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Question: Ficus ginseng
Hi everyone and thanks in advance for the answers. I have a ficus ginseng given to me by my brother who had more or less already had it for 4 years, never repotted. When he arrived, he had lost a lot of leaves, I wanted to make holes to drain the small piece of land that surrounds the bonsai, this is because the earth around it is very soft, while the dough that surrounds the bonsai is harder. So the water slipped in the sides and not in the middle where the roots are. Fortunately now the bonsai has recovered very well. It has many leaves and does not present any kind of suffering. So my question is can I repot it now? and is the earthenware for bonsai okay or should I add something else? The bonsai is inside the apartment
Answer: Ficus ginseng
congratulations for the care you have brought to your brother's dying bonsai, without your help it would surely have been irreparably ruined.
Given the conditions of the soil, the plant was certainly badly treated in the nursery, given that around the roots there was a compact and hard soil, not at all draining; it is therefore essential to be able to carry out a repotting, so as to first of all ensure that the roots can breathe, in fact in the soil that becomes so hard and dry the roots are not happy, apart from the lack of water, also due to the impossibility to have exchanges with the outside. Secondly the repotting will also serve to provide the plant with a well-draining and fresh soil that can be crossed by water. In addition to this, the soil around the roots is now exhausted, and certainly contains only the mineral salts supplied with the fertilizers.
That said, the beginning of spring is certainly not the best time for repotting: your plant is in full vegetative growth, and is producing so many new leaves and new shoots; a repotting now would certainly cause excessive stress to ficus.
I advise you to wait until late spring, April or May; in this way you will have a plant that has stopped producing leaves and branches quickly, but still in vegetation, so as to allow it to heal quickly the wounds caused by the root system, and also to reconstitute the pruned roots.
So, let's say after Easter, extract the ficus from the vase and try to remove as much as possible of the earthen bread that encloses the roots, using if necessary a knife or wooden chopsticks (often using small sticks that are used as guardians, those you see in the vases of orchids: they are sufficiently resistant, but also flexible, and therefore they do not ruin the root apparatus altogether); at the end it rinses the roots well and shortens them by about a third.
At this point your ficus is ready to be repotted; being a bonsai already adult, or however already bonsaizzato for a long time, it is not strictly necessary to change the container; if you still want to change it, look for one more or less the same size as the previous one.
The ideal soil for ficus bonsai is almost completely made up of akadama, mixed with a little universal soil (put your wallet in hand, and always buy top quality soils, even if they are a little more expensive than the soil you find in the supermarket).
Be careful to repot the plant well, compacting the soil around the roots, without exceeding it, and letting it slide in all areas of the pot; during the repotting, as you insert the earth in the vase, tap the container on the ground, or on the table, slightly, to avoid the signing of very harmful air pockets.