Help with a few sick trees

grizzlywon

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Like I said in an earlier post, one of the worse things about Bonsai to me is not knowing why a tree is heading south and not knowing what to do to stop it's decline. The next thing you know, you have another dead tree to throw in the pile!

So here are a few I have been watching. I have tried a few things like moving them into the shade, watering more and it hasn't helped. The were originally in full sun for a little over half the day. I am in Fresno with 100 averages lately. I water once a day in the morning.

Here is the first two. Boxwoods. The first one I pruned in the spring and it had some new grown then one day I noticed leaves dying and then the whole tree died. The next one is also a boxwood in the original nursery pot (I haven't repoted it yet) and the last one is in bonsai soil (bought with the last one posted. Notice they are starting to die off on certain branches.

What to do? On is in the shade and one is in sun about half the day.
 

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Vance Wood

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All of your trees seem to be showing the same problems. Not a likely occurrence of a fungus or insect due to the fact that most do not attack diverse species but tend to be species specific. Again I am compelled to ask how much do you water, how much and at what time of day.
 

grizzlywon

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I water first thing in the morning. I water till there is a shallow layer of standing water and then stop. Since I use fast draining soils, the water the layer is gone in a few seconds. With the nursery soil/pots, I water till there is about the same layer, but it then drains a little slower.

I think as was suggested on another post it maybe fert burn.
 

Rick Moquin

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I believe you have seevral problems going on here besides the fert.

Water should not be pooling in a free draining substrate. As you water the top it should almost immediately come out the bottom. It also seems to me that you have peat in your mix (a guess mind you) and if so, you are adding to the problem.

Once peat dries up, it is almost impossible to get wet again with the exception of submerging the pot in water. What is happening is that although the top is watered and some of the sides, the interior might very well be dry. Throw the fert in there and well you have yourself a pressure cooker.

Since you have a long growing season and considering your trees are nearly toast, I would bare root everything and repot in free draining substrate. Once done place in semi shade until you see signs of recovery.

... and toss all that time release fertilizer in the garbage or use it for hanging baskets exclusively.
 

Vance Wood

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I believe you have seevral problems going on here besides the fert.

Water should not be pooling in a free draining substrate. As you water the top it should almost immediately come out the bottom. It also seems to me that you have peat in your mix (a guess mind you) and if so, you are adding to the problem.

Once peat dries up, it is almost impossible to get wet again with the exception of submerging the pot in water. What is happening is that although the top is watered and some of the sides, the interior might very well be dry. Throw the fert in there and well you have yourself a pressure cooker.

Since you have a long growing season and considering your trees are nearly toast, I would bare root everything and repot in free draining substrate. Once done place in semi shade until you see signs of recovery.

... and toss all that time release fertilizer in the garbage or use it for hanging baskets exclusively.

This sounds like a reasonable explanation, especially concerning the peat. However you could still have that problem even without peat if the core soil has become like concrete.
 

Rick Moquin

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This sounds like a reasonable explanation, especially concerning the peat. However you could still have that problem even without peat if the core soil has become like concrete.
... absolutely true, an oversight on my part. But I based my assumption on that they were repotted not long ago, and if not, I doubt the nursery soil is anything but regular nursery stuff, or even clay perhaps.

That is why when in season I bare root everything. I haven't suffered any loses with this method. I am dis-appointed with a late maple acquisition which I just planted out, to find out I got 3-4 years root work to do. I could have been 2 years ahead of the game. Oh well!
 

Vance Wood

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... absolutely true, an oversight on my part. But I based my assumption on that they were repotted not long ago, and if not, I doubt the nursery soil is anything but regular nursery stuff, or even clay perhaps.

That is why when in season I bare root everything. I haven't suffered any loses with this method. I am dis-appointed with a late maple acquisition which I just planted out, to find out I got 3-4 years root work to do. I could have been 2 years ahead of the game. Oh well!

Clay is a real possibility. Here are a few of the conditions I have encountered with nursery trees. Balled in burlap trees are usually grown in a sandy clay soil because this stuff will hold together during transport to the nursery in large trucks with little concern about busting up the soil ball. This can turn into a concrete core rather rapidly. Container grown trees have an altogether different problem in that often when they are grown to the point of becoming root bound they are simply repotted in to a larger container without any concern for the existing condition of the root ball from the old container. This can happen several times during a trees stay in a nursery unwilling to throw away old stock. In the end it is possible to obtain material that has successive layers of wrapped around roots one upon the other. This too will provide you with a huge problem down the road in resolving this kind of root issue and its subsequent effect on the health of the tree. Both concerns can produce an impenetrable root core where root rot and uneven drainage can occur.
 

grizzlywon

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When I say it pools up, I am talking about it being saturated. I do use free draining /sifted soil.

But there are two things going on here with my soil. The Spruce, two boxes (including one that died) and Mugo are in a nursery pot with the original soil. The Juniper, tridents and one boxwood are in very free draining soil. Lava, pumice, akadama and a little tiny bit of sifted bark. NO PEAT.
 

bonhe

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Hi Grizzlywon, what kind of fertilizer did you use? Bonhe
 

Rick Moquin

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When I say it pools up, I am talking about it being saturated. I do use free draining /sifted soil.

Sorry, if the water "pools up" it is not free draining. With good free draining substrate, this phenomenon does not exist or, the pot is not draining properly. Water should never pool up!

Most believe that they have a free draining mix, until they really have a free draining mix. A while back there was a discussion of crusting on the soil surface that prevented the water to water the trees appropriately, reaching below the surface. Although this happened the water didn't pool up.

When you have a "free draining mix" and it starts to "pool up" as you say, this is when you start to look "what's up".

Either your mix has collapsed, for whatever reason, including but not limited to surface crusting.

The root mass has filled the pot, another indication of the root mass filling the pot is that your tree (root mass) is driving your tree out of the pot.

Some trees grow more vigorously than others and maybe it advanced it's next re-potting. Not a problem, just slip pot the tree into a larger pot, without disturbing the roots, regardless of time of year, your tree will be fine in comparison with being root bound.
 

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