Blast
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Joined: Sat Feb 17, 2007 8:35 pm
Location: Bristol England

32 year old non-gardener gets bonsai for birthday, help save

Hi all

I am Jim a 32 year old plant murderer from Bristol England. I am useless with plants/trees know nothing about plants or gardens of any type. Yet despite this my wife saw fit to surprise me with a Bonsai tree for my birthday My previous knowledge of Bonsai trees is minimal and involves having watched the Karate kid series of movies So I think you can see my tree is in trouble and needs your help

Ok my tree according to the paragraph long instructions that came with it is an elm. It recomends daily watering of the roots, what does this mean? and misting which I do understand secondly it recomends submerging my tree once a week until it no longer bubbles. This is the basics so far I will post more detail when I am here longer.

Ok as I said I am in Bristol England, the weather here is wet and windy and at the moment daytime tempatures will be around 5-10 celcius and night from 5-2 celcius. My house is central heated and daytime temp in the house will be from 18-20 celcius and evening temp around 20-21 celcius dropping to 18-20 from midnight on, my wife hates to be cold. Taking this into account any advice on where I keep my tree? Oh also to consider here in England is Dutch elm disease which wiped out all the elm trees here, I asume the bonsai would be suseptable to this?

Finaly my bonsai tree soil is dry, it has arrived in the post like this. Everything I have read suggests it should be wet so I will take care of this now and hope I am doing the right thing. I will use luke warm water? as suggested for other plants so as not to shock the tree, hope this is right. I wrote this 24 hrs ago and have now actualy done this I submerged my tree and so far it seems fine.

OK thats it from me for now, hope you can all help me with this as I really don't want to kill it.

Heres a picture taken just now

[img]https://i86.photobucket.com/albums/k94/jimsmillions/Bonzai.jpg[/img]

Cheers

ynot
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Blast,

I like the honesty of your title! [and the cheek of it :lol:]


[I recently posted this on this site but I feel it has a lot of applicable info for you.]

Welcome to Bonsai!

Here is a general care sheet for elm bonsai:
https://www.bonsai4me.com/SpeciesGuide/Ulmus.html

Sadly, Oftentimes Bonsai are in less than optimal potting medium, Please check out the sticky on soil: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3422

Some more pictures would be nice [of the soil especially :), [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3557]Photo tips.[/url]

There is a lot of excellent information online :!: A pair of excellent sites to read articles about the basics [and more advanced elements] of bonsai here: https://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics.html And https://evergreengardenworks.com/articles.htm

I suggest that you start with the articles focused on beginners, Watering, Soil, Repotting, And Pruning.

Watering being the most important of these for the moment as IMO rookie watering mistakes kill more bonsai than all else.

Speaking of which:

Ok my tree according to the paragraph long instructions that came with it is an elm. It recomends daily watering of the roots, what does this mean? and misting which I do understand secondly it recomends submerging my tree once a week until it no longer bubbles. This is the basics so far I will post more detail when I am here longer.
Wrt watering: Submersion as a regular watering practice is not recommended by any experienced bonsai-ist.
In fact some professionals [As you will see in the links provided] specifically advise against it. It is used after a repot or in emergencies on occasion.
To water your tree simply water thoroughly and completely from the top until the water flows from the drainage holes. Letting tap water sit for 24 hours to allow any chemicals to evaporate is a good idea [as is watering over a sink ;) ]

Also, 'Water your tree more' or 'Water your tree less' refers to the frequency that you water and Not to the amount that you water.

Remember that the goal every time you water is a complete and thorough saturation of the soil and then you do not water again until it requires it [at depth- see below]

One way to determine this is by probing with your finger [Have a little gentle dig.] about two knuckles deep into the pot and see if it is moist [Not wet-- moist]...Not bone dry-not wet.

When it is just moist at that depth it is time for a complete watering [Not before]

Old masters often recommend that you water three times [About 10 minutes apart ] to allow the water time to soak in [as opposed to just running down the inside of the pot.] This is a good and effective idea.

Watering on a schedule is also not in your trees best interests, Here is why.
It does not address this issue:

Does the tree need water?

Check it every day, But only water when it needs it.
Oh also to consider here in England is Dutch elm disease which wiped out all the elm trees here, I asume the bonsai would be suseptable to this?
I don't think this will be an issue for your tree.

I know I have given you a lot of info, I hope it helps. The overwhelming feeling will pass ;), I promise.

Please do study these links and the articles contained within and let us know if you have any questions.

Good luck!

ynot

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Gnome
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Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

Blast,

Hello and welcome to our forum. Your tree appears to be a Chinese Elm. You are lucky as this is one of the more forgiving and vigorous growers used as bonsai.
It recomends daily watering of the roots, what does this mean? and misting which I do understand secondly it recomends submerging my tree once a week until it no longer bubbles.
I'm afraid that most of this is simply wrong. While this plant may indeed require daily watering during the summer if it is in the proper soil, it is very unlikely that daily watering would be required now. When watering the only thing that can be put on a schedule is you. Check the tree daily and only water when it is necessary. Now I now that is easy for me to say but what does this mean to a self professed plant murderer?

Look here: [url]https://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basics_Watering.html[/url]
and here: [url]https://evergreengardenworks.com/watering.htm[/url]
for information about watering. For someone in your position this is by far the most important thing to get a handle on.

I really don't like to water by immersion except under unusual circumstances, one of which is an overly dry soil that is probably of less than ideal composition. Which is a round about way of saying you did good with this technique once, but it is best avoided.

This tree is a sub-tropical and is often suggested for indoor culture. So you are in good shape here as well, glad its not a Juniper. :twisted: Leave it inside for now, it is much too late to attempt to acclimatise to outdoors now. In the spring is should go outside and, in my opinion, stay there. More on this next fall if you wish. For now try to provide as much light as you are able. If your home lacks an appropriate location perhaps you should consider some form of supplemental lighting.

By the way you are not the first person on this forum to mention the karate kid nor the first to kill a tree, or several, or more. Please come back after you have done a little reading, also each of those sites I posted have other articles, some of which will be appropriate to you in the very near future. I have proper bonsai soil in mind at the moment.

Good Luck.

Norm

Blast
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Joined: Sat Feb 17, 2007 8:35 pm
Location: Bristol England

Hi guys

Thanks for the information and links, looks like I have some reading to do :D

From what you have told me so far it seems my tree still needs watering even though I did emerse it before. I left my water out to stand only I forgot to tell my wife and she poured it away this morning :roll: Would it be ok to use spring water from a bottle as I am going shopping later and could pick some up?.

Thanks again.

ynot
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Thanks for the information and links, looks like I have some reading to do
Yep...lol
From what you have told me so far it seems my tree still needs watering even though I did emerse it before.
Not really, What both Gnome and I have said is that you need to check it every day to see if it needs watering. If it doesn't need it- just let it ride. We do a lot less watering than people think, But far more checking. :lol:
You will learn much about watering in your reading..;)
I left my water out to stand only I forgot to tell my wife and she poured it away this morning Rolling Eyes Would it be ok to use spring water from a bottle as I am going shopping later and could pick some up?.
You can even use straight tap water [One dose will not be detrimental at all but prolonged regular use could lead to various buildups.]
Thanks again.
Glad to help.
:)
ynot

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Gnome
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Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

Blast,

Glad to help.
Would it be ok to use spring water from a bottle
There would be no problem with that except the cost may eventually become an issue. I use my well water and don't give it a second though. Although there is no Chlorine or Fluoride added it is rather hard water. Please don't water your tree because you feel "it must need it by now", not that you said that specifically. Check it daily, water thoroughly as required.

Norm

Blast
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Joined: Sat Feb 17, 2007 8:35 pm
Location: Bristol England

ynot wrote:One way to determine this is by probing with your finger [Have a little gentle dig.] about two knuckles deep into the pot and see if it is moist [Not wet-- moist]...Not bone dry-not wet.

When it is just moist at that depth it is time for a complete watering [Not before]
I felt with my limited experience that my tree soil was moist at the suggested depth so thats why I have chosen to water it. I don't think my previous submerging was that succesful to be honest.

Thanks again, I will now go and read some articles.

Ohh also I will post some soil pictures when I have my webcam working on this PC. I need to move my PC as its stood on end but isnt designed too so everytime I try and put in the driver disc for the web cam it falls out before the draw closes :lol:

ynot
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Blast wrote:
I felt with my limited experience that my tree soil was moist at the suggested depth so thats why I have chosen to water it. I don't think my previous submerging was that succesful to be honest.
:?:- Um, I hope you mean was barely moist, Right?

After all, No need to water it if it is still moist. I may not have been clear in that I meant 'when it is just moist' My apologies if this is the case.

With the soil I am betting it is in it most likely retains a lot of moisture.
Thanks again, I will now go and read some articles.
:D

ynot

Ps sorry about your cpu tower.

Blast
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Joined: Sat Feb 17, 2007 8:35 pm
Location: Bristol England

ynot wrote:
Blast wrote:
I felt with my limited experience that my tree soil was moist at the suggested depth so thats why I have chosen to water it. I don't think my previous submerging was that succesful to be honest.
:?:- Um, I hope you mean was barely moist, Right?

After all, No need to water it if it is still moist. I may not have been clear in that I meant 'when it is just moist' My apologies if this is the case.

With the soil I am betting it is in it most likely retains a lot of moisture.
Thanks again, I will now go and read some articles.
:D

ynot

Ps sorry about your cpu tower.
IMHO it was barely moist on the surface and hardly moist at depth so I hope I did ok. Whatever the case its had a good watering now so I will keep checking it.

Have read a few articles now :shock: will keep going :)

Cheers

ynot
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IMHO it was barely moist on the surface and hardly moist at depth so I hope I did ok. Whatever the case its had a good watering now so I will keep checking it.
Cool, One thing to consider is that [with rare exceptions] none of your trees roots are on the surface which is why we ask you to check at depth.

The moisture content on the surface is shall we say...Less relevant than what is available deeper [Where the roots are.]

I am not trying to to be facetious in any way in this response but often people water wrt the state of the surface of the soil, More accurately they OVER-water and .....Well, Things go downhill from there. :(
Have read a few articles now will keep going
Glad to hear it, Keep posting.
ynot

Blast
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Location: Bristol England

Hi, back again :)

Just a couple of questions. My tree leaves are going slightly yellow in a few places but not severly. Also my tree is putting out new shoots and the yellowing largely seems to be around these areas but not entirely. Have I over waterd my tree or is it going yellow in places cus its putting out new shoots? According to the barely moist at depth test I should water my tree again now but I wont until I have had an opiniun on this, will just mist for now and check back later.

Will post some pictures later but still got one minor problem left to sort with my web cam then they will be here :)

Thanks

ynot
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Blast wrote:Hi, back again :)

Just a couple of questions. My tree leaves are going slightly yellow in a few places but not severly. Also my tree is putting out new shoots and the yellowing largely seems to be around these areas but not entirely. Have I over waterd my tree or is it going yellow in places cus its putting out new shoots? According to the barely moist at depth test I should water my tree again now but I wont until I have had an opiniun on this, will just mist for now and check back later.
While yellow leaves are sometimes a sign of over watering. It is:
in a few places but not severly.

That is not cause to get excited and withhold water and change it all up, These things take time and you will have to just have to continue to give it proper care.

If your tree was being over-watered previously [Only you know if it was more or less than now.] the symptoms may only be showing up now.
Keeping it too dry now is not a cure, Or even helpful.
It's counterproductive and only adds stress.

If it is time to water...It IS time to water
Will post some pictures later but still got one minor problem left to sort with my web cam then they will be here :)
Look forward to the pics. :)

ynot

Blast
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Joined: Sat Feb 17, 2007 8:35 pm
Location: Bristol England

Thanks for the advice ynot :) I will water my tree shortly

Here are the pictures as promised, sadly I don't have the best web cam in the world and poor lighting in the room but I did my best. Have included some descriptions.

[img]https://i86.photobucket.com/albums/k94/jimsmillions/bonnewshoot.jpg[/img]

Close up of a new shoot with surrounding yellow area.

[img]https://i86.photobucket.com/albums/k94/jimsmillions/bonmoreyellow.jpg[/img]

Some more yellow at the top of the tree there is also some new growth near this not very visable.

[img]https://i86.photobucket.com/albums/k94/jimsmillions/bonwholetree.jpg[/img]

Whole tree as it is today, best pic I could get sorry!

[img]https://i86.photobucket.com/albums/k94/jimsmillions/Image.jpg[/img]

Some soil as promised from above :)

Ok, hope thats interesting at least :D

Thanks again.

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