sylvia1572
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:50 pm
Location: Montana

First Time Owner-Help with Naked Bonsai

Wow, what a great site.

Last week I bought a Bonsai at Lowe's in the clearance corner. I felt so sorry for it and they practically gave it to me. It was so pathetic looking and dry as a bone. I have no idea what kind it is. I do know that it is not a pine. It is in a pot about 7 1/2 inches high. The tree itself is about 11 inches (at its highest branch). It had a few yellow leaves on it that promptly fell of. The top of the soil has moss on it.

For now I have it on my patio (not in the sun) and I watered it well as soon as I got home. It will be an indoor plant as I live in Montana but for now it's nice and warm outside.

To my delight, it has started sprouting leaves in various places. My questions are:

Should I water when the top is dry? The pot is very high so I'm not sure how much to water.

It has a lot of branches (most are naked). Should I cut some of them off?

Should I fertilize it?

Should I put it out in the sun for a little bit every day or is it OK in the shade?

I am truly amazed that this little guy seems to be coming back to life (the people I was with when I bought him thought I was crazy for buying a "dead plant"!

Any tips would be most appreciated. Thank you in advance.

linlaoboo
Green Thumb
Posts: 469
Joined: Sat May 22, 2010 5:15 pm
Location: NJ

sylvia1572,

I'm glad you do the same thing I do by rescuing them from Lowes but I've never had luck to see bonsai in that section. The best I've done was gotten 2 bonsais in walmart for $10 each. One of them was a seiju elm which had alot of bare branches and it's now full of leaves and thriving. They had the moss and white gravels grown by Costa Farms.

You would do it alot of justice by posting a picture so people with experience on what ever tree it is can offer help in terms of how to best care for it. In general you should not fertilize it until it's fully acclimated to the new environment. You can slowly move it into the sun in the morning for no more than an hour. Increase direct sun exposure time every day and also expose it to late aftenoon sun next, then increase the exposure time while avoiding harsh sun from 11am to 2pm lets say. If you see leave burn, it gets too much sun. Many will advice removing the moss and gravel right away. But depending on what kind of bonsai it is, you may or may not have to repot it into a proper bonsai mix once it's healthy enough for a repot. But after a while you have to inspect the roots when pot is fully dry to see if it's root bound. Many bonsai should get repotted every 2 years while a few like to get a little root bound before re-potting or root pruning. Like I say it's important to find out what kind it is. FYI there's an identification forum on this site.
ficus, maple, elm, juniper, pine

derkap10
Cool Member
Posts: 88
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:15 am
Location: Mississippi

Hi Sylvia,

Linlaoboo gives great advice. Make sure the pot it's in now has drainage holes. They don't always do. Post a pic if possible. That will help tremendously. It seems that so far you're doing well.
Happy little trees!

JTred
Green Thumb
Posts: 380
Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2008 7:05 am
Location: Elizabeth, PA

linlaoboo wrote: You would do it alot of justice by posting a picture so people with experience on what ever tree it is can offer help in terms of how to best care for it.
Ditto. Without an ID there's no way to tell whether this tree should be kept inside or outside, or whether it's likely to survive.

sylvia1572
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:50 pm
Location: Montana

Sorry for the delay in getting back but I couldn't get on the site (was it down for awhile?).

Anyway, I did some research and it's a Chinese Elm. I was gone for a week with strict orders for watering. My once bare tree is now covered with leaves and it looks beautiful!!!!!!! Wow......what a little water can do in such a short time.

Thank you all for your great advice. :D

linlaoboo
Green Thumb
Posts: 469
Joined: Sat May 22, 2010 5:15 pm
Location: NJ

congrats, for the chinese elm a good bonsai mix makes a big difference. Is it a regular chinese elm or one with small leave size? This year I potted my regular in a bigger nursery pot from the bonsai pot it was in previously and the trunk fatten up quickly. I don't think yours should get repotted until next year though. When the soil in the pot is nearly bone dry, u can loosen up the perimeters and easily lift it out of the pot to inspect the roots and see if it's root bound. Let it go and don't disturb it if it's not root bound and everything looks healthy. good luck!
ficus, maple, elm, juniper, pine

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