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Thread: Fukien tea crisis !

  1. #1
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    Fukien tea crisis !

    I have had a nice Fukien tea for the past 8 years. I wanted to put it in a new pot and it has been 2 years since I removed it from the old pot, I took a putty knife and worked around the edges of the old pot and lifted it out. This tree has never had anything you could call nebari, it always had fine roots, many of them hair-like in appearance while a few were a bit thicker and I could see fine roots on the soil surface. It came out with most the soil around it and I took a plastic pick up stick , the childs toy, and started to lightly pierce the soil to seperate the soil and the whole clump fell off revealing one small root almost 2 inches long and a little clump of hair-like roots half that size all on the same side of the tree. There was not even enough roots to safely hold itself up, so I wired around the trunk base and attached it to a piece of wire i had holding the screens in the two holes and either side and then wired it over the pot from front to back to stabilize the tree in a cross pattern with the wire and filled it with soil .

    I do not undertsand what happened to the roots? The soil in the old pot drained well, the tree has always looked vigorous and has thickened up at the trunk nicely since I got it. The leaves are all green and last summer I removed about half of them and they grew new ones. It is not showing any signs of stress, at least right now. I was thinking of maybe either trying some of that Superthrive stuff, or maybe trying to induce some roots above the wire by treating it like an air layer but I think it may just kill the tree. I am worried about setting it out in the Florida sun too as I am now down here for the winter, and I doubt it would help to leave it inside or in the shade either. Has anyone ever experienced this? I sifted through the soil that fell off and there was no sign of of either rotted roots or any type of bug that could have eaten them, its like they disappeared.

    I would like to keep this tree alive and would appreciate any ideas as it has always been a worry free little plant and is pretty nice looking. I am at a loss at how to proceed with it at this time.

    ed
    Practising Bonsai allows me to design nature in a small yet pleasing way.

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    Hey Ed,
    I wish I could help you, but I've never heard of this happening. You say there were no roots at all when you sifted the soil? That would mean that it wasn't growing roots in the soil it's been in. What kind of soil was it in? What I would say is that if it's been surviving on the small amounts of roots that it has, is it'll probably still continue to live. But of course you should figure out why it's not healthier, and fix the issue. I would treat it like any other plant that's been repotted, and work it back into the sun slowly. I use a fert called quick start when I repot something with few roots, don't know that superthrive does anything...but I don't use it, so I have no actual experience with it. good luck.

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    Ed, had you seen roots before?
    This kind of sounds like a soil that held a bit too much water so the roots didn't really need to search for it , so stayed fat and happy in one place. What can you tell us about the roots prior to this?
    If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it
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    Some rooting hormone or the superthrive may help. I don't have any experience with fukien tea but I think shade would be better than full sun while it recovers for now. Wish I could help more.

    Best of luck!

    Dan

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    This tree has never had thick roots in the 8 years I have had it. The soil seems to drain well, I water it and a few minutes later it drains out the bottom. It used to have plenty of fine roots, most about the thickness of the lead in a pencil and many more no thicker than an average human hair which I thought was normal as thats the way it has always been, this is the first time the roots have disappeared though. It has one small root and maybe 10 hair size roots growing in a little clump on the backside of the plant that are still there. I guess the roots could have rotted and just absorbed into the soil like a compost, we did have a very wet summer this year in Ohio, way above normal rainfall amounts. Now that I am in Florida for the winter I am worried with that few roots if the sun would just dry it out, also if shade would lead to its demise as it would not get any energy.

    I repotted it on Dec 12, its late evening dec 14 now and the leaves still seem healthy. I have never used Superthrive either, I hesitate to use it as it seems like the old snake oil remedy, it says its good for everything and does not list any ingredients and also adds to use it along with your regular fertilizer, plus its $10.00 for a small bottle! I would feel like a real sucker to pay for this stuff and still have the plant die. I am not very familiar with the Fukien Tea either, especially dealing with problems, this tree has been trouble free until now.

    ed
    Last edited by edprocoat; December 14th, 2011 at 10:20 PM.
    Practising Bonsai allows me to design nature in a small yet pleasing way.

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    I wouldn't bother with Superthrive (and I do use it myself) ... the likely hood that it will help in this case is probably really low.... best bet... keep the tree in the most stress free environment that you can.... and hope for the best... if you repotted into a free draining soil and the tree survives.... then hopefully you will have better root growth in the coming years...

    I don't know Fukien tea either ... so I'm just making educated guesses (and trying to make you feel better )

  7. The following user says thank you to Ang3lfir3 for this post:

    edprocoat (December 15th, 2011)

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    You never know Ed, it may pull through. I have a fukien that I have never liked (old s curve that I chopped) and it won't die for me. I neglect it and don't give it enough light... the only thing it hates is insecticidal soap. But when it had scale I defoliated so I could spray it and get rid of the scale, and it came back really healthy. Maybe you could try a partial defoliation, so the roots would have less to feed right now. Just a thought, if it continues to look ok, maybe do nothing.

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    From all you've said, I think a coarser soil mix may help the tree remedy the problem. I'm not talking about drainage as such, so much as pore size. Larger average pore size would let more air back into the soil, and quicker. At least, I would try that myself.

    And second the motion on babying it and keeping it as stress-free as possible for the next several months. I'd give it morning sun only; remember that it's an understory shrub in its native range.
    Treebeard55
    a.k.a. Steve Moore
    http://hoosierbonsai.blogspot.com

    Remember: "show us your trees" really means "show us your credentials."

  10. The following user says thank you to treebeard55 for this post:

    edprocoat (December 18th, 2011)

  11. #9
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    I am still amazed at the people living in Northern latitudes that keep tropicals.

    I wouldn't even keep a tea here in California...they never thrive.
    A Government big enough to give you what you want is a Government big enough to take all you have....


    http://bonsaial.wordpress.com/

  12. #10
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    Treebeard, what do you mean by an " understory shrub " ? Does that mean it grows under under trees, or under something that shades it, the reason I ask is they are hard to find much more info on other than they are tropical, which causes me to think they need warm climate and sun.

    Smoke, I am only ever in the warm weather, I summer in Ohio and move to Florida for the winter months, when I am late in Ohio they go into a box with a light to keep them comfy.

    ed
    Practising Bonsai allows me to design nature in a small yet pleasing way.

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