sarabrooke
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Location: Ohio, US

Ginseng Ficus dying?

This is from when I first got the bonsai. See the trunks aren't damaged.
This is from when I first got the bonsai. See the trunks aren't damaged.
Hi, I'm new here but I have an urgent question. I have what I believe to be a Ginseng ficus bonsai. I received it as a gift a year ago. It seemed to be doing fine for this time. It regularly shed leaves and grew more. Was not wilting and i've never had a pest problem. Recently however, I seem to have been neglectful and i've noticed the trunk of the bonsai has wrinkled and feels quite soft. More than half of it's leaves have fallen off (around 20 or so) in the past week. Before this it would only lose 1 or 2 every couple months. I suspect it might be rotting from over watering or under watering?
I water it usually with rainwater or filtered on very rare occasions once or twice a week. In the pictures I include, you can see the leaves that dropped off are a tad yellow. The brown is because they are a day or two fallen. Also, one of the roots coming from the large trunks was hollow and dry so i cut that away before I took the photos. The only residue I could find is the white stuff on the one trunks base. I also cut a little piece of the bark to see if it was still green underneath and thankfully it is. I hope that means I can save it somehow? If you have any information on how to save my little bonsai or how it got this way I would be much obliged!
I forgot to mention, it is inside most of the time. In the warmer months I would take it outside for 5-6 hours. It sits on my window sill in my room but it is close to my heater. It's an old cast iron heater so no vents. The only draft is my window air conditioner ( another window) that blows air in sometimes. My house does not have many windows facing enough light so it really doesn't get the best. It stays around 67-70 F in my house. It is 50-30 F outside and starting to snow. I take it outside during the day if it is above 45 F. Also, I live in the US, NE Ohio to be exact.
I realize that was a lot but anyone who got this far and has information, I'd be so grateful for your help! Thank you.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Ginseng Ficus dying?

To start with moving it in and out all the time is very bad for it. Ficus hate to be moved. Bring it in for the winter, out for the summer and don't move it otherwise unless you have to. Going between warm and cold all the time is very stressful.

It isn't getting nearly enough light. You need to give it a dedicated lamp that shines directly on it from just a few inches away.

The wrinkled and shriveled is a very bad sign. I'm not for sure whether it was under watered or over watered. But here is something one of our members, bonsaiboy posted:

Another thing you should know about the Ginseng Ficus varieties; they are prone to a certain kind of root rot, that I call Ginseng rot. What happens is, for unknown reasons (although I believe it is related to letting the soil dry out), a fungus (that is, from my experience, harmful only to ginseng varieties, probably because almost all the plant consists of 'root') will invade the roots of the tree. It then decays all the vascular tissues on the inside of the root. The infection stops at the trunk or branches, but the plant is no longer able to obtain water, because the roots have been killed. The plant then, for lack of water, loses its leaves, and dies. Once it strikes a root, it is best to amputate it. One can tell if a root is infected due to a shriveled, wrinkled appearance, and a rather soft feel to it rather than a smooth, succulent look and normal firmness. However, if the fungus infects all the roots, it is usually too late. This fungi is, from my experience, little known because I have never seen it mentioned anywhere. Also, be sure to check out this site for some more information on growing ficuses indoors: https://www.bonsaihunk.us/cultural.html

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... hp?t=12950
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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rainbowgardener
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Ginseng Ficus dying?

any update on how your ginseng ficus is doing?
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

imafan26
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Re: Ginseng Ficus dying?

The soil looks clumpy and there is a white streak near the bottom of the root in one picture, so I think you may be right about root rot. It is hard to stop when it gets this far. The only way to know for sure would be to dig it up and check the roots if they are black or mushy and if the trunk has softened.

If that is the case, it may be possible to take a cutting to root if the remaining branches have enough energy left in them.

If the tree was watered in the cachepot that may be part of the problem. Water collects and the pot does not breathe so it can't really get rid of the excess water very well.

Most bonsai should be outside when the weather is warm, all of the time if it is above the temperature extreme for the plant. Ficus that are taken inside will drop all their leaves and go dormant in response to the change in light, but will grow new ones. They have to be hardened off again when the weather gets nice or they can be kept inside in bright light and will eventually adjust to the light they do get, but it is best that they are in a spot with good air circulation as well.

I don't keep indoor plants because my cats will dig them up, so I do understand the need for saucers indoors. However, I prefer mats, since that way you would not be tempted to water the plant in place. Even outdoors, the first thing I do with a pot is ditch the attached saucer. I do have cachepots, but I only put plants in them when they are on display, otherwise the cachepots pretty much stay stored in the garage.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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