Dying Bonsai

lunarparadiseNovember 3, 2007

Hi guys, i have been searching online for some time in an effort to save my poor dying bonsai and came across this site(quick side topic: its funny when sites like these have the ability to pick your country of origin but you STILL have to pic a US state and zip code, lol no wonder most ppl end up being from Beverly Hills as thats the only code everyone knows - 90210 lol)!

Just like most starters, you decide that you would love a bonsai, they are so beautiful, elegant and can also be mystical, conjuring up all sorts in your imagination. Not many of us actually take the time to go out and research the topic much, and thats where we land ourselves in trouble.

I bought my bonsai(SERISSA FOETIDA) in a local bonsai shop and soon when i got it home i found that this lovely little flower adorned tree was one of the most difficult of trees out of the bonsai family to care for(wish the bonsai shop had clarified this beforehand)!

However after much trouble it seemed that the tree and i came to a compromise, after all the tree was 25 years old when i bought it so i thought it must know what its doing so left it be, i promised to not fuss so much over it and it promised not to have its leaves turn brown and fall off at the drop of a hat!

Everything was fine, i decided that we would celebrate our birthday together as we were the same age and two happy years passed, but here is where things have gone horribly wrong - i moved house!!

Now the thing is while i was moving i asked my sister if i could keep my bonsai in her apartment while i got settled, however my sister seems to be one of those ppl who have to have the heat in her place turned up full blast 24/7 and when i finally came to collect my poor bonsai some time later it was completely bare!

Now i have managed to coax some life back into the poor thing but it looks like that exactly half of the tree is dead, its such a poor unfortunate site, one side of the tree has most of its leafs back but the opposite side is completely bare, i just dont know what to do, if there is anything at all. Do i leave it as it is and just keep hoping, or is it gone for good, should i just hack off the dead side or what is there to do??

I really appreciate any help(and sorry for the long essay)lol


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Plonk a clear plastic bag over it, give it good light but watch for any mold on the soil surface due to condensation inside the bag (don't tie it up at the bottom for better air circ.) Do keep it in a relatively cool but humid place, but don't spray it at all of course. Cross your fingers and give it a few wks, then come back here with news. They are finickity things anyhow, but you sound like you have a handle on it. Don't water too often at all as leafless trees can't use it, but do consider adding a lot of grit (perlite, aquarium gravel) to the mix, which is likely potting soil (with lots of peat that won't let it drain fast as it should) to the mix when it's been feeling better for a while (don't want to add more stress).

    Bookmark   November 3, 2007 at 9:50AM
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Hi Lucy, thanks for the reply, i was hoping you would see my post and give some advice, from what i've read on the other posts you give some great advice and its obvious you know what your doing!

I'll try the plastic bag approach and here is hoping, wish me luck!!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2007 at 11:33AM
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i have a DEAD serissa bonsai. It died after two weeks. it is completely bare of leaves and the soil is always moist even w/o watering any suggestions on how to care for it. I noticed a bug on it the next day it was dying it has been moved around ALOT.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 6:42PM
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Are you asking how to resurrect a dead tree? Do you just need to vent? What? From the sound of it, it was way overwatered, and probably a lot of that problem had to do with the crummy potting soil (peat!) it was sold in, rather than the grit and a little bark it needed, along with a ton of very good light all day long. Who knows what came first, the bug or the blight?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 7:57PM
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Yes I want to know if there is anything i can do to bring it back to life. It has been dead for about 2 maybe 3 weeks now and has no sign of coming back to life. The guy i got it from lives 1hr away and I have no idea of where to go for advice. I dont water it anymore because of the moist soil. Should i repot? if so, how do i do so and with what soil?? I know it'll take some time for it to bloom again but I got this as a gift and i feel terrible it only stayed alive for about a week or 2. I think that it may have been overwatered. I had watered it everyday for one week and it was ok, then i didn't water it for one day and the day after the leaves began turning brown and falling. Is there a way to recover it?? PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 6:18PM
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If you make a solid scratch on the trunk and see green underneath, it's still alive and possible salvagable, otherwise it's probably too late. A dead plant doesn't take up water, which could explain why the soil is still moist (apart from it's likely being peat).

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 6:14AM
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There are several plants which should never be sold as 'Mallsai' 'Gardenstoresai' and this sort of tops the list. I grew them for many years and had a lot of success however, saying that means nothing LOL. The 'temperment' of these little darlings closely resemble that of (a popular little house plant which I resently forget the name of) but, ANYTHING causes them to go belly up if not just throw a fit for no reason.

Mine seemed happiest (or about as happy as Paris Hilton after a bottle of Burbon) when living in a mix of medium Turface and semi-coarse Pine bark. I came to this after trying other mixes and killing a few (dozen).
They are still never really happy however, and will throw a fit over a change in anything.

In 1996 I did a test on various soil mediums and wrote a paper which was published in American Bonsai Magazine. I used Serissa Foetida cuttings because it was the most sensative little bugger I could think of.

The results were based on living through the test, overall growth, root development and flowering.
1. Pure 1/8th in. Haydite
2. Pure large Perlite
3. Pure medium Pine bark

I think you get the idea about how porous the soil should be?

The actual winner?
I grew it in nothing but water changed weekly. It wasn't part of the test but that little thing outgrew every other cutting and lived well for over a year. It promptly died when I potted it and gave it away.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 1:50AM
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Ha ha! You certainly have their number! Apart from a couple of disasters long, long ago, I just haven't acquired any in a long, long time - who needs that much trouble! But I like the glass of water story... almost makes sense!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 5:51AM
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