Wolfgang270
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Moss care and mold issues

Hello,

I have several indoor Bonsai (it would be difficult to keep them outside at this point) and on almost all of them there is a patch of moss covering perhaps a thrid of the surface area of the pot. On most of my bonsai pots the moss has gone brown. They all get sunlight but not direct as they are in a plant stand in front of a large glass sliding door. I also spray the moss every other day with water ( I water the Bonsai at various times but none on a set schedule).

My other problem is that I have a Ficus Tree the has a beautiful twisted trunk and some exposed surface roots (large) I recently noticed that some mold has appeared along the edges of some of the roots. I have had this tree for 6 months and it has been fine up to now (I water it about every 4 days from the top).

Any advise you all could give me would be greatly appriciated. I will attempt to post some pics tommorow.

Thanks,

Mark

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Wolfgang270,

Hello and welcome to the forum.
I have several indoor Bonsai (it would be difficult to keep them outside at this point) and on almost all of them there is a patch of moss covering perhaps a thrid of the surface area of the pot. On most of my bonsai pots the moss has gone brown. They all get sunlight but not direct as they are in a plant stand in front of a large glass sliding door. I also spray the moss every other day with water ( I water the Bonsai at various times but none on a set schedule).
I take it that you are concerned that the moss is no longer attractive. How badly do you want to keep the moss? Your home is very dry in relation to outside. This will make it difficult to keep moss in good condition. What is worse, by misting you may be keeping the surface of the soil artificially wet. It would greatly simplify matters if you could forgo the moss entirely.
My other problem is that I have a Ficus Tree the has a beautiful twisted trunk and some exposed surface roots (large) I recently noticed that some mold has appeared along the edges of some of the roots. I have had this tree for 6 months and it has been fine up to now
I suspect that you are keeping the soil too moist, and/or the texture of the soil is inappropriate and does not drain well. The pictures may help.

Norm

Wolfgang270
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Thanks for the advise here are the pictures I promised.

[img]https://farm2.static.flickr.com/1347/1049886955_81a46c9497.jpg[/img]

[img]https://farm2.static.flickr.com/1385/1049887037_157b958b7b.jpg[/img]

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Wolfgang270,

I take it that this is the Ficus. I see the fuzzy grey mold along the roots. I am wondering if the pebbles that are shown are loose or glued down? Don't laugh, this is done for shipping purposes but is best removed if that is the case.

Also, is the soil homogeneous or are those pebbles simply a top-dressing? I ask because it is probable that the soil is being kept too moist. I don't see how else that mold could form. Dig around a bit and try to find out, you may discover a wet mess underneath. How do you determine when to water it, and how do you water?

If you are trying to keep the moss alive by misting this may be part of the problem. Removing the moss may also help the surface of the soil dry more quickly. Since you are limited to growing inside, an oscillating fan might help by getting a little air movement around the trees.

Norm

Wolfgang270
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The gravel you see is loose top dressing. I removed the glued down gravel.

I determine watering by sticking a tooth pic into the soil and seeing if it comes out moist. If there is a better method I am certainly open to suggestions.

I will remove the moss and go find a nice tree to put it under.

Thanks for the advise.

Mark

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Mark,
The gravel you see is loose top dressing. I removed the glued down gravel.
Ok, that is good. I still find myself wondering about the condition of the actual soil beneath the top-dressing. Since your tree did have that horrible glued on mess I find myself increasingly suspicious of the the quality of the soil.

Generally only mass produced trees get the glue treatment. These trees are also usually potted in inferior, peat based, soils that retain too much moisture. This dovetails with the problem you are having with the mold.
I determine watering by sticking a tooth pic into the soil and seeing if it comes out moist. If there is a better method I am certainly open to suggestions.
This method is usually suggested to beginners simply because they have no other reference point. Observe your trees daily, touch the soil, move the surface soil a bit and check under the surface material. Over time you will get to know each tree and its requirements.

If you like the toothpick method a better approach is to get a more substantial probe, a skewer or chopstick perhaps, and find a permanent spot in the pot for it. Remove it to check the moisture as you have been and then replace it. This will give you a more accurate indication of the true amount of moisture in your pot.
Thanks for the advise.
You're welcome. Let us know what you discover regarding the true nature of your soil.

Norm

Wolfgang270
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Well I too am suspicious of the soil. I have a few Bonsai I purchased locally and I plan to repot them in proper soil. I am just waiting for the right time of year to do it. I understand spring is best for most Bonsai.

Thanks,

Mark

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Mark,
I understand spring is best for most Bonsai.
This is true enough for temperate, deciduous trees. We are coming realize that some evergreens are best re-potted later in the year.

Tropicals, including Ficus, are more forgiving of timing. Ficus are best re-potted during a period of active growth, right now if you are prepared.

Norm

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Thank you Norm.

I have been reading the plethora of info on potting mediums and I am wondering if you all could suggest a good on line source for soil. For instance I found these two suppliers and wonder what you all think.

https://www.dallasbonsai.com/store/potting_medium_index.html

and

https://www.bonsaiboy.com/catalog/soils.html

Your help would be greatly appriciated.

Mark

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Wolfgang270 wrote:Thank you Norm.

I have been reading the plethora of info on potting mediums and I am wondering if you all could suggest a good on line source for soil. For instance I found these two suppliers and wonder what you all think.

https://www.dallasbonsai.com/store/potting_medium_index.html

and

https://www.bonsaiboy.com/catalog/soils.html

Your help would be greatly appriciated.

Mark
The first one is excellent IMO, The second.....Well......

You may want to read the below thread to see how I feel about some of the 'online "bonsai" retailers' as well as some things to consider when shopping for all things bonsai.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4694&highlight=retailers

ynot

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Mark,

For now I think I would avoid akadama and kanuma, they are imported from Japan and the expense is not necessary for a Ficus. From Bonsai Boy I think the only real choice would be the "Professional Bonsai Soil". It is an entirely inorganic product that is comprised of only one ingredient. Their other two mixes are not described adequately and appear to be very finely textured.

Dallas Bonsai Gardens appears to offer primarily components used to mix your own soil, or used alone. The one mix that they do offer contains a wetting agent and fertilizer. I'm not thrilled with either addition.

Take a look [url=https://www.trappist.net/estore/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=BM&Category_Code=soil]here[/url] They offer not only components but several complete mixes. I mix my own so I have not used any of their mixes but their "Master Mix Lava" is much like a mix I made a few years ago that I was pleased with. I have since abandoned Turface in favor of Haydite simply because I can obtain it in bulk locally. Their "Master Mix Regular" also seems OK.

I'm sure this is all rather confusing. One of the first issues to take into consideration is do you want to mix your own or more simply purchase a ready made product. Next you need to determine if you want to go 100% inorganic or use some bark. Most growers use at least a portion of organics for Ficus, but this is by no means a necessity. I believe that Ynot grows Ficus in a 100% inorganic product. I use some bark with my Ficus and they are doing fine. An inorganic mix will require more frequent watering so take that into consideration.


Norm

Wolfgang270
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Thanks for the input all.

Norm I think I will try the readymades for now. The Master Lava mix looks like a good starting point. Most of my Bonsai are "tropical" it there any other supliment I should add to that mix to make it even more suitable? Should I add some granulated fertilizer or just use liquid?

Thanks,

Mark

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Mark,
Most of my Bonsai are "tropical" it there any other supliment I should add to that mix to make it even more suitable?
That mix seems like a good starting point. You will need to research each species you grow and determine for yourself what adjustments are necessary for your species and situation.
Should I add some granulated fertilizer or just use liquid?
If by "granulated you mean slow release, I prefer to fertilize as I go. This gives me more control over the timing and amount of fertilizer that the plant gets.

Norm

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