Author Topic: Please help me keep my new Bonsai alive and happy! / Species identification  (Read 2504 times)

Tsveta

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Hello everyone,
A complete beginner here. I was given a bonsai as a present and since I haven’t had any luck with them so far, I would really like this one to survive so I would much appreciate your help and advice. I’ve read the basics… again… but I still feel unprepared and intimidated. I live in Europe, Bulgaria (will update my profile, thank you!). It is really hot here this time of year and the sun is really strong. It gets up to 40C (100F). The label on the bonsai says indoor, 15C - 25C (60F - 80F), no direct sunlight, keep soil evenly moist. And that's all it says unfortunately...
I can’t seem to identify the species of my bonsai so as to do a more specific research into the care requirements for my type. I have attached photos. Could any of you kindly help me with that? And if you can recognise what kind is my bonsai is, would you give me any species-related recommendation, especially to do with watering. This seems to be the hardest. Is it the case that it needs to be sprayed every day and if so, do I spray the leaves? I’ve also been told that I need to water with boiled water cooled to room temperature as tab water is too hard.
The tree looks healthy and has plenty of new buds, which makes me think that I shouldn’t trim the few dry tips just yet? What concerns me most is the thin layer of mold on the soil top. What should I do about that?
Thank you in advance for your help and sorry for the long post.
 

geoffhobson

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Not a very clear picture but looks like a Chinese Elm. It is best kep outdoors not in, and there is absolutely no need to boil water.
Take a look at bonsai4me for species guides, water when needed that is when the soil is amost dry, then soak the soil and allow to get almost dry again. If you insist on keeping it inside then it needs as much light as you can give,
 

Markyscott

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Yep - looks like a Chinese elm.

Put it outside in 50-100% sun.  The more sun, the better - full sun in Bulgaria is not a problem - ignore the advice about indirect sun.  Also, ignore the temperature limits on the instructions that came with your tree - they can tolerate a much wider range in temperatures than that.  And also, ignore the advice about boiling the tap water.  They'll do fine with water straight from the tap.  Seriously, who comes up with this stuff?

This year, practice watering.  Read up on how to tell when your tree needs water - in heavy soil like what it is planted in you'll need to be a bit careful and check it often.  Some people use a chopstick, others, their finger.  In any case, your tree will dry out much more rapidly outdoors than you're used to and so will need to be watered more frequently.  Failure to properly water is the most common cause of problems that I see - its so easy to miss a day or two, or to keep the soil soggy leading to nasty stuff growing in the soil.  You really need to be on your game every day - this is what trips up beginners - not failure to boil their tap water.

Don't constantly pinch the growing tips off the plant.  This will weaken the plant in the long run.  Instead, let the shoots extend until they have 8-10 leaves, and then cut back to one or two. Also read up on repotting - you're going to want to repot next spring and put your tree in a lighter substrate.

Scott
 

Artisans

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Defanitly a chinese elm!
 

Oliver Muscio

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Adding to the previous replies, boiling the water not only is not neccessary, it would have no effect on hard water at all.  If the water is heavily chlorinated, boiling would correct it, but that is not generally a problem.

If there truely is mold on the surface of the soil, that would suggest that you may have been keeping the soil overly wet.  Be sure to let the soil dry slightly between waterings.  Markyscott has given very good advice:  improper watering is one of the main sources of problems.

If you can, definitely let the tree be ourside, with full or nearly full sun.  The temperature is not a problem, so long as you don't let the soil dry out excessively.

Oliver
 

Tsveta

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Re: Please help me keep my new Bonsai alive and happy! UPDATE
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2013, 01:29 PM »
Yep - looks like a Chinese elm.

Put it outside in 50-100% sun.  The more sun, the better - full sun in Bulgaria is not a problem - ignore the advice about indirect sun.  Also, ignore the temperature limits on the instructions that came with your tree - they can tolerate a much wider range in temperatures than that.  And also, ignore the advice about boiling the tap water.  They'll do fine with water straight from the tap.  Seriously, who comes up with this stuff?

This year, practice watering.  Read up on how to tell when your tree needs water - in heavy soil like what it is planted in you'll need to be a bit careful and check it often.  Some people use a chopstick, others, their finger.  In any case, your tree will dry out much more rapidly outdoors than you're used to and so will need to be watered more frequently.  Failure to properly water is the most common cause of problems that I see - its so easy to miss a day or two, or to keep the soil soggy leading to nasty stuff growing in the soil.  You really need to be on your game every day - this is what trips up beginners - not failure to boil their tap water.

Don't constantly pinch the growing tips off the plant.  This will weaken the plant in the long run.  Instead, let the shoots extend until they have 8-10 leaves, and then cut back to one or two. Also read up on repotting - you're going to want to repot next spring and put your tree in a lighter substrate.

Scott

Thank all of you knowledgable people about your replies! Scott, thanks for all the tips! I am sorry I am coming back to you so late but I did't have access to Internet connection for few days. I followed your advise and I put the tree outdoors on the outer side of my windowsill, which is very wide and stable, so I'm not worried about the tree falling off. I don't have a garden, so this is the best I can do in terms of outside placing. Since I took it out it's been growing many new leaves and looks generally quite happy though I have probably made a mistake of moving it around in and out, which I just read shouldn't be done. I did that out of fear of strong winds as there have been few windy storms here recently. It doesn't rain on the bonsai as there is a window top that protects from that, although natural morning sun for about 4-5 hours a day and wind access the bonsai. It is the wind that concerns me or may be I am overly protective?? What do you say?
The other small (hopefully) thing is that I may have been a day or day and a half late with the watering as I wasn't around but it doesn't seem like there are any repercussions, the soil surface was dry but it still had a bit of moisture inside and the leaves looked quite well and unaffected. I watered as soon as I was able to. At least the thin layer of mold on the top was completely gone. There is something else though, I might have made a mistake spraying the leaves during the day (when the tree is not under direct sun anymore) as advised by the seller I got it from. I followed the advise as I was told that that's what they do and the bonsai looked quite healthy when I got it so I thought I can trust them. But the some of the leaves got little, tiny barely noticeable white dots like a discolouration on them and I figure that's from the spraying? Am I right? And if so, is there anything else I need to do apart from stop spraying it, obviously, or at least stop doing so during the day?
Thank you so much in advance for your help again! Looking forward to see what if've got to say.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2013, 01:31 PM by Tsveta »
 

Markyscott

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Re: Please help me keep my new Bonsai alive and happy! UPDATE
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2013, 06:42 PM »
... I have probably made a mistake of moving it around in and out, which I just read shouldn't be done. I did that out of fear of strong winds as there have been few windy storms here recently. It doesn't rain on the bonsai as there is a window top that protects from that, although natural morning sun for about 4-5 hours a day and wind access the bonsai. It is the wind that concerns me or may be I am overly protective?? What do you say? ...

It depends - air movement is good, but giant storms that can blow your tree off the sill are a problem. Your tree probably won't like that.  Move it inside until the storm passes, then back out on the sill.  A few hours inside the house are no problem.

The biggest problem with summer winds are that they can dry the soil real quick - if you find that this a problem, you can put some sphagnum moss on top to the soil to keep it from drying too quickly.  Just remember that to check it a couple of times a day.

... The other small (hopefully) thing is that I may have been a day or day and a half late with the watering as I wasn't around but it doesn't seem like there are any repercussions, the soil surface was dry but it still had a bit of moisture inside and the leaves looked quite well and unaffected. ...

Over time you'll learn to tell by inspection when your tree needs water and you'll find that appearance of the soil surface isn't always the best indicator of when its time.  Until then, just place a wooden toothpick or chopstick in the soil about 1 1/2" to 2" from the trunk of the tree. Stick it a couple of inches down into the soil.  Check to see if it needs water every day by removing the toothpick or chopstick from the pot and feeling it with your fingers (some touch it to their face).  If it's dry 1/2" or so below the soil surface, water.  If you are in doubt, water.  When you water, WATER!  Let the water run over the entire soil surface and drain out the bottom of the pot.  You really want to see the water running freely out the bottom of the pot.  Soak it.  Wet the leaves, the trunk, everything.  Really douse it.  If misting the tree makes you feel good, continue.  But you can stop and the tree will be fine.  Just don't forget to water with a capital W.

Dunno what the white dots are - can you post a picture of them?

Scott

« Last Edit: May 03, 2013, 06:53 PM by Markyscott »
 

Tsveta

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Re: Please help me keep my new Bonsai alive and happy! UPDATE
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2013, 01:06 PM »


Dunno what the white dots are - can you post a picture of them?

Scott



Thanks so much Scott for answering all my questions! Here are some pics, my camera is good though I'm not great with it. Still, I hope you can see what I'm talking about. If you look closely you will notice some of the leaves, not all, have some very tiny white or may be pale green spots, hardly noticeable. They weren't there before, they appeared when I started misting. Don't know if coincidence, or misting is the reason. I hope you can tell. Thank you very much!!  :) 
 

Markyscott

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I see them - could be fungal.  Could be bugs.  I doubt its from misting.  Trees get such problems when they are weak.  They get weak when light has been withheld, their growing tips have been continuously removed, or they have root problems.  Or all of the above. 

Leave it outside.  Water it properly.  Let it grow and do not pinch the growing tips.  Do not start spraying random chemicals - instead, let the tree strengthen through growth.  Then lets see about the dots.  You may find that the new growth doesn't have them at all.

Scott
 

lackhand

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What I see looks like hard water spots, which would definitely be from misting. Could be something else, but I agree with Scott, just let it grow for a bit and gain some strength. That's usually the best course unless you can identify a specific problem.
 

Tsveta

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Thank you all! I have some new concerns but will start a new thread. Thanks again for your help!