A little help with a few sick Bonsai trees and identification

Stevo

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Hi - my uncle passed away and I now have and am doing my best to take care of these bonsai trees. I am not sure if it too much to ask here, but I was hoping to find out what trees I have and the best light conditions and water they need. The two Juniper's, at least I think they are Junipers, are not doing well and I lost one already. I had it in pretty much full sun from about noon until sundown. I am afraid I might have them in too much sun and maybe I am keeping them too wet. Maybe they need repotting? I am not sure when my uncle had them repotted. I am unsure where I would get a tall planter like the one in the first photo.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Also, if any of you know a good bonsai person in Los Angeles, that might make a house call, that would be great.

With much thanks, Steven
 

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JudyB

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It would be great if you could go to your profile and put your location in, so it shows up under your name. It will help people give you good advice for your climate. I would suggest you get hold of Bob Pressler at Kimura bonsai there in LA. He's on FB under Robert Pressler, I'm sure if anyone can help you it will be him. He is a member here too @bonsaibp maybe he will see this post.
 

Stevo

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It would be great if you could go to your profile and put your location in, so it shows up under your name. It will help people give you good advice for your climate. I would suggest you get hold of Bob Pressler at Kimura bonsai there in LA. He's on FB under Robert Pressler, I'm sure if anyone can help you it will be him. He is a member here too @bonsaibp maybe he will see this post.
Hi Judy, Thank you. I just added that info. I am in Hancock Park in Los Angeles.
 

Shibui

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First 3 photos appear to be junipers of some sort.
Next 4 are elms, probably Chinese elms.
Not sure about the last couple though?

They all look like they have been quite thirsty and underfed.
I water every morning and evening in summer to keep trees properly hydrated. How often will depend on the soil mix they are in but probably at least every day thru summer. smaller pots need watering more often. Watering pots does not mean just waving a hose past. They need to be watered well then watered again so the water can soak right into the middle of the pot.
Being pot bound can make watering far more difficult. I guess you have no idea when these were last repotted? Spring is the appropriate season for repotting most bonsai

potted plants need fertiliser regularly because we water often and wash nutrients out of the pots. Any plant fertiliser is OK for bonsai. Use as directed on the pack. Every 2-3 weeks through summer is usual.
 

RyanSA

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You might want to try an app called "picture this" it identifies the plant, but more importantly, you take snaps of the diseased/infected area and it will diagnose.
 

sorce

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Welcome to Crazy!

I was just talking about you yesterday!

Sorce
 

penumbra

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It is good you are here because these plants really need all the help they can get from ground one.
I understand you want to get them help and that is great, but before they decline any further consider if you really want to take on all that is required for their recovery and their upkeep.
Several years ago my parental status changed nearly overnight when my kids took their mother to court and resulted in them coming to live with me. It took more than regular parenting to get them back on track, consuming all of my free time and my bonsai suffered. I gave or sold almost all my plants, keeping only the largest ones that required less general care.
I am glad that chapter is closed, but the irony is that now my parents are requiring more and more. I will not give up my plants again, thanks to semi retirement. My job now is taking care of my plants and making pottery.
 

Bonsai Nut

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Welcome to the site!

The first three are junipers of some type. Given your location and their general appearance, they all appear to be San Jose junipers, but it is really hard to tell due to the fact that they are stressed and are throwing tons of juvenile foliage (the prickly kind).
The next four are all Chinese elms.
The next one is a live oak. Probably a coast live oak.
Last one is a contorted Japanese quince.

I would also recommend Bob Pressler as a contact - he is right up in the Valley. However I'm not sure about house calls. You would have to call him and ask.
Kimura Bonsai Nursery

All of the trees are stressed. The soil appears to be bad - all are planted in potting soil and not bonsai soil. Potting soil compacts easily in containers and leads to oxygen-poor soil, water retention, root rot, and a whole host of other issues. Bonsai soil is usually free (or mostly free) of all organics. It looks like fine, sharp gravel. When your trees are potted in good soil, you water your trees and the water flows immediately through the soil and out the holes in the bottom of the pot - rinsing the soil and leaving wet (but not waterlogged) soil and roots behind.

AC0003-2.jpg

If you look at your pots, you can see how the soil looks dark and completely solid - like swamp soil. It might even smell swampy. This isn't good. Additionally, given crappy LA city water, you can see all the mineral deposits left on the tree roots and the pot. This is a sign that water is accumulating in the soil, and then slowly evaporating, leaving all the salts and minerals behind. Eventually if you continue down this path, you turn your soil into alkaline desert soil (think the bottom of Owens Lake).

Normally you don't want to repot at this time of year, but given the condition of all of your trees, you will want to do so. I won't write a long article about repotting here, because there are tons of threads on it. Check the threads and ask any questions you want. Be gentle with the trees - it is likely they have not been repotted in years, and you may find they are completely root-bound in the current pots. If that is the case, you might want to buy some cheap plastic nursery pots that are slightly larger than your bonsai pots, pull the trees from the old pots, loosen the roots as much as possible and remove as much old soil as possible, and move the trees into the larger pots (with better soil) to allow them to recover before you worry about trimming/pruning roots.

Also, you might consider watering them a few times with distilled water from the store. You can usually buy distilled water from Target for about $.99 per gallon. Distilled water will not have any dissolved minerals, and have a lower pH than your tap water, and will help rinse the salts and minerals off the roots and out of your soil.

Because of their weakened state, after you repot you will want to keep them in bright indirect light but NO direct sun. If you put them out in July LA sun it will be the death of them. They will need light (no total shade) but no direct sun. Consider shade cloth sails to create a patch of protection if necessary. Also protect them if you experience any strong Santa Anas... same issue - their vascular systems are compromised so they don't have the ability to draw enough water up into the foliage to keep up with the desiccation rate of a strong dry wind. Protection is key. You will know your are out of the woods when you see new growth. The Chinese elms will be the first to bud - and may show new growth in as little as two weeks. The quince will be next and then the live oak. The junipers will take longer - perhaps a couple of months. Don't lose hope... just do the work and be patient.
 
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Stevo

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Thank you Shibui, I was afraid I was giving them too much water from some things I read on the net. Glad to know every day is fine. I also am very glad to hear that any fertilizer is ok. That means that Miracle Grow is part of that?

Another big concern is the light they require and if I am giving too much or too little? I have a feeling that some might require more and some much less, but I just don't know. Help on this would be appreciated.

Thanks Mikecheck123 for the attempt on identification of the last 2.

Thanks RyanSA. I will try that.

Thank you Penumbra, Sounds like you and your plants have gone through some tough times. I am hoping if I get the conditions right along with watering, sunlight and feeding I can keep these trees looking beautiful.
 

Stevo

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Thanks Bonsai Nut! Your post came in just as I was posting mine. Thank you for all the helpful and detailed information! I have contacted Robert here and on Facebook, but not heard back from him yet. I will check out the threads on repotting, but maybe wait to hear from him to see if he can help. I do have filtered water at home, maybe that would work rather then distilled? And I still have the light requirement question for all the plants.
 

Bonsai Nut

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And I still have the light requirement question for all the plants.

If the trees are healthy, they can be out in full LA sun all year. You see San Jose junipers, Chinese elms and quinces out in LA landscape all over the place, and live oaks are native to the area. In the case of the junipers they almost REQUIRE it.

However that is for healthy trees with healthy roots. If the roots are not healthy, they cannot draw up enough water to keep up with the rate of evaporation in the foliage. Trees in landscape (with well-established root systems deep in the ground) don't have a problem, but bonsai trees in shallow pots with small root systems you have to watch. Conifers have slower systems than deciduous trees, so frequently the first sign you have that the trees are stressed is the foliage starts to dry out... and it is a process that is slow to reverse if you don't act decisively. Many bonsai growers in LA that bring in collected junipers from the east (Mojave desert trees, etc) will often use a system of misters or humidity tents around collected trees for the first year or so - to protect the foliage until the roots have a chance to recover from the stress of being dug out of the ground.
 

Stevo

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If the trees are healthy, they can be out in full LA sun all year. You see San Jose junipers, Chinese elms and quinces out in LA landscape all over the place, and live oaks are native to the area. In the case of the junipers they almost REQUIRE it.

However that is for healthy trees with healthy roots. If the roots are not healthy, they cannot draw up enough water to keep up with the rate of evaporation in the foliage. Trees in landscape (with well-established root systems deep in the ground) don't have a problem, but bonsai trees in shallow pots with small root systems you have to watch. Conifers have slower systems than deciduous trees, so frequently the first sign you have that the trees are stressed is the foliage starts to dry out... and it is a process that is slow to reverse if you don't act decisively. Many bonsai growers in LA that bring in collected junipers from the east (Mojave desert trees, etc) will often use a system of misters or humidity tents around collected trees for the first year or so - to protect the foliage until the roots have a chance to recover from the stress of being dug out of the ground.
Thanks again Bonsai Nut! I guess the internet can be a dangerous place since there are lots of places that said Junipers need mostly shade lol I am going to try to get these guys healthy again. And I can really use Miracle Grow or other fertilizers on them?
 

Bonsai Nut

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Thanks again Bonsai Nut! I guess the internet can be a dangerous place since there are lots of places that said Junipers need mostly shade lol I am going to try to get these guys healthy again. And I can really use Miracle Grow or other fertilizers on them?

Tell it to the California junipers that come out of the Mojave Desert or Death Valley! But you don't have to go that far afield. When you drive around LA just look at all the junipers that people have in their landscape all over the place. If you keep your junipers in a location that is not bright enough, they will start to throw long, spindly growth and the inner branching and budding will die off. What you want is junipers in bright light that allows them to have tight, compact balls of foliage.

No do NOT use any fertilizer on them at this time. One thing at a time - and right now that thing is to get the roots healthy. Fertilizer does no good (and can actually cause harm) if the roots aren't healthy.
 
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