Ficus Retusa - Surgery + Aftercare Guidance

Brad in GR

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After 2 years of learning (only 40+ to go!), I wanted to go back to my first tree and begin some legitimate shaping.

Ficus Retusa, given to me by my parents 5 years ago (before I truly dove in). Costco purchased - and typical 'nursery stock' problems. As I said, I wasn't yet truly interested in bonsai - and didn't realize the damage that would come. The ficus was in a reasonable sized pot, but with NO drainage and poor soil. I couldn't understand why it was struggling... pretty basic fix in the end. But by the time this was realized, the back root had suffered significant rot (see pictures). Repotted 2 years ago and has been growing well indoors other than summer, when I place it outside. Experimented with some wiring (they dug in the first time, good learnings) and pruning, and got a few cuttings to take as well for fun.

With all of this said, as you can see, the significant trunk chop prior to purchase produced two primary sides of shoots to work with. I also had it potted straight upwards in essentially the most unappealing view.

This week I re-potted (up-potted really, no root-work, plenty of fine roots/healthy/good to see) and performed a chop as well as some carving to attempt to shape the trunk. I think there is some potential long term now!

Looking for feedback on view and styling, but most of all: aftercare! I haven't worked with ficus much and am curious about something as simple as whether to apply cut paste / how they heal over long term with that large wound. Some of that bark is still partially dead but I did my best to dig down to live material with the tools I have.

Thanks for any guidance!
 

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sixemkay

Yamadori
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I like the view of the trunk and foliage in the first picture, but my eye does go to the scar on the roots pretty quickly. How fresh is that?

How does it look if you turn the trunk enough to push the scar out of view?
 

Brad in GR

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I like the view of the trunk and foliage in the first picture, but my eye does go to the scar on the roots pretty quickly. How fresh is that?

How does it look if you turn the trunk enough to push the scar out of view?
The repot has the front looking okay, despite it being phallic looking (haha). The scar has been worked on with some concave cutters, planning to work it over the next year or two again. It is not ideal, but again - my first tree and am hoping to make something of it despite not loving the generic looks.
 

GGB

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I got my first ficus this summer. It’s also retusa. I can’t believe how fast it drops down aerial roots. I tied some sphagnum moss to the trunk to further speed it along. The best part about the jungle banyan look (besides how awesome it looks) is that it quickly covers up the bulbous trunk and makes it look ancient. So glad I pulled the trigger on it
 

Brad in GR

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I got my first ficus this summer. It’s also retusa. I can’t believe how fast it drops down aerial roots. I tied some sphagnum moss to the trunk to further speed it along. The best part about the jungle banyan look (besides how awesome it looks) is that it quickly covers up the bulbous trunk and makes it look ancient. So glad I pulled the trigger on it
Very cool. What zone are you? Just lots of water? What is your indoor setup for winter?
 

GGB

Omono
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I'm 6b so we're zone neighbors. I'm just fooling around with this species for the first time so don't take my word for anything.

It's kind of freeing, I bought the tree for $13 because it checked all the boxes for bonsai and I figured if I could get aerial roots it might be an okay tree. I didn't take the tree seriously so it's low stakes but the response has gotten me excited. I kept a drip tray under it on my bench that wound up being full of water probably 70% of the time and I think induced some of the sky roots. Like a mellow version of submerging a BC. Funny you ask about my winter plan, just started cooking it up today. I'll be using a 10 gallon aquarium (to keep humidity high) with aluminum foil across the bottom (to reflect light back up) and a cheap little dome light fixture with a "cool white" CFL 4" above the tree. Time will if it keeps my ficus happy, but research says this'll do. I'm sure there are way more helpful threads and posts around this site if you need actual help with an over wintering set up
 

Brad in GR

Shohin
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I'm 6b so we're zone neighbors. I'm just fooling around with this species for the first time so don't take my word for anything.

It's kind of freeing, I bought the tree for $13 because it checked all the boxes for bonsai and I figured if I could get aerial roots it might be an okay tree. I didn't take the tree seriously so it's low stakes but the response has gotten me excited. I kept a drip tray under it on my bench that wound up being full of water probably 70% of the time and I think induced some of the sky roots. Like a mellow version of submerging a BC. Funny you ask about my winter plan, just started cooking it up today. I'll be using a 10 gallon aquarium (to keep humidity high) with aluminum foil across the bottom (to reflect light back up) and a cheap little dome light fixture with a "cool white" CFL 4" above the tree. Time will if it keeps my ficus happy, but research says this'll do. I'm sure there are way more helpful threads and posts around this site if you need actual help with an over wintering set up
Good stuff. Mine does fine in a southern facing window, though winter low humidity won’t produce aerial roots. Summer for that growth. I’ll look at your approach as well... always learning.
 
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GGB

Omono
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@B-rad in GR I'm only bothering with all of that because I get bored in the winter. It'll give me something to mess with, tweak, and observe when all my other house plants sit stagnant. A south facing window would actually probably be my first choice.
 

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