Japanese Maple with Issues

mrpearson253May 19, 2007


Brand new to this forum...we'll see how things go. I have a Japanese Maple bonsai, approx. 15 years of age, in a shallow bonsai type container, maybe 12"x8", and it was beautiful when I got it last fall. It's been living on my deck box on the patio all year since then (outdoors completely). It went through it's leaf drop and started to create little (buds?) where I assumed the leaves would one day reappear in the spring. It has since stalled in this position, and doesn't seem to be doing much else. It has gotten water sparingly, and I've kept it on the dry side. Is it dead? Have I killed a once-good tree doing something wrong? Thanks for any help you can provide.


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Hi, have you fertilized at all? When you say you water 'sparingly' do you mean infrequently or only a little at a time? What kind of mix is it in? Does it get full sun, or ???

    Bookmark   May 19, 2007 at 2:39PM
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Oops...sorry I didn't mention those things before. I haven't fertilized at all. I honestly can't even see the soil. I got it at Home Depot, and it has some sort of pebble-ey top thing over the soil and it appears to be glued together. Is that something I should remove? It looks little more than decorative. If I should take it off, should I replace it with anything (peat, pea gravel, etc.?). In terms of watering I watered it only a little bit at a time on a fairly regular interval (about once a month during winter, about once a week now that its spring). I couldn't tell you soil mix...it's in whatever it came from the Home Depot in! It does get some full sun, it's on a deck box underneath a slatted patio, so some full sun, some filtered sun in the afternoon.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2007 at 11:40PM
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Well, I suggest that first you make a firm little scratch on the bark about halfway up the trunk. If there's green underneath, it's still alive and worth bothering about, but if not, chalk it up to experience, find a local bonsai club nearby and don't spend anything more yet til you've gone to a mtg or two, done some reading and looked at these websites - www.evergreengardenworks.com/articles, www.bonsai4me.com, and www.bonsaihunk.us/cultural.html. The pebbles should have come off immediately as they're only there to hold in the soil for shipping (which tells you that you bought a just-potted tree) and don't allow proper watering, etc. Just pry at it from the opening and it should peel off once started. ALL the soil should be replaced with a gritty, coarse sand kind of mix using relatively large particles (and no potting soil with peat in it as most have) - or better yet plant it outside (no pot) in a slightly shady place with good drainage - it's best not to get full sun, or at least only filtered, at any time. You've also watered too often, but not enough each time to run through the whole pot (of roots). Planting it out for 1-2 years allows it to grow fastest and the trunk will thicken up (though maples won't get the really BIG trunks others do). I really think it's probably too late. but if not, try some of the above and good luck.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2007 at 4:09AM
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Well thank you for the clear kind advice. I just made a couple cuts, one low and one about half way up the trunk, and both came back with a light white-ish color underneath the dark grayish brown bark. Are we DOA? The pebbles did come off when I used a putty knife to get under the edge, and al came off at once. I will check out your links and see what I can learn before investing again. That was kind of an expensive mistake, so next time I'll know at least a little better. :-\ Thanks again.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2007 at 10:56AM
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    Bookmark   May 20, 2007 at 6:30PM
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