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