Saving 3 Boxwoods (eventually, hopefully for bonsai?)

Biophilumia

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Lebanon, PA, USA
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Location: Central Pennsylvania
I should start by saying I'm completely new to bonsai... so, there was a small boxwood shrub in my grandparents garden, and I've been REALLY wanting to get into bonsai for like, years now, and I overheard the gardener talking about how the other small boxwoods died and this one was the last surviving shrub, and how poor drainage would kill it soon if left to its own devices, so I took matters into my own hands and dug it up (it came up in 3 separate plants, picture attached), and am hoping to nurse them back to health to eventually make them bonsais. I have tons of questions, but honestly if anyone is willing to offer ANY kind of advice, I'm more than happy to listen and take any and all advice i can possibly get, bc it would seem a lot of the websites I've found previously have conflicting information and that makes it very hard to know what's best to do, so right now, as per the advice of an associate at a local garden center (I had to do this fast, digging it up and repotting bc its starting to get cold here, and as you can see in the pic, it wasn't looking great, so I did the best I could for now with the soil and whatnot, but again, I'm totally willing to take any advice anyone here can offer, as you all seem quite knowledgeable!!), I have them currently in bonsai pots (except for the largest of them bc its roots wouldnt fit in the size pots they had at the garden center, so I got a larger, regular pot for that one, and they are in a soil mix of like 80-85% cactus soil (Espona Organic Cactus soil mix, the only kind the guy at Garden center could recommend) and the rest Vermiculite, again, at the associates suggestion bc they had no lava rock, perlite, or pretty much anything else I've seen actually recommended for bonsai soil, so I realize I'll most likely have to repot them soon with all new soil, but my main concern for right now is getting them healthy again, and then I'll worry about the whole bonsai part, so now that I've explained the situation, and what I've got them in right now, any information anyone can provide on how to best care for them, how soon to repot, soil recommendations, anything that you all think may be useful for me to know, would be most appreciated! I am completely new to bonsai, but I am ready and eager to learn, willing to be patient, and to do whatever i need to (within my capability anyway) to do this right!! First pic is from right after I dug them up and put them in regular potting soil just to get it out of that location where it was dying, last 2 pictures are the 3 individuals after I put them in the new pots with the soil I got from the garden center, they were repotted to the pots they're in now about 2 days after I dug them up and threw them into the tan flower pots, it's been about a week since then, and so far they're doing ok, I trimmed (with sterilized, sharp shears!) some areas that were dead & defoliated some dead leaves off the branches that looked alive but had some dried out leaves on them, hopefully giving it a better chance to grow nicely? I've tried to do as much research as possible, but like I mentioned before, different places seem to say different things, although, from my research, I believe the orange color of some of the leaves may be from the cold weather and, hopefully, not a disease or parasite (haven't seen ANY bugs on any of them), although I did notice a few very small black spots on the largest plants bark (not on any of the green stems/branches though, and not very many) but if anyone spots anything you think could be an issue, or if the black (cankers, right?) sound concerning, please let me know! Thank you in advance for any help you all can offer!!
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Biophilumia

Seedling
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Lebanon, PA, USA
USDA Zone
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Thank you!! I'm excited to be here and start getting into bonsai, I want to eventually get to a point where I have at least one to pass down to my kids when I'm old and gray and hopefully know enough by then to be able to teach them a bit too! lol
 

Eckhoffw

Shohin
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St. Paul Mn.
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I Would plant them in the earth for now. Rescued plants like to feel grounded.
Imagine the trauma they must feel.
How’s the weather?
 

Eckhoffw

Shohin
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I Would plant them in the earth for now. Rescued plants like to feel grounded.
Imagine the trauma they must feel.
How’s the weather?
Yeah. I would think In PA, it should be pretty nice still for planting in ground. I would add a nice blanket of mulch over the site to make winter comfier for them.
Then come springtime I would get some others to practice on while you wait for your new rescued boxwoods to gain strength for the next bout.
 

Biophilumia

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Lebanon, PA, USA
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The only problem with putting them back in the ground is that the soil around here doesn't have real great dainage, and every other boxwood in the area has already died, the smaller ones are all long gone (except this one), and the larger old ones that are left are almost all completely dead as well, but the one I have doesn't appear to have any diseases or parasites, so I figured repotting it could. hopefully, be the best chance to save it, that's why I dug it up, bc it was the last one that wasn't too far gone, but the weather's been hit and miss, some days its real nice, like 60-70s, other days it gets down to the low 40s, and at night its been pretty dang cold already though, I read somewhere that leaves turning orange could be from cold damage, and that's why I dug it up when I did, bc I noticed that was starting to happen too, like a 1/4 of the leaves were going orangish, idk if you can see it in the pictures though.. so far I've just been keeping them outside in an area w nice dappled sunlight whenever its nice out, (in the pots) as long as it doesn't get too cold, windy, or rainy, and and when it does, I bring them in and put them at a north facing window that gets some really nice sunlight, but I'm scared I'll kill them if I put them back into the ground, it seems to, for whatever reason, hate boxwoods in particular... any ideas on why? There were 100 year old boxwoods that are almost all dead now, some are hanging on for dear life, but, and I'll try to get some pics to post, they are for the most part, gone, and thats even with gardeners looking after them, pruning and mulching etc...
 

Biophilumia

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I wrote too much and took too long to edit the post but I wanted to ask if perhaps putting them in larger pots could work better? I've been searching the site and found that it seems everyone suggests waiting until theyre already healthy and strong to put them into bonsai pots and I definitely don't want to hinder the healing process, any suggestions other than putting it back in the ground? Sorry I don't wanna sound like I'm throwing away the first suggestion I've gotten so far, I've just seen a lot of the smaller ones and old, at one time gorgeous boxwoods alike around here go dead and nobody seems to know an answer for certain except that the "drainage is real bad", and I just reallllly don't wanna kill them lol, even if it takes longer for them to be ready to do anything bonsai-related with, I have an attachment to these 3 lol, but I'm most definitely open to anything you guys think could help, I realized my first reply might sound like I'm shrugging off the suggestion, and I promise I'm not, lol, I just have no idea why all the boxwoods die, I'm definitely going to get pics tmrw bc maybe someone here will have suggestions for those ones too, bc there might still be one or two old ones that aren't a complete lost cause yet, and they're so old and cool I'd love to save them all if I could, I just don't know that much yet myself lol, but thats why Im here!!
 

Forsoothe!

Omono
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Boxwood Blight is sweeping across the US and the world, so keeping plants ~quarantined~ as best you can might be useful, or not, depending upon factors not under your control. Like, whether or not your plants are disease-free or Typhoid Mary carriers. Other than that, leave them planted as is, feed them once this fall and I'd treat them with INFUSE, just in case Infuse turns out to be useful against whatever pathogens are lurking.
 

Eckhoffw

Shohin
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St. Paul Mn.
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I wrote too much and took too long to edit the post but I wanted to ask if perhaps putting them in larger pots could work better? I've been searching the site and found that it seems everyone suggests waiting until theyre already healthy and strong to put them into bonsai pots and I definitely don't want to hinder the healing process, any suggestions other than putting it back in the ground? Sorry I don't wanna sound like I'm throwing away the first suggestion I've gotten so far, I've just seen a lot of the smaller ones and old, at one time gorgeous boxwoods alike around here go dead and nobody seems to know an answer for certain except that the "drainage is real bad", and I just reallllly don't wanna kill them lol, even if it takes longer for them to be ready to do anything bonsai-related with, I have an attachment to these 3 lol, but I'm most definitely open to anything you guys think could help, I realized my first reply might sound like I'm shrugging off the suggestion, and I promise I'm not, lol, I just have no idea why all the boxwoods die, I'm definitely going to get pics tmrw bc maybe someone here will have suggestions for those ones too, bc there might still be one or two old ones that aren't a complete lost cause yet, and they're so old and cool I'd love to save them all if I could, I just don't know that much yet myself lol, but thats why Im here!!
Then might as well throw them in a big grow box full of well draining soil, then mound up and over with mulch for winter.
Good luck.
 

Biophilumia

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Then might as well throw them in a big grow box full of well draining soil, then mound up and over with mulch for winter.
Good luck.
Ok thank you!! Will have to get more soil and some mulch (would pine bark be appropriate for this? I've seen lots of bonsai places mention using that, but not sure if that's only for once they're already healthy & ready for bonsai?), but I will definitely try that, and try the infuse stuff that ForSoothe! mentioned as well, I'm still just praying for now that they don't have any diseases or anything, I tried doing research on that too and it seems very hard to tell, maybe just bc I'm a noob, but I do at least know that I haven't found any bugs, and that most of what's still on the plant still looks ok, but it would definitely be nice to know for sure, is there a way to test them for anything?
 

Forsoothe!

Omono
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I don't believe that Infuse is advertised as a preventative of Boxwood Blight, or that there is any cure. I do believe that it won't hurt and will keep them free of some other diseases and a little healthier. It's a systemic.
 

Eckhoffw

Shohin
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Ok thank you!! Will have to get more soil and some mulch (would pine bark be appropriate for this? I've seen lots of bonsai places mention using that, but not sure if that's only for once they're already healthy & ready for bonsai?), but I will definitely try that, and try the infuse stuff that ForSoothe! mentioned as well, I'm still just praying for now that they don't have any diseases or anything, I tried doing research on that too and it seems very hard to tell, maybe just bc I'm a noob, but I do at least know that I haven't found any bugs, and that most of what's still on the plant still looks ok, but it would definitely be nice to know for sure, is there a way to test them for anything?
At this point, just putting them in nice soil and covering them up with any type of mulch will be fine. Yes the bark is good and then you could repurpose it later for a soil additive.
 

Biophilumia

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Perfect, thank you! Its always nice when something can serve more than one purpose and save some money in the process!! What type of soil would you guys recommend for right now? As of now, they're currently in a mix of about 80-85% Espoma Organic cactus and succulent soil, and the last 10-15% is vermiculite (I wanted to get pumice or lava rock but couldn't find any locally so I'll have to order some online), but if that's not ideal I have no qualms with getting all new soil, but I don't have a ton of options as far as buying locally bc we only have a Lowe's, Home Depot, and a few garden centers that definitely dont specialize in bonsai, so perhaps mixing my own soil would be best? And if so, any mixture/brand, etc suggestions?
Ps. Thank yiu again for all your help, sorry fpr so many questions and whatnot, I just want to do my best to nurse them back to health, and learn as much as I can in the process!!
 

Eckhoffw

Shohin
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Perfect, thank you! Its always nice when something can serve more than one purpose and save some money in the process!! What type of soil would you guys recommend for right now? As of now, they're currently in a mix of about 80-85% Espoma Organic cactus and succulent soil, and the last 10-15% is vermiculite (I wanted to get pumice or lava rock but couldn't find any locally so I'll have to order some online), but if that's not ideal I have no qualms with getting all new soil, but I don't have a ton of options as far as buying locally bc we only have a Lowe's, Home Depot, and a few garden centers that definitely dont specialize in bonsai, so perhaps mixing my own soil would be best? And if so, any mixture/brand, etc suggestions?
Ps. Thank yiu again for all your help, sorry fpr so many questions and whatnot, I just want to do my best to nurse them back to health, and learn as much as I can in the process!!
That should be just fine.
 

Biophilumia

Seedling
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Awesome, thank you!! I know my local garden center has pine bark too, bc I thought about getting some when I went last time but I didn't end up doing it bc I couldn't recall what I'd need it for at the time lol, but sounds like it could be a good idea to get a nice big bag awhile...
Also, for anyone interested in seeing what I was talking about with all the boxwoods slowly dying, I did snap some pics! If anyone thinks there's something we can do for them that we might not have tried yet, I'm 1000% ready to try to save them, the house itself is a historical part of the town & some of the boxwoods are from the original owners (1910's), which I think is just amazing, so I'd love to be able to bring them back if at all possible.. Some aren't too bad, and I tried to take a few of the ones that are still doing ok too, but most of them are either dying or have already died, I took a pic orf one of the stumps too, just to show some that have been cut down already bc they died, so anywayyys, here they are:
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Jzack605

Shohin
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There’s no cure for blight, only preventatives.

Do some research on what products you have available to you in your state; just picking any old fungicide won’t work. It needs to be labeled for it, otherwise it simply won’t work.
 

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