Watering of ficus.

Mortalis

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I am a ficus grower. I have been growing for about 5 years now. I grow under florescent lights. I just can't get my soil trees to look as healthy as my hydroponic trees. When I move a tree from hydro to soil it seems to lose vigor. It seems to me that must mean my watering is incorrect. My soil mix is 1 part coconut husk chips to 1 part lava rock. I let my ficus get dry to about half way down in the pot. Should I be letting it go till three quarters dry maybe?
 

rockm

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Do you have to grow under lights?

Outdoors is much better for ficus this time of year. I'd also look into you soil mix a bit more. Either the ratio isn't correct, or the ingredients aren't optimal (my money would be on the coconut husk chips...or the half and half combination of them with lava...)
 

irene_b

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Having never tried the Coconut Husk I would wonder about it...
I have ficus in straight lava without any issues.
Irene
 

Mortalis

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Midnight, retusa, and Burt Davi. No outside is not possible.
 

Mortalis

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Sulk no.. Just not as vibrant as my Hydro trees. How dry do you guys let yours get?
 

Bonsai Nut

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So you are saying that your hydroponic trees and regular trees receive the same lighting - including intensity and photoperiod - but that the only difference is the soil and the watering?

(1) I assume the root structure for a hydroponic tree is very different from that of a soil tree. Do you let the trees get firmly established in the soil?

(2) Hydroponics provide a nutrient rich mix to the roots - what fertilizers are you using for your soil trees?

(3) As an aside - here in southern california I can let my ficus get BONE dry before I water and they do just fine. On my big potted ficus (25 gallon pots) I can let them go until the foliage is noticeably drooping before I water and they pop back immediately. This is in daytime temps in the 80's and 90's and tropical sun. I can't say I have ever lost a ficus here due to underwatering - once the tree is established.
 

irene_b

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I have found that they can be on the dryer side and do better...I let mine get real dry before I water them.
Irene
 

Bill S

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Hey Mortalis, you will probably know better than I on the hydo roots vs. "regulaly grown roots", but my understanding(also having seen them growing) is that waterborn roots are not as firm/woody/supportive as typically grown roots. Could it be that being recently potted in a regular medium v liquid the roots aren't up to the job to fully support the plant yet?

Now is it just repotted or are there others that have been in "soil" for a while and not up to par w/ the hydroponically grown brothers. If this is an all around issue my bet would be soil/fert regimin could be better.
 

Mortalis

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Coconut husk has properties very similar to AAA spag but does not break down as fast.

Well yes the root structure is quite a bit different.. Water roots are very fragile and transparent until they have been there for quite a wile. When I transfer them to soil I treat them very nearly like a large cutting taking off almost all of the water roots and placing the tree in a poly bag.

As for fertilizer I use hydro fertilizer for my soil trees also. its got the mix for soil trees listed so I mix it full strength for soil.

Bone dry as in dry clear to the bottom of the pot? does humidity play a part in that?
 

irene_b

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Dry to the bottom of the pot and most likely it does...
Irene
Don't forget that when I water, I water deeply and the run off goes to the ground so it will add to the humidity under them as well..

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Mortalis

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Yes I have several that are established I could play with the fertilizer a bit. My hydro trees have it constantly.

The issue as you put it is that when I dig down in several places not all of my roots are white. Though there are always white ones there. It seems like only the newest growth is white. Once in awhile I also get a yellow leaf so I am pretty sure I am over watering a tad bit. I have 7 that have survived my watering for 4+ years. I just know they can be healthier. All my others are in hydro their entire root systems are white and I never get a yellow leaf.
 

Mortalis

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Klytus, I am not sure I have ficus midnight a variety of benjemina, Ficus retusa, and Burt Davi. are any of them stranglers?

Irene, since you use lava and I also do I wonder what size your particles are and if that makes much difference verses other particle sizes.

I am thinking maybe mine is a bit to large 3/8ths inch, that maybe some roots are exposed to the open air to quickly before the rest of the pot is dried out. But I am just taking a stab trying to figure this out.
 

irene_b

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Klytus, I am not sure I have ficus midnight a variety of benjemina, Ficus retusa, and Burt Davi. are any of them stranglers?

Irene, since you use lava and I also do I wonder what size your particles are and if that makes much difference verses other particle sizes.

I am thinking maybe mine is a bit to large 3/8ths inch, that maybe some roots are exposed to the open air to quickly before the rest of the pot is dried out. But I am just taking a stab trying to figure this out.
Mort, I have roots that get exposed all the time and many that are on the surface of the lava.
Leaves turn Yellow from not enough water as well as too much.
Irene
 

treebeard55

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Mortalis, one issue I haven't seen discussed here is the coarseness of the soil. Might your soil be too fine, impeding drainage?

Dave Bogan recently did a study of Ficus response to soil texture, with very interesting results. Here's the URL: http://www.shadysidebonsai.com/bonsaivaultbonsaihorticulture/id10.html

Having read it, I'm going to start potting my figs in a coarser mix. :)
 

Mortalis

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No way of that.. my smallest size particle is 3/8ths if anything maybe to large?
 
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