Help with a few sick trees Juniper

grizzlywon

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Same story as the others. This one sits next to the pine and has been browning up in the middle. Its a common juniper you find in yards. I treated it for spidermite at the start of Spring with Malathion as I have another juniper that was next to it that got it and it died.
 

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Si Nguyen

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Hi Grizzlywon, looks like a bunch of your trees are dying at the same time. There should be a common denominator in all of these cases. What did you do to all of these plants at about the same time? I would guess it is the fertilisers. The signs and symptoms of all of these trees point to root burn. Try not to fertilise in the hottest part of the summer. Even the slow-release fertilisers are not safe because they are temperature dependent and tend to release too fast when it is hot. I can see that those fertiliser granules are all over the soil of your plants. You might have overdosed them too!

The best thing to do now is immediate repotting. Try not to cut off any roots, unless you can see that they are clearly rotted. Your plants are small and their root volume is small, so they don't have any good roots left to spare. So it is safest not to cut any root now. Just try to gently remove most of the old soil, then plant in 100% pumice, water thoroughly to rinse off the old soil and fertiliser residues, then put in shade for 2 weeks, then only water sparingly once a week. A cool, shaded green house with high humidity would be very beneficial for recovery. If you don't have a green house, you can make a simple one out of PVC pipes and painters plastic sheets. If the plants are small, like I see of your boxwoods, then put them in a deep 10 gallon bucket, then cover it with a grocery bag. Put the buckets in a cool shady spot. Basically, what you are trying to do is to treat these plants like you would with branch cuttings. You will still lose some more branches in the next few weeks, but hopefully, the plants will recover in time and allow for at least a few viable branches left to work with in the future.
Good luck to you. Please give us some updates.
Si
P.S. The trident maples don't look that bad. They might not need a complete soil replacement at this point, but you should at least remove all of the visible fertiliser granules by taking the plant out of the pot and shake and rinse off the root ball. If they seem to get worse than what you have shown here, then repot completely.
 
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Tachigi

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I agree with Si Nguyen. After reading all four threads there has to be a common problem. Interacting with all the trees. Your juniper above is a clear indicator that the problem stems from the roots as your interior foliage is dying off first and spreading outward.

Being in your geographical area and thinking that you must be about has hot as the sun right now, perhaps water maybe an issue with your plants. Though Si pointed out the fert and has made me double think my original position, because he picked up on a good indicator.

Either way water is your salvation...if there is one. Diluting the chemicals will remove what is doing the trees harm. Not sure if a re-pot is necessary, but certainly a hose running in each pot for several hours will do the trick ( had the same problem a long time ago). Worse case scenario its not a fert issue and is a watering issue, that will be resolved as well.

Looking at the damage on all four threads its probably safe to say that at minimum your conifers are going to experience long term damage...hopefully your deciduous trees will pop back in the fall with a flush of buds early on.
 

Rick Moquin

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I also believe in the common denominator threory. Do these trees all come from the same nursery? Perhaps there was a problem brewing before their acquisition that is just showing up now. I know that for conifers problems can show up much much later.

Wrt fertilizer, I do not like the use of time release fertilizers. I call 'em the lazy man's way to fertilize. This statement was found offensive elsewhere, but please do not read into more than is there. To me the fert is unpredictable and if the tree is over fertilized the effects are difficult to eradicate once established. Some mix it in with the soil which, outside of getting rid of the entire substrate (not wanted when a tree is sick) there is not much one can do. I'm not saying this is the case here.

I have often found fertilizer balls well within the soil of trees acquired from nurseries. This is an accepted practice with industry because of their large volume. I have found that some contained far too much fertilizer for my liking, which is why I also prefer to bare root all newly acquired stock (when in season) or plant it out until they can be bare rooted (late season finds), the following spring. This also allows me to thoroughly inspect the root system.

I prefer to fertilize myself, it is a chore that can become a weekly ritual etc... as in close inspection of our tree etc... This of course is easily accomplished with modest collections but may prove to be difficult with larger ones. The same applies to drip irrigation systems, great systems to compensate for watering needs in the owners absence or meeting schedule demands, but too often folks may neglect their weekly maintenance routine and inspections (out of sight out of mind) sort of thing and at times only notice the problem after it has developed instead of nipping it in the bud. Once again not saying this is/has happened here, I'm just generalizing.

So as others have offered you need to do an autopsy on your care, and see if a common denominator pops up.
 

rockm

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I'd also agree this is most likely fertilizer related.

Might not be the time release ferts, but that's what I'd put my money on. Emergency repotting is needed.

For what it's worth, overfertilization basically destroys roots drawing water out of roots. The damaged roots can no longer supply water to the upper portion of the plant and it dries out. More water can actually do more harm than good, since it accelerates rot. Keep soil moist, but watch the watering.
 

pauldogx

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I was recently at a workshop with Peter Adams and Jim Doyle and they both vehemently warned against using time release fertilizers(Osmocote et al).
 

grizzlywon

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I think you guys struck gold. I took a lot closer look at the trees and dug around in the soil. There is a lot of fert there. Even old stuff that has been piling up since months ago! I put my water on a pretty high output and flooded the pots. With standing water in them, I tilted the pots over and most of the fert drained out (the newer stuff floats). I also took a scooper and too about the first 1/2" off the top and replaced with new soil.

As soon as I have a chance, maybe tonight I'll work on them some more. I did get about 80% of the miracle grow fert off.

What a dumb mistake. I have read about the myth that more is better, but now I have seen it. And lost a $25 boxwood in the process. Hopefuly I'll be able to save the rest. At least most of these are very cheap nursery stock. (with the exception of the Tridents, but it seems they hold up better to the high levels of fert.)

One more thing. I did treat all my trees with a very diluted humic acid bath about 4 times at the start of spring, but it has been about 1.5 months since the last time I did that.


Mental note:
1. When the books warn you to cut the recommended fert dose in half, they do this for a good reason!
2. Slow release does not equal weak fertilizer!

Thanks guys for entertaining a newbie with some dieing "sticks in pots." Hope someone else can learn from this too.
 
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mcpesq817

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I think you guys struck gold. I took a lot closer look at the trees and dug around in the soil. There is a lot of fert there. Even old stuff that has been piling up since months ago! I put my water on a pretty high output and flooded the pots. With standing water in them, I tilted the pots over and most of the fert drained out (the newer stuff floats). I also took a scooper and too about the first 1/2" off the top and replaced with new soil.

As soon as I have a chance, maybe tonight I'll work on them some more. I did get about 80% of the miracle grow fert off.
What kind of fertilizer are you using? The Miracle Gro I use comes in a powder that you mix with water, so it doesn't pile up.

Edit: Just read one of your other threads. Didn't realize there was slow release Miracle Gro. Maybe stick with the regular Miracle Gro in the future? I use a combination of inorganic and organic fertilizers (liquid, cakes, etc.). I also tried Osmocote this year, but put much less than the label called for.
 
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Si Nguyen

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... More water can actually do more harm than good, since it accelerates rot. Keep soil moist, but watch the watering.
You got it Rockm! It is true in my experience. I have killed enough trees to know. What these damaged roots need now is actually air! The combination of high heat and excess water is what made the osmocote popped all at once. The high nitrogen released is like urine from a cat. Now there are dead spots in the root ball, and after a few days, the bad anaerobic bacteria would have taken over. Just smell the soil. More water now would make it worse. Heavy rinsing to flush out the fertilisers would only work if the soil mixture was 100% pumice to begin with.

Si
 

rockm

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"1. When the books warn you to cut the recommended fert dose in half, they do this for a good reason!"

The books you're reading are out of date. Bonsai trees in the West tend to be drastically UNDERfertilized. Half doses will get you nowhere if you're developing stock.

Of course, the crucial element here is correct fertilization. The "time release" ferts are not a great way to fertilize bonsai, especially bonsai in bad soil. I have a feeling what happened to you is what I've warned about with this kind of fertlizer--"fertlizer dump." Osmocote and similar aren't "time" release. They are "temperature" release. The coating on the pellets allows the contents to escape when a certain temperature --usually above 70 F-- is reached. If temps remain above that temp for very long, the pellets release all their fertilizer at once. If too much has been applied, on top of bad or middling soil, it results in and overdose, burning roots, which kills off top growth.

Modern soilless bonsai mixes, that drain extremely quickly, combined with full strength water soluable and organic pellets (like BioGold and others) are the way to go, IMO. With a soil mix that drains fast, fert build up is minimal. A heavier dose is actually required with such soils.
 

mcpesq817

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Of course, the crucial element here is correct fertilization. The "time release" ferts are not a great way to fertilize bonsai, especially bonsai in bad soil. I have a feeling what happened to you is what I've warned about with this kind of fertlizer--"fertlizer dump." Osmocote and similar aren't "time" release. They are "temperature" release. The coating on the pellets allows the contents to escape when a certain temperature --usually above 70 F-- is reached. If temps remain above that temp for very long, the pellets release all their fertilizer at once. If too much has been applied, on top of bad or middling soil, it results in and overdose, burning roots, which kills off top growth.
From what I can tell, Osmocote says that the applications last up to 3-4 months. Since they are temperature released, if you apply the Osmocote once in the springtime, will you have a "fertilizer dump" issue? It strikes me that as temperatures rise in the springtime, the pellets will slowly deplete themselves so that come summer, you won't have a "dump" of fertilizer. I used a bit of Osmocote in the springtime just to try it out - mostly on small, developing stock that I didn't want to use more expensive organic cakes on - supplemented with organic and inorganic liquid fertilizers. I used less than the recommended dosage, and would never apply it in the summertime.

I know a bunch of people adamantly warn against using time release fertilizers like Osmocote, but I wonder if the danger exists only for people who exclusively use those fertilizers on their trees and who apply them in the summertime? Just curious.
 

rockm

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"Since they are temperature released, if you apply the Osmocote once in the springtime, will you have a "fertilizer dump" issue? It strikes me that as temperatures rise in the springtime, the pellets will slowly deplete themselves so that come summer, you won't have a "dump" of fertilizer."

This can be true, unless you get a string of very warm days in spring--when temps don't drop below 70. The "threat" is there with this fert, although "dumping" isn't extremely common. It does happen. It's more common in summer, when temps are higher.

Another problem is people (especially newbies) tend to overapply the stuff. Overapplication amplifies the dumping problem.

Time released pellet ferts are not evil or "wrong." I think they're just an inaccurate way to fertilize compared to other methods. It also holds some risk--as do the other methods (but on the whole, organic pellets/mixtures and water soluable ferts are more easily controlled).
 

mcpesq817

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"Since they are temperature released, if you apply the Osmocote once in the springtime, will you have a "fertilizer dump" issue? It strikes me that as temperatures rise in the springtime, the pellets will slowly deplete themselves so that come summer, you won't have a "dump" of fertilizer."

This can be true, unless you get a string of very warm days in spring--when temps don't drop below 70. The "threat" is there with this fert, although "dumping" isn't extremely common. It does happen. It's more common in summer, when temps are higher.

Another problem is people (especially newbies) tend to overapply the stuff. Overapplication amplifies the dumping problem.

Time released pellet ferts are not evil or "wrong." I think they're just an inaccurate way to fertilize compared to other methods. It also holds some risk--as do the other methods (but on the whole, organic pellets/mixtures and water soluable ferts are more easily controlled).
Thanks, that clears it up!

Reminds me of when I was little and had a goldfish in a small bowl. I thought I was doing the right thing by overfeeding the little guy, until he ended up in that big koi pond in the sky.
 
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