Hello, new bonsai owner, just wanted to introduce myself and get input (pics)

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Re: Hello, new bonsai owner, just wanted to introduce myself and get input (pics)

Post  parabellum_9x19 on Wed Oct 26, 2011 5:12 pm

Tiny update, I think I'm homing in on watering the P. Afra.

I've been watering not to a schedule, but based on how dry my little dipstick (read: piece of chopstick) in the soil is. This last watering, I waited 10 days, and by the 10th day, the leaves were just barely starting to pucker a bit, a sure sign that the plant was starting to draw water from the leaves to supply its needs. I watered it thoroughly and in about 24-36 hours it had plumped right back up and looks great again. So at least for this time of year, under the current conditions I know that 10 days is pushing it.

With the ficus I have not tried to wait as long, I've been working off of a dipstick for the ficus as well, but it has been almost dry around the 6th day mark. Because this plant isn't like a succulent which stores lots of water in its leaves, I haven't tried to see just how far apart I could make the waterings.

I guess the good news is that I know that my soils are drying out completely, and I know that the plants are definitely not over-watered.

On the Ficus b., I have noticed a few roots peeking out from the bottom of the screens in the pot. A few root tendrils were hanging down out of the pot into the humidity tray and they died, turning brown and essentially falling off. I trimmed them back (from the bottom of the screen, I didn't remove the plant/soil from the pot) and there are bright white roots peeking out in the same spots, so I don't believe I'll have any root rot starting because of this.

I am, however, going to keep the humidity tray dry until I can fashion a few stands to get the pot up higher off of the gravel in the tray, I don't want any chance of the water in the tray getting back up into the pot.

It seems that this plant will definitely need a repotting and a mild root trim this spring...I hope its ok to wait that long to address the root issue.

Thoughts?


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Re: Hello, new bonsai owner, just wanted to introduce myself and get input (pics)

Post  Rob Kempinski on Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:39 pm

P. afra is a succulent and probably of all bonsai material, the last to die from lack of water.
In the summer I water mine every day but in the winter slow down to every third day.

Ficus are also very drought tolerant and as long as the air is humid water when the soil is dry.




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Re: Hello, new bonsai owner, just wanted to introduce myself and get input (pics)

Post  parabellum_9x19 on Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:59 pm

Rob Kempinski wrote:P. afra is a succulent and probably of all bonsai material, the last to die from lack of water.
In the summer I water mine every day but in the winter slow down to every third day.

Ficus are also very drought tolerant and as long as the air is humid water when the soil is dry.




Well, these are both full-time indoor bonsai right now, so the air is unfortunately very dry. I mist the Ficus a few times a day to try and compensate for the lack of humidity. These live in my office, so I don't really think that I could install a humidifier at this time.

I have been very determined not to over-water any of my little trees, so until I've got their watering down to a science, I'm trying to err on the side of under rather than over watering.




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Great!

Post  jake4bonsai on Thu Oct 27, 2011 1:02 am

Sounds like your doing good, but a little advice. You want to stay away from misting ficus'. They dont like it and with those species it gives bacteria, virus', and fungus a place to grow. You'll want to use a humidity tray with them. As long as you have enough gravel in the tray to keep the pot out of the water you wont have to worry. It wont matter if the roots grow a little into the tray, this wont cause root rot for the root in the pot. Just a little advice, Jake

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Shout out!

Post  jake4bonsai on Sun Oct 30, 2011 4:03 am

Hello IBC! I just wanted to take a minute to acknowledge someone that has also helped me alot on my bonsai journey and is a super guy and full of energy and information. He has been a member here on IBC for a while so some of you may know him or may have crossed paths with him. Im not going to drop names on here so if he wants to share that info ill leave that his choice. Known as cedarbog bonsai here on IBC, hes been in bonsai i believe 8 years now and is up and coming fast in the bonsai world. His knowledge of bonsai and his skills in carving deadwood not with power tools but by hand is something to be seen. Earning a place in the bonsai in the blue grass in kentucky with ryan neil this past year for his skills in the art of hand carving deawood he was highly recongnized. Im glad to be able to know him and if anyone has a chance he is worth talking to. He knows alot of people and alot of information and resources in bonsai and suiseki. His collecting of fine suiseki and hand carving of all the form fitting daizas makes him an all around resource himself for the art of bonsai and point displays with suiseki adding a finishing touch to any bonsai display. Not to mention very reasonable prices for such quality materials. Thanks for everything buddy! Jake cheers

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Re: Hello, new bonsai owner, just wanted to introduce myself and get input (pics)

Post  Mitch - Cedarbog on Tue Nov 01, 2011 5:44 am

jake4bonsai wrote:Hello IBC! I just wanted to take a minute to acknowledge someone that has also helped me alot on my bonsai journey and is a super guy and full of energy and information. He has been a member here on IBC for a while so some of you may know him or may have crossed paths with him. Im not going to drop names on here so if he wants to share that info ill leave that his choice. Known as cedarbog bonsai here on IBC, hes been in bonsai i believe 8 years now and is up and coming fast in the bonsai world. His knowledge of bonsai and his skills in carving deadwood not with power tools but by hand is something to be seen. Earning a place in the bonsai in the blue grass in kentucky with ryan neil this past year for his skills in the art of hand carving deawood he was highly recongnized. Im glad to be able to know him and if anyone has a chance he is worth talking to. He knows alot of people and alot of information and resources in bonsai and suiseki. His collecting of fine suiseki and hand carving of all the form fitting daizas makes him an all around resource himself for the art of bonsai and point displays with suiseki adding a finishing touch to any bonsai display. Not to mention very reasonable prices for such quality materials. Thanks for everything buddy! Jake cheers
Oh hey. Thank you. I just saw this one. I am really tickled about the great words you shared. Its a joy to share this hobby with you. You dont seem to be too bad yourself considering the fact you started just this past February. Lets push bonsai in southern Ohio buddy.

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Re: Hello, new bonsai owner, just wanted to introduce myself and get input (pics)

Post  parabellum_9x19 on Tue Nov 01, 2011 2:58 pm

jake4bonsai wrote:Sounds like your doing good, but a little advice. You want to stay away from misting ficus'. They dont like it and with those species it gives bacteria, virus', and fungus a place to grow. You'll want to use a humidity tray with them. As long as you have enough gravel in the tray to keep the pot out of the water you wont have to worry. It wont matter if the roots grow a little into the tray, this wont cause root rot for the root in the pot. Just a little advice, Jake

Thanks Jake.


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Note to "new bonsai owner"

Post  mike page on Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:02 pm

Legally, you may own a bonsai.

Philosophically, the bonsai owns you.

Because?

You become a slave to bonsai.

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True

Post  jake4bonsai on Wed Nov 02, 2011 1:33 am

True, very true but i dont mind. I love it! I will do this forever, even in my next life! cheers

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Re: Hello, new bonsai owner, just wanted to introduce myself and get input (pics)

Post  Mitch - Cedarbog on Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:18 am

The best form of slavery out there! I have no complaints.lol

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Re: Hello, new bonsai owner, just wanted to introduce myself and get input (pics)

Post  parabellum_9x19 on Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:44 pm

I was out in LA this week visiting some friends and I took a cutting of a Crassula O. back home with me to root and eventually cultivate.

I've got it in some tropical bonsai soil for the time being, these plants seem to root if you look at them funny, so I expect it to survive.


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Re: Hello, new bonsai owner, just wanted to introduce myself and get input (pics)

Post  parabellum_9x19 on Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:56 pm

Here is a pic of the Crassula O (unless I'm wrong but I'm pretty sure that is what it is) I took from a cutting, right now I'm just waiting for it to root so I can install it in a real pot. Its in tropical bonsai soil and there are holes in the bottom of its mini-pot.


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Jade

Post  jake4bonsai on Thu Nov 03, 2011 7:51 pm

It looks like some sort of jade to me. They root easily. I would use a humity tray for ideal conditions and you want it to get light but not too much light bcuz it will die. Just like rooting any cutting except tropicals have a 100% root rate for me. Good luck, hope it works for you! I accually have a cutting going from a dwarf jade right now and its doing great. I have it in a window sill that gets good light but not a whole lot of direct heat and i run a humidifer in that room twice a day for about 20 to 30 minutes for the other tropicals and they love it. Jake

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Re: Hello, new bonsai owner, just wanted to introduce myself and get input (pics)

Post  parabellum_9x19 on Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:04 pm

jake4bonsai wrote:It looks like some sort of jade to me. They root easily. I would use a humity tray for ideal conditions and you want it to get light but not too much light bcuz it will die. Just like rooting any cutting except tropicals have a 100% root rate for me. Good luck, hope it works for you! I accually have a cutting going from a dwarf jade right now and its doing great. I have it in a window sill that gets good light but not a whole lot of direct heat and i run a humidifer in that room twice a day for about 20 to 30 minutes for the other tropicals and they love it. Jake

Right now its under a 27W CFL grow bulb, it was previously used to direct, unobstructed Los Angeles sunshine (no shade), so I figured that this little desk grow light wouldn't be too much for it.

Here's hoping...

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Re: Hello, new bonsai owner, just wanted to introduce myself and get input (pics)

Post  parabellum_9x19 on Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:00 pm

Hey all, another question for you.

So for my little P.Afra, I'm pretty sure I have watering down now. I use the "dipstick" and so far it has been going totally dry by about the 7-8 day mark, where I will water the plant again. The top of the plant has some new growth and all of the leaves that get direct sun are very healthy looking.

However, I am noticing that some of the older leaves near the center of the plant are turning yellow and falling off dead. I'm not talking about a lot, I'd estimate maybe 4-5 leaves out of more than 60+ on the plant as a whole.

I notice that for every leaf that has yellowed, it is positioned in a spot where there is a much larger leaf directly above it, essentially blocking any chance of it getting direct sun.

I know the soil mix is good (as we determined it was from Brussel Martin's nursery), and I know its not being over watered....so all I can assume here is that when it made the change from being in a proper greenhouse to my indoor office environment with much less light, it is shedding the leaves that no longer efficiently contribute to photo synthesis, to provide more resources to the leaves that get a lot of sun?

Or would this have something to do with the shortening of the daylight that is happening this time of year?

The plant is healthy overall (at least, I'm pretty sure based on the very healthy looking new growth), but this very small amount of leaf drop has me wondering what is going on.

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P Afra

Post  jake4bonsai on Fri Nov 04, 2011 9:40 pm

P Afras will lose a few of the inner leaves from time to time. Its nothing to worry about. Sometimes the slightest adjustment can cause tropicals to drop some leaves and act funny. My P afra does the same thing. Your not doing anything wrong, if you were your plant would let you know it. Its going to always lose a couple leaves every couple weeks. Now if it gets to where its losing so many leaves that the plant is starting to look thin and twiggy then you have a problem. After a while youll get used to watering and you wont need any devices to tell you when the soil needs watering. I can tell now just by looking at the top of the soil. If the top of the soil is completely dry, it needs watered. When you water do not use a spray bottle and spray the soil. Not enough. Soak the soil through, wait 15 minutes and soak again. It is alway a good idea to once a month or at least every other month place your bonsai in a container that comes up as high as the pot and fill the container two thirds to three fouths full and let it soak for an hour. When soil becomes dry sometimes it is hard to get it damp through again and if this happens your water will wet the top and travel down the sides of the soil between the pot and soil and run out appearing to be fully watered and not be. I do this to all my bonsai and there will be times your glad you did. If your soil appears damp but the plant is still kinda wilted and or leaves turn yellow and fall off the center of the soil is dry and you can water it all day and not get to the center. Soaking is perfect to prevent this. This is one major cause of bonsai death where the owner just cant figure out what happened. When you do it though only fill just below the surface of the pot, never fill to over the top because you will cause soil to float out of the pot and can also cause the plant and soil and roots to shift around so only 2/3 rds to 3/4. I hope this helps, I wish i had known this information sooner than i did. Jake

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Re: Hello, new bonsai owner, just wanted to introduce myself and get input (pics)

Post  parabellum_9x19 on Fri Nov 04, 2011 10:14 pm

jake4bonsai wrote:P Afras will lose a few of the inner leaves from time to time. Its nothing to worry about. Sometimes the slightest adjustment can cause tropicals to drop some leaves and act funny. My P afra does the same thing. Your not doing anything wrong, if you were your plant would let you know it. Its going to always lose a couple leaves every couple weeks. Now if it gets to where its losing so many leaves that the plant is starting to look thin and twiggy then you have a problem. After a while youll get used to watering and you wont need any devices to tell you when the soil needs watering. I can tell now just by looking at the top of the soil. If the top of the soil is completely dry, it needs watered. When you water do not use a spray bottle and spray the soil. Not enough. Soak the soil through, wait 15 minutes and soak again. It is alway a good idea to once a month or at least every other month place your bonsai in a container that comes up as high as the pot and fill the container two thirds to three fouths full and let it soak for an hour. When soil becomes dry sometimes it is hard to get it damp through again and if this happens your water will wet the top and travel down the sides of the soil between the pot and soil and run out appearing to be fully watered and not be. I do this to all my bonsai and there will be times your glad you did. If your soil appears damp but the plant is still kinda wilted and or leaves turn yellow and fall off the center of the soil is dry and you can water it all day and not get to the center. Soaking is perfect to prevent this. This is one major cause of bonsai death where the owner just cant figure out what happened. When you do it though only fill just below the surface of the pot, never fill to over the top because you will cause soil to float out of the pot and can also cause the plant and soil and roots to shift around so only 2/3 rds to 3/4. I hope this helps, I wish i had known this information sooner than i did. Jake

Thanks, its much appreciated. Its definitely only a few leaves every few weeks, probably less than one a week. These leaves lose their color, and shrivel up dry, even while the plant is sprouting new growth up top.

As for watering, I am heeding the phrase "For Bonsai, it always rains twice".

I water the plant thoroughly once to get the soil materials wet (ironically, they don't absorb water well unless their structure is a bit damp), let it sit for 5 minutes, and then give it another thorough watering until water runs out the holes in the bottom in a one-to-one ratio with what is poured into the top. When I fertilize, its the same, only that second round is done with water to which I have added a proper amount of liquid fertilizer.

If I continue to see center leaves appearing a bit dry while the rest of the plant is wet, I'll try a soaking method and see if that makes a difference.

Come spring I'm repotting this plant with soil that I am pretty sure performs better in terms of water retention.


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P afra

Post  jake4bonsai on Fri Nov 04, 2011 10:45 pm

I wouldnt worry about water retention with the dwarf jade because they are very hardy and drought tollerant. The leaves its losing are the inner most leaves right? They shrivel a bit, turn a little yellow and fall off right? Portulacaria afras do that. As they grow and send out new shoots they lose thier inner most leaves slowly. A soil mix with very little organic material is even fine for them, i even know people who use a zero organic mix for them and they grow like a weed! You would have to pretty much totally forget about it or almost intentionally try to kill it to harm it. They even rarly get bugs although its still good practice to use a neem spray of some kind once a month just to ensure bugs stay at bay. Thats goes with any bonsai. I use a product called fungicide 3 concentrate. The ready mixed isnt strog enough. Its a fungicide, miticide, and insecticide in one. Its 70% neem oil and is harmless to benifical insects, humans, and animals. Can also be used on any species of plant known because its all natural. Not exspensive either, i got it for 12 dollars for enough to make 20 gallons at one ounce per gallon! Also you dont have to wait to repot you jade, Any tropical can be repotted, root pruned, and pruned and wired any month as long as its done indoors in winter or if its below 50 degrees outside. Hope this helps, Jake

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Re: Hello, new bonsai owner, just wanted to introduce myself and get input (pics)

Post  parabellum_9x19 on Fri Nov 04, 2011 10:48 pm

jake4bonsai wrote:I wouldnt worry about water retention with the dwarf jade because they are very hardy and drought tollerant. The leaves its losing are the inner most leaves right? They shrivel a bit, turn a little yellow and fall off right? Portulacaria afras do that. As they grow and send out new shoots they lose thier inner most leaves slowly. A soil mix with very little organic material is even fine for them, i even know people who use a zero organic mix for them and they grow like a weed! You would have to pretty much totally forget about it or almost intentionally try to kill it to harm it. They even rarly get bugs although its still good practice to use a neem spray of some kind once a month just to ensure bugs stay at bay. Thats goes with any bonsai. I use a product called fungicide 3 concentrate. The ready mixed isnt strog enough. Its a fungicide, miticide, and insecticide in one. Its 70% neem oil and is harmless to benifical insects, humans, and animals. Can also be used on any species of plant known because its all natural. Not exspensive either, i got it for 12 dollars for enough to make 20 gallons at one ounce per gallon! Also you dont have to wait to repot you jade, Any tropical can be repotted, root pruned, and pruned and wired any month as long as its done indoors in winter or if its below 50 degrees outside. Hope this helps, Jake

Jake, while I doubt it would ever happen due to our locations, I owe you a beer (or your favorite beverage of choice).

Thank you for taking the time to share that information.


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You owe me nothing

Post  jake4bonsai on Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:50 am

Lol! You owe me nothing. I just wish i had someone to have givin me this information when i was first starting. I had to collect all this information from many resources of wich over half are full of crap, and then had to sort out whats true and whats false and also learn alot through trial and error. It is very humbling to lose a plant and it will happen but dont let it discourage you even though it is hard. For these reasons i help people and i just wish more people were like this. Some of these bonsai guys wont tell you anything without paying for the information when they themselves didnt pay for it through an apprenticship wich costed most of them nothing! i really have only had honest help from two people, one is rob macgregor of new world horticulture and new world bonsai and the other is known on here as cedarbog bonsai. Both of them i know personally and theyve helped and continue to help me. Just remember do not apply techniques as soon as you see them on the internet because chances are down the road you will regret it. Study hard, watch videos, read books and best of all get with local bonsai people in your area because they will know what works in your climate and what doesnt. I would say your climate is probably pretty close to mine. were not that far appart. it may differ slightly but not much id say. Are you planning on getting into outdoor bonsai, Maples, junipers, pines, things of that nature? It will open your eyes to alot more and that will become your main focus, i guarentee you that. Exspecially when all your hardwork pays off in the fall in the form of reds, yellows, and oranges on diciuous trees. I love tropicals too, i prbably have just as many tropicals as i do temperate trees but the outside bonsai rewards the best in my opinion. Jake

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Re: Hello, new bonsai owner, just wanted to introduce myself and get input (pics)

Post  parabellum_9x19 on Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:07 pm

Update on this, I decided to test Jake's advice in a controlled manner.

So, I did some more research and I wanted to update this thread:

I tested Fungicide 3 (neem based, not a soap) on ONE leaf of my Dwarf Jade (P. Afra) and within two hours the leaf was showing massive cell damage and cell death. I decided to NOT dillute the Fungicide3 for this test, figuring that if the P. Afra can handle full strength neem, it can handle any dilution. I pruned the leaf off the plant and I will not be using any oil based products on a jade ever again.

In short, it appears that neem based products are not safe for jades at full strength, its possible that at a very high dillution they might be ok.

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Neem based pesticides

Post  jake4bonsai on Fri Dec 02, 2011 2:58 am

Hi, I am sorry you have had a bad exsperiance with this product. That baffels me because i use it every month on all my bonsai including jade with no ill affects. I wouldnt let that one leaf distort your opinions of fungicide 3 though. Its possable that one leaf could have had some underlying problem to begin with that just couldnt be noticed. Many different things could have caused that because jades are so sensitive. Exspecially if youve used any other type of spray or soaps on that plant before and it just wasnt wore off yet. chemical reaction is what im trying to say. If you want to be sure and put it on a higher test take a couple cuttings from your jade next time it grows out a little and root them. let them get established and start growing and do some more testing. I sure would hate to see someone test oine little leaf and throw the product away and never use it again because it is a very good product. It works and it perfectly safe being as its natural ingrediants. Maybe different climates between you and me or different posistioning of the plants can cause different things. Im not sure. I feel bad to hear that your exsperiance was different than mine but then again to go by one test of one leaf may be a little misleading. I hope theres no hard feelings? Sometimes and you will find this out just because something works for one person does not mean it will work the same way for another. I have seen instantces like this before with different things, exspecially between people whom live in different climates. It happens all the time. Im just glad you knew to try a little first. I wouldnt stop there though, it really is a great product and works very well when used once a month as a preventative precausion. Thanks for letting me know. Jake

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Re: Hello, new bonsai owner, just wanted to introduce myself and get input (pics)

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