First spring in bonsai.

GOZTEK

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Hi all here are some observation i have been doing and i am trying to get replies.

This is my first spring in bonsai so i am trying to make the best i can do with my trees. Some of my trees are blooming and some are not. I believe some of my trees are being over watered, actually i stopped watering regularly for 2 days now. I have ordered some moisture indicators so i would know if i need to water or not but is there a way i should know from the leaves? On 2 of my trees some of its leaves are turning half yellow. Is that an over watering sign or is it due to direct sunligh which is hot here?
I also have insects everywhere i have been spraying almost everyday, the problem is that they mainly die on a tree and go to another tree. Should i spray all of the trees? (i am using the soap, water and surgical spirit mix).
I also found out that our tap water is horrible, around 8 on alkaline lvl and gh and other are all wrong, then i checked the water from my reverse osmosis and its actually very good so i started watering with it now or otherwise i would buy some sort of additives to add with the water.

Apart from all this i am actually happy with the overall, some seeds are growing alot and i am thinking to get alot more for next season so i wanted to ask when is it best to get the seeds of the trees?

Thanks all and hope i get some good replies. Please indicate links if you know any so i can read about over watering conceguences etc.
 

chappy56

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Welcome to the learning curve Goz. I'll try and help a little.
First off if you will complete your profile information you'll get much better responses. It helps to know location. Also, if you can find a club in your area you may get the best info available there. Following are a few ideas based on what you supplied so far.

1. Here's a good link for watering guidelines (there are many)
http://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basics_Watering.html
2. I prefer Neem oil for pests in my area,here's just a little to go on.....
http://www.discoverneem.com/neem-oil-insecticide.html
3. Your water issues may be solved by collecting rainwater, filling some open containers with tap water and leaving them sit for a couple days before using them.

Hope that's a start and good luck Goz.
 

rockm

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Watering is the hardest part

Learning how to water correctly is one of the hardest things to learn in bonsai.

Relying on things like moisture indicators (useless when used with bonsai soil), leaf color, etc. can lead to disaster. You have to rely on SOIL CONDITIONS to learn how to water correctly.

When bonsai need water (and this can vary day to day, even hour to hour--depending on pot size and soil consistency, humidity, wind and even plant type), the soil will tell you. That can be determined by either color, or weight of the pot (well-watered soil makes the pot heavier).

One important thing to remember--WATER THE SOIL, NOT THE LEAVES. The soil contains the roots, roots are the primary moisture gathering part of the plant.

I've been doing bonsai for almost 20 years now. Here's how I water--I plan on watering twice a day in the summer--that's a rule of thumb--in the morning and late afternoon.

In the early morning, I check the soil color (dry soil is five or six shades lighter than wet soil. I also pick up the corner of each bonsai pot to see how light they are--lighter pots need water.

After determining which plants need water, I spray them with a hose until the water runs out the drain holes. I make a second pass with the hose of all the plants that need water.

Determining soil color, pot weight, etc. can take time. The best way to determine these things is to simply observe...let a plant dry down for a day--look a the soil color, note the weight of the pot. Water it well, then look again--if the soil color doesn't change after a daywithout water, the soil probably isn't terrific.

Humid days may require less watering--especially if a thunderstorm is about (but don't leave it up to a storm to water your trees). Hot, windy days could require more watering. Good Luck

I
 

mcpesq817

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This is my second year in bonsai. Last year I remember being a bit confused about watering as well.

To take out the guesswork on overwatering, I have went with Walter Pall's method of moving to a mostly/100% inorganic mix, and watering often. This can be once a day, or on very hot days in my area, twice a day. My understanding is that if you use a modern substrate, overwatering is not an issue. However, underwatering can be an issue, so you have to make sure you're watering enough.

Of course, your soil and watering schedule go hand in hand, so if you can't water all the time, moving to an inorganic mix may not be the best thing for you.

One other thing - in a certain respect, it seems that there is a tendency to overthink things. Trees in my limited experience are very tough. If you feed and water them well, they will be quite strong. I wouldn't get too obsessed with the quality of your tap water, continually spraying all your trees for bugs, etc. But that's just me.
 

GOZTEK

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hi again,

regarding rain water it is impossible to get, when spring starts there is basically no more rain at all till end of september or even october so we already been about a month with no rain at all. Regarding the watering i am very confused, the main problem is that some of my trees have a sand and clay mix, some others have only clay, some others have local dirt, clay and sand and some of them are still with peat. the peat ones are the latest trees i got so its not good to repot now. As you all know there are millions of people using different soils so i tried to use different soils trying to see which one is best for local trees (pommegranets, carob, pine, cypress, olive) and others. I think i am going to separate some that i know that needs alot of water and put them on a daily bases and others with peat and local soil i will leave them and try to test them daily. I had a collect eucalyptus and it starting having new leaves and they all fall off, this is when i understood that i was watering alot because the soil was wet so i put it in the greenhouse, i water it very rarely now and its growing madly. Thanks all more info will be great i will finish my account here so everyone will know where i am etc
 

rockm

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He's right

Excessive fussing kills trees. Filtered water, spraying indiscriminantly for bugs, would probably fall into the excessive category....
 

TrsH

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i also new to bonsai but for now i think i'm watering good coz nothing has died yet :D

i water my trees in the evening with rain water that i collected during the raining periods.
in the evening when the sun is gone i put my trees on the gras and i spray the water in the air faking a raining storm untill the soil is nicely wet and draining out of the holes.

offcourse the leaves are also wet but in the morning the water is gone from the leaves so that when the sun comes out the leaves dont burn from the water.

when i come home late afternoon the soil is pretty much dried out so i give them some extra water to get trough untill evening watering time.

hope i'm working correctly here... but like i said i still havent had any problems.
 

mcpesq817

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i also new to bonsai but for now i think i'm watering good coz nothing has died yet :D

i water my trees in the evening with rain water that i collected during the raining periods.
in the evening when the sun is gone i put my trees on the gras and i spray the water in the air faking a raining storm untill the soil is nicely wet and draining out of the holes.

offcourse the leaves are also wet but in the morning the water is gone from the leaves so that when the sun comes out the leaves dont burn from the water.

when i come home late afternoon the soil is pretty much dried out so i give them some extra water to get trough untill evening watering time.

hope i'm working correctly here... but like i said i still havent had any problems.
I'm not sure where you're located or what trees you have, but do you get issues like black spot and other fungus/mold? For me in my climate, I have a really hard time with non-cork bark chinese elms (the cork barks that I have are quite resistant for whatever reason) and a mulberry tree picking up black spot and other fungus issues. If you water in the evening like you're watering from above and getting the foliage wet, I think you might be more susceptible to mold and fungus because the sun isn't out to quickly dry the foliage.

I try to be very careful in not getting the foliage wet when I water, most especially if I water in the evening.
 

GOZTEK

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this is new to me, i never though it mkes a difference if i water on leaves or not. I actually am thinking of changing and water trees in the morning. Will see how it goes and ye i have some spots on leaves, i am still having overwatering issues i think also because my yard doesn't get full sun. I get about 4-5 hours of sun a day. I have been reading around and for example leaves turning yellow can be because of alot of reason, less in magnesium and many other factors.
 

TrsH

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I'm not sure where you're located or what trees you have, but do you get issues like black spot and other fungus/mold? For me in my climate, I have a really hard time with non-cork bark chinese elms (the cork barks that I have are quite resistant for whatever reason) and a mulberry tree picking up black spot and other fungus issues. If you water in the evening like you're watering from above and getting the foliage wet, I think you might be more susceptible to mold and fungus because the sun isn't out to quickly dry the foliage.

I try to be very careful in not getting the foliage wet when I water, most especially if I water in the evening.
well i live in belgium west europe.
we have a very changing climate here.
1 week sun 1 week rain 2 days sun 3 days rain and so on.

i read somewhere (cant remember) that it wasnt bad to make the foliage wet coz the leaves could pick up water aswell.
i seem to be reading different thing everywhere i go.
bit hard for a starting newbie to learn things right :S

only issues that i had with my 2 ullmus was that in the beginning i put them inside the house and after a week i started getting dead yellow leaves.

so i started putting them outside for like 2 months now (24/7) i seem to have healthy trees.

grtz
 

rockm

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Watering foliage in the evening and night is simply asking for fungal infections, spore diseases, and mold. DON'T WATER THE FOLIAGE in the evening.

If fungus and mold are still issues, your plants are too sheltered. Bonsai need ALOT of air circulation -they need wind and breezes to keep their foliage dry and disease free.

Some sun exposure will also help with this problem, as will understanding how to water your trees. Trees don't use water at night. They use water when they are "active" during the day. Water that's added to the pot at night tends to sit there all night...

When and how you water can contribute to many problems. The general rule is "water only when the tree needs it." Don't water on a schedule. Don't water "like a rainstorm" as rainstorms aren't really watering your trees properly, as much as they are just natural phenomena that incidentally provide moisture--sometimes not enough, sometimes too much...
 

mcpesq817

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Just to follow up with what Rockm said, I have personal experience with the problems from watering at night when it comes to my backyard. I used to water in the evening just because that was more convenient for me. The problem was that I got tons of mushrooms, mold growth, spores and other crazy things growing. I eventually put in an underground sprinkler system, mostly to make life easier, which comes on in the early morning. Since I've used the underground sprinkler system, I've never had the mold problem.

That being said, my parents water everything in the evening and never have any problems. Go figure.

Also to follow up something else that Rockm mentioned, I've noticed that if I water in the evenings, the next morning my pots are still quite wet. So, from my limited experience, I'm not sure trees take up much water in the evenings (though I think I heard Harry Hirao say something about watering his california junipers at night because that's when they take up water, but maybe I misunderstood him).
 
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Bill S

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Harry was probably talking about the Juni's taking water from the dew via the foliage, they have evolved to get the moisture they can( morning dew usually the predominate moisture available) from the needles/leaves.
 

mcpesq817

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Harry was probably talking about the Juni's taking water from the dew via the foliage, they have evolved to get the moisture they can( morning dew usually the predominate moisture available) from the needles/leaves.

Bill, that rings a bell - I believe he mentioned that part. Thanks for the clarification.
 

TrsH

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ok thx for the heads up.
think i'm gonna start getting up 30 minutes earlier in the morning to water the trees.
 

GOZTEK

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i have change schedule aswell, i am now watering in the morning when the trees need water.
 

rockm

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That's only part of my meaning when I say "water when the trees need it." The first watering of the day should be in the morning, however...

This is where things can get a bit confusing. The rule has more to do with soil conditions than time of day. It has to do with how much moisture is in the pot and at the roots. This can vary tremendously according to time of day, humidity levels and wind. When it's very humid, still and cloudy, your trees might not need watering that day. When it's windy, hot and dry, trees might need watering two or three times a day.

It's all about knowing when the soil is dry enough to water. Usually lighter colored soil means dry soil...lighter pots mean more water. Adequately watered bonsai pots are noticeably heavier than dry pots. Lift a given pot immediately after you water it well. Notice the weight. Return a few hours later, lift note weight. Let the pot dry a few more hours, lift again....Do this enough with enough trees, and you will begin to understand when your trees need water.
 
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