RichTDA
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Help Please : My Chinese Elm seems to be dying :(

Hi Guys!

I have had my Bonsai about 5 months, and I have repoted it as it was a store brought one and it was getting a little ill. Dropped all its leaves after a massive growth spurt in about March.

I reportted it, and it began to sprout again, but not a vigourous this time. However now it seems to have started to wilt and loose its leaves again.

Any advice on how to revive my tree would be great, means a lot to me and I have tried everything I can think of. Watered and fed but nothing seems to work.

Thanks

Rich
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kdodds
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Location: Airmont, NY Zone 6/7

Get it outside. Unless you can provide season-appropriate conditions in your home DAILY, it is my experience that Chinese Elms will "get confused" and go alternately dormant and go through a growth spurt in a matter of a few weeks, continually.

RichTDA
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Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:37 pm
Location: chesterfield

Thanks for that, I will pop it outside for the summer, do I leave it out over night also?

However is there any way I can keep it inside?
I was under the impression that this species could be

Thanks again for the help, anything else you could offer to me would be of great help

Rich
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kdodds
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Elms are difficult indoors, easy outdoors (depending on climate, of course). I've been researching quite a bit, because I do like them tremendously, but don't want to start growing outside. The "dwarf" varieties like 'Hokkaido' seem to be easier, but are more demanding in terms of humidity. ALL need true cool house conditions, but the need those conditions seasonally, without shifts during hot or cold spells. For instance, if you have a warm couple of days in December that gets to 50ºF, when it's been 30º, and the room temp shoots up 5-10ºF, well, you may just find you Elm blooming, only to die back again quickly as temps resume. The same holds true in the Spring and Summer if you use air conditioning. The shift from AC off to AC on can knock an Elm into a sort of pseudo-dormancy. The fluctuations, day to night can get the tree "confused", I guess, and it can even be going dormant and budding simultaneously. I've tried a few so far, but have not been successful as yet. I do not have one currently.

RichTDA
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Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:37 pm
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Hi Sorry about this, but I have put my tree outside and the leaves that were still attached have now pretty much all shrivelled up and no leaves are on it. The trunk looks healthy and the soil is still wet, however I am just wondering if this is a normal reaction to being placed outside and if the tree will again start to sprout new growth eventually?

Also I was wondering if you had any tips on watering? I have specific bonsai food that is water soluble but how would you recommend watering? Using a sprayer or just pouring it straight into the soil until you see the water come from the bottom of the pot?
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kdodds
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This holds true for pretty much all trees...

If the tree defoliates, as yours has, water ONLY when the soil is fairly dry. NOT bone dry, no, but when a chopstick/toothpick comes out clean. Under no circumstances should a tree in this condition be overwatered.

When healthy, different trees have different requirements. Some like to be kept "feet wet", and some will die if their roots are constantly wet. Some like to go completely dry between waterings, and others will be killed by this. For Elms, holding to the above, watering only when dry, is probably the best course.

As far as fertilizing goes, only an actively growing tree should be fertilized. I also prefer water soluble fertilizers. I like DynaGrow (7-9-5) at half strength, but have used others, never higher than 10-10-5, also at half strength. I fertilize weekly during growing season for actively growing trees. During the fall and winter, growth slows even for my indoor trees because they are subjected to shortening natural photoperiods and temperature drop in my garden window. So, during this slow growth period I fertilize only once per month.

As to how to water, you'll find as many different opinions as you'll find bonsai growers. The smart reader will KNOW that, from this, there can not be any one right and perfect way to water bonsai. What I can say is that anyone who tells you emphatically that one particular way is dead wrong, harmful, or deadly is probably a person who either has very little experience and is just regurgitating advice, or someone whose advice is suspect on probably most levels. That said, I can only say what has worked well for me. I soak all of my trees for half an hour per week in fertilized tap water (400ppm TDS), longer on newly repotted trees. I never water from the top. I mist twice daily, using distilled water, using approximately one quart per day. Have I lost trees? Of course, everyone's lost trees. Anyone who says they haven't hasn't been growing very long. Do I attribute any of these deaths to watering methods? Absolutely not. The trees I've lost have proven difficult for me (and many others) indoors, regardless of methods (which I have varied to test this theory). So, pick the method that works best for you. Try different methods. Change it up, and find an overall care program that works best for you.

TomM
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A lot of good advice in here, though it can be so very confusing to some. It all boils down to what works for you. My methods are quite different than this writer - but I respect the fact that he tries different things and determines what works for him. I do the same. No quick fixes, no hard and fast rules apply to every situation, no (dependable) miracles. A lot of trial & error.

The learning curve can take a lifetime. Enjoy the journey.

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