Beginner in dire need of Bonsai help

bukaleeperAugust 4, 2014

I am a beginner to gardening and made the rookie mistake of getting two Bonsai Trees from the lovely store of Walmart. I have recently read online that this was not a smart thing to do. The first Bonsai I bought, Bonnie, I have had for about over a month. (I am pretty sure that she is a Ficus.) I personally think that she is doing just fine. After a month of having Bonnie, I got another Bonsai a couple days ago and named him Clyde. (I believe that he is a Schefflera.) I recently read that the glued on rocks are critical to remove from Walmart bonsais, so about an hour ago I removed the rocks from both. I think that Bonnie is doing fine, but Clyde is in dire need of help. When I removed the rocks I noticed that Clyde was terribly over-watered and also had white insects crawling in his dirt. I have researched and believe them to be mealy bugs. Will applying rubbing alcohol get rid of them? If so, how will I go about doing this? I have no idea what I am doing! I have attached pictures of both Bonnie and Clyde in case there are problems I have not noticed. Are the pots and soil okay? Please help and thanks for reading.

Album of Pictures:

Bonnie: Bigger ficus bonsai
Clyde: Smaller schefflera bonsai

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Can you please post the pix on the forum's gallery? Would help us to see them...

The mealy bugs are due to way too much water being given, and it's necessary to let the soil dry out. Can you find something called Neem or a houseplant insecticide with Neem (oil) in it? Follow directions on the label. Safer's Insecticidal Soap is good, but requires that you again soak the soil to some extent, so I'm not sure what to tell you... you could just take a look at what's in your local stores that specify they're for mealy bugs (along with others) and see what they say. Wil await your pix.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 3:15PM
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I went to Walmart (It's the only "big" store around me within 2 hours) and got an insecticide that kills bugs like Thrips (which might also be what Clyde has) and also got a type of clay soil to move them in to since they are pretty much only in dirt. I also got some rubbing alcohol in case the insecticide doesn't work. I read online that spraying a mix of water, soap and rubbing alcohol can get rid of mealy bugs. Do you think this will work? Also, while switching the Bonsais I took a look at their roots and they were pretty healthy looking I think. (They looked white/yellowish rather than brown.) Underneath their bark it's also still very green, so I have some hope now that they'll get better soon!

The picture attached is of Clyde. He doesn't look like this anymore since I changed his soil. Hopefully by switching soil and using the insecticide it will get rid of the bugs. At the moment, I haven't seen any. Also, do you think that he should be placed in a different type of pot? The one he is in now is basically just like a bowl or cup.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 4:30PM
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You didn't say what kind of soil he's in now, and any pot you put him in should have a good sized drain hole in the bottom, plus an unglazed inside. Plus if you want a 'bonsai', a shorter wider pot would be more appropriate.

This post was edited by moochinka on Mon, Aug 4, 14 at 16:34

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 4:33PM
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This is Clyde currently. For soil at the moment I am using a clay type of cat litter (special kitty) that doesn't clump. And thanks, I will look for a new pot for him.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 4:49PM
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This is Bonnie currently. She is in a pot that has a couple drain holes.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 4:50PM
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Please do NOT use cat litter! It turns into mush after a while and completely defeats the point of trying for fast draining soil. You must use inert grits of different kinds - and you could start learning by doing a little research online, finding MANY answers before coming to a consensus of what's good for which trees, and in what climate (or if indoors), etc. Don't look for instant answers - it's all been argued for centuries, so take your time for the sake of your trees.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 2:04PM
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