Also known as: The Care and Keeping of Bonsai Trees
(While true, mostly I just forgot what I was going to write about for today’s post, so you get some soliloquising on my plants instead. Such is life these days.)
When I moved from my last place of residence, I learned that moving companies will not transport life plants. This is to protect the new environment from potential pests or invasive species that might hitch a ride. While perfectly understandable, all my houseplants were ones that could be found in any hardware store across the country, and were treated for pests, so I wasn’t particularly worried. I would simply take them in the trailer that we would be towing behind the car. Only…
There wasn’t space.
Okay, technically there was space, but not for fragile plants that would likely die because there was no way to bolt them down amidst the other items that had to be taken in the trailer: pet supplies, suitcases for before the belongings and furniture arrived, finishes and such for woodworking, non-perishable foodstuffs, etc. I had a teensy bit of space behind the front passenger seat of the car, and that was it.
Out of about seven houseplants, I could bring two. I chose my orchid, and my succulents (which are surprisingly massive for having started out tiny).
I decided I would have to acquire new plants upon my arrival in the new locale. So, with a gift certificate for a local garden centre and absolutely no idea what sort of plants would work in the new house, as the lighting was new to me, I went out an purchased some plants.
One of these was an 8 year old Chinese Elm bonsai tree.
I’ve never had a bonsai before, but I am cognisant enough of my plantling abilities to be able to take care of one, especially a relatively calm tree like the Chinese Elm. So I brought it home, set it in a place I thought got loads of light (but not direct sunlight, which was a mistake), and set about other activities and work.
Then the tree began dropping leaves.
Okay, research time! I discovered that the tree was doing one of two things. It was being overwatered and had developed root rot, or it was not getting enough light. To remedy this, I changed out the pot, trimmed away some of the roots, put the tree into bonsai-specific soil, and put it in a different spot in the house where it might get more light. (Closer to a large window, but still not actually in the sun.)
It seemed to be okay, not really getting worse, with a couple of new growths at the end. The repotting had been successful. Then it started losing leaves again.
At this point, I’m a little distraught. My plant–my brand new green creature who depends on me for water and food–was dying. I had barely had it for a month! My plant skills were either so much more terrible than I had anticipated, or there was something seriously wrong with my tree.
My solution was, of course, to do more research.
I had done everything that I could, followed all the instructions on the various bonsai-specific plant forums, so it was time to look at the species of tree specifically. And I learned one fact that made all the difference: Chinese Elms prefer to be outside.
With that in mind, I moved the tree outside. It now gets several hours of full sun every day, deals with the heat and humidity like a champion, and has sprouted all sorts of lovely new leaves. It is moments like these when my gardening prowess advances, and I feel like a super powerful Plant Witch.
Except, unfortunately, when I try to grow basil. I have tried. And tried. And researched. And tried some more. But basil, supposedly an easy plant, evades me.
Anyways, I had meant to write something book related for this week’s blog post, but still can’t remember what it was I had planned. I hope you enjoyed my foray into plant stories. I am not quite back to the number of plants I previously had, but I am acquiring more plantlings as I can. Do you garden? Are you a black thumb? (I used to be quite the black thumb, to the point of absurdity. Things have changed!)