Ficus question.

Leei515 Iowa

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This is my first post on this forum, and I'm pretty new to the bonsai game. I got a tree today that I could use some advice on. It's a ficus (not sure what one), with a lot of deadwood on it. From what I understand, the deadwood has been untreated for a couple years and it still pretty solid from what I can tell. I plan to clean it up and treat it with lime sulfur to try to preserve it the best that I can.
After the stress of being in a box for a few days, I need to repot it into a different container and get different soil (it appears to be regular potting soil).
My big question is on what you would do for styling. I get that it's "my tree", but am certainly open to some ideas. I'm not 100% on what I want the front to be either. IMG_1814.JPGIMG_1815.JPGIMG_1816.JPGIMG_1817.JPG
I'd love to hear some advice on what you'd do with the deadwood as well.

Thank you in advance!
 

sorce

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If you are actually from Iowa...

Congrats! You are number three! Maybe even four!
@fredtruck @amcoffeegirl ...you.

Welcome out of the Corn...
And into Crazy!

That is a nice trunk.

It doesn't need a repot cuz of the box...
It needs a repot to let that base swell out!

The DW won't last....
Best to try and cut it out and heal.

But that base and one new leader has wicked potential...

Let it get going there....

Repot later...

Outside?
(yes)

Winter?

Nice!

Sorce
 

Leei515 Iowa

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Yep, Iowa guy here (I guess I haven't found an escape route yet).
It's outside now, but will come inside for winter.
To "cut out" the deadwood, do I just use the brush on a Dremel tool on the soft stuff, or is it more involved than that?
I haven't poked around at it a lot, but it seems like the only part that's really soft is the very top of the tree.
I really need to change my mindset that the first thing that I need to do when I get a new tree is to start "changing it".
 

sorce

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really need to change my mindset that the first thing that I need to do when I get a new tree is to s
That could be absolutely wrong!

It's always best to ask...and go slow!

To "cut out" the deadwood,
Eventually(years)...I see you coming back to here.aviary-image-1498216987199.jpeg

Not too much brush work.
You'll probably hopefully get into some solid wood.

I found this blue useful.

More.

https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/purpose-of-the-past-post-giant-ficus.17047/

I wouldn't do anything yet.

If it bangs out...

Maybe an August waning moon repot.

Sorce
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Yep, Iowa guy here (I guess I haven't found an escape route yet).
It's I-35 South. Although I found my way over to I-65 South. Both work well.:D
By the 515, you may be close enough to hit the Iowa Bonsai Association meetings at the DSM Botanical Center. Some of the members there really have good trees. A small nursery, DaSu Studios is in Kelley, also worth checking out.
 

Lobaeux

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My brother-in-law lives in Des Moines, great city, very underrated.

I like he focus, these guys have way more experience than I do, but if it was my tree, I'd just let it grow and look at it. Just keep it alive and enjoy looking at it.
 

Leei515 Iowa

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Thank you much for your advice!

I'm going to let it grow out and see what she does, but might try to work on the deadwood a bit.
The only reason I think I need to repot it is that the pot that it's in is only about 1/2 full with regular soil.
 

amcoffeegirl

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If it's outside you can get away with regular soil for now. When you move it inside it will need the brightest light you can give it.
A full south window or some t5 hanging lights.
Just watch your watering carefully and watch it even closer when you move it inside.
It's easy to overwater these.
Next spring late April or may 1st go ahead and chop the dead wood and repot into bonsai soil.
At that time you can place it back outside. In bonsai soil you will need to water more often.
Daily and sometimes more is not uncommon in the summer heat. Good luck
 

butlern

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I would repot in the height of summer... when it's growing vigorously. Not during early spring before it has a chance to get firing on all cylinders. Ficus play by different rules. You can brutalize them in the middle of summer and they will bounce right back stronger than ever.

Your's is not growing vigorously, however... I second Anthony's suggestion. Let it be.

Water carefully (if in poorly draining dirt) and fertilize until it responds. It might take the rest of the summer. If it takes that long, don't repot this year. Wait until next June-July.

Keep us posted.

Met with Dave from Dasu Bonsai at a club picnic today. Very nice guy. I'm going to go out to his place in Kelly in a couple of weeks and pick through his inventory! Excited to do so.
 
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amcoffeegirl

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IMG_1277.JPG In my experience- mine start growing strongly in late April- early May. As soon as you see new growth in spring you are well on your way.
 

amcoffeegirl

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Thanks
Just to the right is a huge double wide south west facing window.
I get all afternoon sun on my shelving.
It's nearly perfect. If I ever move it's the first thing I have to check out- window placement.
Also this is an older photo. I will try to get a newer one tomorrow.
 

LanceMac10

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If you had some well draining soil on hand, why wouldn't you repot now? I think I might do a fig today, myself.;):D:D:D:D

This tree has been treated poorly, give it the proper conditions; good draining soil, full sun, fert.....don't baby the thing, It's a fig!!

Keeping it in a too deep pot with crappy soil will turn your winter into a scale/mite nightmare. In your climate, now is the time to work it.

Better to get the train rolling now, do you want to nurse suspect material thru winter, only to have it be just as week as it is now?

It wont get any more vigorous with how things are now.....at your stage in the game, bonsai to you should mean growing healthy material.....your years away from worrying about styling.


:)
 

amcoffeegirl

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@LanceMac10 you are correct

Yeah it could be done now.
Usually the first thing I do when I get a new ficus is unpot it and look at the roots.
I want to see what I'm working with.
If you choose to go this route you will have to water more often in the summer heat.
Use a good free draining soil mix.
I have the wigerts nursery ship me the mix they use. After you see what a good premix looks like you could mix your own batch.
If you get a chance contact Dasu bonsai and schedule a visit.
You can repot a ficus anytime of year as long as you are able to give it proper after care. I don't cut roots in winter anymore but I would still up pot if needed in winter.
 
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Leei515 Iowa

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Thanks
Just to the right is a huge double wide south west facing window.
I get all afternoon sun on my shelving.
It's nearly perfect. If I ever move it's the first thing I have to check out- window placement.
Also this is an older photo. I will try to get a newer one tomorrow.
 

Leei515 Iowa

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Thanks again for everyone's help!

I took another look at the pot that it was in. I now wish that I took some more pictures of it. I carefully used a stick to measure the depth of the soil. It had about 1" of regular soil. When watered, it still had almost no drainage. At this point I consaidered what @LanceMac10 said. I took it out of the existing pot to check it out further. The large roots was very brittle and seemed rotten. There was very small amount of fine feeder roots. Most of what was occupying the pot was actually the base of the trunk. I reported it in a pot that's around 7x5x2.5" with quality bonsai soil that drains well. I'm not going to do anything more until it fills out more and regains some health.
I was considering leaving it be, but after I looked into it more, I considered it a rescue mission.
 

Leei515 Iowa

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If you had some well draining soil on hand, why wouldn't you repot now? I think I might do a fig today, myself.;):D:D:D:D

This tree has been treated poorly, give it the proper conditions; good draining soil, full sun, fert.....don't baby the thing, It's a fig!!

Keeping it in a too deep pot with crappy soil will turn your winter into a scale/mite nightmare. In your climate, now is the time to work it.

Better to get the train rolling now, do you want to nurse suspect material thru winter, only to have it be just as week as it is now?

It wont get any more vigorous with how things are now.....at your stage in the game, bonsai to you should mean growing healthy material.....your years away from worrying about styling.


:)
I understand the importance of learning to grow healthy plants, which I am trying to do, but what do you recommend waiting for years to learn about styling? I think that styling is the reason that most is drawn to bonsai (but I may be wrong).
 
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