axionfigga
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Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2008 6:46 am
Location: Burlington, VT

Chinese Elm troubles

Hi all,

I'm new to the forum, and to bonsai. I recently purchased a Chinese Elm, and have had it for about 2 weeks. I live in an apartment on the top floor with lighting that is not so ideal. For a week or so I was getting it as much sun as possible and watering it daily. It was doing ok, but then about 3 days ago i began to put it out on our roof (the only spot i have that is truly outside) for the day while I'm at work, and it gets lots of direct sun there. It appeared to do much better, but then i didn't water it for two days while still giving it sun because i was afraid of over-watering it. At the end of the second day, it was looking very sad, with pale-green, extremely brittle leaves that fall off to the touch. It has been two days since then, and i've been watering it about 4-5 times a day and spraying it trying to revive it. I assume it is just a lack of water that is hurting it. but now it has been 2 days of heavy watering and misting, and it still is dry and losing leaves. Our apartment pretty hot and humid, could it be those 2 days of full sun and no watering have damaged it? I recently read how its fatal to let the Chinese Elm dry out and am now worried. Is there any hope? Al help would be appreciated. Thanks.

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Gnome
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Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

axionfigga,

Hello and welcome to the forum. Please update your profile with a general location. You made a good move by moving it outside, although perhaps it was a little sudden. It's hard to say without knowing more about your climate and the specifics of the location you chose. I have my Chinese Elm in full sun and it is doing fine.

The two days without water have obviously damaged your tree, the extent of the damage cannot be determined right now.
It has been two days since then, and i've been watering it about 4-5 times a day and spraying it trying to revive it. I assume it is just a lack of water that is hurting it. but now it has been 2 days of heavy watering and misting, and it still is dry and losing leaves.
You cannot simply water it back to health. In fact you are almost certainly over-watering it now, slow down.

Depending upon the extent of the damage you will probably continue to see more leaves drop. Don't worry about the dead foliage most of it will not recover, the overall health of the tree is more important.

I would still leave it outside. Do not move it around each day, find a spot that works and leave it be. Read the sticky thread on general growing and look first for advice on watering. Use the chopstick method. Do not water on a schedule and certainly not 4-5 times a day. This will rot the roots and the tree will not be able to take up any water.

A tree with no foliage will not use as much water as it did before but since you never seemed to get on track you will need to be very attentive to the soil. Never allow it to dry again but do not keep it dripping wet either. It will simply be a waiting game, it may take several weeks to sprout anew but it is not out of the question that it will recover.

Norm

axionfigga
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2008 6:46 am
Location: Burlington, VT

Thanks Gnome for the reply. I'll cut back on watering it as much, though it is not in soil but fine gravel, so i would think it would drain out fairly easily. I'll try and find a permanent place outside for it (i've been moving it inside each night since it's outside perch is rather precarious). Do you think i should keep misting the leaves though? It seems to have responded to the watering and misting, as the leaves look a little greener but still very brittle. It's summer in Vermont, so it's pretty humid but i don't know how well the water is actually being absorbed through the leaves. Perhaps putting it in actual soil will help? All advice is appreciated. Thanks.

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Gnome
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Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

axionfigga,
Thanks Gnome for the reply.
You're welcome, glad to help.
it is not in soil but fine gravel, so i would think it would drain out fairly easily.
Excellent, while you are doing research you might as well have a look at the soil and re-potting stickies. Yes it will drain readily, that is the goal, and consistent watering is necessary. This time of year I water most things at least once a day and sometimes twice, depending. It is far better to water frequently than have the roots in soggy soil for days on end. Read up on the 'chopstick method' I referred you to earlier.
Perhaps putting it in actual soil will help?
No, no, no. On this forum we are constantly advising people to re-pot their trees from dense organic soils to gritty free draining ones. You are ahead of the game so don't go backwards.

There are very good reasons that bonsai are potted in such soils.

[url]https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/earthpot.htm[/url]
[url]https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/soils.htm[/url]
Do you think i should keep misting the leaves though? It seems to have responded to the watering and misting, as the leaves look a little greener but still very brittle.
You can mist if you wish. If some of the leaves are not too badly dessicated misting may help them make a partial recovery. From the sounds of it though a lot of the leaves are essentially dead and will not recover no matter what you do.

Norm

P.S.
(i've been moving it inside each night since it's outside perch is rather precarious)
I can't advise you specifically here, use your best judgment. Can you secure the pot somehow or move it to a more secure spot?

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