spookedhippie
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New to Bonsai growing! (Fukien Tea)

Hi there,

my girlfriend purchased a Carmona bonsai tree for me. I've always wanted my own Bonsai tree but thought a little help might go a long way. My girlfirend found it in a sale section of a shop (my first worry) so i cleared the top of the soil of dead leaves, cut some of the branches that seemed dead and began watering.

It seems ok but like i said wouldn't mind the help! I can see new buds growing slowly but I'm more concerned that it has been so long in a shop that it needs repotting. I can feel the roots starting to come through the bottom of the pot. I wasn't going to prune anymore to try and let the tree get a bit of strength back. I've attached some pics but any help i would really appreciate!

[img]https://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d125/spookedhippie/IMG_0916-1.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d125/spookedhippie/IMG_0917.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d125/spookedhippie/IMG_0919.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d125/spookedhippie/IMG_0918-1.jpg[/img]

Rosaelyn
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Welcome to the forum! Glad you found us and looked to us for some advice.

Your tree is more commonly referred to as a Fukien Tea tree. And I will say, it looks quite healthy for being a sale plant in a store not specializing in bonsai. :)

https://www.bonsai4me.com/SpeciesGuide/Carmona.html

I do agree that the soil looks as if it could stand changing, especially if the roots are growing out of the medium. heh The soil looks standard for what Fukien Teas usually arrive to their new owners in - a very high organic, clay-like consistency. I imagine it tends to hold water for a long period of time.

Having a Fukien Tea tree of my own, I can honestly say these trees can be particular. They like lots of light (I would suggest supplemental light, if you cannot keep it outside all of the time) and they like to have their soil mostly dry out between waterings. But if you take into account those two things, they can be quite happy little trees and will probably flower for you often.

Hope this information helps.
Rosaelyn @}>---'---,---

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

maveriiick
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My 2 cents

I can agree with Rosaelyn. I have three of these and all are doing well. These trees are actually on the more difficult side to care for.

Key points in care:

1. Allow the soil to go practically bone dry between waterings. Seriously. If the leaves wilt then maybe you waited a tad long, but leaves bounce back with a good water flush. Water too frequently and the tree will likely lose all its leaves.

2. Look out for pests (Aphids and Mealy Bugs mostly) and remove (i.e. neem/soap spray, alcohol dabs, water stream flush).

3. Need good light, and by that Fluorescent bulbs are the best way (better than incandescent - more efficient energy with minimal loss of energy as heat). I use 4 foot 40 Watt CFL for 12-16 hours per day. Unfortunately indoor bonsai need lots of light.

spookedhippie
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thanks for the advice... I'm glad that the tree isn't looking too bad! I hadn't realised it needed quite so much light, will have to investigate in something there!

Is it worth me repotting now or would that do more harm than good? Also I've seen on i think bonsai4me how good cat litter is instead of soil?! Do my eyes deceive?

maveriiick
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spookedhippie wrote:thanks for the advice... I'm glad that the tree isn't looking too bad! I hadn't realised it needed quite so much light, will have to investigate in something there!

Is it worth me repotting now or would that do more harm than good? Also I've seen on i think bonsai4me how good cat litter is instead of soil?! Do my eyes deceive?
It would depend on how fast water moves through the soil while watering. If you water and the water sits on top of the soil for a minutes or so, it might be a good idea. If you water and it disappears rather quickly (say 30 seconds) then it might be ok to leave it). You could also hold the tree by the trunk and remove it from the pot to see how the root structure is - i.e. root bound with roots encircling the bottom and sides of the pot.

Rosaelyn
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If the soil drains poorly and when you lift the tree and it definitely looks to need repotting, this time of year will not be too bad for it, being a tropical tree. If if looks like it can wait until the weather breaks and spring starts, even better. But being indoors, especially if you can provide it some more light, you do not have to conform quite so strictly to repotting schedules.

The article you referred to on Bonsai4me is totally legit. Cat litter, as long as you stick to the suggested brands (some cat litters are not made of the same ingredients and will break down fairly quickly), makes a great bonsai soil.

I am in the US and use the NAPA floor dry, which is made of that same Diatomaceous Earth, with great result. I like it partly for the fact that it is so easy to visually determine when the soil is drying out. :)
Rosaelyn @}>---'---,---

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

spookedhippie
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Well you learn something new everyday! I don't know whether this matters but the bud i took th epic of yesterday has dried up and fallen off. There are stil plenty of buds growing but didn't know whether this was a sign that the tree needs a pruning session or am i not watering it enough?

And can i just say thank you for all the help so far, great community you guys and gals have here!

Rosaelyn
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I would not be too concerned about the flower buds, as long as the leaves and leaf buds are looking healthy. I have noticed Fukien Tea tree flowers have a tendency to brown and fall off when they get wet from misting. It is an odd occurrence, but not one to worry about.
Rosaelyn @}>---'---,---

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

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KasWear
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Must say, that tree looks great to nooby me ... nice find girlfriend !! :)
We all choose what to think about ...

spookedhippie
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Thanks Kwear... glad to see I'm not the only newbie on hear and I'm guessing that would be coventry uk?

And thanks Rosaelyn, it did have me somewhat worried!

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Kree
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I've read in several books that you should try not to water the buds, they'll almost always drop off.
Kree;; You can never know too much about one thing.

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KasWear
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spookedhippie wrote:Thanks Kwear... glad to see I'm not the only newbie on hear and I'm guessing that would be coventry uk?

And thanks Rosaelyn, it did have me somewhat worried!
No, that would be Coventry, Connecticut, USA ... we were making cowpat pie and fire, when the real UK Coventry were throwing piss out of their windows ... :D :wink:
We all choose what to think about ...

Marsman
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Coventry rocks! :D

Kas, we have to do lunch some day.

spookedhippie
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lol sounds about right for us guys in th uk generally! And thanks for the advice on watering buds, although I'm only watering by adding it to the soil... should i be doing anything different?

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Gnome
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spookedhippie,

I don't grow this species so I'll refrain from making any cultural suggestions. I too think you received a very nice tree. You might want to consider purchasing a quality pot before you re-pot, it really deserves it.

Here is something just to get you thinking.
https://www.bonsaifusion.com/

And a well known potter in the UK.
https://www.erinbonsai.com/

Norm

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KasWear
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CovUK, it was a joke aimed at Marshmellowman ... :D
We all choose what to think about ...

Marsman
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Damn! I always fall for that..... :?

Put a UK after yours! :wink:

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KasWear
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Ok ! ... :lol:
We all choose what to think about ...

Marsman
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I hates you! :P

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KasWear
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I'm merely pulling the hair of the girl i like at Bonsai School ... :lol:
We all choose what to think about ...

spookedhippie
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Gnome wrote: I too think you received a very nice tree. You might want to consider purchasing a quality pot before you re-pot, it really deserves it.

Here is something just to get you thinking.
https://www.bonsaifusion.com/

And a well known potter in the UK.
https://www.erinbonsai.com/

Norm
Would a new pot make much difference? In all honestly I very much like the pot that came with the tree as it has a humidity tray to go with it

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Gnome
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spookedhippie,
Would a new pot make much difference? In all honestly I very much like the pot that came with
It's an aesthetic issue not a cultural one. Such things are subjective though, if you like the pot that's the important thing.

Norm

spookedhippie
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Thanks Norm! I've kept with the same pot for now as I'm rather happy with it... Just finished repotting and I have to say it was... interesting! It was quite obvious it had not been repotted in a long time, some of the roots were dangling over a foot long and a lot of them appeared dead. The trunk also seemed to have been packed under far too much soil, at least two inches underneath which seems horrible! I've repotted using the cat litter that bonsai4 recommends and the water goes right through, which seems to me i've made the right call repotting as the water was not draining that quick. My biggest worry is there didn't appear to be a massive root ball but I'm guessing that might be due to lack of previous pruning?

Here are a couple of pics, first is just the repot and I don't know whether you'll be able to see it but the trunk to show the difference in where it was buried.

[img]https://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d125/spookedhippie/IMG_0920.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d125/spookedhippie/IMG_0922.jpg[/img]

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Gnome
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spookedhippie,

I'm a little surprised that you re-potted it so quickly, we never discussed an actual soil mix. Although the kitty litter may be a good component, most tropicals would have some organics included in their mix, this is usually bark or perhaps coarse peat. You are really going to have to stay on top of the watering with such a lean mix.

I suspect watering wont be a big issue right now due the the re-potting and the cooler weather. Later, after the roots catch up and the weather warms, it will be important to check that medium often.

Don't panic and do anything rash, wait for the others who actually grow this species to give their thoughts. Some trees do fine in a 100% inorganic medium, I just don't know if Fukien Tea is one of them.

Norm

spookedhippie
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oh right :shock: As I understood it I could just use this without much else added... what should be the next thing to do? I was worried that too much water would be kept in the soil...

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Gnome
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spookedhippie,
oh right As I understood it I could just use this without much else added
It can be used 'neat' the advisability of doing so depends upon the species in question, the environmental conditions and your ability to water as needed. It's not a black and white kind of thing and since I don't grow this species I hesitate to give specific advice.
I was worried that too much water would be kept in the soil...
You can still have a free draining mix that includes organics, particle size is the key. For instance, I don't use finely milled peat moss, I use Pine bark instead. This material, if sized properly will provide an organic component without compromising drainage.

Norm

Rosaelyn
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As far as a Fukien Tea tree goes, the kitty litter by itself should be fine. I agree with Norm that a small percentage of organic is helpful, but these trees like to go almost completely dry between waterings.

So as long as the watering needs are monitored closely, it should work out well as it is. The big concern with a fully inorganic mixture would be summer afternoon heat and sun drying the mixture out faster. Depending on how hot it gets and how much direct sun the plant is getting, it might require multiple waterings per day with a soil that is entirely inorganic.

Just be sure to monitor the soil closely, and do not take my precaution as a suggestion to overwater your tree, either. lol
Rosaelyn @}>---'---,---

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

spookedhippie
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So in other words all should be well!? I don't think keeping an eye on it will be a problem, particularly in the summer as I'm a teacher so luckily get those hot days off...

Should I consider repotting with a better mix or just see how it goes? Like I say the thing I'm most worried about are the roots...

Rosaelyn
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Whatever you do, I would NOT repot again.

As for the roots, I am kind of confused. You said the roots were very long and wrapped around each other, but you also say there is not much of a rootball. How much of the roots did you trim off? You should only be removing about 1/3 of the roots, maybe a little bit more considering dead or slimy, black roots.
Rosaelyn @}>---'---,---

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

maveriiick
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Gnome wrote:spookedhippie,

I don't grow this species so I'll refrain from making any cultural suggestions. I too think you received a very nice tree. You might want to consider purchasing a quality pot before you re-pot, it really deserves it.

Here is something just to get you thinking.
https://www.bonsaifusion.com/

And a well known potter in the UK.
https://www.erinbonsai.com/

Norm
I would recommend Sara Raynor Pots, they are one of the best I've seen. I've received a few from erin bonsai and I'm sad to say i was a little disappointed considering cost. Look more primitive and novice in style.

https://www.redwing.net/~daalms/

spookedhippie
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thanks for the advice on the pots.

Yeah it was just over a third as a lot seemed dead, even so there didn't seem to be hardly any roots in the first place... I take it then this is just me over reacting?

thepoet1961
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New Member,New Bonsai hobbyist.---HELP

I joined the forum yesterday and you have the same tree(Carmona). Someone suggested I find a Bonsai Head (LOL). I wrote a description in the introduce yourself section of the forum, please go there and read it. I don't type very well and I don't want to kill my trees. PLEASE, PLEASE HELP ME SO I DON'T KILL MY TREES. thepoet
I have a love for the Bonsai. I am fond of the whole idea of a dwarf tree. I love the idea of having what would normally be monster tree in my home in miniature form. It's very cool...

spookedhippie
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just read a post on here about putting boiling water into the humidty tray... should i be doing this to help the humidty for my tree or am i suppose to leave it well alone?

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GraniteGneiss
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I'm new to bonsai, and last fall, bought my first tree, which was a fukien tea! Then got home and read up on it, found it is prone to aphids and white flies and somewhat challenging. I've spent the winter reading bonsai books, a wonderful thing to do, I recommend getting at least one basic book to guide you. As predicted, aphids showed up on my tree within a week of bringing it home. I've tried everything to get rid of them, and the only thing that keeps them at bay is hand picking them every other day. So I would definitely be on the lookout for these things. As the tree flowers, and it does that a lot, the sap flows and the aphids find it.

As for the soil mix, I would use no more than 1/3 kitty litter (as the clay component)--many people use a product called Turface instead for that component. You may think you can watch it carefully, but summers get busy and a plant that has to be watered more than once a day is a plant likely to get in trouble. Someone with experience said in this thread under no condition to immediately repot it, but I'm wondering why? The repotting just happened, so the plant hasn't even thought about recovering yet, isn't the benefit of better soil going to outweigh the risk here? If you could give us more information on the thinking behind your suggestion, it would be great.

Regarding water in the tray, it can be helpful as long as the plant isn't sitting in it--putting rocks in the tray is a good way to keep that from happening. The water doesn't have to be boiling, although cleaning the tray out occasionally with boiling water helps prevent molds and such. If you use distilled water, you won't get so much build up of calcium.

thepoet1961
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Boiling Water........on the stove!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hello everybody, I am not trying to be condescending but I never said I put the boiling water in the Tray. I have started boiling water on my stove in a very large pot and raise the humidity in the room. Please don't misunderstand me and kill your tree. You have to understand that my girlfriend and I live in a small 1 bedroom apt and the kitchen is only separated by a counter and cupboards over that. The kitchen is open to the dining and living room. When I boil water on the stove my windows actually sweat. I live in Michigan, the southern part, but we get temps well below freezing and even -0 . We have are heat set at 65 to 70 and this is an acceptable temp for this tree. The problem is that the style of heating is heat strips in the walls. This is very try as heating methods go. If you have an set up like we have you can raise the humidity level 25 to 35% in the whole apt. by keeping some water boiling on the STOVE. It has helped my tree no doubt. I am happy to say that all of the dropped leaves are re-growing very well and I think that it will make a full recovery. To any one that is new at this please beware......Do not over water this species !!! you will kill it. The people that grow this tree I bought are in CAL. I bought it at a large retail store and it was very healthy when I got it. The problem is, and I mentioned this before, they do not give you very much info about this tree. And they sure are not going to tell all the bewares. They are trying to sell trees. The biggest mistake I made was being ignorant!!!!! If I had not done the research that I did I would have lost this tree. Thank all of you...And all of you that are experienced with these amazing little trees, keep giving the great input...THEPOET
I have a love for the Bonsai. I am fond of the whole idea of a dwarf tree. I love the idea of having what would normally be monster tree in my home in miniature form. It's very cool...

spookedhippie
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thanks for the correction poet... although would it help having warm water in the tray... surely this would help the humidity around the tree? I've noticed a few leaves falling off today so i presume this is to not watering enough?

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GraniteGneiss
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You can get a care sheet on almost any type of bonsai by typing it into the search. My search on Fukien tea bonsai, for example, yielded this link, and there are others: https://www.bonsaigardener.org/fukien-tea-bonsai.html

After being disturbed, (changing lighting, repotting, etc) this tree sometimes drops its leaves. Just leave it and they will regrow. I agree with those warning that the most common problem is overwatering.

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Gnome
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spookedhippie,

One thing that I don't think we have discussed is lighting. Can you please tell us more about that? I ask because unless you have a very good southern exposure most indoor setting are on the dim side.

Norm

thepoet1961
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Overwatering............

Hey Hippie, The reason my tree lost all its leaves was over-watering! are they turning yellow? If they are you are watering too much. I read up on how to water this tree and you have to check it regularly. This tree likes to be watered when its almost dry. When you do water it pour filtered water or distilled over the whole surface until you see water coming out the drain holes. then repeat this 2 more times. The Japanese have an old saying....water 1 time for the pot,1 time for the soil,1 time for the tree. Make sure you have the pot on some kind of spacers so its not in the tray. Rocks or something. I used some spice container lids. They are about 1an1\2 inches high and be sure not to block the drain holes..........I am learning too, so tell me if you hear something that will help. Let me know if you do not understand what I have shared with you......THEPOET A.K.A. TIM
I have a love for the Bonsai. I am fond of the whole idea of a dwarf tree. I love the idea of having what would normally be monster tree in my home in miniature form. It's very cool...

spookedhippie
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thanks for the advice guys, I'm guessing the leaves are falling off then due to the repotting i did last week. They aren't turning yellow so i guess my watering can't be too bad!

Gnome, I keep it by a window and it gets sun for probably 9-10 hours a day at the minute due to it being winter here in the uk. I don't like the idea of an artificial light as worried about the electric bills coming in! Although maybe I'm over worrying the cost on that one. But any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated.

Poet thanks for the advice on the watering, i water twice at the minute. Because it has cat litter in the water comes out so quickly it overflows the humidity tray. Should I water over a sink and then place it back on its tray!?

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