Dying seedlings? Over watering?

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Hello - It looks as though my bonsai seedlings are wilting. I’m going to guess it is from over watering due to the fruit fly like bugs I’ve seen in the soil. I water using a spray bottle to mist them. I was giving 15 sprays a day but have reduced to a handful. I saw online that putting matchsticks in the soil would help with the bugs but I’m afraid this may have contributed to the wilting.

I am committed to growing bonsais from seedlings knowing how challenging it is.
I am looking for advice on how to help my seedlings grow healthy. What am I doing wrong. What should I do now?
 

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YaBoyMyth

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First it looks like those are inside, they should be moved outside to get better sun. Also you should look into better soil that has much better drainage. Such as lava rock pumice and there’s some other that more experienced people can share with you cuss im new as well. Lastly from what I’ve read misting only is not good. The water doesn’t penetrate and soak into the soil as well. It likes to sit at the surface which leads to bugs and other problems.
 

sorce

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Mrs. O in the confines of a structure!

Welcome to Crazy!

A garden must be planned, observed and nurtured.....I'd burn the sign.

Sorce
 

Bonsai Nut

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Welcome to the site!

Your biggest challenge is that it appears you are growing those seedlings inside. It is almost impossible to grow conifers indoors. There are many reasons why that I won't detail here unless you want me to :) And it isn't just a question of providing the proper light and water. Both of your seedlings are cold hardy trees... they need cold weather every year to go through their annual growth cycles. Norway Spruce is native to... well you guessed it... Norway. It is cold hardy to -35F. Pinus aristata is more commonly known as bristlecone pine. It is one of my favorite five-needle pines, but it needs the cold.

I have a feeling both of your conifers are suffering from low light, low wind, and too much water. It's ok - growing conifers from seed can be challenging. If you want to get inspired, check out the contest we are having to see who can grow the best Japanese black pine bonsai in six years for a seed. We are in year four :)

Six Year JBP Contest

The whole point of having the contest was to help people see first-hand the steps you should take if you want to grow a Japanese black pine seedling from seed. As far as your seedlings go, the best advice I would give is to put them outside in full sun, and water when the soil is almost bone dry... and then water until the soil is drenched and dripping out the bottom of the pot. And then wait until it is almost dry before you water again.
 
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RKatzin

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Those appear to have expired, due to what is commonly called damping off. In a year they should be well on their way to saplings by now.
I have conifer seedlings popping up in my bonsai pots all the time and they look like yours in the spring when they first pop up. By midsummer they're sporting a good head of foliage. I've seen many that pop up and then not do anything and when they're pulled out there's no roots.
Are those well pots? With a saucer attached to the bottom to hold water? If so, not a good seed starter container. Most of those you can pry that bottom off. A nice little 3-4" plastic pot is best for one or two seeds.
For seeds and cuttings I use the smallest sifted pumice, which is about 1/16"-1/8" particles, no fines or dust. This drains very fast, but stays moist.
So, these are about a year old, so you started them last fall? Not a good game plan. It ain't natural. You hardly ever see seeds sprouting in the fall and those that do rarely make the winter. Get yourself some fresh seed and have a go at it come spring. You can get them sprouted indoors, but get them outside as soon as your weather permits.
 
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First it looks like those are inside, they should be moved outside to get better sun. Also you should look into better soil that has much better drainage. Such as lava rock pumice and there’s some other that more experienced people can share with you cuss im new as well. Lastly from what I’ve read misting only is not good. The water doesn’t penetrate and soak into the soil as well. It likes to sit at the surface which leads to bugs and other problems.
Thank you for your response. They are indeed inside. I live in a second floor apartment in Boston so there is no ‘outside’ available except for an enclosed porch. It gets plenty of sun and definitely cold in the winter which sounds like it will help. Huge downside is that it is also frequently used as a place to smoke cigarettes when weather is bad. I don’t think that would help. Thoughts?
 
Messages
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Boston MA
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First it looks like those are inside, they should be moved outside to get better sun. Also you should look into better soil that has much better drainage. Such as lava rock pumice and there’s some other that more experienced people can share with you cuss im new as well. Lastly from what I’ve read misting only is not good. The water doesn’t penetrate and soak into the soil as well. It likes to sit at the surface which leads to bugs and other problems.
Thank you - I’ve just purchased soil that’s specifically made for bonsai trees. I appreciate your help!
 
Messages
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Boston MA
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Those appear to have expired, due to what is commonly called damping off. In a year they should be well on their way to saplings by now.
I have conifer seedlings popping up in my bonsai pots all the time and they look like yours in the spring when they first pop up. By midsummer they're sporting a good head of foliage. I've seen many that pop up and then not do anything and when they're pulled out there's no roots.
Are those well pots? With a saucer attached to the bottom to hold water? If so, not a good seed starter container. Most of those you can pry that bottom off. A nice little 3-4" plastic pot is best for one or two seeds.
For seeds and cuttings I use the smallest sifted pumice, which is about 1/16"-1/8" particles, no fines or dust. This drains very fast, but stays moist.
So, these are about a year old, so you started them last fall? Not a good game plan. It ain't natural. You hardly ever see seeds sprouting in the fall and those that do rarely make the winter. Get yourself some fresh seed and have a go at it come spring. You can get them sprouted indoors, but get them outside as soon as your weather permits.
Okay, I am definitely going to buy better pots with proper drainage. I’m having a hard time finding 1/8” sifted pumice soil. Closest I can find

I just bought this from Amazon after reading another post:
Bonsai Soil Mix by Tinyroots - All Purpose Organic Mixed Bonsai Tree Blend + Used for All Varieties of Bonsai Trees, 2.5qts. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007GS9ZGO/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_12BA3AK885NM4JANPK5Q
Do you believe this is better?
Bonsai Pumice - Professional Sifted and Ready to Use American Bonsai Pumice - Can Also Be Used As an Additive for Bonsai Soil in Easy Zip Bag … (6 Dry Quart) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074VF61F...abc_CABXV0FQAKK0D8ABY8N8?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

Do you think I should visit a local Nursery and ask them? I’m worried if I wait too long there is no coming back.
Thank you for all your help so far!
 
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Welcome to the site!

Your biggest challenge is that it appears you are growing those seedlings inside. It is almost impossible to grow conifers indoors. There are many reasons why that I won't detail here unless you want me to :) And it isn't just a question of providing the proper light and water. Both of your seedlings are cold hardy trees... they need cold weather every year to go through their annual growth cycles. Norway Spruce is native to... well you guessed it... Norway. It is cold hardy to -35F. Pinus aristata is more commonly known as bristlecone pine. It is one of my favorite five-needle pines, but it needs the cold.

I have a feeling both of your conifers are suffering from low light, low wind, and too much water. It's ok - growing conifers from seed can be challenging. If you want to get inspired, check out the contest we are having to see who can grow the best Japanese black pine bonsai in six years for a seed. We are in year four :)

Six Year JBP Contest

The whole point of having the contest was to help people see first-hand the steps you should take if you want to grow a Japanese black pine seedling from seed. As far as your seedlings go, the best advice I would give is to put them outside in full sun, and water when the soil is almost bone dry... and then water until the soil is drenched and dripping out the bottom of the pot. And then wait until it is almost dry before you water again.
Thank you for the warm welcome! And of course for the detailed post.
I am limited on location for my seedlings since I live in a second story apartment in Boston and don’t think the enclosed front porch that is used to smoke cigarettes is a good place for them. So, short of getting a planter box, I’m afraid inside is my only option.
… if I did get a window box, could they survive a New England winter?! Blizzards and all??
 
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Mrs. O in the confines of a structure!

Welcome to Crazy!

A garden must be planned, observed and nurtured.....I'd burn the sign.

Sorce
Hahaha I’ll consider your quote when looking for signs. Thank you for the laugh.
 

Mikecheck123

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Indoor seeds is really hard.

But if you do go for it, plant dozens if not hundreds. It's a numbers game.
 

Shibui

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Smoking probably won't harm your plants as they don't have lungs. Unless of course the smokers decide to roll one of your seedlings and light it.
Even an enclosed porch will be a challenge for conifers but certainly better than indoors proper.

I can't see any signs of damping off though. Typically the stems just at ground level will collapse and the seedlings fall over and I see no sign of that. Symptoms appear more like lack of light or dehydration (note that dehydration can also be from too much water causing roots to rot)
 

RKatzin

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You can get a seed starter soil at most any nursery or yard and garden center. I use pumice because it's readily available here, but you can get perlite or vermiculite seed starter most anywhere.
Anytime a seed starts and then stops growing I say it damped off. Maybe stalled out is better phrase, but regardless, these sprouts rarely get with the program and those that do come out of it rarely make good seedlings.
 

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