TheresaR
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Location: Cleveland

Red Berry Bonsai question.

Okay...

We got a red berry bonsai here in our office and I'm the only one taking care of it. I'm following both the care instructions provided by Calyx and some pointers I've read in a previous thread on this forum. As it most likely needs to be re-potted and I'm nearly positive that I will get yelled at for doing so, I'm doing the best I can to care for it properly (watering via soaking when soil is dry to touch and misting once a day). It's not doing too bad, however there is mildew/mold/etc starting to grow on the surface of the soil and the base of the trunk. Now here's my question: can I spray the soil and the trunk with a weak mixture of soap and water to get rid of the yuck on a somewhat regular basis, since I can't do what really needs to be done to get rid of it once and for all?

Hopefully I made sense and shown you that I'm not a complete idiot when it comes to this ;-)

Thanks.
:-)

thebean
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some pics would help greatly if possible. Sounds like your almost watering it too much. and it should probably be outside at least partially. soaking vs. top watering is highly debated amongst bonsai specialist. You are probably right about repotting and this can be done at almost any time with this type of tree.

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Gnome
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TheresaR,

Before you make any drastic changes it would really be helpful to know the species, I am unaware of any species known as 'Red Berry'

Is the soil dense and peaty or coarse and loose? It should be the latter. You may indeed be watering too frequently. Read the general growing sticky for tips on watering. Try the chopstick method described in order to determine when it needs to be watered.

If you are considering re-potting read the soil sticky as well. Make sure to follow th e links in the stickies.

Pictures may help with an ID, but no promises.

Norm

TheresaR
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Thanks... I'll get a photo up as soon as I can.
:-)

kdodds
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Re: Red Berry Bonsai question.

As already pointed out "red berry" bush can be a number of things with very wide ranges of care, from full outdoor plants (in Cleveland) to full indoor plants, to plants that fall in-between, i.e. cold room plants. Yews, Cotoneasters, Fukien Tea, all produce red berries and those are only one of each of the examples above, there are many more.

I'm curious though, we do you think it needs to be repotted? If it has to do with glued on pebbles, yes, you're probably right. Otherwise, it's better to wait until growth starts in abundance (Spring).

Watering and misting are two diffrent things. Misting is only done to raise humidity levels. It provides very little to no water to the soil. In fact, it can make the soil's surface appear to be a lot more moist than the rest of the soil actually is. Until you get to know the tree better, how much water it needs and how often, you might want to lay it on its side when misting, avoiding the soil. As far as watering goes, most trees should not be left to dry completely between waterings. Some, as well, do not like to be allowed to dry at all. Most of the species we keep, however, fall somewhere in between the two extremes. A chopstick or toothpick stuck into the soil might be a better guide than the soil's surface (which, thanks to forced air, may be stripped of moisture much more rapidly than the rest of the soil). I know these are a lot of variables to consider, but you will do well to always ask yourself, "Are your SURE?", before doing anything. This tends to make you MAKE sure and avoid assumptions. ;)

On the mold/mildew: Are you sure that this is what you are seeing? Are you sure it is not calcium (lime) build up from your watering? Alternatively, moss is prevalent in bonsai culture, from the mass produced "mallsai" to master's emperor-sized trees. Spores make their way into virtually all pots. Moss may not do well in one pot (in the same location, same watering and humidity levels) where it does in another. You can even add spores to some only to have them never grow, where pots to which you have never added spores will show lush growth. My point here being that even if the bonsai did not have moss when acquired, it can develop "spontaneously". Sometimes, some moss species start by looking like green mold, or algae even. It's another possibility, other than mold/mildew, for what you are seeing.

It's hard to say what you can do to get rid of a thing when we do not know what that thing is for sure. For mold/mildew, backing off on watering is the most likely course to be taken since over watering is the most common reason for their occurence in the first place. For moss, a medium to hard toothbrush works very well. For calcium, distilled water, possibly with a few drops of vinegar, wiped carefully with a q-tip works well. Any time you use something that probably should not get into the soil (like soap or vinegar), it's prudent not to allow this to happen. Again, laying the tree on its side is the easiest way of avoiding soil contact. If the soil is loose, which it should be, you'll want to secure it in place somehow, or tip the pot only slightly (not past 45º).

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Gnome
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kdodds,

Very thorough, thanks. :D

Norm

TheresaR
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Sorry... haven't been able to upload the photos yet, but will tonight.

And in response since I was here yesterday...

1) I water once every 3 days, in a drip pan, not directly on the soil

2) I only mist the leaves

3) Thinking it needs repotting because of another thread I was looking at that was having similar issues. My leaves are turning brown at the ends, older ones are falling off, lots of new ones coming in, trunk comes out of a little mound in the soil (which I'm assuming is a root ball).

As I tried to mention earlier, I don't have much freedom with this tree as it is not only mine. So my aim is to keep it as healthy as possible and yet not make any of my other office mates upset.

Thank you for mentioning the calcium/lime thing. That never occurred to me, so that could be it, too. We'll see what you all think once I get the photos up.

Thanks again :-)
:-)

alexinoklahoma
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Location: Central Oklahoma

If it is 'light and fluffy' growth(s) upon soil surface, it is not water deposits. Deposits will appear kind of like a sugar-coating upon soil, like tiny bit of 'crusty glaze' upon surface. Its quite often white or orangish (~iron-colored, per se) If there are *any* raised portions (wispy or fluffy-like with threads going vertically here and there), its mold/mildew probably. And it will resolve on its own when proper watering is performed...remove the environment and the issue resolves ;-)

If you soil is kinda 'spongy', or holds water rather well, its going to be a 'mold' issue. I bet there is very little air circulation around plant as well...just a hunch is all ;-) Most 'molds' happen on constantly moist areas that have little airflow... (but a pic is worth a 1000 words!).

Never a good idea to allow soap/detergent (non-plant types anyways) to get into soil in any appreciable amounts (!).

HTH,
Alex

TheresaR
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Location: Cleveland

Ugh... can someone explain to me how to post photos that I have saved on my computer? From everything I can tell on my own, my image would have to have a URL... and mine don't.

Sorry... thanks.
:-)

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bewildered_nmsu
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On the home page look in the Tips and Suggestions forum and there is an article on how to post pictures.

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