shutterbug
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Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2007 6:33 am
Location: New York

My Juniper Bonsai Mistery (worried)

Hi everyone,

This is my first post.

I've had a 7 year old Juniper since May 2006 and its been great. Before I had it in a window where it got a small amount of diffused sunlight in the mornings. And all was well... until... a few weeks ago.

We have recently moved to a different house and I've had to put the bonsai in the kitchen window where it gets indirect morning light. I've been monitoring it ever since to see if the change has affect it. And it looks like it has, because recently I've found about 3 full branches that have lost their normal 'greenish' color. Furthermore, when I poked with my fingers inside a few small branches fell off!!

This has happened like twice and I'm very worried. I cant put it outside because the current New York temp is about 15 degrees. I'm wondering if this is because the tree has fallen into 'dormancy' or it's something I'm doing.

Here's some additional info.
Water: I water it every time the soil feels dry. This is tap water that I ussually leave overnight to 'de-bleach'.

Food: To this WATER (one gallon) I add a tablespoon of this blue powder that the "bonsai guy" sold me. I've done it before and has not hurt it. I guess its equivalent to a few drops of miracle grow. It's very diluted in the water so I don't think it's a 'root burning' issue. EDIT-NOTE: I have watered it with this 'bluesh water' the last 3 times.

Light: As I said before, it gets morning indirect light (not direct sun). I cant bring it outside because ITS too cold.

Soil: A few months ago I noticed some browning on the branches. Reading on the net, I read that it was probably because the SOIL had been depleted of all it's 'food/energy' so I repotted using a combination of its original soil and some of that 'wood/dirt-combination' stuff they sell at the local flower shop. The result is dirt that when I water the water falls through immediately.

ouch.. that's a lot of info. As much as I can. Sorry for the long read.

Thankyou all in advance.

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Gnome
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Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

shutterbug,

Hello and welcome to the site. I hate to be the one to tell you this but there is a good chance that your Juniper is dead/dying. Junipers are well known to hold their needles long after they have expired. Consider how a Christmas tree behaves after it is cut, it looks good for a while and then slowly dries out and the small branches and needles fall.

Frankly I'm surprised it has survived as long as it has considering how you've handled it.
Before I had it in a window where it got a small amount of diffused sunlight in the mornings...We have recently moved to a different house and I've had to put the bonsai in the kitchen window where it gets indirect morning light.
Junipers need strong sunlight not diffused or indirect light behind a window. What might seem like a reasonable level of light to you is probably too little for many trees.
I cant put it outside because the current New York temp is about 15 degrees...I cant bring it outside because ITS too cold.
There really is no such thing as an indoor tree, they all belong outside unless they are from a different temperature zone and would not survive. For example a Ficus in your area simply would die over the winter. Junipers though are temperate trees which means that they expect/require a winter dormancy period. Try to circumvent that and eventually the tree will fail. Since it did not receive the proper rest period last winter it has been in a weakened state ever since. Having said that, do not simply put your tree outside now it is too far along in the season and the shock would surely be the last nail in the coffin.
I repotted using a combination of its original soil and some of that 'wood/dirt-combination' stuff they sell at the local flower shop. The result is dirt that when I water the water falls through immediately.
Although it is good that the soil drains well this type of mix is not ideal for Junipers. I have mine in about 90% inorganic/10% bark. Junipers dislike "wet feet" and I suspect that even though you wait until the top dries, the soil in the bottom of the pot is probably staying fairly moist.

In Short, Junipers are one of the least appropriate species for indoor culture, although some do try. For even a fighting chance supplemental lighting and an artificial dormancy would be required.

I don't wish to appear discouraging but it was mis-information that got you where you are now. Bonsai is primarily an outside activity. If you wish to pursue bonsai with temperate trees start again next spring armed with your new found knowledge. Otherwise find yourself a tropical that has a much better chance of surviving indoors. Even tropicals are best kept outside during the summer if it is possible though.

If you post some pictures of the tree we may be able to say more but honestly I am not hopeful, sorry.

Norm

shutterbug
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2007 6:33 am
Location: New York

Gnome,

Thanks for the welcome and tips. I looked at my bonsai again today I think that there's hope. I noticed a big patch that's very very green and a lot of little new growth studs throught.

I'll try and take a picture of it today and post it.

Thank you again.

P.S. so if its winter I should stop 'feeding' it right? ok.

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Gnome
Mod
Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

shutterbug,
Thanks for the welcome and tips.
You're welcome.
I looked at my bonsai again today I think that there's hope. I noticed a big patch that's very very green and a lot of little new growth studs throught.
Good, glad to hear it. From your initial description things sounded pretty bad.
I'll try and take a picture of it today and post it.
I'll keep an eye out for it. Look [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3557]here[/url] for tips on pictures and information on posting them if you need it. We don't host pictures here, you have to use a third party site.
so if its winter I should stop 'feeding' it right? ok.
Yes let up on the fertilizer. Even during active growth fertilizing at every watering is way too often.

Do you have any other choices for locating your tree? Perhaps a spare room that can be kept unheated, or an enclosed porch? In the meantime take a look at the sticky threads located at the top of the page, especially the one on general tips. Look first for watering tips. Then learn about proper bonsai soil. Here is a care sheet.

[url]https://www.bonsai4me.com/SpeciesGuide/Juniperus.html[/url]

Norm

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