Saving 30 yrs old Bonsai

Johnny_apple_SeedJanuary 29, 2014

I recently inherited my grandmothers bonsai tree. My Grandmother has lost her memory to alzheimer's and all but killed it.

according to my memory and my mothers this thing is 30 yrs old. I have pruned it according to instructions online and I have been keeping it in water to revive it. it is growing leaves but very slowly.

Soil: The soil has a white/grey film on the top of it. There are little stones covering to top of some of the soil but they are covered in a brown/rust coloured substance. I added some plant food drops to the water i use (don't know if this is helping)

Tree: I don't know how to identify the tree. It has leaves that feel hard and plastic like. I'll include a photo. I keep it by the window but out of direct sunlight.

Please give me some advice, I will follow it to the T.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I suggest you give it a lot more sun all day long and water less frequently - give it a decent amount when you water, but not as often (the stuff on the soil sounds like mold), plus never sit the pot in water because that is also being pulled up to the roots. I also wonder if you have any grit in the soil to help it drain quickly rather than sit sodden a lot of the time. Then come back in a month and tell us how things are going. Your description of the leaves leads me to believe it may be a succulent of some kind - similar to cactus though not needing quite as dry conditions, but the visible leaves may be ficus, or some other tropical. A better picture of the leaves would help.

This post was edited by moochinka on Thu, Jan 30, 14 at 14:36

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 7:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Maybe an angle like I have shown here with mine would help more...calcium deposit from water can also leave white on soil.

Also...I would suggest to hold off on should only fertilize a healthy tree. Water well and long...then let the soil go almost dry...then water again.

(Mine has organic soil from BGI for Bougainvilleas. Which is what mine is...I have put larger pieces of bark on top for decorative purposes only)

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 11:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Not true - you can fertilize a tree that's not doing so well and don't let anyone tell you otherwise! It can sometimes help, if anything.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 3:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I got my facts from they all stress to never fertilize a stressed bonsai. Only fertilize a tree that is healthy.

Did a google search...and it is found in's FAQ's...
> Probably the most important rule about fertilizing is to never feed a tree that is under stress. The causes of stress are many, ranging from over watering or under watering to newly pruned roots or disease.

If you have no success on a name for your species of tree...maybe...try over at
They might be able to also help you name the specimen of bonsai you have as well.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 7:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

And my info is from many nurserymen whose advice was just the opposite, and in fact sometimes was the first thing they said to do for trees that weren't doing well. I'm not saying to give it a lot or more often than you'd otherwise do it, but just because something's on the 'net' doesn't make it gospel either. You can take 10 bonsai-ists at any given time and get 11 opinions on all kinds of things!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 4:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Fertilizing is important.

The only reason I wouldn't fertilize a struggling tree is if the tree was directly struggling *from* too much fertilizer/salts in the mix.

We don't with hold nutrition from sick people.


    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 2:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
paul_(z5 MI)

Personally, my suggestion would be to contact a local bonsai society. I've attached a link to the British Columbia Bonsai Society. Take the tree to one of their meetings and ask for their help. If that particular society is too far away, they might know of a society closer to you or of a society member who lives close to you.

Having the tree there for them to actually inspect will enable them to give you better more accurate advice. In addition, if you have additional questions have members there to ask as questions come to you will likely make it easier on you as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: British Columbia Bonsai Society

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 8:26PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
New nursery stock Japanese Maple Shania help pls
Hi everyone... I was at a local nursery this weekend...
Japanese Maple Bonsai Tree Started to Sprout
Hello, I am a first time bonsai grower and I bought...
From seedling
I was just wondering how do I grow my plant into a...
Shivam Shetty
Rosemary Bonsai
I'm fairly new to bonsai and I have a question about...
New Chinese elm
Hi, I received a nice chinese elm bonsai as a gift....
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™