bonsai – Bonsai Questions and Answers

Hello. I have for years a bonsai ginseng all’sudden began to lose its leaves and the trunk at the bottom has become full of a white mucosa that I have to do to save it?

Ficus bonsai

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Olive Bonsai in a low bowl

Price: on offer on Amazon a: 23€

Response : bonsai

Dear Sara,

Unfortunately, the loss of the foliage, accompanied by the presence of spongy material at the base of the trunk, clearly indicates the presence of a fungus; typically, in the case of bonsai, these are radical rottenness, caused mainly by a fungus called armillarie mellea; yes, because rottenness and fungal diseases of plants are caused by real fungi, and often if they attack trees, these rottenness become real fungi, like those we are used to buying from the greengrocer and to cooking.

The first thing to do is to protect the still healthy tissues of the plant, providing it with a systemic fungicide, which will circulate in the foliage and in the trunk; seen that the fungi are stimulated by great quantities of water, avoid to supply a fungicide which must be dissolved in the water of the watering, and prefer a systemic foliar fungicide, which is to be sprayed on the foliage and on the branches of the bonsai.

Besides this, it is good to avoid that the fungus can develop again; consider that the fungi love to grow in conditions of high humidity, poor luminosity and poor ventilation. Then, repot the bonsai, utilizing an excellent mould, formed by two parts of akadama, and a part of crushed peat; if it seems too compact, add a handful of sand, in order to improve its drainage.

When repotting, it tries to remove also the “body” of the fungus, which should break easily with the fingers, but avoids to break too much the roots.

Once repotted the ginseng, it tries to move it in an area not hit by the sun rays, but rather luminous, and with a good exchange of air; in the months to come, it avoids to leave the earth, it seems soaked of water, heavy and soaked; it is true that the ficus ginseng love a good humidity, but very few plants survive if they are kept in a soaked, heavy and asphyxial, wet soil, because the roots are not able to have gaseous exchanges with the outside, and the great humidity favours the development of the fungi.

So water your ginseng very often, especially ine state, but first of all if you can put it outdoors, until October or November (depending on where you live), so that it has good ventilation, and when watering always check that the soil is not yet wet from the previous watering, if you see the soil still dark and very moist, postpone one day.

In the winter months, when the plant is at home, it waters only sporadically, and rather vaporizes the foliage, in order to increase the ambient humidity, seen that, in the house, the air is much dried up by the heating.

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