jwf2.tao
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Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:18 pm
Location: Big Island, Hawaii

Chinese Elm Questions

I have a Chinese Elm I have had for about a year and a half. Moved into a new apt, where I thought the porch would offer a nice spot for my tree's year round...I live in hawaii so adverse weather is never a problem. However, I have discovered that in the summer the angle of the sun changes significantly enough that I only get about an hour of morning sun....then indirect light the rest of the day. The Elm seems very weak....it had an issue with spider mite, I sprayed with an organic 3/1 product, and had to go to a Bayer(stronger) 3 in 1 to get it under control. Getting some new growth but still losing leaves. Have trimmed the dead wood. Should also mention I repotted in early "spring", a 12x9 Tokoname pot with 90% small Hawaiian cinder cones and 10% pulverized pine bark. I fertilize lightly with Bonsai Pro & Superthrive.

Any input or suggestions greatly appreciated. I also have a Chinese Ligustrum...never "caught" the mites but growth is weak...my thought is I just need more sun....perhaps "fall/winter", when the sun angle changes- will be my best growing season?
Living aloha on the big island of
Hawaii....

tomc
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Re: Chinese Elm Questions

What works for one grower may not fit every other grower when it comes to pest control. I will use insecticidal soap sprayed, and rubbing alcohol daubed to reduce scale. I expect your milage may vary.

If I knew where you grow I might be able to advise care for your elm.

I'm wondering if your may have soil that holds too much moisture, or that you may have been overwatering. Are you using chop-stick method to check your trees need for water?

In any event slip one of both trees out of their pot and report back here the roots condition for a next step for them.
Think like a tree
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jwf2.tao
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Re: Chinese Elm Questions

Thank you for your interest GT; as I mentioned I live on the big island of Hawaii, specifically on the leeward/Kailua Kona side. Weather very temperate, this time of year temps avg mid 80's with 60% humidity. We can get periods of wind that can be damaging, but my tree's are on a lanai(porch) with pretty good protection; unfortunately that also contributes to my sun problem- don't have a lot of alternatives, when I moved here last fall I did not take into account how the changing angle of the sun would effect direct amount of sun I get- the lanai faces SSE. This time of year, now at 8:15 am HST, I get direct sunlight for about an hour...if we have a clear sky, and we do have quite a few cloudy days.
The soil medium I am using is the same for both the tree's I have mentioned- 90% pea size black volcanic cinder cone; 10% pine bark mulch. The cinder is porous and holds some moisture but drains freely. Because of travel off island both of these tree's have undergone some stress from care that was inconsistent while I was gone...and during the month of may I was gone for the entire month. The Ligustrum had obviously been overwatered and the main tree, about 15 years old with a 2" trunk....was dead; but a strong "sucker" had emerged and is growing vigorously. It's in a 14" round Mica pot, and there are strong white roots growing through the drain holes in the bottom. My thoughts are just to let it grow and see what develops...could turn out to be rather intriguing/paradoxical...your thoughts?
When I first returned from my trip the Elm actually looked very good. It's a tree I purchased from Miami Tropical. For my money they have some very good buys...you can buy "good girth for the buck", but know you have a lot of time and work to really form a nice tree. They appear to come from air layering of 2" or so limb sizes, so you have to be a little careful to see where the major cuts are, how they are healing, etc. With this elm I "slivered" the largest cut back to fresh wood, applied a high quality japanese cut paste, removed it from a 12" plastic bonsai training pot, shook out as much of the medium I could without disturbing the roots too much(don't like the soil they use- pretty dense and seems to be loaded with man-made stuff?), then potted it into a large square clay nursery pot with a locally mixed tropical potting soil and 50% cinders. That was April 2012. Moved to the current 12x9 Tokoname pot March 2013. It seemed stable. My trip came at a bad time, but it was for healthcare, so unavoidable.
The real downturn seems to have occurred with the spider mites, combined with the reduction in direct sunlight. Not sure if there is a relationship...but the mites were hard to get rid of. In the past I have used an organic 3/1 with great success, but as I mentioned before, this time I had to go to a much stronger chemical.
I really hesitate to remove this tree from the pot to check the roots. I'm pretty paranoid about over watering, killed some pretty nice tree's in my younger less patient days. Today if i have any doubts I use a rapitest digital moisture meter...I know many are skeptical of these devices, but I have found that if you use it over a period of time it can serve as a pretty good measure of consistency.
Should also mention that on this same lanai I have other tree's doing quite well, although growth is a bit subdued...again, I believe due to reduced sun exposure. I have Ming Aralia and Jade Tree that thrive in these conditions; a cascade Juniper which is healthy but shows very little new growth.
Could post some pics, but I just joined the site- found the link at bonsai4me.com- and haven't figured that out yet. Will try to play with that function later today.
Thanks for any input you might have....Mahalo!
Living aloha on the big island of
Hawaii....

jwf2.tao
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Re: Chinese Elm Questions

Going to post some photo's today of this tree- continue to be perplexed- and it seems to continue sliding to a worse condition...more coming soon!
Living aloha on the big island of
Hawaii....

jwf2.tao
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Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:18 pm
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Re: Chinese Elm Questions

Here are several pics- one of the tree entirely and then several close shots of areas where damage is in various stages. Hopefully my Vera work is satisfactory, and appreciate any input!
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Living aloha on the big island of
Hawaii....

tomc
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Re: Chinese Elm Questions

At a guess only.

Anoxia, from over watering, or from soil that holds too much water

Or Dessication from Hawiian trade winds.

I think its likely too late for this tree, but a post-mortem is in order if your going to address this in the next tree. Pull him out of his pot. I expect you will find; A., A gooey wet mass with brown-black decaying roots. Or. B., A soil ball dry as a mummy's butt.
Think like a tree
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jwf2.tao
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Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:18 pm
Location: Big Island, Hawaii

Re: Chinese Elm Questions

I think you are right I am going to have to pull it...it's going nowhere fast. I may try to do it today....and will send pics of whatever I find. Could you see the size of the cinder cones in the potting medium? Whatever...only one way to be sure. Thank you for pushing me, I have been reluctant to take this step!
Living aloha on the big island of
Hawaii....

jwf2.tao
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Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:18 pm
Location: Big Island, Hawaii

Re: Chinese Elm Questions

So, I pulled the elm, a few pics below. It wasn't soggy ...it wasn't too dry. I'm not sure what to think...I was surprised at the lack of root mass alive or dead . I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I had been away for a month in May...perhaps my caretaker over watered and it has been trying to recover? And I'm wondering if I need more organic matter in the potting medium?
What do you think Tom? It is sitting in a bucket of water, which at this point I don't think will do any further damage for 24+ hrs . Tom , you had also mentioned wind damage before- I'm not sure how to assess that...
Welcome any input from anyone ....
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Living aloha on the big island of
Hawaii....

jwf2.tao
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Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:18 pm
Location: Big Island, Hawaii

Re: Chinese Elm Questions

Another possibility...a friend suggested perhaps elms might be overly sensitive to "vog"- I tried a net search and couldn't find anything...anyone?
Living aloha on the big island of
Hawaii....

jwf2.tao
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Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:18 pm
Location: Big Island, Hawaii

Re: Chinese Elm Questions

Turns out Chinese elms are moderately sensitive to sulphur dioxide.. one of the components of vog; but it is tracked real time and the local tracking station says it rarely exceeds .2ppm, which is considered moderate air quality...
Any input appreciated!
Living aloha on the big island of
Hawaii....

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Re: Chinese Elm Questions

jwf2.tao,

Not sure what to make of your situation but I do have a suggestion if you have not already potted it again.

When trees are collected from nature it is advisable to use the smallest pot that accommodates the root-ball. This helps to avoid soggy soil while the tree establishes new roots.

Sorry I don't have more but my Chinese Elms look terrible this year too. My issue is black spot fungus which the weather this year seemed to favor.

Norm

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