New member new to Bonsai

Darran

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Hi,

im new to Bonsai and this forum seemed a good place to start my learning curve. I live in the uk to give you an idea of what climate I’m in.

I have wanted to get into Bonsai for some time, and my partner brought me a tree for Christmas, it would not have been my first choice as it’s a Serissa with variegated leaves, but I have to work with what I have. It was brought from a garden centre and I have attached a couple of pictures.

I would like some advice on possible shaping and potential with this tree, also when should I start thinking of shaping and other maintenance such as repotting. At the moment it’s in a cooler part of the house and where it should get sunlight for most of the day. I am keeping it watered, waiting until the soil starts to feel dry to the touch before applying rain water.

I would welcome a general discussion on this tree, and also if I should stick to one tree to start or have a couple to work with.

Looking forward to replies.

Darran
 

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leatherback

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Hi, and welcome to the nuthouse.
If you go to your profile (CLick on your name, top right) you can add your location and USDA climatic zone. This will over time help. With thousands of members, remembering where everyone is located it a bit of a challenge!
 

plant_dr

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Welcome to the forum! This place is a treasure of knowledge. You can search and find pretty much all the info you could ever need about things. If you're going to keep trees inside, I would suggest something like a ficus or schefflera. These are tropical trees and generally easier to keep inside. Serrisas are a little less forgiving as a first bonsai.
 

Darran

Seedling
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Hi, and welcome to the nuthouse.
If you go to your profile (CLick on your name, top right) you can add your location and USDA climatic zone. This will over time help. With thousands of members, remembering where everyone is located it a bit of a challenge!

I am in the UK, but have updated my profile, my area would fall into USDA 9.
 

Darran

Seedling
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Welcome to the forum! This place is a treasure of knowledge. You can search and find pretty much all the info you could ever need about things. If you're going to keep trees inside, I would suggest something like a ficus or schefflera. These are tropical trees and generally easier to keep inside. Serrisas are a little less forgiving as a first bonsai.

i agree, Serissa would not have been my first choice based on research I have been doing, but it was a present and it’s here now, so I have to try and make it work.
 

eryk2kartman

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Hey,

I think you have a good start, but now, depends on what you want from the tree, there will be couple of ways to improve it
I would pot it up in the bigger container for a while to thicken up a bit or if you like the size its now you could leave it in that pot but i would definitely repot it in the spring and change for some nice good drainage soil.
For now try to keep it healthy and it seems like you are on the right path.
Also i would suggest to get a couple more trees so you wont kill this one by overdoing it.
 

Darran

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Hey,

I think you have a good start, but now, depends on what you want from the tree, there will be couple of ways to improve it
I would pot it up in the bigger container for a while to thicken up a bit or if you like the size its now you could leave it in that pot but i would definitely repot it in the spring and change for some nice good drainage soil.
For now try to keep it healthy and it seems like you are on the right path.
Also i would suggest to get a couple more trees so you wont kill this one by overdoing it.
So far the tree seems healthy at the moment, and yes, come spring feb-mar time I will repot it with some better soil mor suited, and a larger pot not sure what size pot to use though so at this stage I would appreciate the advice.

it has two trunks, I would like to get it a little wider in the canopy, so my initial thoughts were to wire some of the branches out a bit and then thicken up the foliage.

I assume pruning back would help with that but it’s not the time of year for that yet, for now I just want to keep it alive and healthy
 

eryk2kartman

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The current pot seems to be quite small, if you want to keep it in bonsai pot probably something like 20x15 cm would be a max size, bigger pots makes trees grow faster as roots have more space to grow, however, too big pot will give you problems too.
You can also use wooden box made to the size, it will also depends on the root system.

I wouldnt prune anything at the moment, i guess you can try to wire it and give some movements.
 

Darran

Seedling
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The current pot seems to be quite small, if you want to keep it in bonsai pot probably something like 20x15 cm would be a max size, bigger pots makes trees grow faster as roots have more space to grow, however, too big pot will give you problems too.
You can also use wooden box made to the size, it will also depends on the root system.

I wouldnt prune anything at the moment, i guess you can try to wire it and give some movements.

i Think at this stage I might shape a little, but wait until spring to repot. Then see how it goes. Here’s a few mor pictures of the business end.
 

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Bonsai Nut

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Welcome!

The tree looks very healthy right now, but the soil does not. The photo isn't the best, but it looks like it is planted in hard soil almost like clay. The reason why serrisas have a poor reputation (in my opinion) is that they have weak roots. They are very sensitive to soil that stays too wet, and do not like their roots to be messed with too much... like when you repot them :) Bad soil in a bonsai pot is hard to get to drain properly, so you are in a difficult position of having to repot a plant that doesn't like to be repotted. Proceed cautiously. :)

As far as styling goes, I always recommend when someone is starting out, that you go online and try to find a serissa bonsai that inspires you that you think you would like your plant to look like (eventually). Print out an image and keep it close by as you work on your tree... as a blueprint for where you want to go. Many advanced bonsai artists will sketch their tree first - to capture the image in their mind before they start working on their tree.
 

Darran

Seedling
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Welcome!

The tree looks very healthy right now, but the soil does not. The photo isn't the best, but it looks like it is planted in hard soil almost like clay. The reason why serrisas have a poor reputation (in my opinion) is that they have weak roots. They are very sensitive to soil that stays too wet, and do not like their roots to be messed with too much... like when you repot them :) Bad soil in a bonsai pot is hard to get to drain properly, so you are in a difficult position of having to repot a plant that doesn't like to be repotted. Proceed cautiously. :)

As far as styling goes, I always recommend when someone is starting out, that you go online and try to find a serissa bonsai that inspires you that you think you would like your plant to look like (eventually). Print out an image and keep it close by as you work on your tree... as a blueprint for where you want to go. Many advanced bonsai artists will sketch their tree first - to capture the image in their mind before they start working on their tree.

Thanks for the reply, my partner brought this as a gift from a nursery and they probably got it from a mass production in China, so I would guess the soil is not the best. Also the tree will lift out of the pot soil and all without any resistance which even with my Limited knowledge doesn’t seem good.

Is a looser soil more to this trees liking that will drain well, such as acadarma and pumice ?. also my limited instinct tells me that this time of year is not a good time to attempt a repotting on any tree. Let alone a fussy one like this.

As I say I am a beginner at this and very weary of proceeding with anything

i have taken a couple of close ups of the soil and how it looks, but don’t want to upset the plant too much, as it’s only been here a few days. I know where it was purchased from and would say it’s spent all its time in the large fabricated And heated building, not in sunlight and probably handled by many people browsing
 

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Bonsai Nut

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The image of the soil out of the pot is great because it shows that the soil isn't as bad as what I was fearing. It isn't great, but I have seen a LOT worse.

What you DON'T ever want to see is a solid block of soil like a brick, with all the healthy roots pressed up against the exterior of the root ball and the interior of the pot because it is the only place where they get water and oxygen.

In your case, even though the soil is coming out en masse, there are still lots of void spaces in the soil, and the roots look healthy and meander through the soil instead of hug the outside of the soil mass. It appears that if you poked the soil with a chop stick, the soil will break loose from the roots without too much effort, allowing you to gently repot without too much effort. Yes, in a perfect world you want to use a bonsai soil made up from inorganic pieces. Also this is a small tree so you would want to go with a little smaller piece size so the soil doesn't dry out too quickly, but still freely drains.

I would wait until spring for your repot. In the interim, see if you can sprinkle some extra soil on top of the soil mass so that you cover up the few roots running around on the surface.
 
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sorce

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Welcome to Crazy!

Sorce
 
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Its small but I love small bonsai! I agree to get a few different trees at different stages. if you have one its hard to make yourself wait to work on it because you want to start pruning and wiring. when you have a lot, time flies by quicker for sure!
If you are in USDA Zone 9 I would suggest keeping it outside. They are hardy from zones 7 to 9 and believe me i'm from Canada, and keeping trees happy while they are indoors is a whole other job! It will be much happier outdoors.

check out Nigel Saunders on youtube, he has a really nice serissa that he has been growing (In canada as well). They flower long and beautifully as well!
 

Darran

Seedling
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Its small but I love small bonsai! I agree to get a few different trees at different stages. if you have one its hard to make yourself wait to work on it because you want to start pruning and wiring. when you have a lot, time flies by quicker for sure!
If you are in USDA Zone 9 I would suggest keeping it outside. They are hardy from zones 7 to 9 and believe me i'm from Canada, and keeping trees happy while they are indoors is a whole other job! It will be much happier outdoors.

check out Nigel Saunders on youtube, he has a really nice serissa that he has been growing (In canada as well). They flower long and beautifully as well!
I thought serissa would not tolerate the winter temperature drops here in the uk. According to the rhs in England we are zone 9. But it’s below freezing here at night at the moment and at most 5 or 6 degrees during the day with frozen snow on the ground, my understanding is that this tree needs to be protected from these temperatures, but can go out in the summer.
 
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I thought serissa would not tolerate the winter temperature drops here in the uk. According to the rhs in England we are zone 9. But it’s below freezing here at night at the moment and at most 5 or 6 degrees during the day with frozen snow on the ground, my understanding is that this tree needs to be protected from these temperatures, but can go out in the summer.
I see I did not know Zone 9 got that cold, yes summer will be good for it to be outside
 

Darran

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As I feared after a few weeks in the house the serrisa is starting to drop its leaves, they go brown at the tips and then fall off. I thought this might be a sign of to much or too little water, but how do you tell which.

I have the plant in the coolest room in the house in a window with the most sunlight.

Not sure what to do to try and keep the plant from dying.
 

ThornBc

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Welcome, I'm in the UK too and I've found it challenging to keep an actual bonsai alive through a few winters in my typical flat indoors conditions :/ I'm talking about tropicals, but only with natural lighting. A better draining soil definitely helps, but I've never kept a Serissa so can't give specific advise with that species.
 

HorseloverFat

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Hmm.. is Rhs zone 9 similar to USDA zone 7? How cold does your “coldest room” get?

When we who live in the US hear “Zone 9”.. we THINK fairly warm...

But i think RHS 7 MIGHT be like zone 5b or 6.. but I have NO idea..

Just trying to help, and curious, as well.

🤓
 
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