zanger
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Bonsai leaves are crunchy and dry

I have a 4 year old Juniper Nona that I just got for valentines day from my girl freind. I love plants but must admit I usually kill them.

I missed it's one a week watering schedule once and now (whether due to that mistake or something else) the leaves are crunchy and dry. I have continued to water it on it's weekly schedule. Have I killed it? What should I do?

It was growing before I noticed the dry leaves, however the new leaves were fairly spread out.

Please help! :oops:
Scott

Joseph
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I think whoever told you to water it only once a week should not be trusted for their plant knowledge. :shock:

Junipers, and most bonsai, need a lot more water than that. To tell when you need to water your juniper stick your finger in the soil. Only let the top 1/2 inch to 1 inch dry out between waterings. Never let its, or any bonsai's, soil dry out completely. It also helps to mist it regularly.

zanger
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what should I make of the dry crunchy leaves? Will it be ok...or is it dead?

Joseph
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One of the moderators would be better qualified to answer that, I think. I wouldn't know without looking at it. I think it definitely COULD have died but perhaps not.

All I can say is NEVER water to routine or on a schedule, let the plant tell you when it needs water. Do this for a while and see if there is some improvement.

Check out this watering guide
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/bonsai/03/care.html

Joseph
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I just thought of something. Do you keep this plant indoors or out? Junipers are generally outdoor trees and most outdoor trees will not survive more than a few days indoors.

zanger
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It's an indoor plant. Being in Boulder, Colorado I was not certian it would be ok in the freezing weather.

zanger
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I was reading where it was probably that one mistake in watering that is causing my leaves to be dry and crunchy.

I also read that most bonsai (not sure about Junipers) can survive in 20 to 30F temperatures (they call this the dormant period) and that the bonsai may lose all of it's leaves. They also said that the bonsai needs intense light.

Do you agree with this? I found this at https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/indoors.htm

I was also wondering, if I lose all my leaves, is the bonsai dead?

Or do I just keep watering it as needed and it will come back?

Is losing all the leaves the dormant period or a watering issue?

Joseph
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zanger wrote: I was reading where it was probably that one mistake in watering that is causing my leaves to be dry and crunchy.

I also read that most bonsai (not sure about Junipers) can survive in 20 to 30F temperatures (they call this the dormant period) and that the bonsai may lose all of it's leaves. They also said that the bonsai needs intense light.

Do you agree with this? I found this at https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/indoors.htm
If that juniper really is a "Nana" it is hardy up to zone 5. Trees that are hardy to zone 5 can survive temperatures of -20 to -10 degrees F.
Denver Colorado is zone 5b So you can put it outside all year. Maybe during some of the harder freezes putting a sheet or rose box over it. That type of tree is definantly being harmed by being kept indoors.

Do like opabinia51 says to do in another thread and harden it off by putting it outside during the day and bringing it in at night for 3-4 weeks then leaving it outside for good.
zanger wrote: I was also wondering, if I lose all my leaves, is the bonsai dead?

Or do I just keep watering it as needed and it will come back?
Your going to have to try to water it and "harden it off." Like I said before it may be too late for this tree. Lack of water will kill most bonsai very quickly, that coupled with the fact that these trees do very badly when kept indoors.
zanger wrote: Is losing all the leaves the dormant period or a watering issue?
Junipers are evergreens they will never lose their leaves.

opabinia51
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Hi Zanger,

Joseph is correct that you should not be watering just once a week. The best way to tell when your tree needs watering is to immerse a tooth pick into the soil and pull it out. If there is soil stuck to the toothpick, your tree does not need to be watered.

Another thing that you should be doing with your Juniper is misting it. I would say that it might need a daily misting but, not knowing where you are from, and what the climate is like I can't say for sure.

It is best to keep Junipers outside if at all possible. Window sills (contrary to common belief) are not good places for plants. (Just in case you have it in a window sill).

Oh yeah, dry crunchy leaves; I would take them off the tree and do the misting and watering thing. Don't water you tree on a shedule, use the toothpick method and water the tree when it needs to be watered

Also, don't use synthetic fertilizers as they can burn your tree. Use an organic fertilizer like liquid seaweed fertilizer. Though, I would wait until Late April or Early May to start ferilizing your tree. Now should be the end of the dormancy period of the tree and you want to try and mimic what the tree would be like in nature.

The Helpful Gardener
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Using Zone ratings for bonsai is a bit like asking a naked person if it's cold out; it's just not a good measure with your roots out, so to speak...

Still, a bit of cover, like a screen porch covered with plastic, or a makeshift house of PVC could be all the difference between a perfectly happy tree and a posicle...

HG

zanger
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thanks guys,

I hope this will help! I will let you all know, I suspect that either the tree will go bald real quick or within a week, I'll know that there's still hope for it.

Scott

zanger
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well...bad news,

I took the bonsai to where I bought and they said I sealed it's fait. Apparently, it wasn't from the lack of watering according to them, it was when I left in the water for too long. I watered it one night (didn't even think to mention this to you guys) and forgot it till the morning. About 8 hours.

But I intend to try again as I have learned a lot from everyones help. I just figured I'd tell all you guys.

Who knows....maybe there's a bit of life in it somewhere. :?

opabinia51
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Yes, I had suspected that the tree was dead. In the future, check the soil regularly and water as needed. There are different watering techniques described in the sticky at the top of the forum

The Helpful Gardener
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Sorry to hear. Watering is as much about gas exchange as it is about moisture. Roots suffocate easily; it's why bonsai soil is porous.

Immersion watering should be once a week tops; top to bottom watering is better (the shower works great).

And keeping a Japanese garden juniper indoors is not a winning strategy either. I would use all these valuable lessons and strategize that next tree. Might I suggest a Ficus?

Scott

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