adam112
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Help Needed with Chinese Elm-(UPDATED WITH PICS)

I need some help with my Bonsai tree

I bought a Bonsai tree about 2-3 months ago and everything has been fine with, up until about the last week.

One part of the tree has lost almost all of it's leaves and another part is starting to lose leaves aswell.

I've watered the tree when it's needed it and paid close attention to not over watering it. I did notice that around the base of the trunk there is a build up of a white substance (could this be a build up of salt????)

Please help, I really don't WANT TO LOSE THIS TREE

The tree is a chinese elm and is stored indoors, I have fertilised it twice with Tokonoma bonsai food which has a 4:6:6 npk ratio.
There is some fresh growth on the tree but obviously am concerned about the parts where the tree seems to be dying.

I did notice about two days ago that a couple of roots had started to grow out of the drainage holes aswell.

Many thanks.




[img]https://img263.imageshack.us/img263/5247/bonsai003lq5.jpg[/img]
[img]https://img259.imageshack.us/img259/6413/bonsai006ad4.jpg[/img]
[img]https://img504.imageshack.us/img504/7057/bonsai007wa3.jpg[/img]
[img]https://img504.imageshack.us/img504/7654/bonsai008bf1.jpg[/img]
Last edited by adam112 on Thu May 10, 2007 3:50 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Gnome
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Adam,

Please review this post and get back to us. You have not provided enough information for us to formulate a meaningful response. Pictures are always helpful as well.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5045

Norm

ynot
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Re: Help Needed

adam112 wrote:
I've watered the tree when it's needed it and paid close attention to not over watering it. I did notice that around the base of the trunk there is a build up of a white substance (could this be a build up of salt????)

Please help, I really don't WANT TO LOSE THIS TREE
Many Thanks.
Adam,

Pictures please, 8) [Of tree and soil] They would be most helpful.

It sounds like mold to me [Overwatering], Please be descriptive of your watering regimen for us.

ynot

adam112
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Ynot

I usually wait until the trees soil has started turn change colour, i.e. from wet (dark) to dry (light). Once I think the plant needs watering I water until it can be seen to come from the drainage holes, and then leave for about twenty minutes and repeat the process.

Images have now been uploaded.

Many Thanks

Adam

ynot
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adam112 wrote:Ynot

I usually wait until the trees soil has started turn change colour, I.e. from wet (dark) to dry (light). Once I think the plant needs watering I water until it can be seen to come from the drainage holes, and then leave for about twenty minutes and repeat the process.

Images have now been uploaded.

Many Thanks

Adam
Adam, Thank you for editing the pics in 8).

I like your process [20 minute/repeat:)], But I wonder how you can even see the soils surface with all the moss/mold on there?

I presume you refer to the surface color change...Keeping in mind your tree grows IN the soil as opposed to on top of it.
The surface may dry out a bit and yet the depths of the pot are still soaking, This long term overly wet condition can lead to root rot...{It is a possibility}

Read the link below to find out about proper bonsai soil- Do look at the example pictures and compare them closely to the consistency of what is in your pot.
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3422

Here is a bit about repotting in case you feel you want to research it .
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3423

ynot

adam112
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Thanks Ynot,

I'm about to research the two list you posted.

In your personal onpinion, from what you have seen would you recomend re-potting and root pruning at this time of the year???

ynot
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adam112 wrote:Thanks Ynot,

I'm about to research the two list you posted.
Your welcome & Excellent :).
adam112 wrote: In your personal onpinion, from what you have seen would you recomend re-potting and root pruning at this time of the year???
That is a tough call for a couple of reasons.

I do think this tree would benefit greatly bring in better soil [w/ proper watering.]

However, Repotting [And /or root pruning] is stressful on a tree & this one is stressed already. Nobody likes being kicked when they are already sick you know.
For the time being I think it would be best to try to achieve a balanced watering regimen while you research the properties of good bonsai soil and see what components [or suppliers] you have available to you.
IMO the time you take to do this is worth the long term gain as opposed to rushing into making changes that only marginally benefit your tree.

Ultimately, Yes I think new soil is in order but provided you do all you can to make it's current situation work during your research of soils it may be able to ride it out for a while. It has new growth which is a good sign. :)


I suspect simply removing the moss from the top of the soil completely will give you some insight into the state of the root system.
[Which you should do anyway, More pictures of this process if possible would be excellent.]
Another thing you could do to check it out is to carefully remove the tree from the pot with the entire rootball. [With as little disturbance of the roots as possible, You may need to run a knife around the edge of the pot. DO check the drainage holes also as it may be wired into the pot from the bottom.]

If you would, Take a look and let us know...

Healthy bonsai root systems look like this:
{Thanks to Gnome and rjj}
[url=https://img176.imageshack.us/my.php?image=prrp3yu3.jpg][img]https://img176.imageshack.us/img176/9240/prrp3yu3.th.jpg[/img][/url]

[url=https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v517/rjj/trident%20maple/a3.jpg][img]https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v517/rjj/trident%20maple/th_a3.jpg[/img][/url]

[url=https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v517/rjj/bonsai%20stuff/atcfc.jpg][img]https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v517/rjj/bonsai%20stuff/th_atcfc.jpg[/img][/url]

Notice the massive quantity of hairlike feeder roots.

These are what actually take in nutrients from the soil-Big fat roots are simply storage areas. The typical loose large particle 'soil' we often refer to here helps to promote this type of root growth.

Hopefully your tree will have many of these, If the roots are black or slimy or smelly [putrid] This is symptomatic of overwatering [And is potentially root rot which would require cutting off the affected roots.

This happens often when bonsai are in 'soil' that is far far too moisture retentive IE: Lots of fine {small sized} particles that are primarily organic.[This tiny particle size limits the soils aeration also as it decreases the airspaces within the soil.]
This 'soil' retains too much water for too long and also compacts over time. This only increases the problem and further limits aeration of the soil. ]

Lighting may be a factor as well here, Is it possible for you to put it outside to get better light?

....Always more questions...lol

Hope this helps. :D

ynot

adam112
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Thank you Ynot for all your time and assistance.

I'm going to do some extensive research into soils over the next couple of days and will also remove all traces of moss from the top of the soil, for further investigation (will post pictures ASAP).

Once again, thank you for you time and assistance.

Adam.

ynot
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adam112 wrote:Thank you Ynot for all your time and assistance.
Your very welcome man :D
I'm going to do some extensive research into soils over the next couple of days and will also remove all traces of moss from the top of the soil, for further investigation (will post pictures ASAP).
Soil is a big issue [And sometimes people make it very complex...It need not be really.]

You may have more questions than answers when you get read up a bit on it...:P ;) That's ok though, It just means your paying attention. 8)

Later

ynot

adam112
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Hi again Ynot, Sorry to keep on at this but I really want to get it sorted, Sooner rather than later.

I have cleared a majority of the moss and mould from the top of the tree and managed to free it from the pot it was in. It looks to me like it has never hat a root prune ever, (but as you may already know I'm not too clued up).

I have enclosed pics of the root system, let me know what you think.

Thanks again
[img]https://img248.imageshack.us/img248/6098/bonsai010np5.jpg[/img][/url]
[img]https://img69.imageshack.us/img69/3127/bonsai011ug1.jpg[/img]
[img]https://img170.imageshack.us/img170/7540/bonsai012dv9.jpg[/img]
[img]https://img256.imageshack.us/img256/5753/bonsai014ki3.jpg[/img]

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Gnome
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Adam,

Thanks for the pictures they're very helpful. Your soil is less than ideal and your tree is pretty much root bound. There is little question that it needs to be re-potted but now is not the time to do it. I see some fresh roots and you have plenty of green foliage so if you can get through this season without disturbing it that would be my choice.

There are two times of the year that this tree can be re-potted. The primary one being in spring just before the buds break open, which is my preference. The other applies if you intend to keep it inside over the winter (Chinese Elms are subtropical). If so allow it to go dormant this fall then re-pot and bring it in.

If you do choose the second approach though lighting will be an issue, so give this some thought. I really prefer to keep mine dormant over the winter. Either way you are going to have a project on your hands as this tree needs some serious attention down below.

Norm

adam112
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Thanks alot Gnome, I thought that it would be the case not to repot it yet.

I will be placing the tree outside in the next couple of days as the weather is getting better.

Thanks for your assistance

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adam112 wrote:Hi again Ynot, Sorry to keep on at this but I really want to get it sorted, Sooner rather than later.
No worries at all adam. 8)
I have cleared a majority of the moss and mould from the top of the tree and managed to free it from the pot it was in. It looks to me like it has never hat a root prune ever, (but as you may already know I'm not too clued up).
.... let me know what you think.
I have two words for you:

Pot bound


Gnome gives excellent advice above.

Gnome, I wonder if a slip pot might be effective [and timely]? Any thoughts on that...

Adam, Do you have a slightly larger pot? [It need not be a 'bonsai pot' at all.]

ynot

adam112
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Ynot,

I do have some larger pots in the Garden that my parents aren't using, so that isn't a problem.

Does it matter wether they are plastic or terracota, and what size would you recommend???

Thanks

ynot
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adam112 wrote:Ynot,

I do have some larger pots in the Garden that my parents aren't using, so that isn't a problem.

Does it matter wether they are plastic or terracota, and what size would you recommend???

Thanks
Well, just slightly larger would suffice...TOOO large has its own set of problems.

Either material is absolutely fine [The tree does not care;)].

But here is the thing: Until you get some proper soil to put it in it is all kind of a mute point. [This would involve trying to get as much of that muck off the surfaced also IMO...]

I just think a bit of 'breathing room' might help it out.

I want to hear Gnomes thoughts on this as he is more familiar with this species.

ynot

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Gnome
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Ynot,
Gnome, I wonder if a slip pot might be effective [and timely]? Any thoughts on that...
You know the issues we have seen in the past with two different soil types in the same pot and this would be my primary objection to a slip pot. I suppose he could use a similar soil (perhaps just a bit looser) to the original. Watering would need to be geared to the inner root mass not the outer one.

Norm

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