blur19
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please help me save my dying jade bonsai

I purchased a jade bonsai (or at least that's what I was told) back in September. I live in Ohio. As you can tell from the pictures, my bonsai is dying and I am hoping that it can be saved. My boyfriend swears that it's already met its end, but I have hope! I admit, I am terrible at raising plants. However, I made sure to read up on this tree when I purchased it. I read a lot of literature and forums that say the biggest mistake in caring for a jade bonsai is over-watering. I also read comments where people say this fear of over-watering can sometimes lead to under-watering. I am at the point where I have no idea what went wrong. The poor plant has been slowly dying ever since it was under my care. I know I may have waited too long to seek help.

Watering: I water it with a spray bottle so that I don't accidentally over-water. I mist the leaves (when they existed) and spray the base of the trunk. On average, I did this about every 3-7 days when it was warmer and every 10-14 days during the winter.

Location/Sunlight/Temperature: I believe this to be my plant's enemy. In the beginning, I kept the bonsai on a window sill, however, it took me a while to realize how much air leaks through the crappy condo windows and how cold the poor plant must have been. I relocated the bonsai but then realized it wasn't that great about opening the blinds every day. Now the bonsai sits on top of a shelf next to the window so that it doesn't feel the breeze through the window, but hopefully gets sunlight. That's the other issue: sunlight. We are on the first floor in a courtyard so there really isn't much direct sunlight anywhere in the apartment for more than a few hours. I know many of you recommend purchasing fluorescent lights but I'm sort of an energy-conserving nerd and would like to avoid this. Is direct sunlight essential, or is regular light through a window enough?

I hope I have been thorough and I look forward to some expert advice!

The pictures hopefully show the texture of the trunk, absence of leaves, and location of the tree in relation to the window:

***NOTE: I can't seem to get my pictures loaded correctly. Please just copy and paste the images URL into a new window to view them. Thanks! (just be sure not to include Image

[admin]Fixed. ;)[/admin]

[img]https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3272/2327002833_3b7667d355.jpg[/img]

[img]https://farm3.static.flickr.com/2255/2327000471_d596c9217b.jpg[/img]

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blur19,
I water it with a spray bottle so that I don't accidentally over-water. I mist the leaves (when they existed) and spray the base of the trunk.
Over-watering is not about watering too much at any one time, it is about watering too frequently. When you water you should always do so thoroughly, a spray bottle is not the best route to take. I also never mist Jades or Portulacaria. Look [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7040]here[/url] for some pictures that will help identify your plant. I can't tell without foliage.

By any chance is the surface soil glued together in a sheet like mass? This is often seen on mass produced bonsai but the pebbles are usually larger. Is there a drainage hole in the bottom of the pot? How long has it been since the soil was thoroughly saturated? Get back to me and let me know.

P.S. What is that thing in the background? :wink:

Norm

blur19
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Location: columbus, ohio

Hi Norm,
To answer your questions:
1. I never really investigated until now. There is about an inch of pebbles and underneath, near the trunk of the tree it seems as though there is a massive chunk/mass of soil. As I dug around, it did seem quite dry. Maybe my issue is under-watering?

2. There are two small drain holes on the bottom, connected by a wire. I watered it a few days ago but I probably I guess I didn't or never have saturated it thoroughly.

3. I saw your pictures on the previous post. It looks (well, looked) like the one in the second picture, the Portulacaria afra.

4. The thing in the background, there's an old type-writer and a framed Jackson Pollock print.

My questions:
1. In replace of the spray bottle, what should I water with and about how much. I obviously don't know what the correct amount is so please be very specific!

2. Do you think there's still hope?

Thanks for your help,
Reena

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Reena,
As I dug around, it did seem quite dry. Maybe my issue is under-watering?--I watered it a few days ago but I probably I guess I didn't or never have saturated it thoroughly.

In replace of the spray bottle, what should I water with and about how much. I obviously don't know what the correct amount is so please be very specific!
I think that under-watering may indeed be your issue. Being reluctant to water too much has caused you to be too cautious I suspect. Watering is not so much about the actual quantity you use so much as it is about the frequency with which you water. When I water I do so copiously from above until water runs freely from the drainage hole. I then wait a few minutes and repeat. This helps to ensure that all of the soil is saturated.

You should do this every time you water, this is not over-watering. Over-watering would be when you repeat this too often, never allowing the soil to dry. Jades and Portulacaria are succulents and as such retain water in their fleshy stems and leaves. This is their strategy to survive dry spells and is why everyone is so cautious about watering them. To repeat, always soak these plants well and then wait until the soil is dry before you water again.
Do you think there's still hope?
Possibly, as long as the stem is still firm it may recover but it will take a while. I have removed every leaf from Jades and they always bounce back. As an emergency measure you can soak this plant in a basin until the soil is thoroughly saturated and then allow it to drain. Then just put it aside and wait.
The thing in the background, there's an old type-writer and a framed Jackson Pollock print.
I meant the typewriter, it was my feeble attempt at humor. :D

Norm

blur19
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Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2008 10:17 pm
Location: columbus, ohio

hi norm,
thanks for your help! hopefully, my bonsai is on his way to recovery. i'll keep you updated!

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