MookieIX
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Joined: Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:48 pm

Bonsai Identification + Care Tips please!

Hello, I recently bought a Bonsai Tree from a vendor at a festival and I was wondering if anyone could help me identify what tree it is so I can properly care for it.
Also if you have any tips for me that would be wonderful. This is my first bonsai tree I've ever had.

[img]https://i721.photobucket.com/albums/ww214/piecheese123/IMG_3146.jpg[/img]

The Trunk:
[img]https://i721.photobucket.com/albums/ww214/piecheese123/IMG_3147.jpg[/img]

The Leaves:
[img]https://i721.photobucket.com/albums/ww214/piecheese123/IMG_3149.jpg[/img]

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Gnome
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Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

Mookie,

Hello and welcome to the site. This is not a species I grow so it would be wise to wait for confirmation, but I believe that you have a Pachira aquatica or Money Tree.

The good news is that it looks healthy and the medium (soil) appears to be in good condition. The bad news is that this just barely falls under the rubric of 'bonsai'. By definition a bonsai is simply a potted plant, so using that criteria it is a bonsai.

However, bonsai has come to mean much more than that. There is an artistic element to bonsai that your specimen is lacking. Specifically I refer to the braided trunk which is more of a novelty than true bonsai.

Please don't take this to be a criticism as we all start at the beginning. Learn to care for this potted tree, study and acquire an appreciation for true bonsai and perhaps this plant will become a gateway to a lifelong appreciation for a truly inspiring hobby.

Please take some time to explore the following threads.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3343
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=32206

Hopefully others with specific knowledge of this species will give you some pointers for proper care.

Norm

MookieIX
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Joined: Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:48 pm

Gnome,

Thanks very much for welcoming me and thank you very much for your reply!
This is good news to hear. At first I thought it was a Ficus, because of the leaves, but the trunk didn't match up.

I bought this under a Bonsai tent, plus the man selling it to me gave me a bonsai pamphlet to care for it, and obviously for this being my first plant that I'm really taking care of I wanted to make sure that I know what exactly I'm dealing with.

As you said I'm hoping for this to be a gateway into caring for Bonsai trees as I've always had a fascination with them and have always wanted one. And this one I received was a gift from my father.

It does look like a money tree but as you said I may just wait to find out for sure if it is or not.

I also have another question. The man I bought this from said that this tree only needs watering once a week.. and told me to water it on the weekend and thats all I would need. Any suggestions?

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froggy
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Location: Toronto, ON, zone 5a

Looks like a money tree to me too - but I have no personal experience with them either...
Look up care instructions that tell you if the tree likes it's soil to stay moist or dry out.... Watering on a schedule is hit or miss depending on where you've got the plant, what the weather is like etc. Water plenty, remove excess water from drainage tray, so the pot doesnt sit in water, and then check the soil daily and just water when needed (dry enough). Check out the chopstick method (search the forum) as an indicator of how dry the soil is. But first you have to know what the tree likes ;)

Cheers
;)

kdodds
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Location: Airmont, NY Zone 6/7

It's a money tree, Pachira aquatica. The specific name is a good clue as to what conditions it should be kept in. Naturally, it comes from tropical wet lands and swamps. It will need a high organic bonsai soil, one that includes humus as a good portion of its consistency. After that, calcined clay, lava, pumice, horticultural sand whatever are all fine to use and mix in. Now, because it's a wetland species you can assume care to be similar to other wetland species, that being the soil should never be allowed to dry. But different wetland species live at different point in the water table. Some can tolerate having their "feet wet" constantly. What that means is that, in the soil, they're also roots deep in standing water. Pachira is NOT one of those species, and so should never be left in standing water, but should be watered again before the soil dries.

The really good news here is that, treated well, this species is very hardy and difficult to kill. The bad news, as Norm stated, is that this is decidedly not bonsai in the artistic sense.

As far as where to go with it, well, just keep the style it's in, nothing else will work at this point. As for proceeding in bonsai, that depends on where you want to keep the trees.

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rainbowgardener
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My take on what people are trying to say about the artistry is that bonsai artists are striving (and using a lot of skill, art, and artifice) to make a tree in a very artificial situation look natural. That is they want it to look like a very large old tree in nature that has been through wind and weathering and all the stresses that happen and is still surviving-- just in miniature. But the very smooth and symmetrical braided effect is not something that would ever happen naturally.
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