Chinese Elm need help!

JoeyBon

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This is my first post, first bonsai.
I have a ~5 year old Chinese Elm from Eastern Leaf. When I bought it last Spring, I almost immediately repotted from nursery soil to a 100% inorganic akadama/lava mix. The tree did very well last summer and only lost about half of its foliage into the winter. This spring, I decided to repot with a new soil mix. I am a huge fungi fan and I wanted to inoculate with a mycorrhizal fungus instead of rooting hormone. Obviously the fungi would need an organic substrate, so I used coco coir and a small amount of vermiculite in my akadama lava mix. Immediately after repotting, I realized I used too much organic matter, as the soil was pooling and not draining at all. About a week later I repotted again to remove some coir and add more akadama lava. It helped, but still very poor drainage. I decided to give the tree about a month to recover before I repotted a 3rd and final time this year. I realize repotting is stressful to the plant, and on top of all that, my girlfriend's cat ATE almost all the remaining leaves after 2nd repotting. With the 3rd repot, I removed most of the organic material, leaving only what I think is necessary for the mycorrhizal fungus to colonize. It has been about 3 weeks since the final repot, and it does drain very well now.
My concern is primarily the foliage. Aren't leaves its only method of respiration? I only fed it a tiny amount of 20-9-9 fertilizer today, because I don't want to feed it until it recovers more. I notice there are a lot of twig clusters on the branches, where leaves would normally develop, but they remain bare.
How can I help it recover?
Would trimming some of the twig clusters help allocate more energy to the surviving leaves?
Or should I just leave it alone and water daily?

It sits in a window sill facing south-east, so it gets plenty of diffused light all day. I only take it outside to water.

2 pictures show how bare it is :( ….breaks my heart
bon1.jpg

Outside in the warm rain. I'm worried those 4 leaves are the only thing keeping it alive.
bon2.jpg
 

rockm

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Quit messing with it. Keep the damn cat away from it. stop "feeding" it and GET IT OUTSIDE 24/7 ASAP. Place it somewhere where it receives a couple hours of direct MORNING sun. Don't keep moving it around once its outside.

Post where you are (state, etc.) it will help us. Keep the soil moist, not wet. Stand back and try not to "do" anything "for" it. It doesn't need all that much help. Wait AT LEAST A MONTH before you think about doing anything to it and another before you do.

Being a bit sarcastic, but seriously, you're killing it with too much attention. The stupid feline isn't helping either. ;-)
 

Vin

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I'm on board with @rockm. I would add that as long as it has leaves, it's alive but probably in recovery mode. Yes, leaves are needed for transpiration (not respiration) so don't over water it.
 

JoeyBon

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Thank you rockm. I have left the tree outside for tonight. The cat now has a restraining order.
BTW I'm in NC so our typical summer days hover near 100 Fahrenheit.
Last summer if I left it outside too long, the sun would cook the leaves. They become yellow and brown and fall off.
So what about bugs and direct sun?

Vin, are you suggesting that fewer leaves should mean I water less frequently?
 

Vin

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Not really. I'm suggesting you water it when it needs it. Don't let the soil dry out but also don't water just for the sake of it. If the leaves became yellow and fell off last year then the sun wasn't the cause. That's a classic sign of two much water and/or poor draining soil. My Chinese Elms are in full sun 12 plus hours a day and temps are close to 100 degrees. They don't have a yellow leaf anywhere.
 

sorce

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Me....

I would pull that thing directly out the pot, or shit, if it's wired in real good...
Just take the whole thing by the top....
Beat the shit out of the cat with it....

Throw it out...
And start over!

Welcome to Crazy....

If she says anything about you beating her cat......

Sorce
 

DougB

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BTW I'm in NC so our typical summer days hover near 100 Fahrenheit.
Joey where in NC are you located (and please put your location in your profile) because our suggestions depend on if you are in the mountains, Piedmont, sandhills or the coast. I leave mine outside almost the entire year so they become acclimated to to the microclimate. Only if the temperatures and sun are extreme do I put them under a shade tent.

And by the way NC is privileged to have an exceptional bonsai display in Asheville. And we have exceptional clubs across the state. PM me if you need more info. And welcome.
 

rockm

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Thank you rockm. I have left the tree outside for tonight. The cat now has a restraining order.
BTW I'm in NC so our typical summer days hover near 100 Fahrenheit.
Last summer if I left it outside too long, the sun would cook the leaves. They become yellow and brown and fall off.
So what about bugs and direct sun?

Vin, are you suggesting that fewer leaves should mean I water less frequently?
The leaves were more likely yellowed from too much water and soggy soil. Sun burned leaves are not yellow they are crispy and bronzed.

Chinese elms are subtropical to temperate trees and are well capable of withstanding 100 days as well as a N.C. winter.

For Gosh sakes, trees have been dealing with bugs and direct sun for a very very VERY long time. If bugs get intense, spray some neem oil on the tree. As for sun site the tree so it gets some shade in the afternoon.
 

Cypress187

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Good tags in the post man, we need people who do that, it improves the search engine, welcome to the forum. I hope he makes it.
 

JoeyBon

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Thank you for all the replies. I have learned more about bonsai care in the last 2 days than in the last 2 years. Forums are where it's at.
DougB, I'm in Fayetteville NC. Also I will update some more info on my profile.

BTW has anyone had success with mycorrhizal fungus and bonsai?
 

sorce

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BTW has anyone had success with mycorrhizal fungus and bonsai?
They are here....

But some are too much too...
(great white)

Don't long for it...
It Will come.
But it is totally unnecessary as well.

Sorce
 

rockm

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yeah. Myc is pretty well known in bonsai. Don't spend a gawdawful amount of money to add it to your tree. It will show up on its own and you don't need to mess with the tree anymore at this point. Chines elm isn't a big user of myc, like pines, oaks and hornbeam are.
 

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