Bonsai Study Group Forum

Species Specific => Satsuki Azalea Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: BonsaiEngineer1493 on October 07, 2012, 10:12 PM

Title: My First Satsuki Azalea
Post by: BonsaiEngineer1493 on October 07, 2012, 10:12 PM
Hello Bonsai Study Group!

This is my first post on this forum. Frankly, I am very new to bonsai study-2 months. Currently, I own 6 trees ( Fukien Tea 2x, Brush Cherry, Trident Maple and 2x Satsuki Azalea; therefore, your guidance will be gladly appreciated.

I purchased one Satsuki Azalea, but I received two by mistake. The site was  http://www.bonsaioutlet.com/ (http://www.bonsaioutlet.com/) . I wanted something young and inexpensive; therefore, they fitted my needs. I received one tree earlier. The appearance was disappointing because it did not look like a bonsai tree. It looked liked a untrained bush. In addition, the soil was regular plant soil. I figured it will not suitably drain the bonsai and may cause impairment. My immediate reaction was study re-potting requirements for Satsuki Azalea. I purchased soil, which was  Kanuma Bonsai Soil mix- bought from http://www.hollowcreekbonsai.com (http://www.hollowcreekbonsai.com) . While I waited for the shipment to arrive, I did some pruning that involved a removal of branches, long shoots and buds. In addition some wiring of a few branches to spread them out. When the shipment arrived I carefully lightly pruned the root ball and brushed it to allow a better passageway for oxygen and water. My last touch was a bit of moss to layer the top of the soil to preserve moisture.

My only concern is the health of my Satsuki Azalea. I realize that I performed this during the wrong season, but I felt a greater risk if It remained in the original condition. Currently, I noticed a change in color and a vertical direction of the leaves. Here are some pictures:
(http://i49.tinypic.com/152gx74.jpg)
(http://i48.tinypic.com/10fsw0w.jpg)
(http://i46.tinypic.com/e6sxn9.jpg)
(http://i49.tinypic.com/3039xrl.jpg)
(http://i49.tinypic.com/2uhto2q.jpg)
(http://i46.tinypic.com/2j34g3o.jpg)


Title: Re: My First Satsuki Azalea
Post by: Owen Reich on October 08, 2012, 07:13 AM
Welcome to the forum  :).   As I said in the email, I'd let the azalea take a break until spring and let it rebound from all the stressors and seek out a local study group or other bonsai organization in New York.  This site and some local know-how will serve you well.
Title: Re: My First Satsuki Azalea
Post by: Adair M on October 08, 2012, 10:37 AM
Welcome!

That moss is pretty, but not a good idea for the tree at this time.  Kanuma drains really well, so you can water it daily.  That moss can actually act as a waterproof barrier, preventing water getting to the roots!  On my azalea, I put a thin layer of spaghnum moss over the kanuma.  Not to retain water but to hold the kanuma in place when I water.

Is the soil we're seeing the size all the way down?  Or is it a top dressing.  It looks to be a little too large if that's it's potted in.

About moss... I know you've seen pictures of bonsai with the pots completely covered with beautiful moss.  It's something we do for shows and photos.  The trees are really better off without it.
Title: Re: My First Satsuki Azalea
Post by: BonsaiEngineer1493 on October 08, 2012, 11:28 AM
Thank You, Owen Reich. The Bonsai Art of Japan is a GREAT show!

I did not touch the second Azalea I received. Should I do anything to it or leave it untouched until the spring? It arrived in the same condition as the first one - poor drainage soil and a untrained bush appearance. 

Quote from: Adair M
link=topic=2059.msg16960#msg16960 date=1349707070
Welcome!

That moss is pretty, but not a good idea for the tree at this time.  Kanuma drains really well, so you can water it daily.  That moss can actually act as a waterproof barrier, preventing water getting to the roots!  On my azalea, I put a thin layer of spaghnum moss over the kanuma.  Not to retain water but to hold the kanuma in place when I water.

Is the soil we're seeing the size all the way down?  Or is it a top dressing.  It looks to be a little too large if that's it's potted in.

About moss... I know you've seen pictures of bonsai with the pots completely covered with beautiful moss.  It's something we do for shows and photos.  The trees are really better off without it.

Right, the moss serves many purposes. At this moment, the moss will not suit the tree's health very well? I use the tub filled with water method to water my bonsai. Basically, I place the azalea in a tub and fill the tub with water all the to the rim of the pot ( water is filled from the bottom-up). I leave it there for 15 minutes.

To be exact, this is the soil I bought: http://www.hollowcreekbonsai.com/ecommerce/3-2-qt-bag-kanuma-bonsai-soil-mixed-1-10-1-2.rhtml (http://www.hollowcreekbonsai.com/ecommerce/3-2-qt-bag-kanuma-bonsai-soil-mixed-1-10-1-2.rhtml)

I believe the grain is mixed -small, medium and large. The mixed grain is the only soil in the pot so yes it's all the way down.

I also want to ask you the same question I asked Owen Reich

I did not touch the second Azalea I received. Should I do anything to it or leave it untouched until the spring? It arrived in the same condition as the first one - poor drainage soil and a untrained bush appearance. 
Title: Re: My First Satsuki Azalea
Post by: Adair M on October 08, 2012, 12:37 PM
I seive my bonsai soil.  Which means I separate out the sizes of the soil.  I put the largest on the bottom for drainage, then use the middle sizes as the soil.  The very smallest, the fines, I discard.

I don't water my azalea like that.  I use a fine mist nozzle from the hose, or use a watering can.  Setting the whole root ball in water kinda "drowns" the plant.  Your method might be keeping the soil too wet.  Just wondering, why did you think to water like this?

New York City?  Can you describe where you are keeping your trees?  Outdoors, I hope.  How much sun?  How much wind?  Do you live in a highrise?  If so, you will need to provide protection when it gets cold.  Especially if you have a sunny location.  (When the rootball freezes, the roots can't send water up.  When the sun hits the branches, they dehydrate, and need water.  But they don't get any because the roots are frozen.)

Finding a local bonsai club can help you with all this.
Title: Re: My First Satsuki Azalea
Post by: BonsaiEngineer1493 on October 08, 2012, 01:04 PM
I seive my bonsai soil.  Which means I separate out the sizes of the soil.  I put the largest on the bottom for drainage, then use the middle sizes as the soil.  The very smallest, the fines, I discard.

I don't water my azalea like that.  I use a fine mist nozzle from the hose, or use a watering can.  Setting the whole root ball in water kinda "drowns" the plant.  Your method might be keeping the soil too wet.  Just wondering, why did you think to water like this?

New York City?  Can you describe where you are keeping your trees?  Outdoors, I hope.  How much sun?  How much wind?  Do you live in a highrise?  If so, you will need to provide protection when it gets cold.  Especially if you have a sunny location.  (When the rootball freezes, the roots can't send water up.  When the sun hits the branches, they dehydrate, and need water.  But they don't get any because the roots are frozen.)

Finding a local bonsai club can help you with all this.

That's an interesting technique for potting the soil. If its efficient I will use that method in the future. I did not know that layering different grain of soil mattered. I just mixed it all in.

I am limited with local resources. Frankly, I only introduced myself with one hobbyist who is a business owner as well-Bonsai of Brooklyn. He told me to use this watering technique.

Currently the weather is in the low 50s. Therefore, all of my bonsai trees are kept inside. I placed them on a windowsill that receives only morning sun.

The only trouble I notice is the high level of mineral salt in my water. The lower trunks of some of my bonsai trees turn white. I started to leave the tap water in a water can over night, but It does not solve the problem.

Now I only water them either 1-2 times a week because of the temperature drop (50s)

  
Title: Re: My First Satsuki Azalea
Post by: bwaynef on October 08, 2012, 02:47 PM
I had decent luck with Kanuma in my azaleas ...until late winter.  I wonder how it will hold up in NY winters. 
Title: Re: My First Satsuki Azalea
Post by: BonsaiEngineer1493 on October 08, 2012, 03:21 PM
I had decent luck with Kanuma in my azaleas ...until late winter.  I wonder how it will hold up in NY winters. 

Be specific. What exactly happened in late winter?

Mine will be inside (room temperature)
Title: Re: My First Satsuki Azalea
Post by: 0soyoung on October 08, 2012, 03:41 PM
Drainage layers and water-proof moss are myths.

Moss transmits water as long as it stays moist and alive. It will become "water-proof" if allowed to dry out and go dormant. However it requires a substrate that will stay moist. In other words, it is very difficult to keep alive and growing on well-draining soils like Turface MVP and Kanuma. A little chicken grit, bark mulch, garden soil, or the like (that holds moisture) dusted on top will solve this problem if you want to grow the moss. Be aware that roots will grow into the moss which may be good or bad, depending on your aims. As a case in support of my point, see Michael Hagedorn's 'Spruce On Nylon Board' (http://crataegus.com/2012/04/07/spruce-on-nylon-board).

I also suggest that you eventually read all the articles at EvergreenGardenworks.com (http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/articles.htm), the following two are relevant to
and

Title: Re: My First Satsuki Azalea
Post by: BonsaiEngineer1493 on October 08, 2012, 04:52 PM
Drainage layers and water-proof moss are myths.

Moss transmits water as long as it stays moist and alive. It will become "water-proof" if allowed to dry out and go dormant. However it requires a substrate that will stay moist. In other words, it is very difficult to keep alive and growing on well-draining soils like Turface MVP and Kanuma. A little chicken grit, bark mulch, garden soil, or the like (that holds moisture) dusted on top will solve this problem if you want to grow the moss. Be aware that roots will grow into the moss which may be good or bad, depending on your aims. As a case in support of my point, see Michael Hagedorn's 'Spruce On Nylon Board' (http://crataegus.com/2012/04/07/spruce-on-nylon-board).

I also suggest that you eventually read all the articles at EvergreenGardenworks.com (http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/articles.htm), the following two are relevant to
  • your watering habits (http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/watering.htm)
and
  • the "drainage layer" myth (http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/overpot.htm)



I need to dust it on top of the moss?
Title: Re: My First Satsuki Azalea
Post by: Adair M on October 08, 2012, 10:30 PM
osoyoung,

A tight napped moss can deflect water quite easily.  Water beads up and rolls off.

In the Original Poster's case, it doesn't matter because he's submerging his trees in a tub of water.

And, it sounds like he's planning to keep them inside this winter.

Neither of these are "best practices".  He really needs to find a local NYC club to guide him.
Title: Re: My First Satsuki Azalea
Post by: 0soyoung on October 08, 2012, 11:03 PM
I need to dust it on top of the moss?

No, on the top of your Kanuma then the actively growing moss atop that.
Title: Re: My First Satsuki Azalea
Post by: BonsaiEngineer1493 on October 08, 2012, 11:17 PM
I need to dust it on top of the moss?

No, on the top of your Kanuma then the actively growing moss atop that.

I just removed the moss because I do not want any complications. I think I put the satsuki azalea in a lot of risk as it is.
Title: Re: My First Satsuki Azalea
Post by: Owen Reich on October 08, 2012, 11:29 PM
I'd leave the other tree alone.  Drainage layers are not myths.  They do exist :).  I have repotted with and without using a larger grade particle and prefer to include a drainage layer.  It makes it easier to repot in the future and finer roots are often in higher quantities deeper into the root mass.  The top of the zone of saturation in the pot also drops a bit with drainage layer.  For rough stock, I don't see a need really.
Title: Re: My First Satsuki Azalea
Post by: coh on October 09, 2012, 01:53 PM
I have found that tight moss can deflect water. I suspected this was occurring on a few of my plants, so I watered the trees normally, then pulled off some of the moss and found that the soil was quite dry underneath. Water did penetrate in the gap areas between moss pads, but lots of the soil surface was staying dry under the moss.

On the other hand, this article by Michael Hagedorn provides a good argument for maintaining some moss on the soil surface: http://crataegus.com/2012/07/05/the-moss-myth/ (http://crataegus.com/2012/07/05/the-moss-myth/)

I've seen this as well - on trees with no moss on the soil, the surface layer of soil tends to dry out rapidly and roots have a tough time establishing there. So a balance with some moss that is not too thick/dense seems a reasonable compromise to me.

Chris
Title: Re: My First Satsuki Azalea
Post by: Jay on October 09, 2012, 07:50 PM
If yo haven't guessed by know, Bonsai (generally speaking) are outdoor plants. They need the rest that winter brings. Sure they need protection but they are basically the same as their full size cousins. You the search function and look for winter care, or winter storage. Keeping a tree that needs dormancy indoors for the winter will stress the tree and in the long run kill it. Now there are trees that can be kept indoors For the winter, Ficus for one. But maples and Azaelas and many others will not be happy.

May I also suggest you google the Mid Atlantic Bonsai Societies and check out their show come next April. It s in Harrisburg Pa. It is on a weekend, three days. There will be many vendors there with trees and many club members of the (I think 13 different area clubs) for you to meet and talk to. If you haven't located a club by then this may help . You could go for one day or book a room and stay for the weekend.

My two cents
Jay
Title: Re: My First Satsuki Azalea
Post by: Owen Reich on October 09, 2012, 11:58 PM
I wrote in an article a while back that moss should never be left on the surface year-round.  I should have been more clear in saying "moss applied for exhibition should not be left on year-round".  Naturally spreading colonies or colonies that form from application of powdered moss, plugs, etc. seem to allow for air and water penetration much better than a "show covering" that is allowed to stay there a long time.
Title: Re: My First Satsuki Azalea
Post by: BonsaiEngineer1493 on October 13, 2012, 12:18 AM
I removed the moss and placed the azalea outside. Should I layer something on top of the kanuma soil during the winter so the roots do not freeze?
Title: Re: My First Satsuki Azalea
Post by: Jay on October 13, 2012, 06:25 AM
This tree, and your others, need to be outside all the time.... during the  growing season. As winter comes and the trees go dormant they need protection. Just covering the soil with something, anything will not do. They need proper winter storage.
 there are many threads on this topic. Just search winter care. You want to keep the trees in dormancy. 50 degrees isn't good, 40's better but still not good enough.... the high 20's to mid 30's is where they want to be. They do not want to be in drying winds nor do they need light during this period.

Winter storage is a huge topic and extremely important.  It is not possible to reduce it to a few lines...

J