Hawaiian Umbrella Bonsai with Black Spotted Trunk? (And bugs!)

Just Rosie

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Hello again all. A week or so ago I decided to purchase a Hawaiian Umbrella bonsai via amazon, through Brussel's Bonsai. The reviews were mixed, and some had mentioned seeing bugs on their plants. (I only read them after I'd purchased, unfortunately) Mine was delivered today, and I decided to open it outside, away from my other plants. Lo and behold: yes, it does have bugs. I was semi-prepared for that. What I was not prepared for was the odd discoloration on the tree. The trunk looks like its covered in something black, and I can't seem to find any more information online about it. It *seems* like it might flake off, as there are black flakes on the tape below. The tree overall does not look very happy, unlike some other trees I saw posted on their reviews. I have already begun treating for the bugs, but I'm confused about the trunk. In my situation, what would you do? I feel like sending it back, but almost feel it's not worth the hassle. I'm going to try and get a refund regardless. As for the trunk/bugs, is it worth the struggle of treating? PS-- I would have posted a pic of the entire tree but for some reason the site isn't letting me upload that one.
IMG-8854.JPGIMG-8855.JPG
 

penumbra

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The good thing is that it was purchased from Amazon. Get right on it and request a refund. It is very simple. They will send a shipping label and you send it back. If they refund and don't want it back ( happens all the time), throw the plant out.
The bugs don't show up well enough to really know what they are but the black looks like sooty mold.
 

JoeH

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Sooty mold, if that's what it is, will not harm the tree. It is possibly a by-product from the insects if they are secreting honeydew. Too hard to tell what the bugs are, but start with soap to try and control them. Is that just a Schefflara? Walmart is usually lousy with them in the houseplant section.
 

penumbra

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Sooty mold is not the problem. You bought a plant infected with insects. It makes no sense whatever to take on someone else's problems. Get a refund.
 

Just Rosie

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I requested the refund, but apparently they don't accept refund requests on this product. So I am trying to get a hold of an amazon rep to see what they can do. Like I said, I put a pesticide on it to treat the bugs, so for now I guess I wait. If it is sooty-mold, which from what little research I have done it seems to be, can I wash the tree down with soapy water? Will that treat it? I believe the bugs are aphids; that's what they look like to me. Very slow moving critters.

Also-- thank you guys for the advice!
 

Just Rosie

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Update: Amazon's bot refunded me. (Yay!) They did not request the tree back, but I will be trying to treat this thing, since it's still mine (lol). If yall have tips on treating it or need more pics, let me know!
 

Shibui

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Most sucking insects secrete 'honeydew' while feasting on the sap. Excess honeydew drips onto the leaves and bark then goes moldy leaving sooty mold on leaves and bark. Removing the bugs will stop further mold forming. Existing sooty mold can be hard to remove but will eventually disappear. Scrubbing with a toothbrush and soapy water may remove some of it.
Keep an eye on the tree. Sucking bugs have a habit of reappearing as new ones hatch from eggs left behind so retreatment is usually necessary after a couple of weeks.
 

Forsoothe!

Masterpiece
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I wouldn't have something like that in my garbage without double-bagging it. Most pests and disease vectors are happy to infest whatever host is available. And most of them are smaller than generally visible.
 

penumbra

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Update: Amazon's bot refunded me. (Yay!) They did not request the tree back, but I will be trying to treat this thing, since it's still mine (lol). If yall have tips on treating it or need more pics, let me know!
I knew they would. Make sure you isolate the plant from all others. If you can keep it warm a well lit, consider bare rooting it and soaking the entire plant in a mild solution of warm water and dish washing soap. I use an organic 7th generation soap but ivory works well too. Soak it a couple hours while you clean the pot very well and rinse with very hot water. Re-pot in a good bonsai potting mix. Double bag and trash the original soil in case there are eggs or spores of more insidious pests or fungus.
This is what I would do. After care I would have it in my plant room which is about 70 at night and 78 in the daytime, under grow lights and possibly on a plant heat mat.
 

Just Rosie

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Thank you so much everyone for the advice! Last night I decided to spray the whole tree down in a soapy water solution. I took an old paintbrush and, rather bluntly brushed each leaf and branch (quite a few were whacked off as I scrubbed.) I repeated the process again today, and I have seen no bugs. Of course, as y'all stated, there is a chance that ova still exist, so I think I will continue this regime (though I don't know how often is safe for the tree). I've also made a little bit of progress on the sooty mold on the trunks. Side-note, I had carelessly thought to leave the tree outside last night, until I realized it was 34 F, so the tree maybe sat in that weather for an hour or two. I see some browning of the youngest leaves on the tree, but otherwise it seems ok thus-far. I've got the tree in my kitchen away from most of my plants (at least 3-4 feet from the few I have in the dining room), and I will keep it there until I can switch out the soil. There's enough light to keep my orchids alive, albeit not as happy as they could be, so hopefully that's enough for this tree for now.
Thanks again everyone! Hopefully I can get this tree pest-free!
 

plant_dr

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Thank you so much everyone for the advice! Last night I decided to spray the whole tree down in a soapy water solution. I took an old paintbrush and, rather bluntly brushed each leaf and branch (quite a few were whacked off as I scrubbed.) I repeated the process again today, and I have seen no bugs. Of course, as y'all stated, there is a chance that ova still exist, so I think I will continue this regime (though I don't know how often is safe for the tree). I've also made a little bit of progress on the sooty mold on the trunks. Side-note, I had carelessly thought to leave the tree outside last night, until I realized it was 34 F, so the tree maybe sat in that weather for an hour or two. I see some browning of the youngest leaves on the tree, but otherwise it seems ok thus-far. I've got the tree in my kitchen away from most of my plants (at least 3-4 feet from the few I have in the dining room), and I will keep it there until I can switch out the soil. There's enough light to keep my orchids alive, albeit not as happy as they could be, so hopefully that's enough for this tree for now.
Thanks again everyone! Hopefully I can get this tree pest-free!
I wish you the best of luck !
 
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