I might of killed my Fukien Tea

NewtotheArt

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I’m new to this forum and also the art of bonsai. I bought a Fukien Tea from Costco a couple weeks ago. After a week I began seeing ants everywhere on the plant. All throughout the soil and crawling up and down every square inch of the tree. I read a few different places that a little dish soap in water (using a spray bottle) will rid the ant problem. While this did work to get rid of the ants, I believe I might of hurt the tree bad. A lot of leaves turned black and began falling off. I’ll include pictures I took today and see if anyone can tell me if this is repairable or if I’m wasting my time.

I live in central California and the plant lives outside. I only water it when the soil feels dry. I purchased some fertilizer to see if I could fix it. I haven’t gave it any yet. Any help or input would be greatly appreciated.
 

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DonovanC

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It’s not dead. It’ll be ok. Likely you had an aphid problem not an ant problem. The ants are attracted to the aphid poo... 😐
The soil should be kept moist, not wet. If it goes completely dry it’s gone too far, you want to water it before it gets to that point.
Plenty of sun, water when it starts to dry. It’ll be ok.
Some trees are a little sensitive to soap and water. But they bounce back.
 

NewtotheArt

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Thank you! Should I fertilize it now or wait until it recovers a bit? I’m very new to Bonsai and any input is appreciated.
 

DonovanC

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I would wait to fertilize. Just stick to the routine and let it recover then think about the fertilizer.
 

shinmai

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Never fertilize a sick tree, or one that is within a month of repotting. As to watering, take a bamboo skewer and stick it into the soil about half way to the bottom. Check it at least once a day in the morning, again in late afternoon if it’s really hot or really breezy. If it’s wet, you don’t need to water. Damp, and you should probably water later today or tomorrow, and if bone dry, you should have watered yesterday. Sounds simplistic but it’s pretty much foolproof. You would also be well advised to get hold of some Bonide systemic insecticide granules [available via Amazon]. Sprinkle a teaspoon or so around the base of the tree and [gently] work it into the top of your soil. It will get taken up by the roots as it gets washed in when you water. The stuff is amazing as a defense against all kinds of leaf sucking or chewing insects. Because it’s a solid and not a topical spray, it poses no threat to bees and other pollinators. I re-apply every third week or so.
 

NewtotheArt

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Never fertilize a sick tree, or one that is within a month of repotting. As to watering, take a bamboo skewer and stick it into the soil about half way to the bottom. Check it at least once a day in the morning, again in late afternoon if it’s really hot or really breezy. If it’s wet, you don’t need to water. Damp, and you should probably water later today or tomorrow, and if bone dry, you should have watered yesterday. Sounds simplistic but it’s pretty much foolproof. You would also be well advised to get hold of some Bonide systemic insecticide granules [available via Amazon]. Sprinkle a teaspoon or so around the base of the tree and [gently] work it into the top of your soil. It will get taken up by the roots as it gets washed in when you water. The stuff is amazing as a defense against all kinds of leaf sucking or chewing insects. Because it’s a solid and not a topical spray, it poses no threat to bees and other pollinators. I re-apply every third week or so.
Fantastic advice!! Thank you so much! I’ll be getting some of the Bonide granules right away.
 

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