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!