Newly Registered
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2010 8:34 pm
Location: Livonia, MI

HELP! My Surinam Cherry/Eugenia is dying..

Hi there, I am brand new to this forum &also a new bonsai owner. I received a Surinam Cherry for Christmas from a well-known/respected bonsai shop near my house. It was a beautiful, healthy-looking tree when I first got it, but since, it has gone downhill. The leaves began getting rather dry about a month &a half ago, &since, a few have begun to turn yellow &fall off. I am extremely concerned, so I read up on bonsai care on this website &am embarrassed to say I have been doing a few things wrong.

First, I had been watering it about every other day, which I think may have been too much. I mistakenly thought I should keep the soil wet. I was told to water it every day, but I thought it might be too frequent. I also mist the leaves with a spray bottle each time I water. I had forgotten to water it once for a few days, &I was afraid it was too dry, so I've been trying to keep it more moist (until I was schooled on watering today!). The pot (hard plastic) is sitting in a tray, but there were no pebbles in it, so I believe it was contributing to the over watering, since the pot was sitting directly in the tray.

Secondly, I originally had placed it on a windowsill in my kitchen, facing east. I was afraid it was too cold, because a couple of leaves fell off (without yellowing), so I moved it to a table in front of a window facing south. However, there is a floor heat register about 18" from the plant. I was told it should be ok as long as I was attentive to watering it, hence the over watering. I also was told to place a clear plastic bag with lots of holes cut in it on top of the plant if I was going to be away &unable to water the plant for a few days. ("It's like a greenhouse.") I did this about a week ago, hoping it would help bring moisture back into the leaves, &it has been on since. Leaves still appearing to die. Is this a bad idea? I haven't seen anything on the site about this.

Furthermore, I fertilized the plant about once a month. I was told by a gardener not to fertilize during the dormant months, so I'm going to stop doing this until it's further into spring.

I checked the soil &it seems to be a nice quality. I'm assuming it's fine because it came from someone well-experienced in bonsai. It came in a hard plastic rectangular pot, which I have left it in. I would like to repot it in something nicer, but I was not sure if I should wait until the summer or not.

Following previous posts, I placed some flat marbles in the tray, which I'm hoping will help with drainage. I also am going to stop watering the plant until the soil isn't wet, because I think I was over watering it. I'm extremely worried that I've caused it to have root rot by keeping it too moist.. should I attempt to inspect the roots, or will that do more harm than good? Also, I read somewhere to cut the tree in an inconspicuous spot to inspect for green. Again, is this a bad idea? Another thing I've noticed is there is a lot of tiny green growth (not mold) coming out of the soil, approximately a cm tall.

Please help, I really hope I can save my tree!
Thank you!

Senior Member
Posts: 244
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 9:40 am
Location: Brighton, Michigan


Welcome to the forum! How exciting to see another Michigander. ;)

I am not specifically experienced in cherry trees, but I do think your assessment of your watering up to this point is probably correct. Every other day may be too often, and watering on a schedule is never a good idea. The pot sitting in a tray of water is also unhealthy for your tree.

Moving the tree around may also be a source of stress, causing it to lose leaves.

One more question: what kind of light are you providing for your tree? Any tree kept indoors is going to be at a disadvantage as far as light and humidity go. This is why supplemental light and a humidity tray are so important to trees kept indoors.

You mentioned there is new growth. If this is the case, I see no reason to cut into the tree and check for green. The only purpose of this is to ensure the tree is not dead. New growth makes that a moot point. :)

Cherry Care:

Some pictures of your tree would helpful to better assess its condition and the type of soil it has.

I am curious (being not that far away and always interested in new shops to procure specimens) where you got your bonsai. Was it a nursery, or a shop that deals specifically with bonsai?

You sound like you are on the right track to getting your bonsai to a more happy place. :) I hope I have been able to answer some of your questions. Please ask away if you have more.

Return to “Indoor Bonsai Forum”