Princess Persimmon Tree Help

Becky13

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Hello,

I have a Princess Persimmon bonsai tree, and I'm concerned about its soil. When I bought the tree (from California), I was instructed to keep it outside and water it every other day, as it gets very thirsty. I've been keeping it outside, however, I live in Seattle and we get rain almost every day here in the winter. I keep it on the balcony, which has a roof, so it doesn't get rained on directly, however since the air is so humid from the rain the soil in the tree never gets dry, it is always muddy. When I first got the tree I tried keeping it indoors for a few days and it didn't like that, all of the branches started to sag - it perked up when it went outside again. One other thing about the soil is it has a thick layer of rocks above it, about 1.5" of rock and then soil, so maybe that is keeping in the moisture. What is the best way to care for this tree in this environment? I rarely water it since the soil is always damp/muddy.

Thanks,
Becky
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Rocks?
Could it be pumice? Or Turface? Kanuma? or other bonsai soil components? Are the rocks like decorative aquarium gravel or are they more like the bonsai potting media components I listed?

Muddy is usually not good. and definitely not good for princess persimmons. They like a mildly acidic media, much like azalea. Either an organic mix, using composted pine bark and pumice blend, or the Japanese clay, Kanuma, or any of a dozen other bonsai media for deciduous trees will work.

They can be repotted in spring. If you repot now, you have to bring it inside when a frost threatens. But put it back outside the minute it is above freezing.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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I think you need to repot in order to know what the media is made of. Do you have a good deciduous bonsai potting mix on hand?

Also, NEVER water on a schedule. Daily check the plant to see if it needs water, then water if needed. The human finger is the most accurate moisture meter invented, dig finger into the mix to first joint (about half to one inch) if moist, perfect check tomorrow, if barely moist, time to water. IF bone dry - should have watered the day before.

Persimmon want to go from wet to slightly moist to wet again. Never bone dry.
 

Becky13

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Here's a picture of the tree from when I first got it. It doesn't look this good now, but this is to give you an idea of the types of rocks used at the bottom. It sounds like I should repot this, and I take it that it would be better without the rocks.
 

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Leo in N E Illinois

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The photo appears to show a bonsai mix, a professional mix, rather than the "glued on decorative mix used for mallsai". Those rocks look like they may be chunks of Akadama, or a calcined clay product often used in professional grade bonsai mixes. What has probably happened, the mix stratified or settled out over the several years this persimmon was growing in that pot. The fines have settled to the bottom, the "rocks" have floated to the top. This indicates it is time to repot.

In other words, the media is high enough quality that you have time to purchase a deciduous bonsai potting mix. Do not use "regular potting soil", do not recycle any of the old mix. You have time to wait until spring. When the maples and landscape tree are just starting to send out new leaves for the year, it will be time to repot your persimmon.

In the mean time, check to see if it needs water daily, but only water when your finger test shows it is just barely damp. If you are getting daily rain, this may mean you don't have to water until it stops raining daily. But you do have a roof over your balcony, so the amount of mist, drifting mist the tree is getting may vary, so check if you need water daily.

One possible trick, make a tent of aluminum foil, and put it over the soil of your pot. It should not be "air tight". The trunk and all the leaves should poke through and be above the tent of aluminum foil. The foil will keep moisture from getting into the pot. It should be loose so the soil can breathe and slowly dry out. Keep an eye on it, check daily. It could dry out suddenly if you tent the pot. so be prepared to need to pick up watering again.
 

Becky13

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Thank you all for the information! One thing I should mention is that the top 1 1/2" of "rocks" is usually dry, it's the bottom part where the soil has settled that is usually wet. I can try the aluminum foil trick to see if that helps dry out the bottom layer, but my guess is all of the rain/moisture has made the 2 separate.
 

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