help my bonsai is dying!!!!!

dayscraze(z9 AZ)September 12, 2005

Hello, I am in desperate need of help. I am a begginer bonsai grower(obviously) and I need help with my Juniper Bonsai. See I recieved this tree as a gift and I recently moved to a different town but similar weather and atmosphere which is dry desert heat. When in my former town my tree was in pretty good condition. I have been gone from my town for about 2 months. I started having trouble about a month ago when my tree started to dry out. I thought that it was dehydrating so i have been leaving the tree in a tray filled with water. I feel as though the tree is dying everyday. LET me note that the tree is not yellow, it is green and very dry. Everytime i touch the tree the needles fall. CAN SOMEONE HELP ME PLEASE????

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Hi, I really don't want to have to tell you bad news, but I think your tree may have had it... and not because it was dry (however much it looked like it), but more likely because it drowned. What happens is that people buy junipers sold like candy in little pots with glued on rocks (that should be removed right away), planted in gunky soil guaranteed to keep the roots soggy and then they get taken home where some poor person (you) wants to take care of it... and waters the heck out of it because it's a 'plant'. The thing is that junipers are mountain/desert trees that can go and stay dry a long time, relative to other trees or plants, and should be planted in a mix of fast draining grit, small (1/16") bits of pine bark and either lava rock (very small particles.. but a lot bigger than the powdery stuff you bought the tree in, or turface ('Profile" soil conditioner if you can find it), or even perlite. Then the tree should go outdoors for the rest of its life, in the sun, care being taken to not let it dry out (in the new mix that water just flows right through) by watering even every day, or less often depending on where you live, the conditions, etc. (in Arizona you need to be sure it does get enough water - and that's hard to learn for a beginner because you dont 'see' the 'soil' as being wet the same as you do with regular potting soil, etc. You can learn (eventually) the weight of a watered pot vs a dry one, or stick a chopstick in the mix about an inch and see if there's still any dampness, etc. But because the 'mall' junipers are usually watered by clerks who know nothing about them, they may be dead or halfway there before you even get them - they just take ages to show it. Read about bonsai from various books, read about junipers (and lots of other bonsai) at "" and don't beat yourself up over this one... it probably never had a chance anyhow, but you may have helped a bit. We all lose a bunch at the beginning, but that's how you learn.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 7:08PM
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dayscraze(z9 AZ)

Thank you Lucy. As sad as I am youre right i do have to learn. Do you have any suggestions on any begginer indoor trees?

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 10:32AM
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Lucy gave great information and all of it fits with my experiance. Let me suggest- (1) take your Juniper if it is showing any life and put it into a "bulp pot" larger than the pot it is in now with soil made of 60% sand that the fine stuff has been sifted out through window screen and 40% potting soil that the fine stuff has been sifted through a screen. Then (2)go to the local garden center and pick the most popular plant they sell for yard decoration in your area that has a woody trunk. (Here it would be boxwood, cotonaster or holly). Then trim that into a bonsai and plant it into the same soil mix as the juniper but use a 50%-50% mix and put it into the pot your juniper came in. If your juniper survives you can repot it later. Good luck. Zack

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 5:36PM
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Hi, I just picked up on the indoor question. Try a ficus. Don't buy a ficus bonsai, just pick up a ficus in a one gallon pot, pick the best trunk and put that into your bonsai pot. Put the extra trees (there are usually several different trees in a nursury ficus) in shallow pots to save in case you have trouble with the one you choose for you bonsai. Zack

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 9:23PM
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Hi. We've had a bonsai tree for about 2 years. Not sure what sort (it's got little oval leaves). Recently the leaves have started to wilt, turn brown and fall. This has never happened before. Since this started, we have increased the water supply and have moved it to a sunnier part of the house.
Is there anything else we could try?

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 1:49PM
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Yes - a) start your own thread - the chances of someone seeing your note here are lousy. b) How can you take care of a tree when you don't know what it is? Post a picture please. And increasing water when a tree is stressed, half leafless and it's winter is a very bad idea. Bonsai are not houseplants and if you've been lucky with it up until now, that's great, but you need to know what it is. The trouble could be anything from it's being a tree that actually needs to live outdoors all year (and is now paying the price for not having done so), to spider mites, to overwatering, to being rootbound, needing a lot more sun or (rarely) a lot less. Some info. and a pic. would help so much!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 5:40PM
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Here's our tree. We used to know what it is but have forgotten over time.

Looks a little healthier on the photo.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 1:47PM
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Well it seems to be some variety of Ficus microcarpa, hard to say exactly which one, but care would be the same. It really looks pretty good to me though I wonder if you're not watering too often. Check out (second half of pg) for everything about growing ficus.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 6:21PM
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I have returned form a vacation to find all my indoor plants have 50% yellow leaves . I gave instructions to water only once in my absence having previously watered every week ( one small can ). What went wrong ? havethey been over watered . What can I do to help them survive , they look pretty sick.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 10:05PM
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Let them dry out longer. There's really very little else you can do.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 4:56AM
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I saw that you also posted this message at the end of someone's post in the 'houseplants' forum. Instead of going into someone else's post and changing the topic, you should really start your own'll get more responses.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 10:37AM
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Thanks will try.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 4:14PM
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Lucy I'm not sure why you said Ficus that tree looks more like Carmona microphylla to me. Worm if you get small white flowers on it it is a Carmona. I'm not 100% because the leaf shape is not consistant throughout but the growth pattern and trunk type are consitent with carmona and some leaves do have the side points with rounded center. Both types of trees do grow in similar environments yet carmona is a bit more tempermental. Good luck and happy growing. Also Worm if it stays by the window keep rotating it to maintain even growth. When leaves are dying pull them off so they dont waste nutrients.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 5:41PM
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The shape has nothing to do with it - those shapes are trained in by the growers. Carmona (Fukien tea) leaves have 2-3 tiny 'teeth' at the ends and are therefore very distinct, even if the teeth are sometimes hard to see in some pix.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 6:09AM
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I have had my bonsai for about a year and am afraid its already dead.
I water it every 3 days as instructed and when I put it outside it is never directly in the sun however, I fear the California heat is to much and has killed my bonsai. I am not sure if I should trim the dead needles or not . Please help!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 11:14PM
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I just joined this forum to post a similar posting, so I'll add something here in hopes of a response.

I have two olive tree bonsais that I have had since late last fall. Recently I've been leaving them outside, watering them every couple days by doing a 20-30 minute soak in a tray of water. In the last few days the leaves have rolled up tight and are feeling very dry, though not browning and not completely brittle.

Does anyone have a suggestion for bringing them back? I've brought them inside. I'm not sure if I've underwatered or overwatered or baked them in our michigan heatwave. I've also been giving them a soak every 10-14 days in a water bath with seaweed/fish fertilizer (1tsp/5cups).

The last thing I'd mention is that recently some sprouts have started forming in the base of one of my trees. It's weird. I don't know if a bird planted something or if these seeds were accidentally put into the soil when someone potted these bonsai.

I'm including a link to pictures of my sad olive bonsai trees.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rex's Dying Bonsai

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 9:27AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I didn't know that Olive trees would survive indoors.

My Olive bonsai stays outdoors year-round where I live.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 11:59AM
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Hey im a novice bonsai tree owner, I have had this juniper for about a month and a half. When it came it was very dark green and it had a good amount of moss over its roots. About two weeks ago I found that it had spider mites so I used a water/dish detergent/rubbing alcohol solution and it seemed to do the trick since it seems like all the webs are gone and the mites that fall when i shake the tree dont move. But, today I noticed that the tree seems to be getting drier, and the tips of the foliage are turning yellow and all the moss is gone. I usually water it once a week by submerging the pot in water until no more bubbles come out of the soil and then let it drain. I keep it on the window sill with the window open and it gets about 3 hours of sunlight daily. any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 4:20PM
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Hi! I am really worried about my bonsai tree. Its started to languish and wilt for a few weeks. I feel helpless. I even replanted last week in hope, the bonsai tree will get back on track. But it goes even worse and speeds up wilting and languishing. How can I save my bonsai tree? It has been with me for five years never done this. I just do not want to be late. If it will die, I will really miss my bonsai tree:(! Please wise men help me with any idea!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2015 at 10:45AM
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Think hard about anything at all that might have changed recently in the environment... and have you been fertilizing? When you repotted, did you trim the roots? Not suggesting they needed it, but... ? It looks like a Ficus, maybe microcarpa, but it's otherwise hard to tell. PS - it might be a better idea to start a new 'topic' if you write again (about something else) rather than dredging up this old one that's not very relevant to your problem.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2015 at 1:02PM
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Hi, moochinka

Thanks for a reply. So, do you have any idea, how to bring back to life my bonsai tree?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2015 at 10:13PM
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