I received a Ficus Microcarpa Bonsai for Christmas, and I would love some advice on caring for it!
I've done a TON of reading on this forum and the other recommend reading sites. It's already losing a few leaves everyday (I've read this is common and probably because it's been moved around several times the last few weeks before christmas)
As requested in this thread:
Identification: I believe this is a Ficus Microcarpa Bonzai (is it also called a Ginseng?)
Location: Middle Tennessee
Age/History: Age Unknown? Bought from Sams Club a few weeks ago
Watering/Care: A tag on the plant suggested placing 8 ice cubes in the box (supposedly equal to 2/3 of a cup of water) once per week. They thought it was getting dried out, so gave it a good dose of water two days ago - It still feels damp within the first half inch or so right now.
Soil and Pot: A decorative wooden box, but the plant itself is in a cheap shallow plastic potter. Soil seems like regular potting soil from a commercial seller.
Rocks: There was pea gravel on top of the plant, but I took it off as recommended by several threads here.
Lighting and Location: This is up for debate. I'll be going back to my own house (at my parents currently) and it will get a new home on Thursday. (I'm worried about transportation - it's ~35 degrees and sleeting out right now)
Currently I just have to it sitting under a 100W CF Bulb in the living room. Near a large window but not drafty.
Growing outdoors: I'm definitely willing to grow outdoors, but I believe that's only for summertime for this species.
So, basics out of the way, I want to keep things simple in the beginning and focus first on Not-Killing-It and secondly on good growth going into the growing season. I'm happy to be patient about beautifying and shaping until after I am more experienced with the plant and bonsai care.
1. Light - I plan on putting this plant in the line of light from a large triple-wide french door at my house, but away from possible drafts.
I plan on supplementing with a 100W CF Bulb in a reading lamp placed as close as I can get it to the tree.
Watering: I plan on monitoring closely over the next few weeks to learn how much the plant needs. I will add a good dose of water (or two or three) whenever the first 1/2 inch of soil is dry.
Soil and Re-potting: - This is the point where am I most confused. I've read a lot in the soil sticky on this forum, but I still have no idea what to do.
Should I re-pot now and get it out of the cheap plastic mess ASAP or wait until spring?
Should I try to trim the roots now?
Next, as mentioned above, I have to go back to my own house (about 2 1/2 hours drive to east tennessee) in weather that is 30-40 degrees at most. Any advice for this transportation later this week?
Finally, although I plan on being patient with the beautification process, I have to ask about the large cut section across the main trunk. Obviously this wasn't bought from a professional bonzai seller. Are there strategies that can overcome this?