The End of My First Summer in Bonsai


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Hi all, i don't know how i feel tbh. Lots and lots of trees suffered me this summer. I am not going to give up but i had many great ideas on some of the dead trees. I wanted to make this topic so i can get some help understanding some of my mistakes but i have also learned alot.

What i have learned.
I have learned that i should do a very similar soil to all my trees, because some of my trees needed water everyday some others not as they had a different soil which keeps water. So i ended up over watering many of my trees. It is also because in my yard i don't get the sun all day long so if i don't have a very drained soiled i will end up with wet soils.
I have also learned that i should cure thick roots because when i was observing some of my dead trees i found out that their cut thick roots where rotten. So this is my first question, i have like a paste i use for when i cut large trunks and i wanted to know if i can use the same think for the roots or if you use something else.
I have also learned that i need a good feeding, i found it easier to have a slow release feed. I have used different types and the last one i used most probably was the reason of several of my trees dying.
I have learned that i should stick with local trees right now so i can learn with them not get some fukien tea that tries to kill itself everyday. So they can take the afternoon sun in august, the problem is that our pine (aleppo pine) is very difficult to make into good bonsai as if you cut its leaves they just die. Some members of the local club told me to use casuarina, its a very common tree here and makes beautiful bonsai so i got 1 and will get some more next week hopefully. So casuarina, cypress, myrtle, afrikan tamarisk, olive, carrob, pommegranate and some more.

Dead Trees and reason of dead (what i think)

All my fruit trees (about 5) - bad soil, rotten roots
2 Aleppo Pines - no idea
2 Buxus - no idea
1 Honeysuckle - last deadly feed
1 bougy - last deadly feed
1 juniper - last deadly feed
1 myrtle - last deadly feed
1 fukien tea - falling leaves and comes back, fall leaves again. Flowering today dead the next
1 Zanoxylum - Maybe the sun?

Trees that exploded into growth

2 Ficus Benjamina - I tried to bend them in winter and snapped them, not a single leaf on. Almost thrown away (1 of them in the pics)
1 Hibiscus - Hibiscus here leave and grow madly
2 Privets - Huge great whatever i throw at it, it grows stronger

Here are some pictures of some of my old trees and some new trees
pic 1 - i have not identified the tree yet
pic 2 - oleander
pic 3 - prunus pissardi (the closest to a red maple hehe)

i forgot, obviously i am now a bit scared because when i will be repotting these trees i don't know what i will be doing with the large roots. As you can see specially the first 3 have large roots and i need to cut them to make them sit in a bonsai pot so what is you ideas?


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bougy, benjamina i told you about earlier and privet


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Congratulations Gozzy on the first year!
Learning what kills trees is a giant step forward.
When you and I first chatted I suggested join a local club and work with what is native in your area, I am glad to see that you did somewhat listen :rolleyes:...
The fukien is another story all together, and some can grow them and some can not, and at times it seems that there is no apparent reason why a tree dies...
Working on the roots is best done for early spring when you repot and it is a reduction over time and not done all at once...(This is for general, there are some that I can whack the hell out of and they do not slow down)..Your club members can best help you on the soil and the repot times for your area.
(Leaving plenty unsaid for others to chime in :D)
i be honest all the members repot in december and in january as in the begining of february we already have growth, we still have growth. Jeremy at bt used to tell me that we have 9 months of growth rather then his 6 months of growth. This week it is raining here but it still hot and there will still be sun i mean in november i will still go out with t-shirt and shorts so i believe so. I have got large tanks now to hold rain water because i have been watering daily or almost (when the trees need it) but with rain water trees are like given ectacy they bloom after some rain tree and the growth in them is immense. Its pure god rain anyway. :)
Goz, keep that head up. Learn from those mistakes. I too am finishing up my first summer, and looking forward to the next one. I have a feeling my climate is a little less cruel, but I killed a few as well. Impatience may have been the cause, but I refer to it as a controlled expirement.


Finishing up my first summer too. Sure learned alot so far. Looking forward to my first autumn, winter and spring. Your trees look great.
Well, Goztek, welcome to the hobby! We've all killed more trees than we'd like to admit, and many just died for no apparent reason. It happens. On the other hand, Irene's advice is very sound.

You are already learning a lot, and I'm impressed that you describe having fun despite all the lost trees. You'll do well! :) Keep us posted with your collection as things go forward.
anyone experienced with large trunks? i want to know if they seal them with something before repotting. Also i wanted to know when i can start chopping up trees as in when can i cut of the unwanted leafs and branches?
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Pruning wounds don't need to be sealed--unless they do :D I usually don't seal large wounds--over an inch or more. Sealant can not only seal out bacteria, it can also seal it in. Additionally, pruning, done correctly with sharp tools, doesn't pose any problems. Trees have been healing themselves for quite some time without our assistance.

However, in some instances, sealants, or at least covering wounds, can speed healing by preventing moisture loss. I have an oak with a huge pruning wound--6 inches across--at the bottom of its trunk. I kept soil over the bottom half of it for years and it healed quickly, once the callus tissue got above soil level, however, healing slowed noticeably.

You should find a better soil to work with. The soil in the pots of the last few trees looks extremely bad. If you're using that in all your bonsai, it might be a primary reason for their deaths. Soil is the foundation of bonsai. Without adequate soil, nothing else is possible.
the first 3 trees where how i got them, i didn't repot them i will do it this season. for the other 3, that is almost 100% artificial (grit, sand, clay, and lava) The problem is the lava, barks, clay i get are big in size not good as soil. So next i will be doing a mixture of sand, grit, and some organic. I might also get akadama but i don't know if it is possible.
If I were you, I would grow Pomegranates and Olives, nothing else. Working with these two species would give you lots of satisfaction and opportunity to learn, and would spare you from all the heartache and disappointment. You would also have the chance to acquire some very old specimens, since your country is home to both species, and I am sure that you can get some old stumps from an abandoned backyard. It is very rewarding to work on an old pomegranate, and safe, even for a beginner. It is virtually indistructible in a Mediterranean climate.

It is very surprising that you have none of the two at this point, since they are the most obvious and smart choices for you. And they are far better suited for bonsai in your area than anything you have.

Once you can call yourself and experienced bonsaist, then it would be worthwhile to expand the list.
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i didn't say i don't have, i have 1 pomme and have several olives :) But i believe you had to have a conifer as bonsai so i have and aiming for more casuarina and cypresses
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