Questions about Fukien Tea

Bonsai Lemonade

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Hi.
I'm new to Bonsai, and I just got a Fukien Tea Bonsai 2 weeks ago. When I received it some of the leaves were a lighter (unhealthy-looking) greenish/yellow. I cut all the bad ones off (ended up being about 5 or 6) and now a bunch of new leaves are growing!

IMG_0464.JPG

I water it when the soil gets somewhat dry (every 2/3 days), and I put the pot on a plate with rocks and a little water to increase the moisture level around the tree (I don't know if this actually does anything, but leaves are growing). I also set up a desk lamp over it (4-5 inches from the top of the tree) with a 60w, 1650 lumen florescent lightbulb on for an average of 12-15 hours a day, this is because I barely get any light in my room as it's north facing with a big tree outside.

I have a few questions:

1. A few of the leaves at the top of the tree (closest to the light) have a small amount of light brown spots on their upward-facing surfaces. This change happened sometime over the past 2 days. One of the smaller leaves has a bunch on the underside (see picture below)). I noticed on this leaf that the small hair follicles on the top of the leaf are tinged slightly brown as well. I cut the affected leaves off the tree, but I'm worried. My first thought is that it's the beginning stages of a scale infestation. I'm not sure if they go about attacking trees during the winter. I looked at it with a magnifying glass, but it's difficult to make out, it looks more like spots of discolouration. There are also what look like little salt stains on some of the leaves, almost like there's a thin film left behind by milk puddles on the leaves. There are no sap-like structures that I can see on the tree.
Is this normal for a Fukien Tea?
Is it possible that the light overhead is affecting these leaves?

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 7.06.17 pm.png


2. When I remove leaves, does it matter if I cut them off or pull them out? Also, when I got the tree, the shoots were longer, but I cut them back a little, now they don't seem to be growing out anymore, did I mess up?

Thanks, any help would be appreciated!
 

RickMartin

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That is not normal for a fukien tea (at least both of mine never had it). Can you rub that off with your fingers. Your light seems a little close to the foliage. I have never had any problems with scale or mites or anything else while I winter this tree in the house.

That brings up another thing. When it warms up to above 50 degrees night time temps..move the tree outside..it will love you for it. Watch for late frosts though.

Cutting back, if I cut back into hard wood, that's generally where the branch stops for that direction, unless you can get a bud to pop there (which I have not yet)

Hope this helps

Rick
 

amcoffeegirl

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What type of soil is this in?
My thought is it is staying too wet. Overwatered.
Given a free draining soil and lots of light it will bounce back.
If it is having pest issues then search for neem oil it is often selected for this species.
 

RickMartin

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I just looked at the pic again. That light your using is not getting enough light to the lower branches, stick your finger in the soil, if its damp don't water. It's a fine line with watering these trees but you will learn your tree.

Rick
 

Bonsai Lemonade

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What type of soil is this in?
My thought is it is staying too wet. Overwatered.
Given a free draining soil and lots of light it will bounce back.
If it is having pest issues then search for neem oil it is often selected for this species.
I don't exactly know, I received the tree as a gift from my girlfriend and it came with soil. Also, another thing, I recently put solid fertilizer near the stem. The package that came with the tree told me to do so every 2 months. Will this have any bad effect on my tree?
 

Bonsai Lemonade

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I just looked at the pic again. That light your using is not getting enough light to the lower branches, stick your finger in the soil, if its damp don't water. It's a fine line with watering these trees but you will learn your tree.

Rick
Hi Rick,

I'll definitely take your advice, thanks, I really like this tree so I'm going to give it every advantage I can from now on.

Now that I look at it, I agree that my light isn't reaching the lower branches enough. I'm going to buy a more powerful grow light CFL. Should the light be positioned directly on top of the tree pointing down?
 

eferguson1974

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About the plate, make sure the bottom of the pot doesnt touch the water, it will wick up water and never be dry causing overwatering problems. The surface soil could be dry and deeper soil retaining water. You dont want perched water in your soil. Soil composition has a lot to do with drying properly. You need good free draining soil, as watering and soil composition go hand in hand. Im just learning bonsai and after months of reading forums I can say that the watering and soil makeup have everything to do with root health and the first thing to get right is your watering. Im kinda new to bonsai but I bet just about everyone will agree. Reading about parched water table and how it relates to bonsai was very useful to me. Thats universal advice from reading tons of blogs and sites that we all must learn. Tree health is a big part of this art. I hope that helps you. Another bit of advice-bonsai is addictive as a drug adaddictioonce you learn the "rules" you may start seeing "faults and problems" in wild trees big and small. That and looking for usable material everywhere you go. Traveling with shears for taking cuttings when you go out may be another sign. Have fun!
 

RickMartin

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About the plate, make sure the bottom of the pot doesnt touch the water, it will wick up water and never be dry causing overwatering problems. The surface soil could be dry and deeper soil retaining water. You dont want perched water in your soil. Soil composition has a lot to do with drying properly. You need good free draining soil, as watering and soil composition go hand in hand. Im just learning bonsai and after months of reading forums I can say that the watering and soil makeup have everything to do with root health and the first thing to get right is your watering. Im kinda new to bonsai but I bet just about everyone will agree. Reading about parched water table and how it relates to bonsai was very useful to me. Thats universal advice from reading tons of blogs and sites that we all must learn. Tree health is a big part of this art. I hope that helps you. Another bit of advice-bonsai is addictive as a drug adaddictioonce you learn the "rules" you may start seeing "faults and problems" in wild trees big and small. That and looking for usable material everywhere you go. Traveling with shears for taking cuttings when you go out may be another sign. Have fun!
Very good point. Also be sure your pots drainage holes are not plugged up and once you know its healthy I would repot in a Bonsai soil. I did notice the tree needs alot more ramification on it and some trunk size. The trunk size, in a pot will take a long time, but any branches down low let them grow, don't trim them. Actually I would let that tree grow wild for awhile. Then trim in some nice foliage pads. Most important thing. Have Fun With Your Tree.

Rick
 
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Tea's leaves will begin to droop when they need water. Seeing that you have this tree inside, you probably will not have to water it more than once a week.
 

sorce

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Looking good Lem!

Does look a bit "overwatered", as seems to be the general concensus.

However, your watering practices seem sound.....it should bounce back well for you!

Welcome to Crazy!

Sorce
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Gently hammering the bark should knock off the scale and dead leaves. Left-handed Metric hammers only, no more than once a day or you'll need glasses.
 

Bonsai Lemonade

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Looking good Lem!

Does look a bit "overwatered", as seems to be the general concensus.

However, your watering practices seem sound.....it should bounce back well for you!

Welcome to Crazy!

Sorce
Thanks! I've been making sure the pot is well clear of the water. The new leaves are growing fast and I'm not having any problems with leaves turning yellow, drooping, or falling off.

Just a little update:

I think I have spider mites!
Last week I noticed about 5 or 6 very fine (extremely thin, almost unnoticeable) strands around the leaves that now have the brown spots. I've been getting rid of the little webs with my hand. At first I thought it was baby spider, which I wasn't too worried about because I thought if anything a predator would be good for the tree, however, I finally saw one 2 days ago, it looked like a very small (around 1-2mm) tan spider with a dark brown spot on its back hanging on one of thin strands. I killed it and thought that would solve the web problem.

However, since I've been reading more and more beginner forums, I found about spider mites. This one looked like the one I saw:
two-spotted-spider-mite.jpg

Do you have any experience with these? Last night I sprayed water on the undersides of the leaves after reading some advice that it could dislodge the spider mites which are naturally drawn to the undersides. Could these be causing the brown spots?
 

Bonsai Lemonade

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Gently hammering the bark should knock off the scale and dead leaves. Left-handed Metric hammers only, no more than once a day or you'll need glasses.
I think it's spider mites that are doing something to my tree now. I noticed 5 or 6 strands of fine webbing last week on the leaves that now have the brown spots, and I actually saw something that looked like a super tiny tan spider with a brown spot on its back.
Could it be spider mites? And if so, could they be causing the problem?
two-spotted-spider-mite.jpg
 

sorce

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Sounds part of the problem.....

The brown in the underside...seems watering issue.....that seems over!

The natural white spots on the leaves.....if brown....could be mite induced!

Either way......not to big a problem with one tree.

You can swab each leaf with a water \ dish soap mix....and spray it every day for a week....and you should be ok.

Clean down the place you keep it in....all will be good!

Sorce
 

Bonsai Lemonade

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Sounds part of the problem.....

The brown in the underside...seems watering issue.....that seems over!

The natural white spots on the leaves.....if brown....could be mite induced!

Either way......not to big a problem with one tree.

You can swab each leaf with a water \ dish soap mix....and spray it every day for a week....and you should be ok.

Clean down the place you keep it in....all will be good!

Sorce
I'll definitely do that, thanks for the advice!
And yes, the normally white hair follicles (if that's what they're called) on the top of two of the leaves were turning light brown. The leaf I took the picture of had almost every follicle on the top turning light brown at the root.
 

sorce

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Yes that sounds mitish.

You already have your problems conquered IMO!

Good Growing!

Sorce
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Fuikein tea suck as bonsai outside their native climate, and especially for a newbie. They're touchy to being moved, over/under watered, need lots of light to be happy, and are prone to many pests and diseases. If you're relegated to growing bonsai inside, check into a green island ficus. They're far more tolerant.

For this one, identify the pests and research the best treatment to eradicate them, then go do it.
Use this tree to learn how to water properly.

When you do kill it, keep the pot, and move on to the next tree. Best to have several trees so you're not worrying one to death.
 

Bonsai Lemonade

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I wouldn't touch em with Dav4's pole.

If people can get them to live......
It amazes me!

Lem.....keep amazing me!

And do get a few thousand more trees!

Sorce
Should I wait until spring to get new trees? I want to grow some coniferous trees because I really like their look. Any recommendations for a good beginner tree?
 

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