Watering a baobab tree

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Watering a baobab tree

Post  Plantfever on Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:37 pm

Hello dear friends,

I made a second attempt to plant a baobab -the first one did not go well- and this is the result after almost 3 months. I have read a lot on internet about watering a baobab and I found out that you should not water during the winter.

Now here are my questions. I have planted this during the summer (June) in Sweden, in a plastic pot and indoors. In about one month or two, the winter begins here in Sweden. Does the rule about not watering a baobab during the winter concern even my plant or is it still too small for this? When should I start with this?
It may be a dumb question, but does it matter if it's winter or not when I still have the plant indoors with a temperature around 24C / 75F?

What I also would like to know is how long i should wait until water it, I normally wait until the soil is dry, is it good or bad?

http://img228.imageshack.us/img228/6991/22718768.jpg

Thank you Smile

Plantfever
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Baobab seedling

Post  lennard on Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:31 pm

Your tree is still very young so I don't know if it will have formed a tuber yet. If you can keep the temperatures high with enough light the tree can be watered until it's growth stops. When that happens don't give it any water until the next growing season. For now only water when almost dry.

Good luck on your seedling.

Lennard

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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Plantfever on Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:27 pm

Thanks for your reply and help, Lennard.

May I ask how you decide when next growing season is? (Since I planted this during the summer and did not follow the "season rule" from the beginning)


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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:38 pm

I keep my baobab in a greenhouse all year and water all year. As with most of my plants I don't water anything as much in the winter.
But, there are different varieties of Baobab and it might depend upon which variety you have.

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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Andre Beaurain on Thu Sep 13, 2012 3:22 pm

Billy, do you water your Baobab in Winter? Does it still have leaves on when you water it? You realize ofcourse that you are playing Russian roulette! Suspect

Dear Plantfever
Its not you who decide when the next growing season is, strangely enough it happens by itself! Razz Razz
You should let you Baobab go and sleep, during winter, and start watering when the buds appear. I wouldnt recomend forcing it during winter, it will colapse sooner or later!! Follow the seasons, dont try and play God.
Why do you keep it indoors during summer?

Lennard, Baobabs doesnt have tubers. It forms a massive tap root, that resembles a tuber I suppose.

Love and light
Andre


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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Thu Sep 13, 2012 4:37 pm

I do water my Baobab in winter, and yes it has leaves.

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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Plantfever on Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:04 pm

Thanks for your answers Billy M. Rhodes and Andre Beaurain Very Happy

This is for sure not about playing God or controll the seasons:) The reason why I was asking that is that my baobab may have been "unsynchronized" with the seasons since I did not plant it when you normally do or should plant it (perhaps anything like that does not even exist?) and also that the weather conditions here are not matching with what's normal for baobabs. Very Happy
I had it outdoors sometimes during the summer, but because of the rain and risk of over watering i had it indoors too many times.

Anyway, may I ask you for some advice?Smile How long should I wait before I apply the rule of not watering during the winter? Should I wait until it is bigger, as lennard said earlier?

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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Andre Beaurain on Fri Sep 14, 2012 7:02 am

Billy M. Rhodes wrote:I do water my Baobab in winter, and yes it has leaves.

Sorry Billy to bug you like this, is your Baobab evergreen?

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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Andre Beaurain on Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:22 am

Dear Plantfever.

Baobabs grow in an area with Summer rainfall. And nothing in winter.

When your tree has leaves on you can water it as often as you like. I have seen Baobab ZA (digitata) growing on the rim of a floodplane. In summer some of them actually stand IN water. With all the rain.
When it has leaves on, its safe to water, a lot will make it grow faster. little water will will just keep it alive.

When you transplant a plant in the middel of summer. the plant wont think that , O' summer is starting! It has started thinking so the minute the leaves appear, this normally happens when the soil temperature reaches 18 degrees. ( in Africa) In the beginning of spring. Weather you transplant your plant in middle of summer, it doenst matter.

When the soil temperature drops below 18, the plant will start to shut down and go to sleep, leaves will turn yellow and drop off very quickly. The you stop watering, as soon as you see some yellow in the leaves. (or brown).

The most diffucult of all Baobabs are Adansonia perrieri, and Adansonia grandidieri, I doubt that yours will be this varieties. I struggle to grow them myself.

How long should I wait before I apply the rule of not watering during the winter? Should I wait until it is bigger, as lennard said earlier?
A seedling is no different form the adult, except in the leave structure, seedlings will have singular leaves, adults have palmate compound leaves, this changes when the plant is about seven years old in the wild, in captivity it can take MUCH longer. I have a baobab from 1969, its still in its juvenile stage. ( from being in a small pot for years)
Seedlings dont get extra water in winter. By whom? Bushbuck? Razz Razz

These seedlings are now in their 3d year. They havnt yet recieved any water this winter. NOt a SINGLE Drop. Our spring started in September, and now today I saw the fresh green leaves on the ones tips, that plant will be watered this weekend. Today I will transplant it in fresh very very well drained soil, in a bigger pot. ONly on Sunday will I water it by soaking it in a tub with water and fertilizer. The reason shy I wait two days before watering, after transplanting, is, if you damage some roots, they need to dry first before a watering can commence, this takes usually 72 hours. The other two are still sleeping, and they will wait.


Hope I helped!

Love and light
Andre

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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Plantfever on Fri Sep 14, 2012 1:56 pm

Dear Andre Beaurain,

thank you for your very detailed and well written explanation, and very interesting reading. I now understand how it works and I will not try to change the growing seasons anymore Very Happy Really, I am very thankful.

I only have one follow up question: What do you do when, for example in my plant, two leaves are green and healthy, and the two other are more yellow and seems to begin to dry and wither. Should I consider this as still "summer and water" or "winter and no water"?

(I read somewhere that over water it may also make it yellow, even though according to Billy M. Rhodes his baobab seem to do fine.)

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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Andre Beaurain on Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:18 pm

consider it autum, and stop watering.

have a great weekend.

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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Plantfever on Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:31 pm

Allright! Thanks again for all the help. Smile

Have a great weekend you too.

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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  lennard on Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:37 pm

Seedlings at different stages:
(Two weeks growth, 3 months growth before going dormant and 6 months growth before going dormant.)



Lennard

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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Andre Beaurain on Mon Sep 17, 2012 8:01 am

Thanks Lennard

You can see clearly the Caudex forming already, and the Taproot extending at the bottom.

Its interesting that you have a 3 month old seedling, do you have a Hothouse.
I havnt even consider sowing, still to cool and wet here by us. You are so lucky.

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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  lennard on Mon Sep 17, 2012 8:14 pm

Andre Beaurain wrote:
Its interesting that you have a 3 month old seedling, do you have a Hothouse.
I havnt even consider sowing, still to cool and wet here by us.

The three months old seedling was sown in February this year - it only had three months to grow before going dormant.

I did not sow new seed this year yet. After the heavy rains a few weeks ago these ones germinated in the seedling tray I planted the others in. The seeds were probably lying on top but moved into the soil after I removed the 6 month old seedlings.

Will wait till late October before sowing the next batch.

Lennard

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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Leo Schordje on Mon Sep 17, 2012 8:39 pm

Andre your advice is excellent.

To help us cold winter temperate growers focus on the key points you provided. I will restate what I see as the key factors governing whether a baobab needs to be watered.

Baobab grows during WARM weather, in regions of summer rain. When the temperature is above 18C (roughly 68 F) it will grow. When temperatures are below 18 C (even just at night) the plant will think the dry season is coming and begin to drop its leaves.

When there are no leaves on the tree, don't water. The tree is dormant.
When the new shoots show, it is time to water. Keep the tree above 18 C, or 68F even at night to keep the tree growing for enough weeks and months to mature twigs and shoots. Because Billy Rhodes has leaves all winter, he waters all winter, he must be keeping his baobab warm enough that it is staying in active growth. If you are in a cold climate, you should keep your baobab warm and sunny for at least 4 months or more a year to get some new growth every year.

As to when to quit watering. When half the leaves have yellowed and fallen, time to quit watering. The tree thinks a drought is coming.

If you want to 'force' a schedule on a tree, use temperature to signal to the tree when it is time to grow or go dormant. I have a nice light garden with good quality light. I could see keeping a baobab growing 9 months, then chill it below 18 C or 68 F and dry it out, so that it gets a rest, then resuming heat 3 months later, and beginning watering as soon as the tree has put out shoots and leaves.

Andre, did I get it more or less right?

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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Randy_Davis on Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:00 pm

All,

This has been a great thread on Baobab's and their care for us Northerner's not used to working with this material (A. digitata specifically). I have a young tree 5 or 6 years old that I have treated as far as watering as has been suggested and it has worked quite well for me. My tree is growing in a 3 gallon plastic container and has been allowed to grow freely without any pruning. I'm getting very close to the time to do the first root pruning on it and would very much like to get some experts here on the appropriate methods to eliminate the large root tubers etc..... It would be fanastic to see some progression pic's on the process if anyone has some that they would like to share! hint hint!!!!!!!

ta ta for now,
R

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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Andre Beaurain on Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:15 pm

Leo, I think you are getting the idea. ThumbsUp
I would stop watering with the first yellowing and wilting of the leaves.

Randy, we can thank Plantfever for this thread.

Rootpruning must take place during dormancy.
Cutting of the Taproot should be avoided as far as possible. Only when you remove a plant form nature is this neccesary! And who's gonna do that!! I'll kill them!! Suspect
I have noticed that a Baobab that was grown in a pot since a seedling will have its Tap root curved in the pot. This can be used as part of the stem!
Shake of all dry soil, and using a dowell, Do NOT spray with hose. Do NOT wet the roots.
Ofcourse we all know to sterilize the Tool. Neutral
Cut and then dust the wounds with Sulphur. (remember to wear a mask)
After cutting the roots, the tree cannot be potted immediately.

Rest it on a shelf under roof. Not in the dark! The bark is still sensitive to light. At least 72 hours. This can extend to a week or even TWO!. Nothing will happen to the resting Baobab, except forming a callous over the wound. Once the wound is dry it can be planted in DRY potting medium. Wait. Do not water yet.
For spring.
Which should be another month, at least.
When you see green leaves budding... then go for gold, I soak the Pots in a water with fertilizer added to it.
I also Foliar feed them at night when the sun goes down. Baobabs actually photosinthesize on the bark aswell. This stomata opens at night, to prevent moisture loss during the day as in Cactussus..... Arnt they amazing!!

Airlayering a Baobab is another story. If you strip the bark off, it will grow back!! Its a race then between root an bark! But another day...



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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Zimzamzim on Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:08 am

Andre Beaurain wrote:


I have a baobab from 1969, its still in its juvenile stage.

Interesting that - mine from +/- 1980 is also in it's juvenile stage - will it ever 'grow up'?

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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Andre Beaurain on Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:35 pm

...only when it has a huge rootsystem or caudex,

so when you plant it in the ground it will....

but I think keeping it as a juvenile in bonsai, is the point, because compound palmate leaves arnt desirable in Bonsai.

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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Conny on Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:12 am

Hello

Happend to find this forum, and have a question about my Baobab, hope that´s okey.
I also live in Sweden and also planted this last summer (july). A month ago my Baobab suddenly stopped growing, like stepped on the brakes. This is the first time I ever grow anything, or even own a plant, so I´m quite nervous about it all. However, some of the leaves now are half brown/yellow, the leaves at the top are still all green. We are in the middle of winter here right now, with -10 outdoors. What I´d like to ask is if my Baobab is acting normal, or if it´s about to die? I read somewhere that they drop all leaves quickly(?) when going dormant, mine doesn´t, this far it has dropped like 3 of 20. Shouldn´t all leaves have fallen now, if it is dormant?

Edit: I stopped watering it some weeks ago, shortly after it stepped on the growing brakes, was this correct? (If it´s not dying on me...)

Thankyou in advance!



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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Andre Beaurain on Tue Jan 29, 2013 6:52 am

Dear Conny.

That your Baobab still have leaves on, is not a good sign, it should have lost it in Autumn. when you should have stop watering, but I guess keeping it indoors confuses the tree.

The browning of the leaves in your picture is not the normal browning in Autumn. Those leaves look sick. Either its from cold, or it could have Red Spider Mites, or you have a rot in you roots. Cheq underneath the leaves for ver tiny little red spots, if you use a lighter and burn the undersides quickly, one can see the spiders better if they burn black.

If you watered your tree during winter, I can almost guarantee that you have rot in the roots!!

Anyway, I would defoliate the tree, throw the leaves in the fire, do not add to compost. Pull it out of the ground and inspect the roots and caudex. Do NOT use water to rinse of the soil!!! If it is soft and pulpy...... you are f*&%ed, run away. (If so I will give advise later, let me know)

If it is nice and firm, plant it back in a very very dry sandy soil mix and leave it till spring.

I think anyway it gets to little light if I look at the SIZE of your leaves!!

Dont feel bad, I ve killed MANY baobabs and I'm a Horticulturist! That you try it with your first tree.....you've got Balls my friend!!

Try something much easier... like Portulacaria afra or Crassula arborescens.

Love and light
Andre

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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Conny on Wed Jan 30, 2013 2:22 pm

Thank you Andre for the answer, very greatful! Even though it wasn´t the answer I was hoping for... Crying or Very sad

Guess I will look like a fool now, but I had to google the term defoliate. How do I perform that, manually just pulling the leaves off? Even the "healthy" ones?
I have now looked under the leaves but can´t see any red dots, neither black dots after treating with lighter. However, I find some suspicious web in the pot, see picture nr 1.

About root rot and watering, I thought it was okey to water as long as the tree grew, a mistake obviousely. However, I am 99% sure that I will mess up the roots if I lift it out of soil, so I´m very afraid to perform that action. IF there is root rot, the tree is already doomed, isn´t it? Really like my tree, so I guess it just comes down to how I want to finish it, leave it to a slow painful death or just throw it away right now... Crying or Very sad Isn´t there any other way if there is root rot? Can some of the root still be okey? Does root rot spread? How about putting heat under the pot to dry it out completely? And hope for the best, that some root are okey? The pot mixture right now is 2/3 soil 1/3 sand and some Leca.

Now I will look stupid again, but do you mean my leaves are large or small?

However, here are some more pics, so you can have a look at the whole situation. I ask again (eventhough I probably already got the answer), do I really have to pull it out of soil? pale pale pale If so, how do I do that the most secure way? And you mention very dry soil, I won´t be able to find that here in a quickey...



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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Andre Beaurain on Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:04 pm

....no, I think that is probably just a cold burn on the leaves, its was to close to the cold window?

If it was a rot, more leaves would have looked like that. I think you are save.

Your leaves are very Big, too lightly coloured and too floppy. This all is just an indication of not enough light.

Stop watering, give it more light. You tree needs a Winter soon. It still thinks its summer!

Does it sit in temperature controll?

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Re: Watering a baobab tree

Post  Andre Beaurain on Thu Jan 31, 2013 7:46 am

Dear Conny

First of all, thats amazing growth for a tree that is only six months old? You germainated it from seed in JULY? Wow.

I think you problem is with the temperature in your house. The soil temp. needs to go below 18 degrees so that the tree will know its winter. Now the tree sits in a house with 24-27 degrees and thinks, wow what an awesome long summer.

You need a cool house. I dont know what you can do to keep the soil cooler, what does everyone else do???

Next summer, leave the tree out untill the air get colder, when the leaves brown, then bring it indoors.

I think Defoliate your tree, and keep it in bright light, dont think because it doesnt have leaves on, you can leave it in the dark!, it will die. Baobabs has chlorophyll on their bark!


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Re: Watering a baobab tree

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