SpiffyBex
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Few questions about my new bonsai..

Hello! I am new to Bonsai, but I love to garden and plant things.. I am moving soon and of course all of my beautiful flowers are here and I don't have the heart to dig them up as I wont have room for them (going from a house to an apartment).

However, my Grandma bought me a Bonsai yesterday from walmart (not the best place I'm sure). The tag says "Ficus Nitida".. There are no rocks but there is moss. Should I remove the moss?

It is also in a plastic pot, stock down into a large ceramic pot. The plastic pot sits on top of a piece of Styrofoam so that the excess water has a place to pool. The roots of the bonsai are starting to show through the bottom of the plastic pot of the drain holes.. Is it time to move it to something larger? How could I set it up in the ceramic pot without the plastic pot?

Thanks very much in advance.. :D

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rainbowgardener
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I'm not a bonsai grower, but I can answer one part of this question from general gardening knowledge. The ceramic outer pot, known as a cache pot, is for decoration and usually doesn't have any drain holes. If this is the case, then to put your tree directly in it is instant death. And ceramic is very difficult to drill holes into without breaking it.

If the roots are coming out of the drain holes, it sounds like it should be repotted (but here is where you should wait for a real bonsai person to come along ). If so you need to get an appropriate pot, the right size and made for the purpose.
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SpiffyBex
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I kind of guessed that I should not put it directly into the pot. But wasn't entirely sure.. I plant in the ground and this is really my first venture into a potted plant.

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Gnome
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SpiffyBex,

I agree with everything RBG has advised. Do not put it in the outer pot as is and drilling holes in ceramic is problematic, at least I have not had much luck. It's time to move it up into a larger pot, and here is where you have some research to do and some decisions to make.

Begin to research proper bonsai soils and why we use them [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3422]here.[/url] Make sure to follow the links as well. If you are satisfied with the image that your tree currently presents you can purchase an appropriately sized bonsai pot and a small bag of soil on-line and re-pot now. Summer is a good time to re-pot Ficus as they will respond well now. You can even get inexpensive plastic bonsai pots that look OK.

If, on the other hand, you would like to grow it our more you don't really need a bonsai pot at all. Any nursery pot of an appropriate size can be used. The idea behind all this is that bonsai are developed in either nursery containers or other, usually shallow and broad, containers for years in order to attain a mature appearance. They are only placed in bonsai pots for appearance sake when they really deserve it. A lot of 'bonsai' sold at mass retailers are really just young cuttings in fancy pots. That's fine if that's what you desire but there is so much more to bonsai.

This is the choice you need to make now, accept it for what it is or approach it with more of an eye to the future. look [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=27007]here[/url] to see an example of a mature Ficus that a member has recently acquired. Give the above some thought and we will be glad to assist you further.

A few other thoughts, the type of moss on your tree is not really growing and is really just top-dressing and think I would remove it. Doing so will give you a better idea of the condition of the soil and when to water.
The plastic pot sits on top of a piece of Styrofoam so that the excess water has a place to pool.
It would really be better to remove the inner pot before you water the tree and only return it after the excess water has drained. Never allow the inner pot to remain in standing water.

Norm

SpiffyBex
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Wow! The picture in the first post (https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=27007) is absolutely beautiful! I love that style.. I wouldn't have a clue how to get mine to that point. Would photos of my ficus be helpful?

Thank you so much.

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Gnome
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SpiffyBex,
I wouldn't have a clue how to get mine to that point.
That tree came from Florida where the climate is more suitable than,say mine here in PA where I can only have Ficus outside about 6 months of the year. That tree also spent considerable time in development as I mentioned earlier. During that time it was most likely not in a bonsai pot, and was perhaps even in the ground.
Would photos of my ficus be helpful?
Sure go ahead and post some pictures but unless I am completely wrong about the nature of Wal-Mart bonsai, I suspect that some time simply growing it out is in order. Of course that decision is completely up to you and your goals for this tree.

Norm

SpiffyBex
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I would love to grow it out, let it get bigger and fuller. I am in VA so would it be OK to have it outside (on my small porch; shaded) in the spring & summer and in the house in fall/winter?

I was able to get a hole drilled into the bottom of this ceramic pot, would it be OK to plant it directly into the ceramic pot now?

Here is a photo:

[img]https://i50.tinypic.com/2zovp6c.jpg[/img]

linlaoboo
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did yours come with a tag from "bloom rite Nurseryman's exchange"? cuz I just picked one up the other day from Pathmark out of all places. Mine didn't come with Styrofoam but the plastic pot had an extension below the roots to raise it away from water and it sits in another plastic pot made to mimic ceramic.
ficus, maple, elm, juniper, pine

SpiffyBex
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Yes, I believe the tag did say it was from BloomRite.

linlaoboo
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i've been reading some info about the Nitidas this couple days and went onto bloomrite's website. They don't show ficus nitita but rather a different but similar ficus now. The care tag from mine says 63 to 90 degrees. I've been leaving my on the balcony which faces south to southeast and it gets morning to noon sun. So far it's doing good with just a few leaves which turned yellow.

You're in a warmer climate than NJ so it should do great outdoors in the summer as long as you acclimatize it to your location. This tree came from either Half Moon Bay, CA or Del Ray beach, FL.

I also have a ficus golden gate/retusa for 10 years and it does fine by a south facing window when temperature falls below 50 and comes outside during spring to late fall.
ficus, maple, elm, juniper, pine

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Gnome
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SpiffyBex,

After seeing your pot I still think that I would look for something else. In bonsai, tall pots are generally reserved for cascade style trees while upright trees are potted in much shallower, broader pots. This is, at least somewhat, an aesthetic issue and therefore a matter of personal taste. But by using a wider container you allow the roots to spread in a more horizontal fashion that is more appropriate for bonsai.

Look at some of Jerry's trees.
https://www.bonsaihunk.us/images.html

Also, notice how all the pots have feet? This is more than just for appearance. By raising the container drainage is improved. I once almost killed a plant by using a container with no feet. Although it did have a large diameter drainage hole, over time it became plugged with sludge that washed down through the soil and greatly impeded drainage.

Which brings me to my next question. How big is the hole that you managed to drill? Bonsai pots usually have rather sizable holes to ensure good drainage.
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Assorted_bonsai_pots.jpg

Norm

SpiffyBex
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Thank you so much for the help. I think I am simply going to get a bigger nursery pot and grow it out a bit and then look for an appropriate bonsai pot later on.

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Gnome
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SpiffyBex,

You're welcome. When you choose a pot make sure to choose something that is wide and shallow. This will make the eventual move to a proper bonsai pot that much easier. Here are some various things I have been using as growing boxes/pots. Notice that they all share the same general shape.

[url=https://img411.imageshack.us/i/potsui8.jpg/][img]https://img411.imageshack.us/img411/1989/potsui8.th.jpg[/img][/url]

One more thing, earlier I mentioned that you can buy plastic bonsai pots, here is an example.

https://www.miamitropicalbonsai.com/plastics-pots.html

If you choose one that is somewhat over-sized you get the best of both worlds. Such a pot allows the tree some room to grow which is necessary for it to eventually thicken up. It also presents a reasonable 'bonsai' image that all new growers desire.

Just make sure not to choose a pot that is excessively large as this can lead to a situation where too much soil stays wet too long.

I know you did not ask about soil, and I already mentioned it, but please do check the link that I provided earlier. There is a real advantage to using the proper type of medium.

Norm

linlaoboo
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i'll be going down that same route bro, here's what mine looks like

[img]https://i529.photobucket.com/albums/dd340/malagabee/CIMG0847.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i529.photobucket.com/albums/dd340/malagabee/CIMG0848.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i529.photobucket.com/albums/dd340/malagabee/CIMG0849.jpg[/img]
ficus, maple, elm, juniper, pine

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