Info about my first and brand new Ficus!

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Info about my first and brand new Ficus!

Post  andywl on Sun May 13, 2012 11:04 am

Hello to everyone...
My Name is Andrea, and i've just signed myself up to this forum... Laughing

I'd like to ask you all about some suggestions...

Last week i bought my first bonsai tree. i'm really enthusiastic about it! Bagpiper But i'm a beginner... I'm reading some books, internet articles, etc... but i really need someone who will tell me how to start with this tree, the first steps, if it is healthy, if i have to prune it, change the pot, what kind of ficus it is, best soil/fertilizer to use.... I know... too many questions... but believe me, i don't want let him die!!

I'll post some pictures of it... If you need some more pictures/informations just tell me, and i'll do it!
Thank you so much for now!

Andrea.







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Re: Info about my first and brand new Ficus!

Post  fiona on Sun May 13, 2012 11:47 am

Hello Andrea and welcome to the forum.

Can I ask you to confirm that your SW19 location is a reference to London? We have members here from all over the world and the post code will mean nothing to a great number of them. I'm not being picky, but climate is such an important factor in bonsai, especially as you have chosen what in the UK is considered a tropical tree and therefore needs different care from something native like a larch.

If you aren't certain of what I mean, perhaps I can direct you to our recently added FAQs for beginners article that explains it. You can find it in this forum HERE. There are other helpful articles for beginners there too.

We recommend Harry Harrington's Bonsai4me site, especially to those who live in the UK. You can find lots of good information about Ficus by clicking here. HERE

Use the Search facility (you can find out how to use this is Part One of the Getting the best from your forum tutorial) to find previous information on Ficus - there is quite a lot so pick a nice miserable UK afternoon, grab a cup of coffee and read, read, read.

The main thing is to enjoy your tree, but please bear in mind that care and development of it in the UK is quite dfferent to how our friends in Florida and the more exotic climates (for which read warm Very Happy ) would treat it. Lucky them.

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Re: Info about my first and brand new Ficus!

Post  fiona on Sun May 13, 2012 11:56 am

I should also add that the first thing you need to do is identify the species of Ficus it is as your first real question is where you're going to keep it. As you've probably found out already, bonsai should where possible be kept outdoors. However, and this is where the climate stuff comes in, that is not a British native and would struggle outdoors except in our warmest months. I can't comment any more as I don't keep trees like this precisely because I couldn't keep it outdoors here.

Hopefully some of our many ficus experts will give a species identification and then we can take it from there?

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Re: Info about my first and brand new Ficus!

Post  andywl on Sun May 13, 2012 12:15 pm

Thanks for your replies!

Yes, i'm from London (i'm italian actually, but i live in the UK's capital now Laughing )... I've been in "Bonsai4me" web site... and it is really good... But my concern is that this bonsai is at least 3 or 4 years old, i don't know if it is healthy, if the pot is too small, and i found really hard to understand what kind of ficus it is...
I know that Ficus Bonsai can grow indoor...

Thanks for your attention...

Andrea

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Re: Info about my first and brand new Ficus!

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sun May 13, 2012 12:34 pm

andywl wrote:Thanks for your replies!

Yes, i'm from London (i'm italian actually, but i live in the UK's capital now Laughing )... I've been in "Bonsai4me" web site... and it is really good... But my concern is that this bonsai is at least 3 or 4 years old, i don't know if it is healthy, if the pot is too small, and i found really hard to understand what kind of ficus it is...
I know that Ficus Bonsai can grow indoor...

Thanks for your attention...

Andrea

Andrea, I am one of those bonsai growers that Fiona mentioned from Florida. What you have is probably a Ficus retusa. The pot is fine and the tree looks healthy, but it will not remain so if it lives indoors with too little light. The pot is large enough for now. This Ficus can tolerate a lot of abuse but try to keep it well watered. I would water the surface of the soil daily until water runs out the bottom of the pot. Except in winter my Ficus live in FULL Florida sun. Your tree is like many sold to beginners with a very twisted trunk. I think your first goal should be to keep the tree alive for six months to a year before you begin to train it. (wire, prune, etc.)

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Re: Info about my first and brand new Ficus!

Post  JimLewis on Sun May 13, 2012 1:37 pm

I live where my two Ficus can stay outside in the summer but must come inside in the winter. That's still warmer than London, except, perhaps, in mid summer. So your tree probably will have to stay indoors, which is a difficult but not impossible task.

The most important things:

1. Do not overwater. Ficus do not like wet roots. Let the pot dry between waterings. To determine dryness keep an end of a chopstick jammed into the soil all the way to the bottom of the pot. Remove it daily an test the dirty end with your fingers. If it feels damp, do not water. If it feels dry, water. it is best to water from the top, like rain, but you can dunk it in a shallow (no deeper than the pot rim) of water. water until it runs through the drainage holes.

2. It will need more light that the inside of a house or flat can normally give it. A window probably will not give it enough light. The general practice is to get a small fluorescent tube (not one of those twisty light bulbs) or grow light, and hang it about 6 inches over the tree. Leave it lit for about 12 hours every day.

3. Ventilation. Insects often are a bigger problem indoors than out. One contributing factor is lack of air movement. An open window may provide that, or an oscillating fan blowing softly on the tree may be needed. That depends somewhat on what other plants you may have growing indoors.

Good luck and enjoy your tree. As Billy says, concentrate on its health and well-being before trying to do much to it. Read those books.

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Re: Info about my first and brand new Ficus!

Post  fiona on Sun May 13, 2012 1:40 pm

Billy, I should imagine that even in London these plants will need to be treated as not fully hardy. I wouldn't expect to get more than a couple or three months of it being outdoors up here - Andrea is 400 miles further south and might get four or five months outdoors with it. So, Andrea, now we need to know if you have an area you can keep the tree outdoors. If not, an alternative plan is needed. Maybe someone who has grown one successfully in the London area could chip in here. But this is why we don't "do" ficus much over here - it is more often a genus for keeping as houseplants in the UK.

But I'd agree wholeheartedly that the best plan in to keep it healthy with basic maintenance until next year sometime.

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Re: Info about my first and brand new Ficus!

Post  Poink88 on Sun May 13, 2012 1:52 pm

One factor that is usually forgotten when growing indoors is lack of humidity. Lots of trees actually die and drop leaves due to this than any other reason when grown indoors. Just something to add to Jim's list.

Note that a heater vent can move air but zap out humidity very fast as well and will do more harm than good.

Good luck and welcome to IBC!!!

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Re: Info about my first and brand new Ficus!

Post  fiona on Sun May 13, 2012 2:12 pm

Good point. For that reason. central heating systems can be the Death of bonsai, Andrea.


Quick translation for out hot climate friends: central heating is what we have over here instead of air conditioning. We just stop after the H in HVAC. Very Happy

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Re: Info about my first and brand new Ficus!

Post  Poink88 on Sun May 13, 2012 2:19 pm

fiona wrote:Quick translation for out hot climate friends: central heating is what we have over here instead of air conditioning. We just stop after the H in HVAC. Very Happy
Fiona,

FYI, majority of houses here (probably 99.9% of new construction) in TX have centralized AC (Cold/Heat). Wink I'd assume same in other (esp the warmer) States.

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Re: Info about my first and brand new Ficus!

Post  drgonzo on Sun May 13, 2012 4:40 pm

Poink88 wrote:One factor that is usually forgotten when growing indoors is lack of humidity. Lots of trees actually die and drop leaves due to this than any other reason when grown indoors.

Hi Dario,
Have you had good luck keeping tropicals indoors over winter in TX?

In my experience in Upstate NY and as Iris has also mentioned (and tested I believe), humidity indoors has little effect of the overall health or tendency towards leaf drop in tropical bonsai. What is far more detrimental is the loss of light. Take a ficus and put it in an east window and one in a south window give them both a humidity tray and see which one drops its leaves.

Reduced water demands indoors in winter also play a big role; as the tree slows its growth inside its important to adjust watering to match this.

I keep Bougainvillea, Benjamina, salicaria, even rosemary indoors all winter NO humidity tray, NO misting and my house is heated with a woodstove exclusively (house humidity in January ~37-43%) all do just fine (as good as can be expected) because they are ALL in a giant bank of south facing 5'x8' windows.

-Jay

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Re: Info about my first and brand new Ficus!

Post  Poink88 on Sun May 13, 2012 5:13 pm

Jay,

Winter time throws a little kink since though tropical plants do not really "hibernate" like deciduous trees, they do slow down/rest also at that time.

During my regular "dance" with my trees as the temperate dips...I kept a few of my tropical trees in my kitchen (with windows on 2 sides) for a while and that is when I noticed that they are dropping leaf due to drying. The ones in my garage actually performed much better though they get totally no light so I moved most of them there after I got some artificial lighting set up and left them there the rest of winter.

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Re: Info about my first and brand new Ficus!

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