Willow-leaf ficus questions - scale & wound-closing

Cosmos

Shohin
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Hi guys,

I've been growing a WLF bonsai (as well as a handful of cuttings) for a couple years now, and it's become a species I really appreciate. However, I have 2 questions that I can't find a definitive answer for.

1) In my climate, I bring my WFL outside in May and back inside in September. They don't do much Oct.-Dec. (except shed a few leaves), and when they start growing back after the winter solstice, I consistenly see scale sucking the juice out of the foliage. It seems like the more vigourous my bonsai is, the more insects I see. It was pretty bad earlier this month (photo) before I finally took the time needed to clean everything up with rubbing alcohol & Q-tips. I expect I'll have to clean the tree up again in a few weeks, with the new growth it's putting all over.

Any preventative tip? I reckon they seem more of an annoyance than a real danger for the tree. It seems the bugs are always somewhere in the tree or in the soil, ready to reemerge. They are not a problem during the "outside" portion of their growing season.


PXL_20220116_152435386.jpg

2) I have this big wound from removing a subtrunk in summer 2020. I did not use Callous mate at the time, but I have some now. The wound has calloused around and there has been no visible die-back on the trunk, as you can see, but I don't know how to encourage further closing. The original cut was very deep, and I'm hesitant to actually carve deeper in the trunk to reopen the cambium. What would you guys do at this stage?

PXL_20220116_152448731.jpgPXL_20220116_152454162.jpg

I am asking this question in part because I want to remove this overly vigourous high root circled in blue this summer, and I want to do it optimally this time.

Thank you.
 

SWfloirda

Shohin
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I use a knife to scrape the cambium around the edges of the wounds to encourage further closing, works for me.

I keep mine outdoors with no scale issues so I'm no help there.
 

BrianBay9

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When I had trees inside for the winter I always had issues with bugs by mid winter. I tried everything I could think of to bring clean trees inside in the fall, but to no avail. I resigned myself to a bug hunt mid-winter every year. I usually took each tree into the shower, picked off bugs, washed them all down and treated with a systemic insecticide.
 

Michael P

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Before I bring my trees in for the winter, I treat them with a systemic insecticide like Bayer Protect and Feed. I don't like using it because of the danger to bees and other pollinators. Since the trees are not going to flower before they come inside (or not at all for ficus) it seems safe to me. It definitely does help prevent scale, mealy bugs, and spider mites.
 

Shibui

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A systemic will get rid of the pests, even the ones you miss with the alcohol which are the ones that lay more eggs to re-infest the tree.
Cutting deeper will not restart healing but as suggested a light scrape round the inside of the rolled callus should help as will plenty of growth. You will also need to allow time.
Late spring or summer would be the optimum time to remove the root. You could probably remove a root like that any time of year but Ficus tend to recover from root pruning when they are growing well and healing will be faster when the tree is active.
 
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Here is a pretty easy way to stay on top of bugs indoors - just spray the plants down well with horticultural oil and soap right before you bring them in for the winter, covering all leaf surfaces, bark and soil surface, then repeat every couple months until they go back outside. If you get an infestation anyway, you will need to spray twice within two weeks to get the hatchlings.

For me, I use 1tsp neem oil and 1/4tsp dawn dish soap per quart of (hot) water. I prefer to use a pump sprayer, but an ordinary spray bottle will also work. A <$10 2qt pump sprayer from your local hardware store will do.
 

Cosmos

Shohin
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Thanks guys, insecticide does seem like one of those "spend 10 minutes now instead of 100 minutes later" kind of chores. I am taking notes.

Cutting deeper will not restart healing but as suggested a light scrape round the inside of the rolled callus should help as will plenty of growth. You will also need to allow time.
Late spring or summer would be the optimum time to remove the root. You could probably remove a root like that any time of year but Ficus tend to recover from root pruning when they are growing well and healing will be faster when the tree is active.

The plan is to remove the root in the summer, yes, also because I will try to strike a cutting with it.

Do you guys use cut paste (Callous mate or other types) with WLF? I don't know how redundant it is, given it produces that rubbery milky sap in abundance each time to take something off the tree.
 

BrianBay9

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Cut paste isn't necessary for Ficus in general. The latex in the sap does the job.
 
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