I'm a beginner "gardener", you could say, and I've been having a few difficulties with my very first bonsai. I would really appreciate any help you could give!
First of all, I've been trying to find out my bonsai's species for a few weeks now and nobody seems to have arrived at a conclusion yet. Here's the Plant ID thread I created 10 days ago (it has a lot more images of my plant, if you want to look at them): http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1283740/
Secondly, I think that my plant has pests. I've noticed some fine webbing between branches (not under the leaves, like I've read spider mites make), and some leaves have brown "injuries," so to speak, and cuts. The third picture shows some damaged leaves I removed from the tree. I've also found two little white/translucent bugs crawling on the bark. I've read a bit about pests, and I think the bugs might have been aphids but I don't really know. I'm scared that maybe now is a bad time to spray it with pesticides or soapy water, what with it being really close to winter. The plant looks healthy in all other respects: the leaves are nice and green, the tissue under the bark is light green, and there are even new leaves sprouting... so I'm not sure if it would really be worth it to douse it in chemicals just because of a few small nuisances. What should I do?
Thirdly, I am guilty of overwatering. From what I can tell, my bonsai has been potted in some pretty bad soil; it retains water and takes just about forever to dry (strangely though, this wasn't the case the first few days after I bought it; this problem started after I applied fertilizer and consequently overwatered on purpose because I feared I hadn't diluted the feed enough). The weather might play a part as well, since it's incredibly rainy all the time... So anyways, I have read countless times that I should wait for the top centimeter of soil to dry out completely so the thinnest roots don't drown. Nevertheless, after a few days of feeling the soil still moist, I get anxious and water until I see it flow from the holes at the bottom of the pot. The leaves haven't yellowed or anything, and one salesperson at a gardening store told me to always keep the soil moist, so I'm almost sure I'm not killing it. I have read that death by overwatering can be really subtle and lengthy though... basically, I would like to know if it's ok for me to not water the plant for upwards of a week, if the soil is still moist after all that time? This is a silly question, I'm sorry, but I have to hear someone else say it before I can trust myself on this...
That was a lot of text, I'm sorry! But still, thanks for reading!
If the soil's still moist you shouldn't water. Different plants have different moisture tolerance so figuring out what your plant is will help you determine proper watering frequency, but the only plants that like to have their feet wet all the time are bog/water plants and yours definitely isn't one of those. So I'd let it dry out a bit more in between waterings if I were you (or if you feel the need to water constantly, put it in potting mix that drains really well, then you won't have to worry as much)
Do a search & see if you think it's Malpighia punicifolia. If it's not, I'll get all embarrassed & prolly go into hiding & you might never see me again. If it is, I'll be back to visit with you - late to work right now. ;-)
tapla: From what I can see, Malpighia punicifolia leaves look more elliptical in shape than the ones on my tree. It's interesting that you bring this up, though, because Malpighia fruit are commonly made into juice where I'm from and my grandma has a bunch of them in her yard. I think I'll send her some pictures of the bonsai to see if she recognizes it!
Do you mind if I post your suggestion over at my ID thread?