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#1: Please help! ...trying to revive an abandoned bonsai

Posted on 2006-05-24 15:32:13 by Paul

I need some help on how to revive a dying bonsai. It is a ficus
macrophylla about 40 cm tall. It doesn't look good. It has no leaves but
the scratch test reveals that the trunk and most major branches are
still green.

A friend of mine left it in a garage where it got only a little light
and almost no water for over a month. This is when all the leaves went
brown but stayed attached. The last 3 weeks I have been watering it
correctly (watering till the water soaks and runs through only when the
soil is dry) and have moved it outside to a sunny position (seeing as I
read OUTSIDE is best and it likes the sun).

I read that this variety doesn't like temperatures below 15C, and am
worried because winter is starting here in Sydney and the temperature at
night is 13C and only gonna get colder.

I have been searching forums on the net for over a week now and haven't
really found definite answers to the following questions...

They are:

Should I leave it outside or inside near a window?

Should I trim off the dead branches now or wait? (and if I wait then
wait for... new growth? spring?)

Should I remove the wiring on the branches?

Or should I just take it to a professional seeing as it used to be a
very nice looking plant!?

Any help from someone more experienced than myself would be greatly
appreciated.

Thanks,
Lee and Paul

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#2: Re: Please help! ...trying to revive an abandoned bonsai

Posted on 2006-05-31 04:02:24 by bobc

Paul, I am no expert but I believe Ficus defoliate as a response to
dryness. I mean, at least some species, go through a dry season, drop
their leaves, and go dormant.
If it begins to grow again (a month is rather long), gradually
re-introduce it to bright light, and keep it inside for the winter.
I'm not sure, but I think most Ficus are tropical or semi-tropical
plants.
As far as reviving it, it sounds like you're doing what I would do.
Just move it inside before you start getting frost. If you decide to
remove the wire (if it's not too tight, why bother?) cut it do not
unwind. I wouldn't do it now unless it was really necessary.
As for cutting dead branches - if you are sure they're dead, then go
ahead. Otherwise wait for new growth.
And finally, relax. Just like it takes time for plants to show stress,
it takes time for them to recover from it.
I think raising the relative humidity around the tree would help too.
I wouldn't feed it until you see new growth.
Hope this helps!
Bob Campoli

Paul wrote:
> I need some help on how to revive a dying bonsai. It is a ficus
> macrophylla about 40 cm tall. It doesn't look good. It has no leaves but
> the scratch test reveals that the trunk and most major branches are
> still green.
> Should I leave it outside or inside near a window?
>
> Should I trim off the dead branches now or wait? (and if I wait then
> wait for... new growth? spring?)
>
> Should I remove the wiring on the branches?
>
> Or should I just take it to a professional seeing as it used to be a
> very nice looking plant!?
>
> Any help from someone more experienced than myself would be greatly
> appreciated.
>
> Thanks,
> Lee and Paul

Report this message

#3: Re: Please help! ...trying to revive an abandoned bonsai

Posted on 2006-06-07 13:18:05 by TinanaTaffy

Paul Wrote:
> I need some help on how to revive a dying bonsai. It is a ficus
> macrophylla about 40 cm tall. It doesn't look good. It has no leaves
> but
> the scratch test reveals that the trunk and most major branches are
> still green.
>
> A friend of mine left it in a garage where it got only a little light
> and almost no water for over a month. This is when all the leaves went
> brown but stayed attached. The last 3 weeks I have been watering it
> correctly (watering till the water soaks and runs through only when
> the
> soil is dry) and have moved it outside to a sunny position (seeing as
> I
> read OUTSIDE is best and it likes the sun).
>
> I read that this variety doesn't like temperatures below 15C, and am
> worried because winter is starting here in Sydney and the temperature
> at
> night is 13C and only gonna get colder.
>
> I have been searching forums on the net for over a week now and
> haven't
> really found definite answers to the following questions...
>
> They a
>
> Should I leave it outside or inside near a window?
>
> Should I trim off the dead branches now or wait? (and if I wait then
> wait for... new growth? spring?)
>
> Should I remove the wiring on the branches?
>
> Or should I just take it to a professional seeing as it used to be a
> very nice looking plant!?
>
> Any help from someone more experienced than myself would be greatly
> appreciated.
>
> Thanks,
> Lee and Paul

Hi Paul, Perhaps you already know, Ficus Macrophylla is the Moreton Bay
Fig. As such, yes, they do like the sun, but knowing the Sydney winters
( I moved from Sydney, after living there for ten years, to Qld three
years ago) it may be advisable to give it some protection from frost
etc. I used to keep my 'frost sensitive' trees under a perspex sheet
(top of one of my Bonsai tables). The Moreton Bay is a very tough tree
- nearly bullet proof, but considering the treatment this one got I'm
not surprised it has lost its leaves and suffered some die-back. Might
be prudent to check whether the soil has become water repellent through
being dried out so much. If you can, dunk it in water and leave it in
there for an hour or two to thoroughly soak the soil. Watering from the
top only doesn't mean that the soil is getting properly moistened. Also,
mix some Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulphate) with the water - it is a good
'reviver' of sick plants, and is also useful after root-pruning and
re-potting.
If you are not able to protect it outside, then sure take it inside -
but put it in a sunny but draught free position. Don't prune off any
dead stuff yet - wait till spring and see where the new leaves shoot
from. If the branches have wire on them, yes, take it all off. If you
really think you need some professional advice then try contacting one
of the Sydney based Bonsai clubs, or if you PM me (with your suburb), I
can give you a few addresses of some very experienced Bonsai people that
would be only too pleased to give you some assistance.
Hope your tree recovers - Figs are great to work with. As an aside,
While I lived in Darwin a magnificent Ficus Macrophylla won Champion
Bonsai in 1991 - the leaves had reduced to about 15mm in length!


--
TinanaTaffy

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