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First Ficus Bonsai ... need help please

Posted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 8:04 pm
by Lindakb
Hi, I just bought my first bonsai, a ficus microcarpa ginseng. I have always wanted to have a bonsai but always thought it was too fussy a plant to own and that I would end up killing it.

I have it placed at my window, no direct sunlight in the spring/summer, medium light ... small amount of sunlight in the fall/winter. The plant was very dry when I brought it home so I gave it a water bath, making sure all the excess water was drained from the pot. The soil seems to be a type of moss mixture with a bit of roots showing on top but no roots that seem to be coming through the bottom of the pot.

Attaching 2 pictures of my bonsai. I watered it 4 days ago but I'm not sure if it needs to be repotted as you can see some roots are showing.

I've been reading here and other sites and conflicting info as to how often my bonsai should be watered ... let it go dry in between? ... fertilizing, pruning, lighting ...

I heard it is supposed to be one of the easiest bonsai's for a "beginner" but it's beginning to sound very complicated. Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks so much, Linda

I'm not sure how often to water, fertilize, when to repot it, prune it ... anything really. I am hoping I can get some great info and help here.

Re: First Ficus Bonsai ... need help please

Posted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 5:41 pm
by Gnome

Watering first, get a cheap kitchen skewer (a penny or two each at most grocery stores) insert it about halfway from the trunk to the pot edge and leave it there. Every day remove the skewer and hold it to the underside of your wrist. You will easily be able to tell if the soil is dry, when it is, water thoroughly. That type of soil can be difficult to wet thoroughly so don't be shy with the water. Proper watering is about frequency not quantity which should always be copious. Paradoxically, perhaps, is the fact that this type of soil stays wet far longer than bonsai substrates that are currently in favor.

While a Ficus will tolerate low lighting levels it will do much better with stronger lighting. All of my plants are outside for the summer with the tender ones only retreating inside when frost threatens.

Fertilization and re-potting are secondary concerns for the immediate future.


Re: First Ficus Bonsai ... need help please

Posted: Sat Aug 09, 2014 3:30 pm
by Lindakb
Thanks for the advice Norm, much appreciated. Will get the kitchen skewer right away.

Re: First Ficus Bonsai ... need help please

Posted: Sat Aug 09, 2014 6:08 pm
by imafan26
Since you just bought this bonsai and it was probably in more light than you have it now, do not be surprised if the leaves start falling off. Ficus do not like to have their light changed. If you go from a high light to low light, the ficus will go dormant; drop all of the leaves and then grow new ones.

Most bonsai are really not house plants and prefer to be outside most of the time. If you keep them in a house get a shelf or table with an adjustible grow light or flourescent light placed a few inches above the plant to give it more light. The light should stay on 14-16 hours a day and make sure there is good air circulation. When you water the plant do it in the sink or tub and use the hose sprayer and wash the dust off the leaves and check under the leaves for pests.

You have a well trained bonsai. The root has been pruned and what is sticking out should be there. It is part of the beauty of bonsai to see the twists and form of the branches and roots. It is what gives the plant character and how you can tell how old the tree is. Sphagnum peat moss is not the usual bonsai media because it does hold a lot of water but it very hard to rewet unless you soak it in a bucket when it gets very dry.

Re: First Ficus Bonsai ... need help please

Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 3:43 pm
by Lindakb
Thanks for the info Super Green Thumb, much appreciated.

Re: First Ficus Bonsai ... need help please

Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 4:24 pm
by imafan26
Your welcome. I am Imafan26 , super green thumb is just my designation based on the number of posts I have made. Gnome is a moderator.