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Newbie: need starter tips for Holly

Posted: Thu May 10, 2007 10:41 am
by takio
Hi

Got a bonsai from a friend, birthday present. I love it and really don't want to let it die. It seems ok but is starting to show signs that it's lacking proper care. I'm still a bit afraid of going too far with pruning and watering. So i ask for your help with this.

I like the general look of the tree, bot the foliage seems to be getting a bit out of hand: lots of shiny healthy leaves on top, many withering brown ones at the bottom branches, a few dry twigs. Leaves fall easily if you gently stroke them, even the new ones.

I need to identify this tree in English in order to seek specific tips and info: it is supposed to be 8 years old and is, in Portuguese, Azevinho (would literally translate to Mistletoe). But isn't mistletoe a parasitic plant? How is the tree itself Mistletoe? I'm just plain ignorant, sorry.

So basically i need to know if this is an indoor/outdoor plant, how should i manage its exposure to daylight, outdoors and rain (if any), how frequently and abundantly should i water it (submerge once a week? for how long?), and what would be the best initial approach for keeping a healthy foliage - not yet thinking about "engineering" its growth.

Here are some photos of the tree, the roots and the pot it came in, to assess the chances of this being a decent well-groomed bonsai with a long life ahead or just a disposable one... also to see if the soil looks good / adequate.

thank you

[url=https://img242.imageshack.us/my.php?image=bns01fd6.jpg][img]https://img242.imageshack.us/img242/9173/bns01fd6.th.jpg[/img][/url]

[url=https://img514.imageshack.us/my.php?image=bns02xl1.jpg][img]https://img514.imageshack.us/img514/3986/bns02xl1.th.jpg[/img][/url]

[url=https://img527.imageshack.us/my.php?image=bns03ud3.jpg][img]https://img527.imageshack.us/img527/8205/bns03ud3.th.jpg[/img][/url]

Re: Newbie: need starter tips, plant ID...

Posted: Thu May 10, 2007 3:22 pm
by ynot
Hi takio,

Welcome to the forum [& belated happy birthday]
Got a bonsai from a friend, birthday present. I love it and really don't want to let it die. It seems ok but is starting to show signs that it's lacking proper care. I'm still a bit afraid of going too far with pruning and watering. So I ask for your help with this.
How long have you had it?
This tree needs water. [Look at the soil :shock:] How long has it been without A watering. .
I like the general look of the tree, bot the foliage seems to be getting a bit out of hand: lots of shiny healthy leaves on top, many withering brown ones at the bottom branches, a few dry twigs. Leaves fall easily if you gently stroke them, even the new ones.
The soil looks bone dry, Is that accurate?
I need to identify this tree in English in order to seek specific tips and info: it is supposed to be 8 years old and is, in Portuguese, Azevinho (would literally translate to Mistletoe). But isn't mistletoe a parasitic plant? How is the tree itself Mistletoe? I'm just plain ignorant, sorry.
I don't know about the parasitic nature of it...But 'Mistletoe' [Which is not a technical term..:lol:] is a sprig [or tiny branch] of Holly [Also consider 'Deck the halls with boughs of Holly']

You have had the answer all along:

[url=https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=pt&u=https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azevinho&sa=X&oi=translate&resnum=2&ct=result&prev=/search%3Fq%3DAzevinho%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26hs%3DNvo]'Azevinho'[/url]= Ilex aquifolium, ['Ilex' is the Latin name for the Holly Genus of plants] Ilex aquifolium =[url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Holly]European Holly[/url]...And surprise! Sprigs of female European Holly [W/ the berries] are often used as Mistletoe.
So basically I need to know if this is an indoor/outdoor plant, how should I manage its exposure to daylight, outdoors and rain (if any),
It is an evergreen from the mild temperate areas of western & southern Europe.
https://www.bonsai4me.com/SpeciesGuide/Ilex.html

This tree lives outside but I cannot speculate on how much winter [Or possibly sun] protection you may need to provide it as I have no idea whatsoever of your location in the world... Portugal, Brazil, Fiji, Dayton...etc.
how frequently and abundantly should I water it (submerge once a week? for how long?),
NO experienced bonsai enthusiast suggests submersion as a regular watering practice.

Read these: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1479
https://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basics_Watering.html
and what would be the best initial approach for keeping a healthy foliage - not yet thinking about "engineering" its growth.
Light air and water, You have really asked us to write a bonsai horticultural guidebook in this last paragraph, Getting a couple of books & some continued research will help you to be more confident.

Confidence comes with killing trees BTW, Not from it actually but from making the mistakes that cause those deaths.

John Naka said famously: "Dead trees are the tuition you pay for doing bonsai"
Here are some photos of the tree, the roots and the pot it came in, to assess the chances of this being a decent well-groomed bonsai with a long life ahead or just a disposable one... also to see if the soil looks good / adequate.
Read these carefully as well, You may find that your tree is in inappropriate soil:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3422
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3423

Start at the top of this page and read all the links: https://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics.html
Focus mainly for the moment on The beginners articles and the ones on Soil, And watering as these are most relevant for the moment.

You have some research ahead of you 8)

ynot

Posted: Thu May 10, 2007 3:34 pm
by Gnome
Ynot,

You got to this one before me, thanks and good job as usual.
You have had the answer all along:

'Azevinho'= Ilex aquifolium, ['Ilex' is the Latin name for the Holly Genus of plants] Ilex aquifolium = European Holly...And surprise! Sprigs of female European Holly [W/ the berries] are often used as Mistletoe.
Not to mention that it says Ilex right on the pot :o :shock:

Norm

Posted: Thu May 10, 2007 3:52 pm
by ynot
Gnome wrote:Ynot,

You got to this one before me, thanks and good job as usual.
:D, Thanks
Gnome wrote:Not to mention that it says Ilex right on the pot :o :shock:

Norm

[img]https://www.mysmilie.de/english/green/smilies/cheeky/img/026.gif[/img] ...I was SO not going to say that. :lol::D

ynot

Takio, Don't think I am laughing at your not knowing that, I am not.

It is just that you had the info right there just waiting to be googled [or searched in some way.] So close, YET so far away....Know what I mean? 8).

first care

Posted: Thu May 10, 2007 4:18 pm
by takio
thank you guys. I'm amazed. thanks, really.

ok, nothing like experienced input. I do indeed have a lot of research ahead. I was hoping to avoid a lot of mistakes and save the plant but i guess failure is really a part of the process.

To begin with, i live in Oporto, in Portugal. No snow here, ever, but very cold windy winter and scorching in the summer (average temperature interval in summer is 25-35 degrees celcius, 10-20 in winter). I live quite close to the sea, for what it's worth. I live in an apartment which may make it difficult to keep the plant outside. Plus, i have a cat that loves to eat green... yeah, i know, but I'm not ditching the cat (9 yrs old, long time partner in crime), so we'll see how it goes. Trying to keep her off the bonsai with specific weeds, think it's working so far...

i didn't think the "Ilex" reference would be helpful because it would only yield results in english, and i would't be able to track down the reference to "azevinho". Also i thought mistletoe was a "bush", not a tree... ok, that's how far-off i am, better just admit it up-front.

I've been digging around the forum, checking out bonsai4me, etc, and have learned much already - especially not to jump to action before i actually "know" (or have a faint idea of, more the case :P ) what I'm doing.

The soil was indeed dry but i didn't water it intensely because i was afraid i'd do irreversible damage. Had no idea what to do. I'm establishing a morning-check routine and will try to act according to indications for this kind of soil, using a toothpick, 2-3 stage watering, etc. Maybe it "needs" submersion but it might be like eating a buffalo after fasting... going for a gradual approach. Repotting and/or new soil wil wait till I'm more sure what is necessary. The soil is very dense and the roots seem to be quite long and tangled - is this a bad thing? Should i remove the soil to check the roots?

The tree appears to have had a period of neglect prior to sale: the top branches are not as "designed" as the lower section, growth is more chaotic. My neglect has aggravated this, i suppose. I've had the plant for a week now, and have only watered it a few times, never really soaking the soil. Have pruned it just a bit, removed a couple of dry twigs and dead leaves, nothing more. Think it's safe to remove more twigs, or even recommended? or, by the look of it, should i leave it alone for now and just focus on keeping it alive? :D I'm thinking of keeping it outside for the day and indoors for the night, to avoid a wide temperature range and give it some fresh air - think i should give it direct sunlight, outdoors? gets quite harsh around here, if it's really sunny.

So much to ask... you've been quite helpful already. Oh, and no offense taken on the "label in your face" issue :D I just wish i could assign more time to this, i have other googling needs.

I also have no idea where the plant came from, how it was grown and cared for, so... ground zero here.
I'm totally against giving pets as presents, except when you know people really want them, so i REALLY don't want to just neglet this little fellow. It would be a crime, if it really is 8 yrs old... besides, bonsai is so totally cool hehe

thanx people

tk

Posted: Thu May 10, 2007 7:02 pm
by Gnome
takio,
thank you guys. I'm amazed. thanks, really.
You're welcome, that's what we're here for. Also please don't take my little poke at you as anything more than good natured.

I do indeed have a lot of research ahead.
It never stops, when you have, or think you have, the basics down something new pops up to confound you. Not to mention advanced techniques and all the different species with different requirements.
I've been digging around the forum, checking out bonsai4me, etc, and have learned much already
Excellent, here is another good source of information, [url]https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/articles.htm[/url] Don't feel the need to digest all of this right now. some of it may never apply to you but much of it will.
The soil was indeed dry but I didn't water it intensely because I was afraid I'd do irreversible damage.
Sorry, wrong approach. If your tree needs watered then always water it thoroughly, a little water often is the wrong approach.
Maybe it "needs" submersion but it might be like eating a buffalo after fasting... going for a gradual approach.
Again, if it needs watered it needs to be watered, no point in rationing. As for submersion, if practiced with discretion it has its place but should not be necessary on a regular basis. A tree that has been allowed to dry out and been stressed due to lack of water may benefit from a one time shot. I don't think your tree is in this condition though. Is it?
Repotting and/or new soil wil wait till I'm more sure what is necessary.
I agree, an out of season re-potting is very stressful and should be done only under an emergency situation.
The soil is very dense and the roots seem to be quite long and tangled - is this a bad thing? Should I remove the soil to check the roots?
No, this is essentially the same as re-potting (even if you re-use the same pot) and should wait until you have gained some knowledge, obtained the correct soil components (or purchased a ready made mix) and it is the correct season.
The tree appears to have had a period of neglect prior to sale: the top branches are not as "designed" as the lower section, growth is more chaotic.
No tree looks it's best at all times. There is an ebb and flow to bonsai, the tree needs to put on some growth in order to remain healthy.

My neglect has aggravated this, I suppose. I've had the plant for a week now,
Not at all, a week is insignificant in this regard, this tree could/should live for a very long time.
never really soaking the soil.
See my remarks above, always water thoroughly.
Have pruned it just a bit, removed a couple of dry twigs and dead leaves, nothing more. Think it's safe to remove more twigs, or even recommended?
No harm in tidying up a bit but please don't get carried away until you get a little more research under your belt.
should I leave it alone for now and just focus on keeping it alive?
Yes, slow and steady wins the race.
I'm thinking of keeping it outside for the day and indoors for the night, to avoid a wide temperature range and give it some fresh air - think I should give it direct sunlight, outdoors? gets quite harsh around here, if it's really sunny.
I really think outdoors is best, everything I have is outside. Even the tropicals that I keep indoors over the winter are out now and will remain so, barring a late frost, until fall. Since I don't grow this species I cannot give specific advice for how to situate it, do your research and go easy at first, ease into it.

Oh, and no offense taken on the "label in your face" issue
Glad to hear that.
I just wish I could assign more time to this, I have other googling needs.
Yes we all have other things going on, but if you wish to succeed at this it will ultimately be your responsibility.

Norm

Re: first care

Posted: Thu May 10, 2007 7:28 pm
by ynot
TK,
takio wrote:thank you guys. I'm amazed. thanks, really.
Your welcome 8)
takio wrote:ok, nothing like experienced input. I do indeed have a lot of research ahead. I was hoping to avoid a lot of mistakes and save the plant but I guess failure is really a part of the process.
I completely respect the 'wanting to avoid mistakes' approach, But get used to making them, It comes with the territory. :P ;) :lol:.
IMO, People who have never made a mistake with bonsai....Have never done anything with bonsai.

There is a learning curve like anything else and sometimes the mistakes=fatalities.

Know that going in you will live with the little mistakes for years...The BIG mistakes usually die on you fairly quickly....:lol:. There is usually a lesson to gained from each though.
takio wrote:To begin with, I live in Oporto, in Portugal. No snow here, ever, but very cold windy winter and scorching in the summer (average temperature interval in summer is 25-35 degrees celcius, 10-20 in winter). I live quite close to the sea, for what it's worth. I live in an apartment which may make it difficult to keep the plant outside. Plus, I have a cat that loves to eat green... yeah, I know, but I'm not ditching the cat (9 yrs old, long time partner in crime), so we'll see how it goes. Trying to keep her off the bonsai with specific weeds, think it's working so far...
Oporto, Thanks.:D
The winter temps will be fine for this tree [Wind IS an issue though {More so than temps in many cases} The bonsai4me site has a great article on over-wintering trees.] You do have a scorching HOT summer though & due to that I might suggest morning sun only if possible. [Dappled shade afterwards]

Do you have a balcony, or window ledge that would suffice at all? Check B4M for an article on 'Dormancy' to see why this is an issue-And it IS an issue.

I am Anti-Cat...So I won't go there. [img]https://www.mysmilie.de/english/green/smilies/angels/img/017.gif[/img]
takio wrote:I didn't think the "Ilex" reference would be helpful because it would only yield results in english, and I would't be able to track down the reference to "azevinho". Also I thought mistletoe was a "bush", not a tree... ok, that's how far-off I am, better just admit it up-front.
No big deal at all tk, There are lots of ways to search for stuff is all- No problem.
Check the 'species guide' on B4M and you will find that many bonsai are technically shrubs [Just about anything that has a woody stem could potentially be bonsai...]
takio wrote:I've been digging around the forum, checking out bonsai4me, etc, and have learned much already - especially not to jump to action before I actually "know" (or have a faint idea of, more the case :P ) what I'm doing.
This is excellent to hear.
While nothing beats experience, It is important to have a knowledge base [research] to use as a platform to jump off of....So to speak...lol
takio wrote:The soil was indeed dry but I didn't water it intensely because I was afraid I'd do irreversible damage. Had no idea what to do. I'm establishing a morning-check routine and will try to act according to indications for this kind of soil, using a toothpick, 2-3 stage watering, etc. Maybe it "needs" submersion but it might be like eating a buffalo after fasting... going for a gradual approach.
I understand your logic here but what we are trying to do [via the submersion] is get the needle back to the center [Is it ... In the dehydrated zone?]. The goal each and every time you water is a complete saturation of the soil. Little sips are ineffective.

If it is bone dry [The soil] giving it a 10 minute soak will insure that all of the soil [& roots within] that have been parched recently do indeed get a drink.
Then you go back to thorough top watering as it needs it [Maintenance - Not on a schedule, But as required.]
takio wrote:
Repotting and/or new soil wil wait till I'm more sure what is necessary.
The soil is very dense and the roots seem to be quite long and tangled - is this a bad thing? Should I remove the soil to check the roots?
Good call, Knowledge is power. {I just posted this next sentence in another thread but it applies here also..} IMO the time you take to research this is worth the long term gain as opposed to rushing into making changes that only marginally benefit your tree. The dense soil is NOT good as you will discover in your research, The roots have not colonized all the soil in the pot so I would not say that it is rootbound-Just in terrible soil. No, I would leave it until you change the soil but you may have to ride it out as it is pretty late [seasonally] for a repot.
takio wrote:The tree appears to have had a period of neglect prior to sale: the top branches are not as "designed" as the lower section, growth is more chaotic.
This is possible, But as you come to understand more about how bonsai are 'designed' you will see that this very concept is in fact a very very large part of the process [I cannot speak as to if that is what's happening in this case.]

Check out the trees [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3343]here.[/url] [There are tons of them, But if you find the links that are about 'Before & Afters' or 'Case Histories' {page three} you will see what I mean quickly.]

Take note that they were photographed at moments when they looked as ideal as possible.
They do not live their lives this way, Nor were they developed this way.


They were grown out and cut back- Repeatedly. You may not know what I mean now, As your understanding of bonsai grows you will see what I mean.
To paraphrase a saying: "Little bonsai do not grow up to be big bonsai, Big trees & shrubs are cut back and grown out to be little bonsai."
My neglect has aggravated this, I suppose. I've had the plant for a week now,
A week is a blink of an eye in bonsai:!: That's not nearly enough time for you to take the blame for it's current state :P ;)
and have only watered it a few times, never really soaking the soil.
Well, No more of that then right? :P
Have pruned it just a bit, removed a couple of dry twigs and dead leaves, nothing more. Think it's safe to remove more twigs, or even recommended? or, by the look of it, should I leave it alone for now and just focus on keeping it alive?
Removing the dead won't hurt it, But I would just let it recover and when it is healthy you can better determine what stays and what goes.
:D I'm thinking of keeping it outside for the day and indoors for the night, to avoid a wide temperature range and give it some fresh air - think I should give it direct sunlight, outdoors? gets quite harsh around here, if it's really sunny.
What is the range of temps? I don't have this species but I would be cautious with your killer sunlight.

Remember Bonsai are trees & trees live outside, There is no need to baby them.
[Due to container culture some require a bit of winter protection.. But they are still trees.]
takio wrote:So much to ask... you've been quite helpful already. Oh, and no offense taken on the "label in your face" issue :D I just wish I could assign more time to this, I have other googling needs.
Glad to be useful :D, I really did intend for some more emoticons to be in my initial reply...{I get in a hurry...:oops:} I am glad you took it in the spirit it was meant 8). I know what you mean about google priorities :lol:.

Bonsai really don't take all that much time for the most part, Especially if you don't have many. Check them daily and off you go 8).
takio wrote:I also have no idea where the plant came from, how it was grown and cared for, so... ground zero here.
I'm totally against giving pets as presents, except when you know people really want them, so I REALLY don't want to just neglet this little fellow. It would be a crime, if it really is 8 yrs old... besides, bonsai is so totally cool hehe
I TOTALLY agree about pets as gifts. We will try to get you on solid bonsai ground, No worries.

Hope this helps some,

ynot

EDIT: I see Gnome linked you to Evergreen Gardenworks - Another excellent resource.

tips

Posted: Thu May 10, 2007 9:22 pm
by takio
I just wish I could assign more time to this, I have other googling needs.
Yes we all have other things going on, but if you wish to succeed at this it will ultimately be your responsibility.

Norm
Of course. I understand that. Will try my best... i'll stop nagging for now but i'll come back with updates :)

thank you all

tk