Iwantgreenfingers
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Joined: Sun Mar 05, 2017 12:35 am

Somehow doing it wrong again: hard soil, leaves falling?

Hi hi!

I just found this forum and decided to let out a cry for help: Last week I bought a bonsai tree for the birthday of my brother (which is in 6 days) and somehow I can't manage to keep it.. bonsai-ing. When I bought it, the soil was so hard I thought it was a fake one (but it's not) so I figured it must've been really dry and a green-fingered friend told me to drown it in water until water comes out of the drainage holes (I don't know if I'm using the right words). Anyway: The leaves are starting to turn yellow and fall off, the soil is still rock hard and I think there is some white stuff on the soil (internet said it's mold). Help what am I doing wrong??

Quick edit: I only started the "drowning" method today so it's not over-watering (or it wasn't until now)
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Sea Salt37
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Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:31 pm

Re: Somehow doing it wrong again: hard soil, leaves falling?

It's unlikely you've done too much damage in just a few days. Deep breath.

"Deep watering" is what you friend was referring to - adding plenty of water until it drains out the bottom. That's probably a good idea if the soil is super dry. Just don't do this over and over or the roots may rot in soggy soil.

The yellowing leaves may be due to moving the plant from one place to another. Is the current site 1) without sunlight or blistering in total sun, 2) near a radiator or drafty door/window, or 3) super cold? Any big swing in the environment could cause leaves to show unhappiness. Can't tell what kind of bonsai you have so hard to know about best conditions or degree of sensitivity. Assuming the tree was healthy when you bought it, you may just need to give it time to readjust.

As for the white flecks in the soil, most bonsai growing medium incorporates vermiculite or perlite to keep the soil from compacting over time. Bonsai trees typically live for years in the same pot so the soil has to support them for a long time in the same container. Pick one of the little white flecks out and roll it between your fingers. Does it feel hard and a little crunchy? If so, it's probably perlite.

Good luck!

SS37

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