Juliew
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Location: East Central Florida - Brevard County - Zone 9b

Help with Fukien Tea, please!

I picked up a Fukien Tea bonsai at a garden show a couple of weeks ago. The day after I got it, I saw ants on it and thought I saw aphids. I immediately sprayed it with neem oil and watched it closely. After 2-3 days, ants were gone and I didn't see any aphids. Then a couple of days after that, I saw black mold on it, so I sprayed it with fungicide and removed all the affected leaves I could see. Now, it is losing its leaves by the ton - at least 50 or more a day.

I don't know if the leaf loss is due to my spraying for aphids and black mold, or if it's just that time of year that a Tea would normally lose leaves.

I have it on my back porch where it receives bright light all day, and some diffused direct light in the late afternoon. I keep a skewer in it to measure moisture, and water when needed. Our temperatures have been in the low to mid 80s.

I can't post a picture of it now, but will later.

Any ideas why this is happening? Any comments and/or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
Brevard County, East Central Florida Zone 9b

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Help with Fukien Tea, please!

Your Fukien tea is a tropical evergreen. It would never normally drop leaves like that. It would lose leaves a few at a time through the year as they are replaced. It is clearly having a lot of problems and also has been sprayed a lot in its short time with you.

When you post some pictures, that should help to say more about what the problems are.
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imafan26
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Re: Help with Fukien Tea, please!

The mold was probably black mold and it was caused by the ants feeding and did not need to be treated. It would have washed off when it no longer had aphids dripping sap. Neem will take care of the aphids but it takes a while. I don't know what kind of fungicide you used, but if it was sulfur based, oil and sulfur do not mix and would cause the leaves to burn and fall off especially if the plant was in the sun. So, my guess was that the timing of the sprays probably caused the leaves to fall off. There should be two weeks between spraying an oil and a sulfur based product. Neem is also a weak fungicide, good for prevention and not for cure. Try shooting the remaining foliage with a strong jet of water, it will also dislodge the feeding aphids. Put out ant bait to control the ants (terro works on sweet ants). More leaves are likely to drop when you do this, but they were going to fall off anyway. Do not leave the plant in direct sun for a few days. Hope for the best.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Juliew
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Location: East Central Florida - Brevard County - Zone 9b

Re: Help with Fukien Tea, please!

Thank you Rainbowgardener and imafan26. It does seem to have a lot of black mold on it.
I'm attaching 3 photos. One from the day I brought it home, and two from today.
So sorry for the upside down pics - I think you can tell from them that it's not in good shape.
(The one that says 'Today' is actually the from the day I brought it home).
Thanks for your help!
Julie
Attachments
image.jpeg
image.jpeg
Today
Today
Brevard County, East Central Florida Zone 9b

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Help with Fukien Tea, please!

Oh for a minute I was thinking the one that says today, really was today, the newest pic and I was going to say it looks pretty healthy. It did look pretty healthy when you got it, but possibly that was an illusion, because it has gone downhill very rapidly in just a couple weeks.

I think it has suffered a series of traumas, from aphids, oil and sulfur sprays, mold, etc. My thought would be to wash it thoroughly, probably by dunking it upside down in a bucket of water with mild soap (not detergent, dish soap is detergent, you want something like Dr. Brunners pure soap) and then rinsing thoroughly. That should get rid of the aphids and the mold and the sprays and hopefully let you start even again.

Then just give it good basic care and close monitoring to be sure none of the problems come back. Don't fertilize it until you see new growth starting. When a plant is struggling, fertilizer is just another stress.

Best Wishes. Let us know how your little tree does.
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Juliew
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Location: East Central Florida - Brevard County - Zone 9b

Re: Help with Fukien Tea, please!

Thanks Rainbowgardener,
I took your advice and dunked the tree in a bucket of water with some Dr Brunner's baby soap, then rinsed thoroughly.
It definitely still had aphids - they did not like the bath and made a quick exit!
I will keep an eye on it daily, but I wonder if I should repeat the bath/rinse again in about a week. Would that help? Or should I just leave it alone for now?
Thanks for your help!
Julie
Brevard County, East Central Florida Zone 9b

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Help with Fukien Tea, please!

I think repeating the bath and rinse in a week and then maybe two weeks later would be a good idea. It is harder to get rid of the eggs which can keep hatching out.

And then just keep a close eye on it, but hopefully don't treat it with anything else but water. Misting your tree a few times a week is generally helpful for indoor plants.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

Juliew
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Location: East Central Florida - Brevard County - Zone 9b

Re: Help with Fukien Tea, please!

Thanks, will do!
Brevard County, East Central Florida Zone 9b

Juliew
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Re: Help with Fukien Tea, please!

image.jpeg
Just completed the second bath. Tree already looks better - looks like it's got new growth. I'll repeat the bath in two weeks. Thanks for your help rainbowgardener! :D
Brevard County, East Central Florida Zone 9b

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Help with Fukien Tea, please!

:) glad to hear it is doing better!
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

Juliew
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Joined: Tue Jul 28, 2015 2:10 am
Location: East Central Florida - Brevard County - Zone 9b

Re: Help with Fukien Tea, please!

I don't know if I need to worry -
I just watered the tree, and about a dozen or so ants came out of the soil. I removed all the ones I could see. In examining it, I don't see any aphids, but I don't know if I'm overlooking them. I just dunked it two days ago, and don't know if I should do it again so soon.
There is definitely more new growth on it, and it looks good. I'm just concerned about what to do.
Thanks for any help!
Brevard County, East Central Florida Zone 9b

imafan26
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Re: Help with Fukien Tea, please!

Put out ant bait to control the ants. They will farm and protect aphids from their predators.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Juliew
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Posts: 44
Joined: Tue Jul 28, 2015 2:10 am
Location: East Central Florida - Brevard County - Zone 9b

Re: Help with Fukien Tea, please!

Thank you, imafan26, I will. :-()
Brevard County, East Central Florida Zone 9b

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