curlyq
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Joined: Tue May 22, 2007 9:03 pm
Location: Washington, DC

My Bonsai is dying -- help!

Hi. My boyfriend bought me a little bonsai elm for valentine's day (02/07). I keep it in my office near the window and put a plant light about 5 feet above it. The plant light is on a timer.. for about 11 hours a day. She was doing great for the past few months...when all the suddent he leaves turned brown and started to fall. The moss at the root area has turned yellow. I found the tree like this after taking a quick business trip, I think the maids turned off the plant light, I have since taped a note to the plant light saying not to turn it off and fertilized the plant with miracle gro but I don't know what's wrong with it or how to bring her back. I watered her everyday or everyother day depending on her soil, but had recently stopped spritzing her because the spritzer bottle I had wasn't gentle enough. Someone help please. [/list]

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Gnome
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Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

Curlyq,

Hello, welcome to The Helpful Gardener. We'll do what we can to help you.
I keep it in my office near the window and put a plant light about 5 feet above it.
No tree is going to perform its best in this environment and an Elm is no exception. The humidity is too low especially if air conditioning is going. The light is too dim even near a window. What do you call a plant light? If it is incandescent it produces way too much heat and too little light. If it is a fluorescent then it should be only six inches or so from the top of the tree. In short, get it out of your office, take it home and put it outside in a sheltered location. Even a balcony is preferable to an office environment.
I found the tree like this after taking a quick business trip, I think the maids turned off the plant light, I have since taped a note to the plant light saying not to turn it off
I doubt that a few days without the benefits of the light caused your tree harm. More than likely you are not watering it correctly.
I watered her everyday or every other day depending on her soil,
Glad to hear that you are aware that it may not need watered on any given day but I suspect that it may be staying too wet. Can you describe the soil, is it primarily organic (peat) or inorganic (little rocks)? Please read the sticky threads at the top of the forum, follow the links as well. In the meantime withhold water unless you are sure it needs it. The soil should approach dryness underneath, not just the surface.
and fertilized the plant with miracle gro
While fertilizer is important to bonsai it is not medicine and will not make up for poor practices. Have you fertilized it in the past? If so with what, how much and how frequently?

Can you tell us exactly what species it is? Zelkova, sometimes known as Japanese Gray Bark Elm or Chinese Elm. It does not make a huge difference at the moment but always provide as much information as you can. Some pictures would be helpful as well.

Norm

gardenerjoe
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Joined: Sun May 27, 2007 5:30 pm

it needs sunlight. watering it and putting fertilizer won't really do much good since it lacked sunlight in the first place. watering it too much would only encourage bacterial growth, especially on the roots. and fertilizer without sunlight might fry the roots.

I agree with gnome, place it outside. you won't be sorry.

curlyq
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Joined: Tue May 22, 2007 9:03 pm
Location: Washington, DC

Thank you!

THANK YOU! THANK YOU!!!

It took less than a week outside and the leaves are sprouting again. She's starting to look healthy. It loves the outside... you've saved her. I appreciate it!

Thanks again!
:D

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Gnome
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Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

curlyq,
THANK YOU! THANK YOU!!!

It took less than a week outside and the leaves are sprouting again. She's starting to look healthy. It loves the outside... you've saved her. I appreciate it!

Thanks again!
You're quite welcome, glad to help. Keep us informed.

Norm

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