osa
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Chinese Elm Bonsai Care

OK, please don't hate me, I was walking around Ikea yesterday and on my way out I spotted a load of bonsai trees - just labelled as 'mixed bonsai' there were about 3 varieties, so I chose the one I liked best then looked for the most healthy one and one with a decent looking trunk.

This was purchased to take to work, to make my office a little nicer. At present I have a weird thing called a Christmas Cactus that's not really a cactus but does flower around that time with these weird but cool pink flowers.

On to my tree:

Overall Picture:
[img]https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3316/3518741753_03712aedd1_b.jpg[/img]

Leaves Detail:
[img]https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3342/3518742177_c2b5afca33_o.jpg[/img]

Trunk and some leaves:
[img]https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3357/3518742495_7bce742252_b.jpg[/img]

So, what have I purchased (for the princely sum of £4.99!)?

I did as instructed in the booklet that came with it, and filled the sink and submerged it to just over the pot and waited for the bubbles to disappear then drained of the excess. Reading up on the net now it seems this is not recommended too often.

I like the sound of the 'stick' method - i.e. having a small wooden stick in the corner of the soil which one can remove and see if it's wet or not.

As this will be in an office the only really practical way to water it will be to put some water in the saucer - will that be ok? - I have read conflicting advice on this.

Lastly, what should I feed it, and how?!

Thanks!

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uzeyr
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chinese elm :D
all the time available and really easy to keep just maintain the watering don't let it dry out completely

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bonsaiboy
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So, what have I purchased
This tree is what is known as a chinese elm.

As this will be in an office the only really practical way to water it will be to put some water in the saucer - will that be ok?
No, this will only kill it. The soil must be allowed to drain and keeping it constanty wet would kill it. If you can't water it as often as it needs to be watered, it is probably not a good idea to keep it in the office.

Lastly, what should I feed it, and how?!
This is probably not a huge issue right now, seeing as it is going to be put through a lot of stress from all the moving around. Fertilizing is also one of those topics where no one can seem to agree on which method is best. Some will recommend organic, others will go with inorganic. Some say liquid based, others say slow release. I personaly use slow release inorganic with no problems. Some people recommend a liquid fertilizer that has added trace elements in it that are supposed to make the plant grow better. However, I find this to be untrue. How you should go about fertilizing the plant depends on the instructions given to you by the fertilizer.
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osa
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Thanks for the replies - I can look slightly more knowledgeable when my co workers quiz me about my purchase tomorrow!

What would be the best way to water it then?

As I can see - I could pour water onto the soil, into the saucer, on the leaves or submerge it.

The submerge method seems only for trees in extreme need of care / rehydration - and is not supposed to be used that often from what I can see?

I guess putting water onto the soil then perhaps?!

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bonsaiboy
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That way would be best in this case, so yes.
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osa
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Cool, thanks for that.

I'm taking it in tomorrow - quite how it will find the central line in rush hour I don't know - that tests any living thing to the extremes in my experience!

It's quite moist still since I did the whole dunking thing earlier this afternoon.

How dry should the top start to look before I water it? - should it be just off moist or quite powdery almost? - I'll put a stick in so I can see what's going on below the surface, but spotting the signs for watering concerns me slightly.

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IndorBonsai
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I recommend checking the soil with your finger( top 1/4 inch) if it is moist wait another day and check the soil again. Normally watering every 2 days seems to work. But it is best to check the soil and see how long it takes for it to start drying out. This helps you have a basic idea when it will need to be checked and watered in the future.

Submerging the pot waiting for the bubbles to stop is ok once in awhile, I use this method during the hot summer months, maby every other time I water.(only in the summer) It is a good way to make sure your not leaving a dry spot in the soil when watering from above. But don't do it every time you water.

When watering from above it is best done by a sink so you can water until it starts running out the drain hole in the pot. Let the water drain out then do it again now it should be good and watered and set back in its drip tray. The drip tray should have a bit of gravel in it to keep the pot from sitting in water, this also helps add humidity around the tree, when the water in the drip tray evaporates.

Basically Bright light, and don't over water. Hope this helps :)

P.S. very nice tree :D
If your going to have art in your house why not make it living art. :D

Jason

kdodds
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Does your office have a bathroom and a water cooler? Your best bet will be to age the water from the water cooler (mostly for temperature), then take the tree to the bathroom at lunch and give it a good and thorough drenching in the sink when needed. No saucers. ;)

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uzeyr
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i always water the immersion techinque i find it better the only time i don't water that way is when i am feeding have to pour the water over the plant then
my trees seem to be doing fine that way

osa
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Thanks for the advice guys.

Well it made it in successfully on the central and district line, and it's sitting on my desk with about 2-3 inches of wooden chopstick poked in one corner.

It's still damp on the surface so it definitely doesn't need any water at the moment.

I was met with claims of yes it's nice but it's difficult to look after, I bet it has no leaves in no time. To which I replied yeah, it very well may have no leaves in 2-3 weeks, that's due to changing it's environment.

I assume the leaves will come back though just with decent watering? - IF it does shed all the leaves how long will it take for some to return?

So can anyone guide me feeding wise - if I could find some baby bio around (sure we have some somewhere!) would that be ok or am I on the wrong track?

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IndorBonsai
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It would be best to wait until the tree has adapted to its new environment before fertilizing. It may drop some leaves while it is adapting (like you said) during this time the tree will also use less water. It might take a month or more before the tree becomes fully adapted to its new home. With good light and care it will be fine.
If your going to have art in your house why not make it living art. :D

Jason

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