Newly Registered
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Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2007 10:33 am
Location: Aurora, CO

Is there any hope? (summer cypress )

I think this may be in the wrong forum but am still figuring out the site . . . please forgive me if it is . . .

I received a plant from a client as a gift, and have since identified it as a mini summer cypress tree. It's about 12" tall and came by mail in a little cardboard box filled with dirt. I cared for the tree in my office for about a week, then took the tree home to replant. Before I had the chance to do so, I had to leave town suddenly for a family emergency. I was gone about a week and a half, and when I came back, my tree was much more dry than I know it should be. Stilll, the needles were green and still flexible by the main branches. I watered it right away, but it since has only become more crispy than before. The edges of the branches are turning from their bright green to a bluish/whiteish color and are looking somewhat droopy. It's also starting to drop pieces if touched (I told you it was crispy!). The soil is almost dry, yet still contains moisture.

Is there any hope to save this little tree or did I kill it? I find it hard to believe it's dead already considering there was lots of life in the plant (even though it clearly had been neglected) after my trip and I started caring for it right away again. Please help if you can . . . this gift means a lot to me.

Green Thumb
Posts: 348
Joined: Sun Jul 02, 2006 3:29 pm

You can find out if your tree is alive by using you fingernail to scratch off a piece of bark, to expose the cambium layer undreneath. If it is green, it is alive, if not, I'm sorry to say it's dead. I would do this on the main trunk as well as some of the main branches, because some of the tree may still be alive, and then there could be hope of saving it, but I don't think it looks good. I say this because usually conifers look healthy while they are already dead, and by the time they start losing needles, it's too late. however, I'm not familiar with this species.

I don't think you killed it in a week and a half, but how long did you have it before then? This sounds like much more long term damage. All conifers should be kept outside, as they need a period of dormancy in the winter. Also, bonsai should be kept in proper soil with good drainage. (See the sticky here I don't know how the plant was taken care of before you got it, but like I said, I doubt you killed it in the short time you neglected it, the damage was probably done before.

Please post the resuts of the scratch test, and if it is dead, I hope this doesn't turn you away from Bonsai, but rahter encourage you to try again.


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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 12:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A


Hello and welcome to the site, sorry to hear about the difficulty you are having but from the description you gave it is not surprising. It sounds like this plant has had a pretty rough time of it. Shipped through the mail in summer :( , then kept in the poor environment of your office, :( :( then neglected for 10 days. :( :( :( You cannot neglect a tree in a pot for 10 days, especially during the summer, and not expect to have problems. Bonsai can be likened to pets, they are living things that are dependent upon you for their survival.

I too feel that there is a pretty good chance that you now have an ex-tree. If you are going to try to resuscitate it put it outside in a shady spot and water only enough to keep it from drying out. Without foliage it will not use much water.


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