Woodlice, can they kill bonsai?

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Woodlice, can they kill bonsai?

Post  mooneyes on Sat Aug 11, 2012 7:36 pm

Hi Guys,

I have been a lurker on this excellent forum for sometime,but untill now never have needed to join untill now.

We have been in a new house since October last year, moving my collection to a different location is a different story... Smile

Some of my trees are not looking as healthy as they should, for example my Japanese Yew has brown leaves on the crown,
and a Juniper (Ridiga) is yellowing with some branches dying back. I have been feeding as normal and re-potted as nessesary in the spring.
Also my Chinese Junipers have more dead needles than normal.
Now upon closer inspection and lifting some of the trees out of the pots I have found that nearly every pot has a family of woodlice in them,babys and adults.
All the books I have on bonsai dont seem to list these as any threat.
My question is can these be the problem? If so is there a pest control that I could water in to kill these culprits with-out harming the tree?

I live in the UK by the way,
Any advice would be most welcome,

Regards, Paul.


mooneyes
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Re: Woodlice, can they kill bonsai?

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sat Aug 11, 2012 7:58 pm

I defer to the locals, but Woodlice are more a sign that the soil is too wet and/or not draining properly. The wet soil/drainage issue is more concern.

Billy M. Rhodes
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Re: Woodlice, can they kill bonsai?

Post  "T" on Sat Aug 11, 2012 10:37 pm

Woodlice aren,t the problem,they eat dead wood,dead roots etc so you can count them out,so the problem isn,t them.Sounds like drainage problem or excess fertilizer,pics would help.I lived in Bromley ,Kent(Downham)for 5 years in the 80,s Smile small world!!

"T"
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Woodlice, can they kill bonsai?

Post  mooneyes on Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:12 pm

Many thanks for your replies.

The drainage is not a problem as I have watched all the water go right through the drainage holes in the pots for the last few evenings.

The suggestion of over feeding may be the thing. I have recently switched my feed to a different one and maybe I have spread too much,
my previous feed went into the soil as pellets and my new feed is just 'sprinkled' on the surface so that could be it.

The very last thing that could be a slim possibility is the fact that I live near to an airport runway,sometimes when the wind blows a certain way we can smell
the fuel from the private jets that take off from there,perhaps certain trees dont like that, but personally I dont think it is that as that happens rarely.

Anyway I shall plod on and find out what is going on, starting with the feed.

Many thanks again, Paul.

mooneyes
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Re: Woodlice, can they kill bonsai?

Post  marcus watts on Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:10 pm

hi,

over use of fertilizer is unlikely - I am reading it that you use an organic granule (like nakuro ?) as you say "sprinkled on".......this year has been very wet and much cooler than usual so organic feeds are having a very poor success rate - many easily soluble elements are washing straight through the pots and the remaining components cant supply nutruition to the tree without proper warm temperatures to be broken down by bacteria action.
there is usually quite a delay while the fertilizers break down into useable componds but these are being rinsed out all the time by the poor weather. I have increased feeding this year to a 3 times a week affair - one organic, one chemical and one foliar on sunny days and the trees are doing ok - before i started this the yellowing was becoming noticeable.

The rigida.........is it facing the same direction as the old house? same sun, same shade etc. I say this as they hate being moved - I know for a fact of several trees that were moved about from bench to bench, place to place, and they are all now dead. mine sulked for a year after a house move from a sheltered little garden to a large exposed one. Cuspidata could be as sensitive as I know some people find them a bit harder too. Acclimatisation of moved trees is critical and so often overlooked - try to match the conditions they are used to, right down to the facing direction N,S,E,W etc

Pollution from aircraft 'fallout' would be effecting other plants in the surrounding gardens & area, so i would discount this.

Even though you say you see excess water drain through the pot it doesnt mean your soil is right though - if the particles you've used are highly water retentive like akadama, kanuma, bark (or worse still cat litter) they will be fully saturated with water while still being free draining - this can cause root rot in the UK in weather like we've had this year. Excess water visibly passes through but the pot could be holding 500ml of water in the soil particles.
If you've used a high percentage of soil particles that dont hold much water like 7-15mm kiryu, large particle grits etc the water drains through the same, but much less is retained in the pot.

The rigida though should be able to take as much water and feed as you can throw at it, so i would either say they got neglected in the move and went bone dry, or they are not positioned in the garden to their liking, (or the water quality of the water in your taps could be the problem if you are needing to water - it could be very different in ph and chemical makeup than the old house).

any more details about positioning, where they were in comparison to where they are since the problems showed up?

cheers Marcus


marcus watts
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Woodlice, can they kill bonsai?

Post  mooneyes on Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:23 pm

Hello Marcus,

Thankyou for your reply. The positioning of my trees compared to my old house is very different. We now live on top of a valley which can get quite windy sometimes, also they are getting more afternoon sun than they are used to.

Most of my trees are planted in Akadama,with a splash of grit for drainage which I have found to be a good happy medium for them,so I dont think the drainage is the problem. The feed I give them is Green Dream where as I used Bio Gold before, perhaps thats it.

I will take on board your useful suggestions as to the re-positioning of the trees and try another location in the garden for the Ridiga as I did not know they can be so fussy.

Again, many thanks for taking the time to reply.

Best regards, Paul.

mooneyes
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Re: Woodlice, can they kill bonsai?

Post  marcus watts on Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:07 pm

Hi Paul.

thanks for the extra info - it will be the new exposure that has made the trees change.

I have found trees can live for years in stable conditions, then we move them to new weather conditions and they cant cope with the instant change. Walter Pall wrote a recent piece about a spruce that he put in a bmw display for a few weeks, moved it back into full exposed sun and killed off loads of branches.

We were chatting about newly imported old specimen material the other day - they need at least a year to cope with the change of climate, time zones, and positioning - the best way to kill new material is to work on it in that first year or two. Try to replicate the conditions the trees were happy in - i'd say a wind break, some shade netting etc for starters.

As you say, soil will be fine, watering also - the fertiliser is a gentle one so it is virtually impossible to damage a tree with it.

Chances are brown bits will be lost now so a bit of re-styling will be needed, if inner areas of the chinensis junipers have yellowed clean them out and new buds will form there next year if you feed well and shorten all new growth in spring.

good luck, hope everything can be restyled ok

Regards Marcus

marcus watts
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