Unless you have already had experience dealing with a sick bonsai, it's not always easy to tell when yours needs attention. It doesn't matter if you are a novice or a veteran grower, if you don't know the signs of a sick tree, it is unlikely you will identify the problem in time to save the tree, before it's too late. Below are seven signs that your bonsai tree is dying.
- Fungus - One of the reasons it's so important to brush your bonsai is so that you can find any fungus that may be present. This wooly-looking fuzz typically is found on the trunk of the tree and sometimes it will be present on the leaves as well. Don't panic! This can usually be remedied with a little rubbing alcohol.
- Yellow Leaves - Even if you are a new to bonsai growing, it's easy to tell your tree is sick when you see the leaves turning an undesirable shade of yellow. There are many reasons this happens. Lack of light, over or under-watering and root rot are all common causes. Alternatively, location in your home like being too close to the heat vent or air-conditioning can be to blame as well.
- Dry Leaves - This is usually the result of under-watering, lack of humidity or a little of both. If you are not sure how to tell your bonsai needs watering or not, stick a toothpick in it. If soil sticks to the toothpick, there is still moisture in it. Many people mist their bonsai daily but this can result in salt buildup. It's recommended to fill a tray with water and stones and then place the bonsai's pot on top of the stones.
- Red Spots - These little red spots on your bonsai tree are not decoration. If you look a little closer, you will likely find that they are moving. These are actually spider mites and they are killing your tree. Insecticides rarely work on these pests but the hose typically will. Make sure that you get them all off or you will be facing the same problem again in a few days.
- Aphids - Also known as blackfly, this problem can be addressed easily with an insecticide. If you are performing your daily bonsai care routine, you should be able to catch them before they do much damage. Aphids are generally found on new shoots because soil that is used is typically organic. Therefore, you really need to inspect new growth that is close to the soil.
- Vine Weevils - If you see vine weevils on your bonsai tree you need to act fast because they lay eggs and multiply quickly. Vine weevils are black and look like they have an antennae.
- Long-horned Beetles - It is easy to tell the difference between these and weevils but not always as easy to spot them. They burrow in the wood and lay eggs in deciduous species. Yellow leaves can also be a symptom that your bonsai tree is infested.
No one likes to see their bonsai tree die, especially one that a lot of time has been invested in. With proper bonsai care, daily inspections and cleaning, you will identify concerns before they have the opportunity to become a big problem.