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Please Help: Bonsai leaves curling and drying out

Hi all. I am completely new to bonsais, and I'm actually plant-sitting for my mum while she's travelling. Its barely been 4 days and i notice that the bonsai I'm caring for is drying out. its leaves are looking dry, curling up and falling off.

Help! I don't know what I'm doing wrong. Her instructions were to spray water twice a day on the leaves and on the soil with a spray bottle, which I have been doing daily.

I tried googling for answers but I don't know which species of bonsai this is, and whether I would be doing more harm than good. Hence I'm turning to the good people here for help please.

I don't want to kill my mum's plant before she returns, and any help would be so very much appreciated.

Thank you very very much. I've attached pictures of the leaves and the bonsai.

It never looked like this before, Im worried.
dried out leaves.jpg

Full Member
Posts: 39
Joined: Mon Sep 18, 2017 8:31 pm

Re: Please Help: Bonsai leaves curling and drying out

spraying the leaves is great, though I'm not certain it is neccessary.
If you're watering it daily, I have no way of knowing (and lack the expierience) if you are over or under watering it.

The fact that you posted this in January tells me this plant didn't get a winter dormany period. I can let you know what to do about that in about two years once I've figured that part out myself.

Posts: 11261
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Please Help: Bonsai leaves curling and drying out

It looks like a Fukien Tea. Carmona.
This is an older post but in case any one else is interested.
I think you are misting instead of watering. Bonsai are trees and most trees need regular water. Bonsai trees are potted in well drained (mostly gravel and not soil) soil and the root system has been restrained so it dries out fast especially if they are kept outdoors. In warm climates most bonsai trees do better living outside in full sun and watered daily and repotted every 6-12 months.

There are some plants that are suitable for indoor bonsai but they need to get enough light. Watering indoor plants really depends on the amount of air circulation they get as well as the kind of media they have. You need to learn when to water. If the leaves are drying, the plant is not getting water.

Two things will cause this. Overwatering will kill the roots and the leaves will still starve. Underwatering does the same thing.

When you do water, it needs to be thorough with the soil being evenly saturated and the media flushed to wash out accumulated salts. Use your finger to feel the soil or test the weight of the pot to know when it is time to water again.

Misting helps to add humidity but it may or may not be enough to "water" a plant depending on how you are misting. As the tree gets closer to repotting the roots will take up most of the pot space and will need even more water until it is repotted.

I use crushed black cinder (lava rock). It is cheap and easier to get and I can water my potted trees everyday without issues of root rot. I have all of my citrus and my current bougainvillea (in training) in cinder. If they are not watered at least every other day, or it does not rain enough, they will show signs of drought stress. A couple of the Kaffir limes have been in the same pot for 20 years. and the bougainvillea is about 28 years old but has been in the current pot for about a year. ... e/watering ... /repotting
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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