Indoor Chinese Wisteria (Bonsai?) watering/fertilizer help

v2na

Seed
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
I posted this question on another forum, and I was told by a user that my bonsai isn't even a bonsai but a tree sapling. I'm not sure if I should believe that so I'm posting here for confirmation. Here's what I posted:

I attached some pictures of my Chinese wisteria bonsai. It is about 4 or 5 months old and as you can see from the images it looks a little sad. I've had a problem with gnats so I've been using Fungicide 3 about every 7 days to try to get rid of them. I had been watering it about once every two to three days although over the past week I've only watered it once to try to dry out the soil and kill any gnat eggs that might be there.

Two shoots have already fallen off after turning yellow and dying. At first, they felt soft and limp, so I was sure I overwatered, but right now they feel kind of dry. There is only one new shoot that seems to be doing okayish. I just gave it a decent amount of water, after I sprayed it with fungicide. More little white gnats started to come out of the bottom of the pot, so I sprayed down there too just to be safe. The soil on the top was quite dry although I have a feeling the soil about 6 inches down was still moist.

I know it's hard to tell just from the images, but the tips on most leaves old and new have been turning brown. As you can see the pot is probably too big for the plant right now. So my question is, should I water it more, less or try fertilizing it? Should I try filling the plastic pot holder with water so gnats can't lay eggs on the topsoil? I have low nitrogen fertilizer at home (this plant is in my dorm room) so I could grab it this weekend and bring it back. Before I left for winter break and took the plant with me, it was doing very well. It was growing quickly although there were still a couple of leaves with brown tips. My window is facing to the Southeast and it gets a good amount of sun all day. I have a couple of bamboo sticks in the soil and one outside of the pot to help support the tree. I do not know if this is detrimental or not.

Sorry for the long post but I'm trying to give as much info as possible. How can I make sure this bonsai doesn't get any worse? It has a good amount of sentimental value to me so seeing it die would be kind of heartbreaking. If there seems to be anything wrong with my routine please let me know. Thanks for any info you're able to give, this is my first bonsai.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_3327.jpg
    IMG_3327.jpg
    261.9 KB · Views: 38
  • IMG_3328.jpg
    IMG_3328.jpg
    141.5 KB · Views: 33

v2na

Seed
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
Just found out there is no difference between a normal tree and a bonsai after all of this time... but my other questions still remain valid
 

Brian Van Fleet

Pretty Fly for a Bonsai Guy
Messages
12,451
Reaction score
35,865
Location
B’ham, AL
USDA Zone
8A
Ok, here are the answers to your questions.

1. Bonsai is not a species of tree, but an art form, literally translated as “potted tree” or “tree in a tray”, so yes your wisteria can become a bonsai, but so far it is basically a seedling in a small nursery liner. Many bonsai start out this way, but it takes a long time to produce a convincing, aged tree, then it needs to go in a suitable container.

2. There are NO indoor trees. Some can survive inside for a long time, such as ficus or schefflera. Most end up with rotting roots, weak growth and fungus gnats.

3. Wisteria are deciduous woody vines. They should experience a dormant period to stay healthy. I suspect that yours didn’t receive enough chill hours to induce a dormant period (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere), and it will remain weak inside until it eventually dies. Working in its favor is the fact that they’re really thirsty plants, so you’re likely not overwatering it. You also don’t need to fertilize it until it’s actively growing again. In the right conditions, it should grow shoots (tendrils) reaching 6-8 feet in length in a growing season.

You should share your general location and USDA hardiness zone so you can get some climate-specific care from people in your general area. This tree really needs to be outside to live, but if it’s been inside all winter and you’re in Minnesota, that’s not a good plan. When your area is through frosts or if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, it needs to be outside.

If you really like this plant, work to keep it alive by putting it outside (maybe plant it in your parents’ yard while you’re in college), reading about wisteria care, etc. here is a good place to start:

If you’re getting into bonsai, I’d suggest starting with species that are easier to work with for beginners than wisteria. They’re weedy vines with compound leaves and don’t lend themselves to our common techniques well.

Welcome to the site, and good luck.
 

Mikecheck123

Chumono
Messages
772
Reaction score
1,356
Location
Redwood City, CA
USDA Zone
10a
Wisteria can absolutely live indoors forever if you have a bright enough window. I had one in my office for years.

That being said, growing one for bonsai indoors is a total nonstarter. It'll never ever ever get thick indoors.
 

Shibui

Masterpiece
Messages
3,335
Reaction score
6,227
Location
Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
Bonsai means literally tree in pot so you can legitimately call your wisteria a bonsai if you like. Over the years the standard for 'bonsai' has risen so now many of us have much higher expectations. An analogy would be paintings. A child's artwork using paint on paper is still a painting but would rarely be displayed in a gallery. We all accept there are many different levels or standards of paintings or sculpture and the same is true of the art of bonsai. While you may be happy to call your wisteria bonsai many others will see it as a seedling in a pot because they expect much more from bonsai.
Bonsai is not a type of tree or plant, it is the art of making the tree so that viewers will see areal old tree with a story to tell.

Trees can be grown indoors, as demonstrated by @Mikecheck123 but it takes the perfect conditions and care to make most thrive. Outdoor bonsai is much, much easier.

You have fungus gnats. Despite the name they are insects so fungicide won't get rid of them. They usually occur when the potting soil stays wet too much. The same conditions can also cause fungal infections which kill roots which could explain the problems you are seeing. Best treatment for fungus gnats is peroxide drench of the soil. Mix 3% hydrogen peroxide from the supermarket with 4 times as much water (1:4 - 1 cup peroxide with 4 cups water) and water that over the soil until it runs out the bottom of the pot or soak the pot in the solution. The soil may start to swell and bubble up but will go back after the reaction is complete. You may need to retreat after a couple of weeks to kill any new laid ones.
You will need to be more careful of watering in future and search for a better potting soil that does not encourage fungus gnats.

Good luck with the wisteria.
By the way, did you know it takes at least 7 years for a wisteria seedling to reach maturity and start to flower? - even longer when conditions are not ideal. One of mine took 19 years before it flowered. Seedlings kept in small pots take many years to develop thick trunks so most of us plant seedlings in larger pots or even in the garden so they will grow and thicken quicker before cutting back to develop a bonsai from the trunk.
 

Similar threads

Top Bottom