swatchpost

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Hello All—this is my first post here, although I've been a bonsai enthusiast for a while and once belonged to the Austin Bonsai Society.

I've got a great Jim Smith grown formal upright willow leaf ficus that was the first tree I ever bought in 2006. While Life took its share of beautiful seasons and broken branches, I've mostly concentrated on thickening the trunk of this beauty without doing a lot for the ramification of the tree. It's due for a major root prune and repot this summer.
My knee-jerk reaction is to do a major cut-back of the long internode branches at that time, but question whether I should wait till the next season after it's recovered and healthier. It had a pretty rough time of it in my garage during the insane sub-zero freeze we had down here in Austin in February and lost most of its leaves (you can see they're just now growing back in a full flush of growth and back budding!)

I also have general questions about how to style this tree. It doesn't seem like a tree that would have pads—just not really sure how to proceed—and any suggestions from you good folks have would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks so much for looking, and I'm very excited to join the community!

Best regards,
Yusef
 

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sorce

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That Black is from the freeze?

Welcome to Crazy!

Sorce
 

Forsoothe!

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I agree on no-pads. So that leaves a broom of sorts. The helmet.
 

swatchpost

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Thanks for your thoughts. Are you all for doing a big cut-back during repot, or waiting till next season after it recovers?
 

Cadillactaste

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I wouldn't overly do much to the tree until it recovers. My tigerbark had outgrown the grow cart and was growing up north under lights. From the cut back to two weeks later was ridiculous in growth. This tree doesn't look strong. (Mind you different cultivar.) It's pedigree is deserving of respect and patience. Wait for it to recover and be strong... only then maybe next year look to do any major work.
 

Hartinez

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Thanks for your thoughts. Are you all for doing a big cut-back during repot, or waiting till next season after it recovers?
It may be able to handle a big cut back being a ficus and all. But it sure looks stressed out. I’d potentially consider repotting gently to a larger container and letting it recover first. You may just get a plethora of buds to hard cut back to with increased vigor. wether you repot it or not though, GO EASY. it appears to need some recovery and it’d be a bummer to lose it.
 

swatchpost

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Wonderful advice, thanks so much. I completely agree; it's still in recovery mode even though there's new growth everywhere. I think I'll find a larger round pot (this one's diameter is 11") and do a gentle repot and wait till it's regained its strength to do any major work. Why rush!
I've been looking around for 13" or 14" mica pots of the same style but can't find anyone who carries them.
 

Forsoothe!

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I would do the canopy now and the roots in a month. Figs are a one-of-a-kind grower and as long as it spends summer in the sun and is watered every day it doesn't rain, it will grow. Not keeping up with trimming for tidy on any species always produces the same ol' leggy-with-one-leaf-at-the-tip kind of nothing growth. Change it now and be rewarded.
 

LanceMac10

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Have you re-potted at all since 2006?

If you can bring it outside, that's the time to work the roots, your canopy is an afterthought right now.
One of the signs a re-pot is in order is a distinctly visible lack of vigor.
 

swatchpost

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Have you re-potted at all since 2006?

If you can bring it outside, that's the time to work the roots, your canopy is an afterthought right now.
One of the signs a re-pot is in order is a distinctly visible lack of vigor.
Oh yes, last repot was four years ago. Cut about 1/4 root mass, so it wasn't a huge amount. It's definitely due for one though. As I said, it was stressed pretty heavily due to the week-long sub-zero freeze we had in February and it was in my garage (still had good light) but it dropped all but a few leaves so everything you see on the tree right now is new growth from this Spring.

It lives outside 100% of the time except when it gets below 50F at night. Then I'll bring it in overnight then put it back out once temps reach 50F during the day. I live in Austin, TX so there aren't too many days in the year when there are lots of consecutive days below 50F.

Thanks for your reply!
 

LanceMac10

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Here is a good thread from a great grower in @Mellow Mullet and you can see how aggressive he is with root-pruning. A little more "climate specific region" for you as compared to my way far north location!!

 

swatchpost

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Here is a good thread from a great grower in @Mellow Mullet and you can see how aggressive he is with root-pruning. A little more "climate specific region" for you as compared to my way far north location!!

Cool, thanks! This is awesome.
 

LanceMac10

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Cool, thanks! This is awesome.


You can click the name link and find threads he's started on his figs. He's got some great ones, is super helpful/positive and I think you'll find some good information he's shared.

Good luck with your fig!! I've had too many over the years. They start picking up steam late August, but then it's time to bring 'em in! I leave them out longer 'cuz they tend to be too much "houseplant" at that point.
 

swatchpost

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You can click the name link and find threads he's started on his figs. He's got some great ones, is super helpful/positive and I think you'll find some good information he's shared.

Good luck with your fig!! I've had too many over the years. They start picking up steam late August, but then it's time to bring 'em in! I leave them out longer 'cuz they tend to be too much "houseplant" at that point.
That was such a fantastic thread. Who else goes through three re-pots on the same tree on the same thread. It's so great to see that kind of continuity. Very inspiring!
 
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Hi there.

My parents are in Austin, but my dad refuses to become interested in bonsai. Oh, well...

You can get away with a lot more in your climate that I can, and I am not sure how these grow there. However, knowing how brutal your summers are, I think a repot now when the tree is still in a weakened state is asking for problems. Why not ramp up growth over the next few months, and then repot in the early fall when there is plenty of growing season left? A large mass of foliage tells the roots to hurry up and grow, so it seems like that is the time.

I just received a large willow leaf fig that is in similar condition to what yours is in right now. I know it will need to be potted up later this year, but for now I took a page from Michael Hagedorn's book, putting the root ball into an Anderson flat without touching it, and backfilling with pumice. It will be well watered for now, and assuming I have much more foliage by late summer it will go into a bonsai pot then. You may want to consider a similar treatment for yours!
 

swatchpost

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Hi there.

My parents are in Austin, but my dad refuses to become interested in bonsai. Oh, well...

You can get away with a lot more in your climate that I can, and I am not sure how these grow there. However, knowing how brutal your summers are, I think a repot now when the tree is still in a weakened state is asking for problems. Why not ramp up growth over the next few months, and then repot in the early fall when there is plenty of growing season left? A large mass of foliage tells the roots to hurry up and grow, so it seems like that is the time.

I just received a large willow leaf fig that is in similar condition to what yours is in right now. I know it will need to be potted up later this year, but for now I took a page from Michael Hagedorn's book, putting the root ball into an Anderson flat without touching it, and backfilling with pumice. It will be well watered for now, and assuming I have much more foliage by late summer it will go into a bonsai pot then. You may want to consider a similar treatment for yours!

Hi, thanks for your reply! That's also a really good idea. So many opinions with all valid points. Sometimes it's even harder to know what's the right thing to do! :)

Early fall in Austin sometimes translates to October. Usually, the height of heat and humidity here is in August/September. Maybe that would be the best time to do it. It would still have a good 2-3 months of growing season before temps begin to cool down, so that would give it three more months of solid unhindered growth this summer to regain its energy.

Thanks again for your thoughts!
 

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