Help Please Pyracantha (Firethorn) Dry leaves

fucious70

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I'm having a problem with my Bonsai, and not sure what to do. I'm pretty new and this is my first real bonsai purchase. My other 4 are nursery findings that I'm trying to learn off of.

My pyracantha looked healthy for the past couple of weeks. See first image. The image was taken August 17th, 2019. I've been following the instructions on watering every 2-3 days. I monitor the top soil to make sure its on the dry side before watering again. In Temple City (Southern California next to Pasadena), we've been having some pretty hot days (95-100 F). This week, I didn't water it for 4 days. When I went to check on it, the leaves were all crunchy and the berries were hard and dry. I got scared and watered it right away and move it out of the sun. I thought it was ok to give it full sun.

I removed all the hard leaves and berries, hoping to redirect the energy to healthier leaves. I scraped into the bark and it's still green. See the second image. I'm keeping it outside still, but away from direct sunlight. Please help. I want to make sure I save it.

Thank you.
 

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Brian Van Fleet

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Looks pretty rough. My pyracantha required water daily. Trees in flower or fruit usually have higher water needs, so it would be reasonable to think it stayed too dry for too long. The bark doesn’t look promising, but water more frequently and it may rebound.
 

fucious70

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Looks pretty rough. My pyracantha required water daily. Trees in flower or fruit usually have higher water needs, so it would be reasonable to think it stayed too dry for too long. The bark doesn’t look promising, but water more frequently and it may rebound.
Thanks Brian. I'll take that advice. I'll continue to monitor the soil wetness and spray the tree to keep it hydrated daily.

Do you water even though the soil is a little damp?
 

Cadillactaste

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Pulled up a good resource...to monitor when to water. If it recovers...you most likely will notice a change in watering it does so. But a tree with sparse foliage doesn't use as much water.

I water daily as well...and have a top coat of spaghnum moss on top to help if keep moisture.
 
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In very hot dry weather, with good draining substrate, its tough to overwater most species. I would say even watering every 2 days is a bit on the risky side.

Through summer, I water every day, in the morning, unless we received rain the previous night and unless its a succulent or cactus. Now that we are dropping into the 70s here in nj, i can get away with every other day. Once we get to 50s, it can be every 2 days.
 

fucious70

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Pulled up a good resource...to monitor when to water. If it recovers...you most likely will notice a change in watering it does so. But a tree with sparse foliage doesn't use as much water.

I water daily as well...and have a top coat of spaghnum moss on top to help if keep moisture.
Tough lesson to learn. Better to learn it now than later.

Great link reference. Thank you
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Thanks Brian. I'll take that advice. I'll continue to monitor the soil wetness and spray the tree to keep it hydrated daily.

Do you water even though the soil is a little damp?
Learning how/when to water it tough. You want to get it “just in time”, balancing between never letting it dry out, and not keeping it soggy. A chopstick can serve as a cheap moisture meter. Check out this resource:
 

fucious70

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Learning how/when to water it tough. You want to get it “just in time”, balancing between never letting it dry out, and not keeping it soggy. A chopstick can serve as a cheap moisture meter. Check out this resource:
You think I should keep it in the shade for a couple of days or still give it some full sun?
 

smilezzz

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Hi there, I had a similar problem with mine just this past winter. Towards the middle of (a very warm and dry) winter my leaves dried out and basically looked like it was done for. In my zone firethorn are supposed to be evergreen and frost and drought resistant (as evidenced by my other two).

It seemed that when I slip potted it in autumn the roots were still too compacted and water wasn't getting in.

I dunked it for about 30 minutes in bucket of water with like 4 drops of liquid rooting hormone. Ive watered it daily, and a month later everything seemed fine. Smart to remove the leaves and berries regarding energy direction. Berries and fruits are a real drain on a plants resources. Try to water it daily, and either 2-3 hours of morning sun, or dappled sun. Don't fertilise. Holding thumbs for you.
 

fucious70

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Hi there, I had a similar problem with mine just this past winter. Towards the middle of (a very warm and dry) winter my leaves dried out and basically looked like it was done for. In my zone firethorn are supposed to be evergreen and frost and drought resistant (as evidenced by my other two).

It seemed that when I slip potted it in autumn the roots were still too compacted and water wasn't getting in.

I dunked it for about 30 minutes in bucket of water with like 4 drops of liquid rooting hormone. Ive watered it daily, and a month later everything seemed fine. Smart to remove the leaves and berries regarding energy direction. Berries and fruits are a real drain on a plants resources. Try to water it daily, and either 2-3 hours of morning sun, or dappled sun. Don't fertilise. Holding thumbs for you.
Thanks for the words of encouragement. I'll pick up some root hormone today and will give your suggestion a try. I have a hand full of leaves that seem healthy. I'm using that to monitor it's life line.
 

smilezzz

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Thanks for the words of encouragement. I'll pick up some root hormone today and will give your suggestion a try. I have a hand full of leaves that seem healthy. I'm using that to monitor it's life line.
No problem man. Just 2 things, if you're gonna use the dunk method, make sure it's actually compacted roots, and remember to not over water going forward after the dunk, normal towering slightly less watering than usual. If the roots are compacted as mine were, after it works its way in between the roots it's not necessary to really drown the plant for a while after.
 

smilezzz

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No problem man. Just 2 things, if you're gonna use the dunk method, make sure it's actually compacted roots, and remember to not over water going forward after the dunk, normal towering slightly less watering than usual. If the roots are compacted as mine were, after it works its way in between the roots it's not necessary to really drown the plant for a while after.
*towards... blast this phone.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Best to check the trees daily, or even twice a day if weather is hot. Check to see if they need water. Only water when they actually need it. Maybe water daily, maybe not. But check at least once a day.

Whether you use a hose, a watering can, or dunk your bonsai - always make sure the entire mass of soil is wet. I like the dunk, then let drain, then return to its spot on the bench method. Dunking makes sure there are no dry pockets in the pot.
 

fucious70

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No problem man. Just 2 things, if you're gonna use the dunk method, make sure it's actually compacted roots, and remember to not over water going forward after the dunk, normal towering slightly less watering than usual. If the roots are compacted as mine were, after it works its way in between the roots it's not necessary to really drown the plant for a while after.
Hmmmm. I purchased the bonsai from a bonsai nursery about 6 weeks ago. The guy said he just repotted and cleaned the root system about a week prior. I don't think the roots are compacted. Should I still move forward with the growth hormone?
 

smilezzz

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Hmmmm. I purchased the bonsai from a bonsai nursery about 6 weeks ago. The guy said he just repotted and cleaned the root system about a week prior. I don't think the roots are compacted. Should I still move forward with the growth hormone?
Tough one, based on club meets and what growers over here do, the rooting hormone acts as a shock resistance to that type of treatment (from very dry to immediate wetness), and assists in promoting new growth of theres life, so it's worth a try.

I'm no expert on firethorn, just have a few around the yard, but they do bounce back from neglect quite well, usually. They are tolerant of dry conditions for a period, and you've done well by taking off the fruit and dry leaves.

It's just... 4 days with no water, it's a long time in such hectic temperatures. I stand to be corrected, but right now I think dunking and then normal watering thereafter might be your best bet. And then play the waiting game.

The rule of thumb my old man taught me is that if theres green under the bark, theres hope, but that's not really always the case.
 
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