Help make my ugly bonsai beautiful!

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Help make my ugly bonsai beautiful!

Post  Guest on Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:05 am

Hi all! This is my first post here on the site Smile My husband bought this fukien tea for me as a gift a month or so ago. I personally think it's ugly as can be so I was hoping to get some suggestions as to what I can do to improve the look of the tree. I hope it's not hopeless. Neutral Thanks so much!!
--Gabrielle




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Re: Help make my ugly bonsai beautiful!

Post  Treedwarfer on Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:25 am

Yeah, it's pretty ugly Rolling Eyes But you can make it beautiful! Fukien tea (Carmona) are tough little beggars and ideal if you are just beginning to tinker with bonsai.

First thing I would suggest is keep it alive - moist not wet, feed every now and then, keep it warm in winter.

Next you'll need to get rid of a few branches that are growing in awkward places and shorten others so you can regrow them in more pleasing shapes. I'm sure some of the folks who are good at virtuals will give you some suggestions as far as that goes.

Be patient, bonsai can be a lengthy process, but by the time your first child walks up the aisle you could have a show quality bonsai to grace the wedding banquet table.

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Re: Help make my ugly bonsai beautiful!

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:04 am

This plant can't take the Ohio cold so plan to protect it over winter, otherwise it needs to be outside as much as possible, at least on a balcony or screened porch. If those stones on the surface are glued on, break them out and replace the space with a little good potting soil. Test for water with a meat skewer pushed into the pot about an inch from the trunk and down about two inches, if the skewer is wet don't water, do this every day. when you water pour water from above until it runs out the bottom, repeat this twice waiting a couple of minutes each time.
These are imported from China. I don't know why the Chinese think everything has to have those horrible bends, but they do.
There are some local clubs in Ohio and members are usually very happy to give advice to a beginner even if you don't join and get deep into the sport.
Cinni and Columbus have botanical gardens where the clubs meet. Go to the Bonsai Clubs International and the American Bonsai Society websites, most clubs are affiliated with one or the other.

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Re: Help make my ugly bonsai beautiful!

Post  JimLewis on Wed Aug 29, 2012 12:19 pm

I think this helps, a bit.



Keep it indoors with a fluorescent tube 6-8 inches over it for 12 hours daily in the winter. Water sparingly. Use houseplant fertilizer every month or so according to label instructions.

Study it. Imagine different planting angles, different fronts, new (or fewer) branches. By next spring and summer, when you should repot it into a better bonsai soil, you shold have some idea what you want to do with it.

Our uppermost forum ("Top Threads, etc.") has a couple of book review posts. These include some info on indoor bonsai so you can find one of those books and read.

Welcome, good luck, and enjoy.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Help make my ugly bonsai beautiful!

Post  Guest on Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:05 pm

Thanks so much for the replies, advice, and warm welcome!

Bill - The pebbles are not glued on. I'm not sure why the pic looks like that, but the soil looks much more exceptable in person (as far as I can tell anyway). lol I just assumed that the bonsai nursery put the pebbles in the mix to aid drainage? I know these trees are a bit finicky about that...I actually, have the tree indoors on a window sill at the moment. I have been treating it for an insect problem and have not yet put it out. I do have a grow light for it though. Are there any signs that I can look for that indicate a lighting issue? Since receiving the tree, it has pushed out lots of new growth and flowers so I'm hoping that's a good sign Smile

Jim- Thank you for your suggestion. Taking the one branch off really helps! Do you think that removing it will help thicken up the trunk at all? I don't plan to do any styling until next year so if I leave it to thicken up, perhaps it could act as a sacrifice branch?

Again, I really appreciated everyone's replies! Thank you Smile
-Gabrielle

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Re: Help make my ugly bonsai beautiful!

Post  JimLewis on Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:30 pm

The trunk may thicken, but the scar at the point of amputation will be larger, too.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Help make my ugly bonsai beautiful!

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:39 pm

The distance between leaves on a branch or stem will indicate light issues, plants tend to get longer gaps between leaves when they don't get enough light. Fuken Tea does tend to send out lots of new growth and regular trimming is required.

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Re: Help make my ugly bonsai beautiful!

Post  Guest on Wed Aug 29, 2012 6:50 pm

JimLewis wrote:The trunk may thicken, but the scar at the point of amputation will be larger, too.

That's a good point, Jim. I went ahead and did some trimming and took that branch off to avoid the larger pruning scar. Here is the tree after it's trimming. I think I may have went a bit over board, but I wanted the tree to look more proportional so I took quite a bit off. I think it looks better now Smile




I am still open to suggestions for future styling so feel free to speak your mind. Thanks
-Gabrielle

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Re: Help make my ugly bonsai beautiful!

Post  JimLewis on Wed Aug 29, 2012 7:45 pm

That looks fine to me. Let it be for a good while now.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Help make my ugly bonsai beautiful!

Post  Chisky on Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:54 pm

When you remove a branch is there something you are supposed to put on it like a bandage or something?

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Re: Help make my ugly bonsai beautiful!

Post  stagz on Wed Aug 29, 2012 9:57 pm

theres cut paste, but it is not necessary.

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Re: Help make my ugly bonsai beautiful!

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