Gnome wrote:When I first saw this my reaction was that the soil is dense and peaty. This type of soil is difficult to re-wet once it becomes dry. You mentioned earlier that the soil has shrunken away from the pot and this also seems to fit with my earlier comments regarding the tree being under watered.
Then in seeing your pictures the soil looks to be very wet and soggy. Had you just watered it prior to taking the pictures?
Hi Gnome, thanks for the response.
Photo was taken on same day as watering, though not just after.
But just to clarify what I has said earlier - The soil was still moist when it started to shrink back from the edges of the pot and the leaves started to dry.
Two possibilities. The soil may appear to be wet but it is possible that the core is dry.Those leaves are definitely dehydrated. Another possibility is that it has been over watered. I know that sounds contradictory but if the roots are rotted they cannot take up water and the same thing happens to the leaves, dehydration. Either way the poor soil and/or improper watering is at the root of the problem.
After your first post I checked the soil using a stick and found it was wet all the way through, and definately so after watering it.
If you don't determine what is going on you are going to lose this tree. You said you could remove the plant from the pot. Do it again and try to determine if the core of the soil is wet or dry. Don't rely on the appearance of surface but probe deeper.
I think my girlfriend got the Chinese Elm for me because it's the easiest bonsai to maintain, but I seem to have still managed to mis-treat it
I have checked the core again with a stick today and it is definately moist.
If the soil is really too dry (internally) replace it in the pot and soak the whole thing. If the soil is soggy an emergency re-potting may be your best bet, start looking into proper bonsai soil.
Okay, well perhaps it seems like the soil is too wet and the bonsai requires repotting.
I had a look through those links on the link you gave, there really is a lot of information, and as a number of authors point out, nothing is concrete and set as to soil composition and type.
Gnome, you clearly know what you're talking about and have a lot of experience, what would you recommend as soil for an indoor Chinese Elm bonsai?
I just took another look at the pictures and noticed the plastic tray. How high has water been in that container?
A few millimeters to about 1cm at most, though it usually dries up after a day or two.
I'm starting to think that your assumption about over-watering might be right!
That may be the problem. If water has been allowed to wick back up (or more accurately never really drain well) you may have rotted roots as I mentioned above. A humidity tray should only have a small amount of water in it. The point is to increase humidity around the plant not keep the soil soggy.
Ah, I didn't realise that's what the trays were for (until killyspike mentioned it above), or how it acheived this.
I have included a few pictures of the side and underside of the bonsai rootball.
I tried to find pictures of root rot on the internet but I couldn't find anything definitive to ascertain whether I had root rot or not. All I know is that it can cause roots to turn black and flaky(?)
If you can tell from these pictures your advice is extremely welcome!