Preparing to repot

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Preparing to repot

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Thu Aug 20, 2009 5:07 pm

I've had this Ficus for 3 or 4 years. Not sure of the species. I'm looking to repot it, but I'm not too sure how drastic I should cut it back. (More after the photo)



I had some die-back in the center of the top and I'm trying to get it to fill in.

The upper roots are my concern. THere are 3 roots that stick out perpendicular to the trunk. I was looking at loosing the lower of the two on the left and finding a rock or rocks to insert into the two remaining spaces. It's that or remove one or both of the high roots and allow the base to thicken.


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Re: Preparing to repot

Post  EdMerc on Thu Aug 20, 2009 6:48 pm

Jay,
To me that looks like a F.benjamina var "TooLittle". They are great for making smaller bonsai because of the leaf size, but can still be very sensitive to pruning and chops, just like the full size F.benjamina.

My advise is to take it easy with this one. Take your time and It will respond well.

Ed

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Re: Preparing to repot

Post  JimLewis on Thu Aug 20, 2009 7:10 pm

I kinda hate to say this after your be-nice-to-everyone thread, but your soil looks awful! I suspect you need to repot just to plant this tree in 80% Turface 20% organic rather than 90% mud and 10% vermiculite (or whatever). The die back was likely from the soil. Examine your roots carefully when you repot.

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Re: Preparing to repot

Post  luciano benyakob on Thu Aug 20, 2009 9:46 pm

Its a Ficus Benjamina var. Natasha.
Shalom Luciano.
http://bonsaistudio.forumvila.com/index.php
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/luciano.benyakob?ref=name

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Preparing to repot

Post  bonsaisr on Fri Aug 21, 2009 12:27 am

Oh, dear. Yes, this is F. benjamina 'TooLittle.' (sic)
1. Trim the dead top neatly to live wood. Wire the uppermost branch to be your new leader.
2. Cut off the two uppermost of those awful roots. Pot them up separately & they may sprout for you. Shorten the third one. Severely shorten the two lower branches. They are way too thick. Eventually when you get some back-budding you can eliminate them altogether. Trim and thin the very bushy upper one.
3. Repot in a large plastic bulb pan, say 8 inch, or a large 10 inch bonsai pot. Use coarse bonsai soil, what they call bottom soil or conifer mix.
4. Put it in the shade for now, gradually out in the sun. Where have you been keeping it? Leave it outside until temperatures go below 45. You will get better results if you can keep it under fluorescent lights for the winter. Pinch very frequently.
5. Feed regularly. If you can grow it under lights, feed all winter.
Iris

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Re: Preparing to repot

Post  EdMerc on Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:06 am

JimLewis wrote:I kinda hate to say this after your be-nice-to-everyone thread, but your soil looks awful! I suspect you need to repot just to plant this tree in 80% Turface 20% organic rather than 90% mud and 10% vermiculite (or whatever). The die back was likely from the soil. Examine your roots carefully when you repot.

You know, I was so busy looking at the tree that I didn't even notice what it's in. Yeah, that stuff needs to go and fast.

Ed

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Preparing to repot

Post  bonsaisr on Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:08 am

For indoor growing in the North, I would not recommend 80% Turface. That might hold too much moisture. For my regular mix, I use about one third Turface, one third crushed granite chicken grit, and one third ground bark. Then I add about ten percent charcoal. For the coarse mix I am recommending for this situation, I use one third expanded shale, called Norlite in NY State, also called Haydite in the Midwest. I use one third turkey grit or aquarium gravel, and one third fine fir orchid bark. Then the ten percent charcoal. If you can't find Haydite at the building supply stores, use about one quarter Turface & more gravel. Either sift everything, including the bark, or wash it in a colander & dry with a fan or heater.
After this severe treatment, your TooLittle might lose its leaves. Just cut back on water & keep it in the shade. I have never had TooLittle defoliate, but the standard F. benjamina does, so don't panic.

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Re: Preparing to repot

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:29 pm

Jim,

I wouldn't worry about offending me on the soil. It does look awful and just watered didn't help.

I plan an repotting it in a mix of 33% course sand, 33% baked clay, 15% pine bark and 15% moss.

I can't remember what happened to the top middle, I believe it was pruned out because of a broken branch.

Iris,

It stays in an area on my patio during the growing season. It receives direct sun for 2 or 3 hours and indirect the rest of the day.

The last few winters is has gone to my ofice for the winter; however, I'm looking at converting an area of my basement to store the majority of my non-hardy stock.

As for your recommendations, they are pretty drastic, whereas others have said to take it slow.

Thanks,

Jay

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Re: Preparing to repot

Post  JimLewis on Fri Aug 21, 2009 4:50 pm

FYI - Iris lives in a climate closer to yours than any of the other folks who've replied -- including me. She's been writing an indoor bonsai series of articles for International Bonsai for the past year or so. Ed's in Florida and the others are from wide points.

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Re: Preparing to repot

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:03 pm

Thanks, Jim.

Iris, is there a link to your Ficus articles on-line?

Jay

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Re: Preparing to repot

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:05 pm

I will begin the process of reducing and repotting this weekend. When done, it will either look better, or be dead Shocked

Either way, I'll take some after photos and plant them here.

Jay

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Re: Preparing to repot

Post  JimLewis on Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:24 pm

Jay Gaydosh wrote:Thanks, Jim.

Iris, is there a link to your Ficus articles on-line?

Jay

Don't think so, but you oughta subscribe to International Bonsai Magazine, anyway. Best of the lot, IMHO.

www.internationalbonsai.com

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Preparing to repot

Post  bonsaisr on Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:01 pm

Jay Gaydosh wrote:
I plan an repotting it in a mix of 33% course sand, 33% baked clay, 15% pine bark and 15% moss.

It stays in an area on my patio during the growing season. It receives direct sun for 2 or 3 hours and indirect the rest of the day.

The last few winters is has gone to my ofice for the winter; however, I'm looking at converting an area of my basement to store the majority of my non-hardy stock.

As for your recommendations, they are pretty drastic, whereas others have said to take it slow.

Thanks,

Jay
Skip the moss. Ficus need to dry out between waterings.
2 or 3 hours of full sun is not enough. I am in the same USDA Zone as you & roughly the same latitude. My 'TooLittle' goes out in full shade in the spring to prevent sunburn, gradually to more sun. By midsummer it is in FULL SUN almost all day.
As long as you are repotting, you can remove those two roots. Cutting back the oversize branches can be done any time, as you see the tree is tolerating it. However, in general, it is a good idea to trim the top when you trim off roots, to keep the plant balanced. F. benjamina can tolerate drastic pruning as long as you leave some leaves on the branch. As the old ad said, ask the man who owns one. Wink
Iris

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Re: Preparing to repot

Post  bonsaisr on Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:09 pm

Jay Gaydosh wrote:
Iris, is there a link to your Ficus articles on-line?
Jay
International Bonsai magazine is a quarterly print publication. I didn't write specifically about Ficus, but about the whole concept of growing bonsai under lights. The articles appeared in 2007 and 2008, & I think 2009, #1. I would like to see the series put together in a booklet.
Back issues of the magazine are available. I think they are $9 apiece.
Iris

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Re: Preparing to repot

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:14 pm

Thanks,

Tomorrow it will get repotted and trimmed, I'll try to get photos up by Monday.

Jay

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Re: Preparing to repot

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Sun Aug 23, 2009 4:48 am

Iris:

Repotting is complete!

After removing the extra roots (and repotting them) I determined that the original pot would suffice for the repot with plenty of room to grow. I pruned the top back as moch as I dared. Additional changes will have to wait until new growth starts showing.

Jay

Compare #1 to #2




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Preparing to repot

Post  bonsaisr on Sun Aug 23, 2009 4:41 pm

A vast improvement. However:
1. Next time you repot, stick the tree in a bucket of water for a few hours while you soak the pot in a strong bleach solution. Then scrub off all that lime crud. Better yet, I would have put it in a bigger pot. You want to encourage new roots. And you could have soaked the old pot for several days.
2. Improve your leader. That will not stress the tree too much. But don't leave wire on too long. With Ficus & maples, wire scars are forever. Actually, on that top branch, that part that sticks up can be your leader, & you can trim the rest of it to be your top branch.
3. As soon as you see any signs of growth, shorten the lower branches. You can begin by removing the parts that stick straight up.
4. I wouldn't bother with a decorative mulch. You are not showing this tree yet, & you need to be able to keep an eye on the soil.
5. There seems to be a potential bar branch (two branches at the same location) in the middle. Take care of this.
6. I would have potted it more up out of the soil. You had the beginnings of some nebari.
Opinions of one wannabe amateur.
Iris clown

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Preparing to repot

Post  bonsaisr on Sun Aug 23, 2009 4:51 pm

PS
You need a back branch. Remove that big middle branch. It is in the way, anyhow. The little branch above it will take its place. Wire the little branch opposite that middle branch to the back. It will grow reasonably fast if you keep the branches above it cut back.
Unless you grow under lights, do this in the spring.
Iris
Big wannabe expert Very Happy

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Re: Preparing to repot

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Mon Aug 24, 2009 4:31 am

bonsaisr wrote:A vast improvement. However:
1. Next time you repot, stick the tree in a bucket of water for a few hours while you soak the pot in a strong bleach solution. Then scrub off all that lime crud. Better yet, I would have put it in a bigger pot. You want to encourage new roots. And you could have soaked the old pot for several days.
2. Improve your leader. That will not stress the tree too much. But don't leave wire on too long. With Ficus & maples, wire scars are forever. Actually, on that top branch, that part that sticks up can be your leader, & you can trim the rest of it to be your top branch.
3. As soon as you see any signs of growth, shorten the lower branches. You can begin by removing the parts that stick straight up.
4. I wouldn't bother with a decorative mulch. You are not showing this tree yet, & you need to be able to keep an eye on the soil.
5. There seems to be a potential bar branch (two branches at the same location) in the middle. Take care of this.
6. I would have potted it more up out of the soil. You had the beginnings of some nebari.
Opinions of one wannabe amateur.
Iris clown

1. OK
2. I'm real cautious about the wires on my Ficus, I've seen some nasty scars. I'm not positive which branchyou see as the leader.
3. Understood,
4. Easy enough to remove, but doesn't it also work to keep the soil in place?
5. I would guess you are referring to removing the little branch to the left of the larger branch?
6. It is planted higher in the soil, but he rock covers it. Plus, with the larger roots that I removed and a few tuberous routs that brock during the process, I was concernec about the lack of feeder rots so I din't plant it even higher. I can always work with it over the next year of so.

Forever newbie

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Re: Preparing to repot

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Mon Aug 24, 2009 4:35 am

bonsaisr wrote:PS
You need a back branch. Remove that big middle branch. It is in the way, anyhow. The little branch above it will take its place. Wire the little branch opposite that middle branch to the back. It will grow reasonably fast if you keep the branches above it cut back.
Unless you grow under lights, do this in the spring.
Iris
Big wannabe expert Very Happy

The big middle branch, you mean the upward growing branch on the main branch to the left?

I thought you just said remove that little branch abouve the upright one beacause it was opposite the big one on the right?


The last two posts are a lot to digest, luckily the Ficus isn't in a hurry!

Jay

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Re: Preparing to repot

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Mon Aug 24, 2009 4:47 am

[/quote]



Anyone ever cut a wedge out of a branch to allow bending branch into a better position?

The area of the cut paste, if I cut into it and folded it upward, what's the risk?

Jusyt Wondering

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Preparing to Repot

Post  bonsaisr on Sun Aug 30, 2009 10:43 am

Jay Gaydosh wrote:
2. I'm real cautious about the wires on my Ficus, I've seen some nasty scars. I'm not positive which branch you see as the leader.
3. Understood,
4. Easy enough to remove, but doesn't it also work to keep the soil in place?
5. I would guess you are referring to removing the little branch to the left of the larger branch?
6. It is planted higher in the soil, but he rock covers it. Plus, with the larger roots that I removed and a few tuberous routs that broke during the process, I was concerned about the lack of feeder roots so I didn't plant it even higher. I can always work with it over the next year of so.
2. There is nothing wrong with wiring a Ficus, as long as you don't leave the wire on too long. Shallow scars will heal eventually. You can always rewire if it doesn't stay.
4. That is only for shipping mallsai. If you are using proper bonsai soil & it is properly potted, it won't blow away. You also want the soil to dry out after watering.
5. Scratch that. I would remove that big branch in the middle.
Iris

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Re: Preparing to repot

Post  bonsaisr on Sun Aug 30, 2009 10:52 am

Jay Gaydosh wrote:
The big middle branch, you mean the upward growing branch on the main branch to the left?
That one also. Sorry I can't do virtuals.
Jay Gaydosh wrote:
I thought you just said remove that little branch above the upright one beacause it was opposite the big one on the right?
I was mistaken. You need that for a back branch. Remove the big one on the right. There is a little one above it that will replace it.
Iris

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Preparing to Repot

Post  bonsaisr on Sun Aug 30, 2009 11:06 am

Jay Gaydosh wrote:Anyone ever cut a wedge out of a branch to allow bending branch into a better position?
Yes, but sometimes it shows for years.
Jay Gaydosh wrote:
The area of the cut paste, if I cut into it and folded it upward, what's the risk?
Just Wondering
That is not what I would suggest. First, neaten up that cut. If you look carefully, there is a secondary branch growing straight up right next to the top of the trunk. That can be your new leader. Just shorten the rest of that first branch a little. No wiring needed there. You need to wire that back branch. Shorten the branch above it. Start shortening those two bottom branches now. You can shorten them more in the spring.
Iris

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Re: Preparing to repot

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