaringly obvious that we're ALL off our rockers here, how is it, do you think, that we've helped SO many people?

Oh, and word of advice, you probably do NOT want to go on to specialized bonsai sites with this thread, especially not with the sophomoric attitude and redwood sized chip on your shoulder. Oh, you'll get the same advice, but it's entirely probable that your thread will be locked and your account will be banned.

Good luck "doing it your way".

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