Fukien Tea, watering/light help and general advice

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Hello all,

It seems, like many, my Fukien Tea is being rather fussy. I live in north central Florida and have had him for going on a year now. All was going well, he was constantly flowering and dropping berries and also sprouting new buds. Then it all slowly took a turn for the worst. His leaves started yellowing, then dropping. Less at first, and then more each day. Now he has some leaves but he looks more like a twig then a tree. I assumed it might be because I held off on repotting him. I picked him up from a bonsai grower around the area so there did not appear to be an issue with the soil at the time and he was thriving for awhile. When I finally realized it might be because he needed to be repotted, I realized his entire rootball was a muddy mess. I cleaned up as best I could, removed all the dirty wet soil, and repotted him in special bonsai mix, with some fast draining soil and slow-release fertilizer mixed in. Now he drains beautifully, though I am concerned he may be draining too much now if I am being honest 🤦‍♀️ So I added some of the soil on top to keep him moist.

I see there are many Fukien Tea threads on here but I think I may need some specific guidance. I am having a hard time understanding whether his leaves are from over or under-watering. I also upped his lights as he stays under a grow light around 16 hours a day, now 17 with an additional light because I read that these trees love their light and I thought maybe he was not getting enough from the one grow light. Believe it or not, it’s actually around 50-60 degrees here in Florida most days since it’s Winter and drops to 30’s (and though rarely, sometimes below) during the night so I hesitate to put him outside since he’s a tree that needs humidity and hates the cold.

Usually I water him once weekly by soaking him for 30 minutes in a sink/tub as I was instructed by the bonsai seller/grower. I also keep him on a tray with a low amount of water for humidity and mist at least once daily; recently twice daily because I’m doting on him. I also gave him some diluted liquid fertilizer more recently since that appeared to be advised after a repotting. I also added a tiny splash diluted into my misting bottle.

I refuse to give up on him but I am at a loss and really am trying to get everything right so he does not die. Any general care information, any information on how I should care for him through this healing process, and any ideas on what I should be doing differently is greatly appreciated! He’s my second bonsai now as the first one I bought from a regular plant shop and lo and behold he developed bugs (scales to be exact) so I’d really like to not have a two for two track record.

I also attached photos. One photo shows how the majority of leaves were before they fell (some were also brown and crispy so I originally thought underwatering). Another is the setup. And lastly, another is my main concern because it shows a new bud, which I was hopeful about because I saw a handful of new buds popping up, is now also turning yellow. Apologies if they’re blurry, it seems hard to get a good photo on here. I’ll be happy to supplement any information or pictures as requested.

Thank you in advance~
 

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Messages
108
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Western PA
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I gave up on mine RIP
I coddled mine for a couple years along with some cuttings from it. Plant Life is easier without them. I still chuckle when I think about the hundreds growing in box stores around the country and I couldn’t get mine to flourish!
Hope you can get help and figure your fickle little bugger out.
 
Messages
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Florida
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I gave up on mine RIP
I coddled mine for a couple years along with some cuttings from it. Plant Life is easier without them. I still chuckle when I think about the hundreds growing in box stores around the country and I couldn’t get mine to flourish!
Hope you can get help and figure your fickle little bugger out.
It's crazy how some can flourish with no attention, right! If only I was that lucky or skilled. Thanks, if somehow he manages to come back from the grave I will definitely share my thoughts on what random (or guided, if something gets recommended) methodology I put in place.
 

Carol 83

Imperial Masterpiece
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I had a gem of a Fukien Tea from Wal-mart a couple of years before I joined here. I pretty much ignored it. Watered it infrequently, kept it indoors all year with no supplemental lights and it did fine. Once I joined here, I decided to give it better care. I repotted into bonsai soil, watered and fertilized carefully and the piece of crap up and died. There are so many easier trees to keep. Best of luck with yours.
 

Flowerhouse

Shohin
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Abandon hope. That's my FT advice. Mine is still trucking along, but I can see that it is never going to develop in a direction that will make me happy with it. Other species are more fun.
 

Katie0317

Chumono
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Mine almost died but I kept with it. If it's now planted in bonsai soil you don't need to worry about overwatering it although your bonsai trees don't need as much water in winter.

If it was in dirt before it sounds like you were overwatering if the roots were a 'muddy mess'. It may have been the beginning of root rot. Take a sharp knife and gently scrape the trunk. If it's green it means the tree is still alive. It sounds like it is.

Leave it alone for awhile. You shouldn't do too many things at once, it stresses the plant. That includes fertilizer. Water it when it's dry. I let mine dry completely but moist is usually the way to go.

These are not beginner trees and to add insult to injury they're bug food for all kinds of creepsters. Keep a bottle of neem oil on hand and if you should see one black leaf...That's a bad sign. Spray it with neem oil and put it in shade.

There's a curtain shade in one picture. Has this been living indoors? It won't live indoors. Keep it in a garage when it's cold but they like some sunlight during the sunny part of the day. Simply won't survive as an indoor tree. If you were trying to do that it may have been the issue.

Good luck.
 

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