Igmarg
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Sick Bonzai

Hi - I received the bonzai pictured below as a gift about a month ago. The directions said to water every three days. After 10 days leaves began turning brown and falling off, I upped the watering to every other day, to no avail. I am now watering every day - but my bonzai still looks sick. Can someone please look at the photos below and tell me what kind of bonzai I have and suggest ways I can make it better? Thanks!

[img]https://i904.photobucket.com/albums/ac245/Igmarg/Bonzai-Full.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i904.photobucket.com/albums/ac245/Igmarg/Bonzai3.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i904.photobucket.com/albums/ac245/Igmarg/Bonzai6.jpg[/img]

JTred
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The two biggest things that kill trees are overwatering/water retentive soil and outdoor trees kept inside. Considering I don't know what species yours is I don't know about the second, so I'm going to go with the first. It looks like your soil is pretty water retentive, what is it made up of? Is it a dense, peaty soil? If so that is most likely your problem. Read the two links below to learn about proper bonsai soil and watering, along with general bonsai care, then decide if what you have is adequate. Then try to find out what species it is (someone else here may be able to help with that) and then read up as much as you can about that type of tree. Then you will learn whether it needs a dormancy outside, a protected dormancy, or if it can be kept inside during the winter.
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1479
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3422

SteveP
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based on information i've been looking at with one of mine, the yellowing leaves is mostly caused by an alkaline soil, which your plant might not like too much. Miracid or Miracle gro Azalea in the uk. Try that.

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djlen
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Two questions:
Is that an Azalea, or don't you know?
How much light are you giving it?

Sure looks like an Azalea from here although I'm in New Jersey and could be mistaken. :)
Last edited by djlen on Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Regards,
Len

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- Virgil
"I rarely agree with most of what I say........." -
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artisanoo
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just a tidbit of advice -
If the soil *is* too retentive, then new soil will be needed, but while you learn about soil, keep in mind one thing -
never water on a schedule.

1) If the soil is dry, water it (in your case, be careful not to turn it into a soggy mess since it likely wont drain so well)
2) let it get dry (not totally dry like a desert, but sorta when you can poke a finger in the soil and not come out moist, if that makes sense. TOO dry can be even worse than too wet, so keep that in mind. )
3) repeat :)

in your situation it may take 2 days, or it may take 4 or even more days until it is in need of more water, but rest assured if the soil is wet it doesn't need more water

bottom line is , you should water a plant when it needs water, and not according to a calendar. This will help your trees be healthier, as well as help you learn more about the 'drinking' habits of your trees. knowing your trees will go a long way towards keeping them alive and healthy :D

maveriiick
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You got serious watering overkill, by the sounds of it. Lay off the water and wait until the soil is dry, upwards of 1-2 cm in depth. Also, it is important to understand that watering bonsai based on a set frequency is wrong. Bonsai require daily observation for pests and soil assessment for the likelihood of watering (i.e. in the summer may need 1-3 times per day versus 1 or 2 twice in the winter). While there could be other factors, based on your description, this would appear to suggest your tree has some root rot based on them sitting in water for a long time.

Rosaelyn
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based on information i've been looking at with one of mine, the yellowing leaves is mostly caused by an alkaline soil, which your plant might not like too much. Miracid or Miracle gro Azalea in the uk. Try that.
Not all trees like Miracid. Some are very sensitive to acid in their soil. I think a positive ID would be first in order before considering that as a plant food. And I'm not sure if I agree with Azalea, but it's closer than anything I have so far. lol However, the more pics I look at, the more inclined I am to agree.

[img]https://www.courier-journal.com/blogs/bobhill/uploaded_images/Azalea-730526.jpg[/img]

I agree that the yellowing leaves are probably a sign of overwatering and from the explanation of the watering regiment, I think it's a pretty sure thing. I would definitely suggest letting the soil dry on top before anymore watering.
Rosaelyn @}>---'---,---

If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees. ~ Hal Borland

JTred
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I agree with Rosaelyn, a proper id is the most important thing to consider after the issue of watering is covered. Not only with alkalinity of the soil, but also whether or not the plant needs a dormancy. I could be wrong, but I believe azaleas need a dormancy period. I'm not sure what your climate is like, but if a dormancy is required, you'll have to choose between a full dormancy or a protected one. This will also depend on how the tree recovers and whether or not you choose to repot with a less organic medium.

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djlen
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If it's an Azalea and I think it is, over-watering it may not be the only issue.
It's and outside plant and needs that environment to thrive.
It will not be practical to keep an Azalea inside all winter.
I wish when people sell these things they would give the buyer proper information as to how to care for it.
Regards,
Len

"As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines"
- Virgil
"I rarely agree with most of what I say........." -
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SteveP
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looks to me like an Ilex Crenata/Jap Holly, if that's any help, you're absolutely right guys, I was assuming.

Rosaelyn
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Japanese Holly does look very close, but it has serrated leaves and this one does not.

Igmarg,

Was the plant ever in bloom?
Rosaelyn @}>---'---,---

If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees. ~ Hal Borland

Igmarg
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Rosaelyn wrote:Japanese Holly does look very close, but it has serrated leaves and this one does not.

Igmarg,

Was the plant ever in bloom?
It did have one white flower when it arrived.

Igmarg
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JTred wrote:I agree with Rosaelyn, a proper id is the most important thing to consider after the issue of watering is covered. Not only with alkalinity of the soil, but also whether or not the plant needs a dormancy. I could be wrong, but I believe azaleas need a dormancy period. I'm not sure what your climate is like, but if a dormancy is required, you'll have to choose between a full dormancy or a protected one. This will also depend on how the tree recovers and whether or not you choose to repot with a less organic medium.
Could you provide information (or a link to information) about full/protected dormancies?

JTred
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Igmarg wrote: Could you provide information (or a link to information) about full/protected dormancies?
A full dormancy would simply be leaving it outside for the winter, preferably with some mulch or at least snow covering the pot, and perhaps somewhere sheltered from the wind. A protected dormancy would be in an unheated garage or shed, somewhere that gets cold, but not as cold as outside. If it turns out to be an azalea I would try to give it a full dormancy, probably on a side of the house or anywhere else that is protected by the wind. However, this depends on what the weather is like right now in your area, mots likely it is not too late.

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djlen
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A white flower!?
Rosaelyn - click on the first picture up there and then click on it again and look at all those stems coming from a common or nearly common axle.
I think it's a white azalea and needs to go outside for the winter.
If it is an Azalea it is an outdoor plant and will not tolerate an indoor environment, especially during winter.
Regards,
Len

"As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines"
- Virgil
"I rarely agree with most of what I say........." -
- Len
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Rosaelyn
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There are white Azaleas. Is this what the flower looked like:

https://www.freshtopiary.com/mas_assets/full/JT-4013SA.jpg
Rosaelyn @}>---'---,---

If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees. ~ Hal Borland

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djlen
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Also, the leaves in the pictures you post seem larger in size and in my experience white Azaleas typically come with larger leaves than the colors.
Regards,
Len

"As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines"
- Virgil
"I rarely agree with most of what I say........." -
- Len
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Igmarg
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Rosaelyn wrote:There are white Azaleas. Is this what the flower looked like:

https://www.freshtopiary.com/mas_assets/full/JT-4013SA.jpg
Yes! The flower looked like those in the picture you linked.

Igmarg
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JTred wrote:
Igmarg wrote: Could you provide information (or a link to information) about full/protected dormancies?
A full dormancy would simply be leaving it outside for the winter, preferably with some mulch or at least snow covering the pot, and perhaps somewhere sheltered from the wind. A protected dormancy would be in an unheated garage or shed, somewhere that gets cold, but not as cold as outside. If it turns out to be an azalea I would try to give it a full dormancy, probably on a side of the house or anywhere else that is protected by the wind. However, this depends on what the weather is like right now in your area, mots likely it is not too late.
Thank you so much for this information. The weather here (in Denver, CO) has been unseasonably warm and dry for the past month.

This is probably a dumb question, but if I do a full dormancy - do I do anything to the bonzai between now and spring (i.e. water, fertilize, etc.) - or do I just leave it alone until spring?

Thanks again - the expertise of everyone on this site is much needed - and appreciated!

JTred
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If I were you I would allow it an outdoor dormancy, and keep it outdoors all year round. Find a spot that is protected from the wind, cover the pot with mulch, or wait until it snows and cover the pot with snow. If it is expected to get particularly cold for a stretch you can bring it in to an unheated garage or shed, but it will probably be ok. Azaleas are outside plants and will do best outside.

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djlen
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JTred wrote:If I were you I would allow it an outdoor dormancy, and keep it outdoors all year round. Find a spot that is protected from the wind, cover the pot with mulch, or wait until it snows and cover the pot with snow. If it is expected to get particularly cold for a stretch you can bring it in to an unheated garage or shed, but it will probably be ok. Azaleas are outside plants and will do best outside.
This is good advice. The south side of a house, out of the wind would be good, and if the weather gets harsh an unheated out-building such as a garage would be perfect during hard freezes. If you have a garage with a window put it next to the window as Azalea is an evergreen and will appreciate the light during it's stay inside.
Keep in mind that if you keep it in a garage or similar you will need to water it lightly during dormancy, or as suggested above, put some snow over the dirt to melt when it warms up.
Since it is an evergreen I would opt for outdoors when the weather allows.
No fertilization during the winter.
Regards,
Len

"As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines"
- Virgil
"I rarely agree with most of what I say........." -
- Len
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