Pot bound ficus in need of TLC

LadyAstor

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I was recently given this lovely ficus by a friend. It’s completely outbound and in need of pruning. Ve never had a ficus before so I’m not sure where to start.

Here are my questions:
1) What should I do first? Repot or prune?
2) Can this be root pruned and put back in this same pot?
3) It’s late spring here—is it too late to prune this?
4) I feel as if this needs the canopy cut back about 50%. Can I fully defoliate it? Or should I do half the tree and wait until it recovers?
5) It could use some shaping and I will probably tilt it in this pot to take advantage of the interesting roots. When should I consider wiring it given what else needs to be done? I’m happy to wait. Bonsai are an exercise in patience. :)

Thanks in advance for the advice.
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Forsoothe!

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When the overnight temps are steady above 50°F/10°C put it outside in full sun and water every day it doesn't rain. When it gets hot outside in June saw off 60 to 75% of the root ball and rat the roots out enough to see and remove the heavy anchor roots, keeping as many hairy feeder roots as possible. Repot and cut the top back as much as this...
fig 051621.JPG
Feed every other week with any commercial liquid like Miracle Grow at label strength from April 1st to September 1st, when you put the tree in a shady spot for one month, then bring it into the house after spraying it for bugs with any horticultural oil at label strength. Keep it where it gets as much good light as possible, like in front of a window. Remove the leaves every spring when you put the tree outdoors. And that's all there is to it.
 

Forsoothe!

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Growing seasons around the world vary widely and it is difficult to get a perspective on what someone says when we don't know where in the world they are. If you go to the upper right hand corner and click on your Icon, you can add your location and people will be able to customize advice for you.




<<<<< It will show here.
 

LadyAstor

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When the overnight temps are steady above 50°F/10°C put it outside in full sun and water every day it doesn't rain. When it gets hot outside in June saw off 60 to 75% of the root ball and rat the roots out enough to see and remove the heavy anchor roots, keeping as many hairy feeder roots as possible. Repot and cut the top back as much as this...
View attachment 375024
Feed every other week with any commercial liquid like Miracle Grow at label strength from April 1st to September 1st, when you put the tree in a shady spot for one month, then bring it into the house after spraying it for bugs with any horticultural oil at label strength. Keep it where it gets as much good light as possible, like in front of a window. Remove the leaves every spring when you put the tree outdoors. And that's all there is to it.
This is extremely helpful!!!
Can I prune it at the same time as I’m repotting? I know ficus hate change.
I’m so glad my instinct to chop it completely back was right. :). It felt both extreme and what was needed.
 

Forsoothe!

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Ficus are forgiving if major work is done in summer when they are actively growing. Yes, that will slow it down, but that's a trade-off for the growth you will be having in the second year and allows you to begin the training process immediately.
 

LadyAstor

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Perfect. Thanks. I’ll give it a couple weeks to settle in while it warms up. Then we’ll have a prune-fest. Thanks for your valuable time.
 

sorce

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I think I would just Repot it.

Welcome to Crazy!

Those branches are long enough to swoop down and graft back to the bare trunk.

If it took you 2 years to learn to graft, you would still be ahead of the game!

But if you can drill a hole and thread a needle, grafting ficus is a piece of cake!

Sorce
 

LadyAstor

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I think I would just Repot it.

Welcome to Crazy!

Those branches are long enough to swoop down and graft back to the bare trunk.

If it took you 2 years to learn to graft, you would still be ahead of the game!

But if you can drill a hole and thread a needle, grafting ficus is a piece of cake!

Sorce
Can you show me an example?! This I have not heard of before.
 

Michael P

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What these guys are teasing you about is called thread grafting. If you do a search you will find many examples. While this is the easiest form of grafting, it is not "a piece of cake" especially for a beginner. Since this tree needs so much root work and re=potting, I would start with that as soon as night time temperatures are reliably above 60F. Let it recover from that, and when it shows vigorous growth during the summer, then you can prune drastically.

BTW, the big roots can be potted as cuttings and will often sprout leaves very quickly.
 

sorce

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Can you show me an example?! This I have not heard of before.

Post in thread 'Purpose of the past post. Giant Ficus.' https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/purpose-of-the-past-post-giant-ficus.17047/post-796035


That's the same tree with different notes.

It really is that easy, with a healthy tree.

Sorce
 

LadyAstor

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What these guys are teasing you about is called thread grafting. If you do a search you will find many examples. While this is the easiest form of grafting, it is not "a piece of cake" especially for a beginner. Since this tree needs so much root work and re=potting, I would start with that as soon as night time temperatures are reliably above 60F. Let it recover from that, and when it shows vigorous growth during the summer, then you can prune drastically.

BTW, the big roots can be potted as cuttings and will often sprout leaves very quickly.
Yeah I figured it wasn’t actually cake. Lol

I’ll be reporting and hacking off some roots. I’ll probably hold off the branch pruning until I see it’s recovered. It’s also experiencing a slight climate change and I think that’ll be quite enough stress on it.
There’s virtually no soil of any kind left in the pot. Should I fertilize the poor thing? I feel like it’s prob starving for nutrients.

on hand I just have powdered miracle gro. Will that work? I was thinking 1/2 tsp/gallon of water?
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Always start by getting the roots right. I would not prune away the top at the same time, although you probably could and get away with it. Here is a post showing a similar gifted ficus and how it was treated. You can reduce the roots severely, but the tree needs strong sun, plenty of water, and fert to endure the work.


Don’t be too hung up on the current potting position, a trunk leaning on the rim of the pot isn’t ideal. If it’s your first bonsai, here is a post showing how to secure a tree into a pot, which is critical.


Once it’s recovered, you can tackle the top.
 

Michael P

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Fertilizer will help if you give it enough time to work before the repot. If temperatures are warm, the tree is getting lots of light, and you are not going to repot for a few weeks, then fertilize now with the Miracle Grow. Follow the directions for indoor potted plants just to be safe.
 

Forsoothe!

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At the very least, all the tips need to be pruned now in order to avoid getting nothing more than ends growing further out. Bonsai rules, rule.
 

LanceMac10

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If you can bring it out, you can work the roots. Why wait? You want this growing foliage in summer, not recovering from major root work.

Baltimore should be a humid swamp in a week, perfect for a "ready to recover" fig to explode with growth.

I'd probably cut it back as you indicated. Again, why wait?
 

LadyAstor

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Always start by getting the roots right. I would not prune away the top at the same time, although you probably could and get away with it. Here is a post showing a similar gifted ficus and how it was treated. You can reduce the roots severely, but the tree needs strong sun, plenty of water, and fert to endure the work.


Don’t be too hung up on the current potting position, a trunk leaning on the rim of the pot isn’t ideal. If it’s your first bonsai, here is a post showing how to secure a tree into a pot, which is critical.


Once it’s recovered, you can tackle the top.
I will definitely not be leaving the current position. I’ll try a few things but I don’t want it resting on the rim for sure. I’m hoping the roots will allow me to rearrange them so it’ll sit more centrally and show them off a bit better. We’ll see.
 

LadyAstor

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Always start by getting the roots right. I would not prune away the top at the same time, although you probably could and get away with it. Here is a post showing a similar gifted ficus and how it was treated. You can reduce the roots severely, but the tree needs strong sun, plenty of water, and fert to endure the work.


Don’t be too hung up on the current potting position, a trunk leaning on the rim of the pot isn’t ideal. If it’s your first bonsai, here is a post showing how to secure a tree into a pot, which is critical.


Once it’s recovered, you can tackle the top.
Also thinks for the links. Helpful. Since I’m going to leave the top for now it’ll definitely need to be wired in.
 
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