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TOPIC: So I Fell in Love with a Mallsai...

So I Fell in Love with a Mallsai... 6 months 1 week ago #46978

Five weeks ago I met a little mallsai while I was out grocery shopping and fell in love. It seems to be mostly healthy Carmona, but it did arrive with a mild case of fungus gnats and what i suspect is a touch of fungus on its leaves. I'm a total newb at keeping plants so I've been trying to read as much as I can here before I open my mouth, but I think i'm finally ready to ask a few questions:

1.) What's your favorite way to get rid of gnats? Has anyone tried "beneficial nematodes"? The weird glass soil covering? I've seen some people suggest using neem oil in the soil -- if that's your jam, how do you apply it? The idea of just pouring straight oil into the soil seems odd to me, and i'm guessing there is more to it.

2.) What's your favorite fungicide? There seem to be many different kinds (copper, zinc/manganese, neem oil etc.) on the market - but I don't know that they'd all be suitable for bonsai?

3.) unrelated to pests -- I think I need to re-pot my little friend. The pot she came in has no drainage holes in the bottom and I don't want her to get root rot. I've read that the best time to re-pot is in spring.. but that seems like a pretty broad definition. Are we talking, spring, like when the sap starts to flow and we tap maples to make syrup -- or spring like leaf buds are appearing on trees outside -- or spring like the snow is finally gone and the grass is starting to turn green? Does it even matter since I live in Minnesota and my tree friend will most likely never be outdoors?

4.) I know this is unorthodox but.. .. has anyone experimented with grow lights? If yes - what has your experience been like? I know that my plant is *supposed* to be outdoors and getting lots of light - but that's just not going to happen because of the climate that I live in - and I'd like to do my best to keep my new friend happy- and possibly have her grow up to be a real bonsai some day.

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  • syllah
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So I Fell in Love with a Mallsai... 6 months 1 week ago #46979

Neem oil tends to come in a spray bottle, or you mix it into one. I just spray the soil surface and all surfaces of the plant.

I lack experience to answer the rest of your questions.
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So I Fell in Love with a Mallsai... 6 months 1 week ago #46980

syllah wrote: 1.) What's your favorite way to get rid of gnats?


Proper watering.

2.) What's your favorite fungicide?


Proper watering.

3.) unrelated to pests -- I think I need to re-pot my little friend.


www.bonsaiempire.com/tree-species/carmona

Also a good time to get rid of the rubbish that's now on top of the soil.

4.) I know this is unorthodox but.. .. has anyone experimented with grow lights?


No. I don't do indoor plants.
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So I Fell in Love with a Mallsai... 6 months 1 week ago #46985

syllah wrote: Five weeks ago I met a little mallsai while I was out grocery shopping and fell in love.

Congrats, it looks healthy.

syllah wrote: 1.) What's your favorite way to get rid of gnats?

Well, they like very wet soils. With those fake moss and pebbles on yours, it's really difficult to check soil humidity. I got rid of mine with a mix of drier bonsai soil, yellow stick pads and Neem oil (directly on the soil).

syllah wrote: 2.) What's your favorite fungicide?

There is no favorite, it depends on the fungus. I use daconil (is it forbidden in Europe? I really don't know), Neem oil and peroxide 3%.

syllah wrote: 3.) I've read that the best time to re-pot is in spring...

Yeah, when buds start to go crazy, and after the last frost. Broad, no? But that's the joy of bonsai, losing some, winning a few...

Welcome! :-)
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So I Fell in Love with a Mallsai... 6 months 1 week ago #46986

Auk:

I'm familiar with www.bonsaiempire.com/tree-species/carmona -- in fact that page is what led me to join the forums here. It was a heckuvalot more informative than the greenhouse that grew this plant and just labeled it as a "bonsai".

As to proper watering, the carmona article you quoted at me says, "As soon as the soil surface gets dry the tree needs to be watered generously but it must not be left standing in excess water". This makes me paranoid about over watering (especially since the pot doesn't have drainage) but also afraid i'm going to kill the little thing if i let it get too dry. I've been waiting until the top inch or so of soil dries out before I water. Usually once a week - and then I've been giving the plant about 4 ounces. The plant is about 12" tall and its in a circular pot with a diameter of 8" and a depth of 4". It seems like since I took it home from the store and started letting it dry out a bit the gnat levels have been steadily decreasing - but i didn't know if they were just between breeding cycles or what.

Also, bonsaiempire.com/tree-species/carmona says "In most cases the winter in our heated flats is a problem [because] of dry air" and "for long-term success also light and humidity must be improved". But I've also read here that an overly humid enironment promotes fungus growth. This seems like an oxymoron to me. If I don't humidify the tree suffers, but If I let it have fungus the tree suffers. Thus - i was asking about fungicide.
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So I Fell in Love with a Mallsai... 6 months 1 week ago #46989

syllah wrote: But I've also read here that an overly humid environment promotes fungus growth. This seems like an oxymoron to me. If I don't humidify the tree suffers, but If I let it have fungus the tree suffers. Thus - i was asking about fungicide.

I am not Auk, but I can answer that one. Humidity and wetness of the soil are different things. If you spray water too often in your bonsai leaves in the winter and they get wet all night, it could be an open door for fungus; if you leave the tree in a very humid shaded place in your garden, the same; if you overwater the soil, gnats will lay their eggs and in one to two weeks the larvae will be eating the roots of your plant.
It's a balance, and not so easy to master. I use Peroxide in the soil twice over winter, and give the bonsai a good spray of very diluted Lime sulfur to avoid fungus and infections in the spring.
I am sure others here, Auk included, must have different techniques to share.
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So I Fell in Love with a Mallsai... 6 months 1 week ago #46993

I live in the Northern most part of the United States (almost to Canada) and we have an outdoor environment full of extremes. In the summer temperatures range anywhere from 7 to 37C with very high humidity and in the winter -6 to -34C with extremely low humidity. So, my thoughts are that this will pretty much always be an indoor plant, which in my climate controlled office means around 21 and low humidity. I’ve been thinking of buying a hygrometer and a humidifier to keep the air more moist (for my benefit too!) but in the meantime misting the plant with a very fine spray of water as i think of it throughout the day. I will say the leaves always seem to be dry again within about 10 minutes.

Any insights on what a good ambient humidity might be for a tropical species like this?
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So I Fell in Love with a Mallsai... 6 months 1 week ago #46994

syllah wrote: Any insights on what a good ambient humidity might be for a tropical species like this?


Not only an insight; I happen to live in Brazil, and tropicals, including your mallsai, thrive in anything between 60% and 80% humidity. When it gets below 20%, they get very sad indeed.
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So I Fell in Love with a Mallsai... 6 months 1 week ago #46995

syllah wrote: Auk:

I'm familiar with www.bonsaiempire.com/tree-species/carmona


Good. The information on when to repot is there.

As to proper watering


Well.. the question was what my favorite method was, not what you should do. I have never seen fungus gnats and I don't have problems with fungi.

An office with airco is not a good environment for a plant.
You're watering issues probably have to do with the fact that the pot has no drainage hole, stuff on top like pebbles and dead moss on top of the soil, maybe bad soil and a wrong environment.
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So I Fell in Love with a Mallsai... 6 months 1 week ago #46997

Auk wrote: An office with airco is not a good environment for a plant.
You're watering issues probably have to do with the fact that the pot has no drainage hole, stuff on top like pebbles and dead moss on top of the soil, maybe bad soil and a wrong environment.


I completely agree.
The first and foremost problem you have is a pot with no holes in it.
The second is air conditioning; the consequence is dry environment overall.
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