Is it time to start digging a shohin bonsai grave?

bonsamurai

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Hello everyone, second post here so forgive me if I miss anything.

I received this Catlin elm almost a year ago from a nursery here in Southern California. The tree has been growing shoots readily until a couple weeks ago over the period of a couple hot, windy days when I unfortunately neglected to water it. I quickly realized my mistake, and immediately returned to regularly watering it. The tree did seem otherwise healthy to my untrained eyes in the week following, with little evidence of other stress such as any other browning tips or excessive foliage loss. However, its health has suddenly declined recently, going from full green foliage to its current state in the matter of a couple days.

For those of you that have made it this far, the lack of bark near the center of the tree most likely isn't the cause for its condition. With the bark of the Catlin elm already prone to aeration, the tree lost some of its bark in an accident awhile ago. One "How to" (determine if the tree is dead or alive) suggested that if the inside of a branch is green, then the tree can still make a recovery, which is shown in one of the images. It may or may not have anything to do with it but I also noticed roots near the bottom of the pot. If anyone would be kind enough to tell me, does this mean that my tree is rootbound and in need of repotting? But more importantly, can it be saved?

Thank you.
 

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Cypress187

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You shouldn't work on roots of a sick tree (unless it's a root problem), also the tree needs leaves to regrow roots, I'm afraid this tree isn't going to do that.
 

Cadillactaste

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First photo at the base...is the bark damaged all around the circumference of the tree? If it's separated from the lower section that is called girding and not good for the tree. It looks very like on the last leg if not gone yet.

Sorry to have to inform you that...how long did you go between watering? Before you remembered it?
 

Daluke

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It takes a lot to kill a Chinese elm.

There is green underneath the bark. This is a sign that the tree might still be salavagable.

I've had trees bounce back from similar "oversights" and some not.

Also, a tree's pot that dries out quickly suggests that roots have filled the pot. Does this mean we need to repot? Maybe. But I wouldn't touch your tree bar TLC.

I've found that elms roots "chase water". If you have them sitting on a wet bench the roots will grow out the bottom chasing water. Maybe this was the case with yours?

Good luck mate.
 

bonsamurai

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First photo at the base...is the bark damaged all around the circumference of the tree? If it's separated from the lower section that is called girding and not good for the tree. It looks very like on the last leg if not gone yet.

Sorry to have to inform you that...how long did you go between watering? Before you remembered it?
It was three or four days. But unfortunately, it was especially warm and dry.

The bark is separated slightly at the base of the tree, so it looks like what you described. What causes girding... underwatering, overwatering?
 
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bonsamurai

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It takes a lot to kill a Chinese elm.

There is green underneath the bark. This is a sign that the tree might still be salavagable.

I've had trees bounce back from similar "oversights" and some not.

Also, a tree's pot that dries out quickly suggests that roots have filled the pot. Does this mean we need to repot? Maybe. But I wouldn't touch your tree bar TLC.

I've found that elms roots "chase water". If you have them sitting on a wet bench the roots will grow out the bottom chasing water. Maybe this was the case with yours?

Good luck mate.
Thanks for the response.

Is there any special care you did, and I can do to improve its chances?
 

GrimLore

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Is there any special care you did, and I can do to improve its chances?
West dappled sun and regular watering, no fertilizer for at least 2 weeks maybe longer. When it appears to wake up fertilize as you used to.

Grimmy
 

Cadillactaste

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It was three or four days. But unfortunately, it was especially warm and dry.

The bark is separated slightly at the base of the tree, so it looks like what you described. What causes girding... underwatering, overwatering?
I'm not thinking either under or over watering. Possibly the accident it had previously. Girding around the entire circumference will result in death sadly. Lost one from frost damage like that which came damaged from a nursery...but didn't know the extent until it kept faltering.
 

Bonsai Nut

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I've got several Catlin elms. What you are seeing is probably not bark damage - Catlin elms have naturally exfoliating bark that comes off in jigsaw-puzzle shaped pieces. It creates an interesting texture.

I don't know if your tree is alive or not, but don't give up hope. Do NOT touch the roots - if the tree is going to recover it is going to need to utilize any excess energy it might have in its roots or in its vascular system. Keep it in indirect light, protect it from wind, and water as normal. If you are lucky, you will see new buds within 6 weeks.

And if it does rebud... don't touch the tree. Don't prune it, repot it, wire it, or otherwise offend it. It gets the rest of the summer off. You can repot next spring.
 

Daluke

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How do you react when you get sunburnt?

That's basically the same as the tree...

- no sun
- water
- rest
 

bonsamurai

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Thanks you guys for the input! I will try my best not to do anything desperate, and continue to watch it carefully.

I'll post an update if it does pull through; but from what it seems, it might be awhile before then.
 
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