RedKestrel
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"Bonsai" from sam's club... (Fukien Tea)

Today is my 20th birthday, and my parents decided to get me a bonsai from sam's club since I'd been showing lots of interest in bonsais. This little tree for a gift really shouldn't have been a surprise. :roll:

The tag labels it as tropical, but I don't know the species or the specifics of how to care for it. I'm hoping this is an easy beginners' tree...
[img]https://lh6.ggpht.com/_PngHbpepnV0/TQ6f48EgpCI/AAAAAAAAARU/wZpKPRn_wBU/s512/DSCN0069.jpg[/img]
Simply labeled "Bonsai", this small bush, while at least alive and rather healthy looking for now, seems to need work. I have many many questions and concerns, and I think I might just list them by numbers to make it easy for me.

1. What species is this?

2. Is regular feeding necessary? If so, what sort of stuff to I feed it?

3. Root Pruning?
I suspect the pot it is in is a simple flower pot set inside the visible pot, and I'm worried that root pruning might be hard with it allowed to be that deep. When is it best to prune roots, and how do I go about doing this?

4. Humidity?
I was told it sat in my brother's room above a heat vent for several days before being presented to me, and I get the feeling that it's not good for a tropical tree, so I've set the whole thing above a container of water and dripped a little bit of water on it's leaves. The water it's sitting in cannot access the roots, but as it evaporates should help the leaves I think... correct me if I'm wrong on this one.

5. Moss?
I don't know if that moss on top is necessary. I'll leave it in place for now (lifting it to water and check moisture) but I think it's dead. It'd be neat if it was alive and green, but very little of it is green and it is not anchored to the dirt. Should it be removed, kept, given special treatment? (is it possibly sphagnum moss or otherwise usefull for air-layering?)

6. The branches...
How might I go about propagating more little trees from it? (air-layering or just taking a cutting and using rooting hormone?)

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Gnome
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Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

RedKestrel,

Without a larger picture it's a bit difficut to tell but I get the impression that it is a Fukein Tea. The shiny leaves are one clue and I think that I can make out the disticntive notched leaf tips. To verify, have a look at the picture on this page.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fukien_Tea_Tree_flower.jpg
I'm hoping this is an easy beginners' tree...
This is not a species that I have ever owned but some growers have had difficulty with them, while others do not. It will be a learning curve.

I would remove the moss. As you noted it is not alive and can make telling when to water it difficult. Does the outer pot have drainage holes? If not be very careful not to let and water accululate. Take the whole thing apart (moss and remove the inner pot) to examine everything. You can keep using the decorative outer pot but never allow any standing water.

Don't worry about root pruning/re-potting for now that is for later this year as it begins active growth. Many plants sort of coast through winter especially if they are not well lit. So the next thing is lighting, our homes are rather dim for most plants and some form of supplemental lighting will be almost a necessity. Fluorescents are a reasonable compromise, reasonably effective but not too expensive. Even a fixture with a few CFL's will really help. Tubes (two or four foot) will also be fine if you have, or expect to acquire, more than one plant.

Those are the important issues, I thnk. Here is a link that should help with more specifics.
https://www.bonsaihunk.us/info/FukienTea.html

Norm

RedKestrel
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Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 5:32 pm
Location: MN

Thanks Gnome! It is most deffinitely Fukien Tea. The leaves have those spots and shape. (I'm glad they're supposed to have spots, and that it's not sick already too!)

The outer pot is quite a bit larger than the inner pot, and the inner pot is set up on a small piece of styrofoam, the bottom of the larger container does seem a bit moist, but the inner one seems mostly dry at the moment. There's a space of about an inch or more between the two, so I don't think standing water should be a problem.

As for lighting, I do have a "plant light". I assume it's meant to provide light for plants to grow in. The description is "the plant light bulb is tinted blue to highlight the natural beauty and color of your plants -- so they appear healthier and greener". I thought that was a tad bit suspicious, but I'll give it a shot anyways. I doubt it can hurt the plant any, and if it doesn't seem to be doing well later I'll find something else.

The link is extremely helpful and I think I'll refer to it often until I know the stuff by heart. :) Thank you for pointing it out!

It's unfortunate for me that the trunk takes a long time to develop thicker, but I don't really consider that a major setback, and I think I couldn't be happier with this surprise tree :D I had no idea this thing would bear tiny red fruits! Can't wait to see them, they look so cute! I'll just have to keep my eyes peeled for anything that looks like a pest. It seems healthy at the moment, and I haven't seen anything moving on it yet, nor any sticky spots, so hopefully I can avoid having to debug it at all.

Once again, thanks a bunch Gnome! You've just saved me from a ton of worry! :D I think I can handle this pretty well.

zoradelora
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Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 4:35 pm
Location: Wisconsin

This thread is very helpful to me, since I was just trying to find out if my bonsai (I have this exact one, from Sam's Club) was supposed to be spotted. I am going to read the link, but I was wondering if anyone can tell me point blank why my bonsai is drying out? the leaves are turning brittle and falling off. I am assuming I am not watering properly, but I am not sure.

zoradelora
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Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 4:35 pm
Location: Wisconsin

Sorry to post a second message, but I forgot to mention that I have only had mine about a week and it went from the pretty, shiny leaves in the picture of the original post to black-ish crinkled leaves. I know now that these are dead, but should I remove the leaves or let them fall naturally? Also, I have not soaked my plant completely but I removed the moss as suggested and it was surprisingly moist all over. Should I still completely submerge my bonsai in water anyway, to make sure it's well-watered?

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applestar
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It sounds to me more like the soil is already saturated (the moss can cover up the soil and make it difficult to tell, as well as act as moisture retaining mulch. Stick a finger in the soil and see how it feels.

I intensely dislike decorative coverpots because it's easy to accidentally leave the growing pot sitting in surplus water that drained out of it, unless you are diligent about draining the excess water. One way to avoid this is to put something (upside down) in the bottom to elevate the growing pot -- I use anything from empty (clean) tuna cans, shallow plastic containers, single serving aluminum pie pans, large rocks, etc.

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