Magpied
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Dried-out camellia bonsai emergency care?

Hi all, I've had an indoor camellia sasanqua bonsai for almost two years now. It was really thriving until very recently, when I went on vacation for five days and neglected to water just before I left, or to set up my usual vacation watering system. Compounding the disaster, it suddenly got hot and sunny in the window where the camellia lives. (Usually it does fine in the brighter light, but I do water more frequently--once every 1-3 days, depending on how dry the soil looks--when it's bright and hot.) When I came back the leaves were mostly still green, but terribly shriveled. (All were at least a little brittle to the touch, though some worse than others.)

For the past week I've just been putting the camellia back on its usual watering schedule (a slow and thorough drench once every few days, but with no standing water and using the same quick-draining potting mix). And moved it away from the bright window.

I haven't done the bark-scrape test but I'm willing to bet the cambium is green all over the tree. There's also still some leaf buds left over from before the vacation drought, though some of the tips look a bit fried. I haven't seen any progress, however... I know drought recovery may just take a long time, but is there anything else I can or should be doing to help my poor little bonsai through this crisis? I'm having horrible flashbacks to the last time I let a camellia bonsai dry out, and that one never made it back to life... Any help from more experienced bonsai gardeners, esp. re: camellia specifically, would be enormously appreciated!

(I understand that camellia are not always happy indoors bonsai, but it was a gift and I live in a high-rise apartment with no ledge/balcony, so my options are limited. It was doing extremely well up until this drying event, and I really hope to be able to preserve it.)

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GardeningCook
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Re: Dried-out camellia bonsai emergency care?

Like you already know, if it's going to recover, it may take quite a bit of time. I wouldn't do anything other than what you're already doing. You don't want to stress it even more than it's been stressed.
My body is a temple. Unfortunately, it's a fixer-upper.

Demosouthpaw
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Re: Dried-out camellia bonsai emergency care?

Magpied wrote:Hi all, I've had an indoor camellia sasanqua bonsai for almost two years now. It was really thriving until very recently, when I went on vacation for five days and neglected to water just before I left, or to set up my usual vacation watering system. Compounding the disaster, it suddenly got hot and sunny in the window where the camellia lives. (Usually it does fine in the brighter light, but I do water more frequently--once every 1-3 days, depending on how dry the soil looks--when it's bright and hot.) When I came back the leaves were mostly still green, but terribly shriveled. (All were at least a little brittle to the touch, though some worse than others.)

For the past week I've just been putting the camellia back on its usual watering schedule (a slow and thorough drench once every few days, but with no standing water and using the same quick-draining potting mix). And moved it away from the bright window.

I haven't done the bark-scrape test but I'm willing to bet the cambium is green all over the tree. There's also still some leaf buds left over from before the vacation drought, though some of the tips look a bit fried. I haven't seen any progress, however... I know drought recovery may just take a long time, but is there anything else I can or should be doing to help my poor little bonsai through this crisis? I'm having horrible flashbacks to the last time I let a camellia bonsai dry out, and that one never made it back to life... Any help from more experienced bonsai gardeners, esp. re: camellia specifically, would be enormously appreciated!

(I understand that camellia are not always happy indoors bonsai, but it was a gift and I live in a high-rise apartment with no ledge/balcony, so my options are limited. It was doing extremely well up until this drying event, and I really hope to be able to preserve it.)

Good evening OP,

I wouldn't be so hard on yourself, remember trees have evolved over millions of years to make the best of their environment. They are resilient and have endured the test of time. While it is evident that the Camillia did not appreciate the lack of water emerging buds is a sign of great vigor and life. You mentioned quick draining mix, I would recommend using a submersion technique for watering. That way you can ensure the entire area of your mix is thoroughly watered. You can accomplish this by using a cleaning wide mouth bucket, I like to use a weak fertilizer solution every time I submerge my trees. I use miracle grow tomato fertilizer and mix in some micros as well. the concentration is about 1/2 the recommended dosage. If you have multiple trees you can use multiple buckets. I use about 7 buckets and begin down the line submerging one pot and then moving on to the next pot, once I have reached the end I begin to remove the pots and allow them to drain before putting them back on their benches. Hope this helps.




-Jonathan

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GardeningCook
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Re: Dried-out camellia bonsai emergency care?

Isn't Miracle Gro sort of high in urea - especially for container plants?
My body is a temple. Unfortunately, it's a fixer-upper.

Demosouthpaw
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Re: Dried-out camellia bonsai emergency care?

GardeningCook wrote:Isn't Miracle Gro sort of high in urea - especially for container plants?
Correct! The tomato fert I use is an 18-18-21, 14% of the nitrogen being derived from urea. HOWEVER, OP stated he is using quick draining soil, therefore the fert wont stay around long enough to build up and cause any problems. I use this fert along with 2 tbps of micros and do submersion technique twice a month for my bonsai never had any adverse effects. The problem really begins in pots or containers that have poor drainage, and then a build up of salts occurs and well you know the rest lol. Great question btw!



-Jonathan

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