My wife bought me a small tree two years ago from a Garden Show. I am unsure of the variety, sorry!

It had a great summer on our decking, and was thriving. It wintered well, and came back glorious .... however, when we went on holiday, the neighbour watering plants for us, forgot about it. We returned to brown dead leaves. They all fell off, and we were left with three sticks ... I was gutted. Instead of throwing it away, my wife left it in a corner of the garden, and amazingly, this year some leaves have appeared on one of them ... Was hoping for advice on what to do to help it recover? Are the others really dead? Do we need to separate and re pot the surviving tree? enter image description here

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    I'm seeing swollen buds...could you please do a close up of those branches? Also a picture of the live foliage. One thing I am also seeing is a miniature form of 'death by wet trunks'....That moss should be pulled off the bark and away from the base. Don't do anymore fertilizer! Keep the soil moist, these things are the only plant I know that has to be watered daily. Little soil, lots of roots. I'd go find a bonzai master to show you how to root prune as that plant should stay in that pot. Clean those trunks off for sure. Pictures please, major bummer for sure!!
    – stormy
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 19:53

2 Answers 2


You don't need to do anything besides your regular regimen for now. Just make sure it's well watered and fertilized. Either the other trees will come back or they won't. If they haven't show growth by the end of the summer, I'd either scrap the bark and see if there is any green or gently bend different parts of the tree and see if the flex or snap. If they snap, then they're dead and dry. Even a healthy branch will break under too much force, though. Just gently flex and test for rigidity. Use a good branch to get the feel for what it should be like.

Even if these trees survive, not all the branches it had before will, this will throw off the balance of the tree. You'll have to see what grows and what doesn't. Then you'll have to start working with it to bring it back into a bonsai shape.

I don't know how your trees are in the pot either. It could be a raft or individual small trees. If it's a raft, you may get growth back on the other trees. If not, and if they don't show any signs of being alive, I'd repot the living tree into a different container.

Remember to use a chopstick or skewer to tell when your tree needs water. It'll change throughout the season as it gets hotter, colder, or more or less humid. Also, fertilize often and with low strength. Maybe 1/4 strength what the fertilizer box says to use. Good luck.

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    Snapping branches isn't definitive of death - some species wood is inherently brittle, especially after a winter. The reason for low level fertilization is that high nitrogen --> long internodes, however, good nitrogen nutrition is essential for budding; so feed heavily late in the season and cut off the long internodes right after leaf drop.
    – user13580
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 16:52

larch bonzai forest

You should see some similar bonzai here where the moss is removed and cleared from the base of the trunks...yours doesn't look like larch from this picture it looks more like Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides.Dawn Redwood Bonzai By the way these are both DECIDUOUS CONIFERS. So loss of leaves are normal. If a plant gets overly stressed they will drop leaves to stop the need to take care of the top growth as a survival mechanism. I am being optimistic here...please closeups of those buds and clean the trunks off like the first link is showing.

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