wanted: help! spider mites - is it too late to save my tree?

jem357May 6, 2009

Hey all!

My boyfriend and I have had a lovely little bonsai for about a year now. Based on pictures I've seen, I believe it's a Chinese elm, but it was not labelled when we got it so I'm not 100% sure.

It was doing fine until a few weeks ago, when we moved into a new apartment. We put our tree near a north-facing window and tried to recreate its old conditions as much as possible. Nonetheless, the leaves soon started turning yellow, and then brown. I know bonsais can be finicky, so I assumed it was just reacting to the change, and that it would soon settle into it's new home. However, the leaves kept dropping, and one day I noticed little webs between the branches - spider mites!

I read somewhere that misting plants with a water/dish soap combination is helpful, so I've been doing that every other day since I found the webs, and misting with plain water on the other days. The webs haven't come back, but I'm sad to say that all but two leaves are gone now.

Is it too late for my bonsai? I'd really love to save him if it's possible. Obviously, I'm a beginner at this, but if anyone has a suggestion that might bring him back to life, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Thanks in advance!!

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It is likely too late. If it is indeed an Ulnus parvifolium, Chinese Elm, then it is an outdoor tree that must go through a dormancy. The spider mites are what was the thing that did it in. Try putting it out side, it might still make it. But that is not likely. Do not give up on Bonsai though! I have killed many over the years.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 1:59PM
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use neem oil you can find it at most garden stores
use a few drops dishliquid in a spray bottle of water spray
tops and bottoms of leafs
1 spider mite can have a litter of 300 every 14 days I belive and they are hard to exterminate belive me

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 2:20AM
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mike423(5 IL)

I wouldn't recommend putting the tree outdoors at this time as if it is in a weakened state it will die. If this is a common Chinese Elm (Ulmus Parvifolia) it can be kept as a "indoor Bonsai" during the winter and takes on a more evergreen state.

I agree with organic_mrbest that Neem is the best, it not only works for killing many insects and some fungus but is a great deterrent. Best of all it 100% organic which means you don't have to worry about it harming the plant you or any pets. That what I've been using for some time now as a stand alone insect repellent. In the future though I would recommend not misting the plant with water while infected, spider mite actually like the moisture. Also if using a soap water mixture it is imperative to be sure that the soapy water does not get into the soil is this will make the problem worse.

As far as what to do now I would keep the Bonsai out of direct light, placing it in a lightly shaded area until new growth starts to appear. I would also recommend putting the tree in a humidity tray (If not already) to help since its in an indoor setting. Depending on its size you could use a simple plate or go to a craft store etc.. and buy a serving tray to use. Buy some middle sized gravel (around the size of your pinky nail) to place in the tray, fill it with water and place the tree on it. Make sure the water does NOT touch the bottom of the pot though.

DO NOT USE fertilizer when a tree is stressed. I usually also give the tree Trace Elements (which is different than fertilizer) when they are down, but not always necessary. You can find in some online bonsai store or possibly eBay or if you would like I have a friend who has his own buisness that sells it. Also make sure the soil dries sufficiently when you water and if possible try to keep the tree on a slightly dryer side.

Hope your tree comes through and good luck.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2010 at 12:16PM
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