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Inherited "unwell" Bonsai


My husband has inherited a bonsai tree (unknown type)from his brother, although it is looking rather unwell (perhaps even dead).

I don't think it has been cared for properly and I'm looking for some advice as to what I should do with it - if anything at all.

From what I can gather, it has been kept inside, neglected and not watered and to top it off - his brother is a smoker. It has leaves, but they're all crispy and dead.

I've only had it a couple of days, and I've read on the internet that it should be watered 3 times a dayand the leaves should be sprayed with water. so I've been giving it a good drink and this morning I put it outside to get some air. is all this work in vain, or is there any chance the tree might get better??


Last edited by snowyowl on Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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It would be best if you sent a picture so we could see the condition of the plant, as of now I'm going to assume its dead because you said it wasn't watered. Plus if the leaves are brown/crispy then there is not much you can do it for it. If you see any signs of new leaves/buds/stems there may still be a chance, other then that it sounds like it kicked the bucket :(

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A picture certainly would help. In the meantime don't water it as much as you mentioned in your post.
I've read on the internet that it should be watered 3 times a dayand the leaves should be sprayed with water.
I think that you have misinterpreted that advice. The idea that bonsai are always watered twice, or even three times, is to ensure that the soil is properly saturated, this should be done in fairly quick succession, not, for instance, morning , noon and night.

This practice originated when bonsai were potted in denser mediums than are generally used today. The ironic part is that even though proper bonsai mediums have evolved to the point where this advice is not as applicable as it once was, beginners are often faced with bonsai potted in common peat based potting soil. Since this type of medium can be difficult to wet the advice still is valid to a degree.

All of this is about how to water, just as important is when to water. I don't mean what time of day but that some days you perhaps should not water at all. A tree such as you describe is not transpiring much water so it does not require watering with the same frequency as a similar, healthy, specimen would.

Keep the soil moist but not dripping, water only as necessary but water well when you do. Put it in a shady spot and cross your fingers. It may in fact already be dead but without more information it is impossible to say.


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Re: Inherited "unwell" Bonsai

Crispy and dead leaves still hanging on the plant sound like there's not much to be done. An id would help, though. FWIW, "to top it off - his brother is a smoker" has very little to do with anything, and certainly didn't cause any of the problems with the tree. I can assure you that plants, difficult exotic marine fish, and yes, even birds, can all live long, healthy, natural life spans in the homes of smokers. ;) Anyway, if you do the bark scratch test and the layer just underneath the bark is still green, you might have some hope. Still, it depends on the species, whether it is worth it or not, or what to do. For some, you might want to cut the tree down to right below the dead/dying points, for others, you might just want to defoliate, for still other you imght want to leave it alone or just prune off any truly dead branches.

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