New to Bonsai and Need advice

DogDude

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Hello All,

Well I guess I am having some kind of crisis. I decided to get into Bonsai's because of my experiences in South Korea when I was stationed there during my military service (Army). Today I picked up two Bonsai trees, one is a Juniper and the other I cannot remember the name to save my life, suffering from CRS lol. But anyway, I have been doing my due diligence so I can be an effective owner and caretaker of these majestic looking trees. But this other Bonsai which I have tried matching it to know species out on the internet with no luck. It currently looks all crazy with long top branches going in every direction. I watched a few YouTube video's on Bonsai's and I know its not the best place to learn from because opinions and experience vary which has put me all over the dart board with information. I purchased a Bonsai book but it reads more like a horticulture book, versus teaching me basic care of the Bonsai. I know it helps immensely understanding the underlying systems of the Bonsai so you could potentially determine if the tree becomes sick or if other situations are occurring.

I have attached a picture of the Bonsai I purchased today from a very well known nursery in my town. I think I should have annotated the name, but I was just so excited and in the moment it totally slipped my mind. My wife laughed she said I was having a mid life crisis and it was better to be into Bonsai's than vette's and Ferrari's which I couldn't agree more. Anyway, I am digressing here, I attached the picture and its in a generic training pot which I purchased a slightly bigger one for it, the tag that was on the tree was Bonsai Babies BONBAB-06-FD circa. 3 to 4 years. I even searched the product code on the tag and received totally random Bonsai's, nothing on the name of this Bonsai at all. I need some advice on what my next steps should be with the top, because I have heard that the longer limbs at the top suck a lot of nutrients from the trunk and roots which has me really concerned. Please advise, it would be greatly appreciated.
 

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caffeinated

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Welcome. It's an enjoyable mid-life crisis. Lasts a while though.

Is it a Fukien Tea (Carmona Retusa or Mycrophillia or something)? A photo with better light might help. You probably want to fatten it up a bit and extending shoots up top are good for that.
 

Redwood Ryan

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Welcome to the hobby! And a huge thank you for your service!

You've got a Fukien Tea. They can be a little finicky and are known to attract bugs, so just be mindful of that.
 

Bonsai Nut

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(1) Welcome to the site! Army vet here myself... served in Germany
(2) Your non-juniper bonsai is a Fukien Tea tree. If you put your location in your profile, we can give you more specific care advice. Junipers are cold hardy, so you will keep them outside 24/7, but your Fukien Tea is a true tropical and unless you live in San Diego or Miami it is going to need to be brought indoors for the winter.
 

DogDude

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Welcome. It's an enjoyable mid-life crisis. Lasts a while though.

Is it a Fukien Tea (Carmona Retusa or Mycrophillia or something)? A photo with better light might help. You probably want to fatten it up a bit and extending shoots up top are good for that.
I took one in better lighting. Its all over the place right now
 

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DogDude

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(1) Welcome to the site! Army vet here myself... served in Germany
(2) Your non-juniper bonsai is a Fukien Tea tree. If you put your location in your profile, we can give you more specific care advice. Junipers are cold hardy, so you will keep them outside 24/7, but your Fukien Tea is a true tropical and unless you live in San Diego or Miami it is going to need to be brought indoors for the winter.
I was never able to make it to Germany, but was in Korea for 3 years out of the 20 yrs. Most of the bases I was stationed at were all down south, I did so much division time they would not allow me to go over to 10th Mountain which was three hours from where I grew up in upstate.
 

DogDude

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Welcome. It's an enjoyable mid-life crisis. Lasts a while though.

Is it a Fukien Tea (Carmona Retusa or Mycrophillia or something)? A photo with better light might help. You probably want to fatten it up a bit and extending shoots up top are good for that.
So when you say fatten it up, what is entailed in that process?
 

caffeinated

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So when you say fatten it up, what is entailed in that process?
generally speaking, a bonsai will look older / more to tree scale with a fatter trunk relative to it's branches. You typically let it grow wild while it's young to help thicken up the trunk, though giving it some direction or corrections as it grows. If you really want to fatten it up you put it in the ground or a larger pot for a couple years or more to give it room to expand. Skinny trees in smaller bonsai pots will evolve / mature slowly but not get much thicker so don't get that sense of scale. Though people do create beautiful svelte trees too.
 

Katie0317

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In the first photo I wasn't certain what it was although fukien tea was the first real bonsai I bought. (I'd had a jade for 10 years but treated it like a houseplant.) Anyway, the leaves are quite large. The idea with bonsai is to get the leaves as small as possible. If you read about the grow and snip method you'll see how constantly cutting the stems back will shorted the internode space and by doing that reduce the leaf size. Someone hasn't been doing that so I would suggest you do.

If it were mine I'd put it in a plastic nursery pot (Cheap black pot that plants come in) and keep it in dirt. It will cause the trunk to fatten and you can use the grow and snip method on it. You'll need to keep it fertilized either way.
 

DogDude

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I took one in better lighting. Its all over the place right now

generally speaking, a bonsai will look older / more to tree scale with a fatter trunk relative to it's branches. You typically let it grow wild while it's young to help thicken up the trunk, though giving it some direction or corrections as it grows. If you really want to fatten it up you put it in the ground or a larger pot for a couple years or more to give it room to expand. Skinny trees in smaller bonsai pots will evolve / mature slowly but not get much thicker so don't get that sense of scale. Though people do create beautiful svelte trees too.
Is there a typical sizing for a bigger pot I should go with? I ordered a 7 inch diameter clay pot with drainage and a humidity tray, which I was going to move it too. I was reading after the re-pot not to fertilize it, anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks until the roots start to take hold. But the watering part is varying from what I was reading on the Fukien from a few different Bonsai websites, and also move it away from sunlight. Which I kind of get, but wouldn't you want it to have sunlight to grow? Which I can move it to the other room I have with sky lights, the sun is very dispersed in that room. And I will be using the Akadama soil in the new pot, I am going to try and flush out most of the old soil because like Katie said it appears to be house plant soil, I checked the soil and its mixed with plant soil & Bonsai soil. What a terrible mix.
 

DogDude

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In the first photo I wasn't certain what it was although fukien tea was the first real bonsai I bought. (I'd had a jade for 10 years but treated it like a houseplant.) Anyway, the leaves are quite large. The idea with bonsai is to get the leaves as small as possible. If you read about the grow and snip method you'll see how constantly cutting the stems back will shorted the internode space and by doing that reduce the leaf size. Someone hasn't been doing that so I would suggest you do.

If it were mine I'd put it in a plastic nursery pot (Cheap black pot that plants come in) and keep it in dirt. It will cause the trunk to fatten and you can use the grow and snip method on it. You'll need to keep it fertilized either way.
Katie,

Should I do the snip method prior to the re-pot, or do that first let the tree get accustom and take hold in the new pot first? Then when it stabilizes do the snip method?
 

Katie0317

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I would do one thing at a time. Repot and let it get acclimated. Let it grow and start to snip and grow in spring. Read about the snip and grow or cut and grow method so you understand the point of it.

Letting it grow and just keeping it watered will thicken the trunk which you want. It's fine to wait until you transplant it in bonsai substrate and a bonsai pot in spring to start and cut and grow. Transplant it in bonsai soil in spring and a bonsai pot. Wait a few weeks and make sure all is well and start to snip and grow.

You'll need to prune the roots when you transplant it in the spring (not now). Do some reading on bonsainut about that or wait til you're ready to do it in spring.
 

Katie0317

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Is there a typical sizing for a bigger pot I should go with? I ordered a 7 inch diameter clay pot with drainage and a humidity tray, which I was going to move it too. I was reading after the re-pot not to fertilize it, anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks until the roots start to take hold. But the watering part is varying from what I was reading on the Fukien from a few different Bonsai websites, and also move it away from sunlight. Which I kind of get, but wouldn't you want it to have sunlight to grow? Which I can move it to the other room I have with sky lights, the sun is very dispersed in that room. And I will be using the Akadama soil in the new pot, I am going to try and flush out most of the old soil because like Katie said it appears to be house plant soil, I checked the soil and its mixed with plant soil & Bonsai soil. What a terrible mix.
In the clay pot you ordered keep it in regular potting soil so it can fatten the trunk. Wait on the akadama until spring. Buy a new bag of regular potting soil and toss the old soil. Right now it needs to be in a bigger pot and potting soil to fatten the trunk. That's the point of the potting soil.

Give it as much window light as you can! I have a fukien tea and it will take a lot of light! Water when it's almost quite dry not when it's still wet. It can get root rot if you overwater. You will need to fertilize but not as often as when you put it in the akadama in spring. Yes, you're going to treat it like a house plant right now in a bigger pot. You don't use potting soil in a bonsai pot. The bonsai pot is when you want to start restricting the root growth.

So they put it in a bonsai pot to sell but the trunk needs to get bigger first and that can only happen in soil and a bigger pot.

Reading is good but doing is what's most important. Give it as much window light as possible and water it only when it's almost dry not when it's still wet. In the spring you'll trim the roots and plant it in the bonsai pot and akadama. That's when you can start the cut and grow process.
 

DogDude

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I would do one thing at a time. Repot and let it get acclimated. Let it grow and start to snip and grow in spring. Read about the snip and grow or cut and grow method so you understand the point of it.

Letting it grow and just keeping it watered will thicken the trunk which you want. It's fine to wait until you transplant it in bonsai substrate and a bonsai pot in spring to start and cut and grow. Transplant it in bonsai soil in spring and a bonsai pot. Wait a few weeks and make sure all is well and start to snip and grow.

You'll need to prune the roots when you transplant it in the spring (not now). Do some reading on bonsainut about that or wait til you're ready to do it in spring.
Katie,

Thank you very much for all your help, as well as Caffeinated.
 

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