Waffles
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Help With Ficus Nitida

Hey all, I'm new to the forums and I'm looking for some help with my new Ficus Nitida. I'd been talking with my girlfriend for a while and she knew I wanted to get into gardening, and she saw the Bonsai that Wal-Mart had been selling so she bought me the most healthy Ficus Nitida she could find. Anyway, I've gotten alot of help from this forum about how to care for it (Alot harder than I expected, but still fun) But I've still got some questions.

-The tree had some new leaves on it when I first got it around 3-4 days ago. The first time I watered it was via submersion, which I only did once. It dried fairly fast, less than a day. The next time, I used bottled water pouring over the top, and that was about a day or so ago, and the top is still wet and I haven't re-watered since. There 2-3 more yellow leaves on it now than there were at first...Did I over water it too much? And is watering it thoroughly when the top is dry the proper way to do it?

-It has some thin roots jetting out from some of the branches; they vary in color from almost a beige to a dark brown, and some are very brittle to the touch. I can't tell if they're alive or dead; how do I tell, and if they are dead, should I just prune them off?

-When my girlfriend bought the plant, she picked it up by the trunk and the base of the pot, and then removed her hand, allowing the pot to fall from the soil and the tree. I guess there was an amount of the soil that fell out when that happened, but I don't know exactly how much, and now the tree and soil come out of the pot extremely easily. Should I consider re-potting with a different pot or a better mix of soil and fertilizer?

-Finally, is it okay to leave the moss on the top layer of soil?

Anyway, I've been keeping it on my back porch where it's exposed to an uncontrolled temperature around the 70's and 80's, after the first day where I kept it inside. It gets mostly indirect sunlight as of right now with the occasional bit of direct sunlight..I don't think it's had more than an hour or 2 of direct sunlight.

I'll be posting some pictures soon in an attempt to help, and I apologize if my gardening terminology isn't what it should be. Thanks guys. =)


[img]https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v359/krosankrover/P1000332.jpg[/img]

[img]https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v359/krosankrover/P1000333.jpg[/img]

[img]https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v359/krosankrover/P1000334.jpg[/img]

[img]https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v359/krosankrover/P1000335.jpg[/img]

[img]https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v359/krosankrover/P1000336.jpg[/img]

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IndorBonsai
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Take it out of the white plastic container. This should help with air circulation and help the soil dry out.
If your going to have art in your house why not make it living art. :D

Jason

Waffles
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It's usually not in that white plastic container, I just put it in that when I'm transporting it. =)

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bonsaiboy
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The tree had some new leaves on it when I first got it around 3-4 days ago. The first time I watered it was via submersion, which I only did once. It dried fairly fast, less than a day. The next time, I used bottled water pouring over the top, and that was about a day or so ago, and the top is still wet and I haven't re-watered since. There 2-3 more yellow leaves on it now than there were at first...Did I over water it too much? And is watering it thoroughly when the top is dry the proper way to do it?
First, it is best that you change the soil ASAP into a better soil mix. The soil of Wal-Mart bonsai are poor, and inapropriate for growing bonsai in.

It has some thin roots jetting out from some of the branches; they vary in color from almost a beige to a dark brown, and some are very brittle to the touch. I can't tell if they're alive or dead; how do I tell, and if they are dead, should I just prune them off?
Unless the roots are either white or have already made contact with the soil, they are dead. It is important to know that unless you intend to keep the tree in a humid enviornment, adventitious roots will not form, and white ones that have not made contact with the soil will die.

When my girlfriend bought the plant, she picked it up by the trunk and the base of the pot, and then removed her hand, allowing the pot to fall from the soil and the tree. I guess there was an amount of the soil that fell out when that happened, but I don't know exactly how much, and now the tree and soil come out of the pot extremely easily. Should I consider re-potting with a different pot or a better mix of soil and fertilizer
As already stated this is the best thing you can do. Make sure the pot you place it in has drainage holes, though

Finally, is it okay to leave the moss on the top layer of soil
It is, but you will have to remove the moss when you replant it as to allow you to change the soil.

Here is a link with good information realated to indoor bonsai and (specifically) ficuses. https://www.bonsaihunk.us/cultural.html
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Waffles
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M'kay; I'm going out later tonight, I'm going to try to pick up some new soil for good drainage, I'll probably stick with the same pot though. Would some regular soil mix and sand be fine?

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IndorBonsai
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Normal soil mix holds to much moisture, and sand, Unless screened to get rid of the smaller particles, is to fine.

Check this link out for some ideas on soil mix,
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=15040

And this link shows really good soil and what to do if you have to trim some roots,
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3423

As you can see the best soils are bark and a rock/pumice material. This helps the soil drain freely and keeps your roots healthy.

Hope this helps, Good luck :D
If your going to have art in your house why not make it living art. :D

Jason

Waffles
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M'kay, I had a good idea on what kind of soil mixture I wanted, but some of that stuff I couldn't find in my area. I got a hold on some cactus mix and the volcanic rock, and that was about it. I was talking to the local nursery shop and the guys there didn't know anything about bonsai...but I think I had a okay idea of what I wanted. I used the cactus mix, some potting soil, the volcanic rock and some gravel; I didn't really have anything else around that I thought would help with aeration and drainage. I also pruned my bonsai a little afterwards, I recall reading somewhere that you should after re-potting so the tree doesn't have to work so hard. I don't know if I'll be able to use this mix as something permanent, but I at least need it to keep my tree alive while I can find some of that more harder to get stuff.

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bonsaiboy
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This new mix will likely work for now, but needs to be changed in the future.
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Waffles
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While it's recovering from being re-potted I think I'll be keeping it in a window in my home. Something else I didn't take into account was I'd been keeping it on my porch and it's been raining hard the last few days so the airs been full of moisture, which could account for the slow drying of the soil, but hopefully this new mixture helps out. When would be a good time to switch to something more permanent do you think?

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IndorBonsai
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You can re-pot a ficus once a year safely. They grow so fast.
I would wait until next spring time to check the roots and maybe re-pot it then.
Remember to keep an eye on the soil it is in now, it will hold moisture for a long time. Just adjust your watering so the tree has a bit of a drying period between waterings.
If your going to have art in your house why not make it living art. :D

Jason

Waffles
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M'kay; it's been around a day since I re-potted it and it seems to be doing find so far, hopefully my worries are gone for now. Thank you so much to everyone who helped and answered quickly, I appreciate it. I'm really fascinated with bonsai's so if I can keep this one alive I might try out a different species. =) If I have any more questions I'll toss'em at ya. And thanks again everyone.

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bonsaiboy
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Your welcome! Just remember that losing a few bonsai is something normal for everyone (not that you will lose this one; it seems to be okay) :)
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Waffles
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Ok, another question quick. My tree had had some white dust like texture on most of the leaves, and some research showed that it was either mildew or a fungus...so I made the milk and water mixture and sprayed it once yesterday and once this morning. Well, this morning, after I got back...must have been 3 or 4 hours at the most...the tips of the branches are starting to turn black. I can provide a picture if necessary. Any clue what this could be? It was outside today.

EDIT: Also, I noticed some discoloration in the trunk...when I had first gotten it there were a few gray blotches near the bottom of the tree and now it's spread higher up the trunk. Any ideas?

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bonsaiboy
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Its likely just salt buildup from using hard water. If it continues though, you shold consaider a comercial-brand fungicide.
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IndorBonsai
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Neem Oil works I have had no ill effects using it on my ficus trees.
Read this it will help you understand a little bit about Neem oil.
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=925

Neem oil also helps with unwanted pests with out harming your soil or plant.
If your going to have art in your house why not make it living art. :D

Jason

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