I have taken upon myself a very difficult task: to get this tree green and pretty by December 31st.
Here is the tree.
I picked it up from Old Florida Bonsai for a good price but, alas, without a pot.
It’s a big pot.
It’s a big tree too.
What kind of tree?
Awwww, it’s a weeping fig.
Or, as I prefer to call it, ficus benjamina.
That’s right, go ahead and pour the derision and scorn over my head like that green slime on the old TV show “You can’t do that television!”
Why? Why did I spend good money on this tree?
Well, for one, it’s big. Let’s go back to the first photo:
For scale, the tires on the cart are ten inches tall.
Second, I feel confident (I’m still crossing my fingers though) that I can green this up by my oh-so-short deadline (it’s the beginning of November. We are talking two (cold) months here in la Florida).
I have a secret weapon today though.
My youngest son, Mathew is helping me.
He’s smarter than me, he’s wearing gloves.
Let’s get to it, first, root work…..what?
Root work in November on a tropical?
I thought, Adam, that you only recommended root work in the summer on a ficus?
I do, I do, but…..BUT…this is a case where I’m going to have to invoke the “do as I say, not as I do” rule.
I’m in Florida, I should have (mostly) a month of 60 degree Fahrenheit nights ahead of me.
I’m still gonna ask you, my dear readers, a favor…..pray for the tree.
Right now, the root mass is square.
The pot is oval.
I know I’m a bit of a rebel but, generally, a square peg doesn’t fit into a round hole.
Where’s my saw?
Imma gunna need some more implements.
Wow, these roots are tough. I’m actually breaking a sweat.
Except for those wedges I sawed off, I’m really just combing the roots out.
While Mathew cleans up after his dear-ol’-dad…
….I prepare the pot.
Wow, that is a big center hole. I have shohin trees that would fit through that hole.
I got the pot a few years ago for very cheap money.
Did I have a tree or even a tree in mind for it?
Nope. I bought it just in case.
This is one of the best tips I have for you: if you see a unique pot for a good price, buy it.
Pots, unlike a tree, don’t die!
I’m not sure what country the pot is from, but here’s the chop.
It doesn’t matter to me, really, I like the pot and it will work today.
The soil I’m using is a mix of pumice (sifted DryStall, what a waste, I lost about a third of it), red lava, calcined clay, sifted pine bark and expanded slate.
My standard mix mostly.
Now for the big decision: where is the front of this tree.
Mathew, or should I say, “Mario”….
….prefers this side.
I told you he was smarter than me.
The tree is so big it needs some double chopsticking.
Then it’s a maximum strength prescription: I put fertilizer (Milorganite), some chelated iron (granular Ironite, to help green up the leaves faster), a granular systemic insecticide (Merit), and a pre-emergent herbicide (Oh2, kinda like Preen).
Quite a lot of things, I know, but it’s gonna take all I have to get the tree growing.
I might even (gasp!) have to resort to some fish emulsion.
I think I have a good chance, what do you think?
It might even be getting greener already.
Wish me luck.
I’m gonna need it.