My first bonsai! Ficus retusa progression

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My first bonsai! Ficus retusa progression

Post  Philosoraptor on Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:49 am

I am quite proud of this Ficus, here are some pictures of its history.











As you can see, I've made many mistakes with this tree. I read online that kitty litter was a good bonsai soil, but purchased a brand that broke down into clay. I also did not fully bury its root ball within its pot! On the advice of another forum, I planted it in a deeper container. Quite a lot has been done in the past two years, and I am excited to see what the future brings for the tree. I think its weakest aspects are the unfused trunk, the position of the lowest left branch and the nebari in general. To address these concerns, I will be grafting that branch into a new position and wrapping the entirety of the trunk in sphagnum moss and cellophane. Hopefully I will grow some new aerial roots in the following year and I can position them in such a way as to develop the nebari. Thank you very much for looking and any opinions or advice you have to offer.

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Re: My first bonsai! Ficus retusa progression

Post  Twisted Trees on Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:58 pm

The trunk seems to come straigt out of the soil. The first thing I would do is replant it at an angle if you were so inclined. That would save your first left branch if you wished to keep it. i would look to add a little more height to it for a while just so it would fill out the unfused roots faster.

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Re: My first bonsai! Ficus retusa progression

Post  EpicusMaximus on Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:15 pm

Well, I'm new too, and just bought my first tigerbark.

I am happy to see the type of tree is as "tough" as they say. I also expect to make many mistakes with mine along the way.

That being said, what soil mix do you use in your growing pot? My retusa is in a small pot and I will repot it in the summer to something larger and was wondering what mix I should consider.

I was thinking turface, pine bark mulch, and sand...

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Re: My first bonsai! Ficus retusa progression

Post  Philosoraptor on Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:28 pm

Tilting the tree sounds like a great idea - I've been thinking that for several years, and have a habit of cocking my head ten degrees to the right when I look at the tree Razz. Epicus, I am no expert, but I like to use fairly inorganic soils - I am also living in a highly humid environment though. Your mix sounds fine to me, but I would consult with someone else and trust them over me.

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Re: My first bonsai! Ficus retusa progression

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:47 pm

I was thinking turface, pine bark mulch, and sand...

Be careful of the sand, if it is too fine it will clog the pores in the soil and really result in bad drainage. A large sandblasting sand is sometimes used.

Some Florida Tropical Bonsai masters are using pure turface.

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Re: My first bonsai! Ficus retusa progression

Post  Twisted Trees on Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:51 pm

Tilting your head is a lot easier than repotting.

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Re: My first bonsai! Ficus retusa progression

Post  rps on Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:19 pm

Billy M. Rhodes wrote: Be careful of the sand, if it is too fine it will clog the pores in the soil and really result in bad drainage. A large sandblasting sand is sometimes used.

epicus, my zone & conditions are nearly identical to yours. my retusas are thriving happily in a mix similar to the one you mention; albeit [to billy's sound point] i use crushed granite in lieu of 'sand'. it is readily and cheaply available through feed lots as 'turkey grit' or 'poultry grit'. a 50 lb bag [which goes a long long way] runs me about five bucks. you can use no.2 or no.3 guage --- the no.3 is a bit coarser and better for large trees, but the dealers usually have samples on display so you can take a look and judge the best standard for your mix. the particle size is very consisitent, so little if any sifting is required [the fines settle in the bag, so there tends to be more sifting when you get down to the last half]. it often proves sufficient to simply winnow the dust away on a breezy day by pouring the product back and forth between a couple of containers.
i've also seen it at garden centres [sold for use on icy sidewalks and steps] but at an inflated price. cripes, i've even seen it on amazon.

soil discussions often get factional, so understand that i am not endorsing grit as the only sensible option, simply indicating it is effective, cheap & easy to obtain --- particularly as one component in the general purpose mix you described.



Last edited by rps on Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:22 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling spelling SPELLING)

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Re: My first bonsai! Ficus retusa progression

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:57 pm

There are pit falls everywhere.

Turkey Grit is usually larger than Poultry Grit and Turkey Grit is better:

If - sometimes Poultry/Turkey Grip will be Oyster Shell and that is not a good additive for soils because of its pH and possible salt levels.

And, one shop I visited sold Turface as Poultry/Turkey Grit (I would worry about actually using that with birds.)



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Re: My first bonsai! Ficus retusa progression

Post  leatherback on Sat Jan 05, 2013 7:29 am

Twisted Trees wrote:Tilting your head is a lot easier than repotting.

Quote of the day! Thx, you just made me smile Very Happy

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Re: My first bonsai! Ficus retusa progression

Post  Philosoraptor on Sat Jan 05, 2013 11:11 am

Twisted Trees wrote:Tilting your head is a lot easier than repotting.

True, but it's given me such a crick in the neck!

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Re: My first bonsai! Ficus retusa progression

Post  BigDave on Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:14 pm

Philosoraptor wrote:
Twisted Trees wrote:Tilting your head is a lot easier than repotting.

True, but it's given me such a crick in the neck!

Bonsai Neck May turn into Taco neck Syndrome, use with caution


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Re: My first bonsai! Ficus retusa progression

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