richm2778
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Location: South Florida

Dead Ficus Retusa

Hello everyone. I am sad to say that I think my first bonsai, a ficus retusa named Buddha has died. Buddha had some problems with leaf drop and so forth for a few months now, and I did everything I read I was supposed to do. I placed him outside in the sun. I watered him regularly, and I even went so far as to prune the damaged leaves and stuff. Recently, we have had an Arctic front move through my area of South Florida. We had bitter cold and we had a lot of clouds for a few days as well. Today I went to check on him, and low and behold, the new branches and leaf buds that had developed and given me hope for a recovery had browned. He is still in his pot; however, I am not very optimistic. He has no leaves at all now, and only a bit of green left in any of the buds or new branches. If dead trees are the tuition we all pay to learn the art of bonsai, then I owe a bit less on my student loans. Buddha is/was a good tree.

Rich

thesdbux
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He may not be dead but just in shock.

I have read you can take a scraping from the trunk or exposed root.

If its greenish there is hope.

Wait for the others to respond as well.

SaturnsPattern
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I read that it's bad to have your plant in conditions colder than 13 degrees celcius, if temperatures reached lower than that - where the plant should have been brought inside, that may have been your problem.

..but that's not to say your tree is dead. What's your fertilizing routine? A pic and any additional information would be very handy

JTred
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Don't be too discouraged, it happens and you can learn from it. Keep it watered and protected for a while and watch for new growth, you never know Buddha may come back. If you see new buds, watch the weather and don't allow it to get frozen again. f nothing grows back, look into another ficus, or maybe go with a tree that is native to your area or even another beginner friendly species. One of the best ways to learn is to fail.

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bonsaiboy
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Whatever you do, do not throw it out. If I were you, I would bring it indoors, for the best protection. I think that there is hope that it will recover, so, as JTred, SaturnsPattern, and thesdbux had said before me, don't give up just yet.
הדמיון הוא יותר חשוב מאשר ידע

richm2778
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Location: South Florida

Thank you all for the responses. I have my trees in a pretty sheltered place out in my yard. It was nowhere near 13 degrees out. The coldest it ever got was the high 30's. I am going to do a scraping on the trunk just to see if there is any green. Hopefully it is shock as some of you said. I have my fingers crossed.


Edited:
I just got back inside. I gave his trunk a little bit of a scrape, and there was green under his bark. Also, beneath the green was white. I only scraped a very small area, and I could only see about 2 mm of white through the green. I am going to keep him, and I will continue to water and feed him on his regular schedule.

I live in South Florida, and it was 80 degrees outside today with lovely sunshine. He gets watered when his soil gets to be almost dry about 1/2 inch below the surface, usually every day when it is hot, or every few days when it is cool. His fertilizer is 5 drops of Miracle Grow every other week during winter, and every week during the grow season.

On a side note, my Trident Maple has been repotted, and I am awaiting the buds opening and seeing it in leaf for the first time.

Rich

JTred
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richm2778 wrote:It was nowhere near 13 degrees out. The coldest it ever got was the high 30's.
I'm pretty sure 30 is still too cold for a ficus, they are tropical trees that would rarely see this temp. Temperature extremes are even more exaggerated for the shallow pots and exposed roots.
richm2778 wrote:His fertilizer is 5 drops of Miracle Grow every other week during winter, and every week during the grow season.
What is the manufacturer's recommended strength? It seems to me that 5 drops is not very much, unless its a very concentrated solution. There's no harm to be done with under fertilizing, but I use 500mL of full strength Miracle grow (powdered, I think its like the small side of the little green spoon to a liter.) after thorough watering and a week since, my f. retusa (also recently suffering an entire defoliation due to a mildew infection and relocation) is putting out new buds everywhere, some of which have already opened into leaves. Again I don't know what kind of Miracle grow you're using, so I don't know how 5 drops corresponds to the manufacturer's recommendation, but if its significantly less, I think you might have a bit more luck using a mixture closer to the manufacturers specs. I would wait until you see new, green buds to do this.

SaturnsPattern
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richm2778 wrote: It was nowhere near 13 degrees out. The coldest it ever got was the high 30's.
Oh, sorry, I meant 13 degrees Celcius. So, the high 30's in Farenheit is pretty darn near freezing temperature, which is definitely bad for a Ficus.
(32 degrees Farenheit is freezing temperature)

I'm happy to hear you had a green scraping, though :D

richm2778
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Location: South Florida

Just a quick update.... Unfortunately, all the remaining green growth on the tree has browned and apparently died. I am still hopeful that the tree might show some new growth once the weather warms up. I am still watering on schedule, and I am treating it like it is just dormant. Please keep your fingers crossed!

Rich

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Gnome
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Rich,
I am still watering on schedule, and I am treating it like it is just dormant.
You do need to continue watering as necessary but be careful about watering on a schedule. A defoliated tree will transpire much less water than one in leaf. Ficus are known for being able to bounce back from defoliation so keep the faith.

Norm

richm2778
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Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 3:13 pm
Location: South Florida

Thanks Norm. I will water when it needs it.

JTred
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Gnome wrote: Ficus are known for being able to bounce back from defoliation so keep the faith.

Norm
I second that, check out mine in this thread.
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=58399#58399

Complete defoliation to several open buds in 13 days.



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