what to do with this ugly ficus


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my wife was given this mallsai ficus as gift it was in very bad soil and very bad condition

so today I repoted it in a draining medium (he had hardly any roots) and will give him time to recover.

Although I know I shouldn't do any more work with him this year (just feeding maybe) but any ideas for it on the long run?

thanks for looking


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It is very common to see material in a pot that should NEVER become bonsai.
It is very rare to have the ability to avoid trying anyway.

Plant it in the ground if it's hardy in your area. If not, stick it near a window and call it a stumpy houseplant.
If anything is to happen, you need to get it back to healthy first, show us again with leaves if it makes it.
Thank you both, you are so kind sharing your knowledge with, tiring, newbies like myself :D

Well honestly i had pity on it that's why i changed it soil to start with, I know that ficus are hardy and I expect this one to build back health during the coming few months.

if all goes well maybe I can make something out of it to try to improve or, anyway, it will still make my wife happy

Hi Akhater

Haven't met a ficus I don't like....except those....:D

I am frankly amazed because those things seem to have spread all over the globe (even my backwater country) and suckers keep buying them!:p:D:D

My worst moment was when a bonsai buddy with a 17 year headstart on me (year younger than me) bought one and was very impressed.
My fake smile doesn't get much practice!:)
If you can call them bonsai, it would have to the most mass produced 'house plant' ever. In Canada they are every where from Home Depot, Safeway, Ikea, garden centers, florists...
...Well honestly i had pity on it ...
When I said I had a yard full of trees that followed me home like stray puppies, this is the mind set that will get you to that point. Be careful and learn to spend your time and money wisely.

...it will still make my wife happy...

This however, is a fantastic reason to keep it. A happy wife == more success in bonsai. :D
AK, I don't personally care for the "ginseng Ficus," but many people do. If you want to develop this to please your wife, more power to you! As milehigh said, "A happy wife ..." :D

If I were trying to develop this, I would start with an airlayer, about at my line. (Be sure it's healthy, first.) Then you can consider what look to aim for.

Best wishes!


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Hey treebeard !

If you are the same treebeard of the late bonsai talk forums then you helped me a couple of years ago with a hug ficus yamadori!

For this ugly ficus I am giving it some time to recover strength for now with a very well draining medium like treabeard taught me
Thanks for the kind word, Bill, and AK, glad I was able to be of help before.

I'm sure I remember you -- somewhat, at least -- from bonsaiTalk. Doesn't the "Lebanon" in your location refer to the country? (Many states in the USA have a town or city named "Lebanon," including my own state of Indiana; so we US-ers tend to think along those lines, at first impulse.) That certainly explains your username, too.
@Treebeard, Lebanon is the country indeed. First name is Antoine and Khater is my family name :)

I had taken from the garden a huge ficus tree and left almost no feeder roots for it and planted it in very compact soil, at the time I had no idea about draining. So you told me to repot it again with a mix of peatmoss/perlite and pine bark which I did and the tree was saved.

I would have loved to share a pic of it today but I lost it this winter during a storm but, just for the memory,
here is how it was in 2008 when it was dying and second pic in 2009 one year after I followed your advise.

We have a proverb here in Lebanon that says "You are for life in dept for whoever taught you a letter" well I have (and still am) learning so much from you guys



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Antoine, I love that proverb! Lot of truth there!

But I see I was mistaken in my guess about your choice of username. I surmised that it was "AK hater," referring to the AK-47 and the past tragedies that have torn that beautiful land.
Instead of chopping it, how about trying to coax out a bunch of aerial roots? They'd probably do a good job of obscuring the weird bulge and could also be fused back onto the trunk over time. Make a tent with a dry cleaning bag something like this:
Keep it out of direct sun so as not to steam your tree and open up the bag for a few days if you see any mold. It'd probably help your lack of leaves issue too.
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I think if you get it back to health... I have to say anything is poss. bend the left and right branches down, and pad them up... not sure if it would win top honors, but ???? Good luck.
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Thank you for the virtual, it is getting healthier every day. I will let it rest this year and start seeing if anything can be done with it in spring
Hi everybody, Akhater, this little ficus is not bad. I would pot it into a larger pot and grow it out a year or two, let it develop a healthy root ball, then chop it back hard. Here are some of mine I started 3-4 years ago just like this. I got these from Home Depot (a hardware store in the USA) for 5 dollars each. Ficus#1 is about 6 inches tall. The second one is about 11 in. tall.
Good luck your tree!


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Thank you Si for your continuous help and support, these are really inspirational
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