What mixture to use for repotting a ficus elastica?

bedtimeMarch 4, 2013

Here's what I have to work with:

Premixed ready to use potting soil
Perlite
Vermiculite
Peat Moss
Sand

I was thinking of just using an equal mix of all but I would like opinions first.

This is the plant. It'll be going in a container one size up:

This post was edited by bedtime on Mon, Mar 4, 13 at 17:03

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

If you are limited to only those ingredients, I suggest that you eliminate the peat moss (the ready to use product IS peat moss....no more is needed), the sand (it tends to cause a container mix to choke), and the vermiculite (it collapses almost immediately and won't add any porosity to the mix) .

Perlite is a great amendment and feel free to use it with great abandon. Rinse it first, by putting a bunch in a large container with a drainage hole. Rinse rinse rinse. Use a high percentage of perlite to increase porosity in standard potting soil.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 4:36AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hey Rhizo,

I wish someone had explained about rinsing Perlite say 15 yrs. ago when I first got started using it.

The above was really well stated, I'd love to see something like that added to the FAQs.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 10:19PM
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bedtime

Thanx rhizo_1,

I did this, and I hope this was okay because I can easily redo it:

2 parts Perlite (rinsed, rinsed, and rinsed) :)
1 part Ready Mix Soil
1 part Peat Moss

Wow does this every drain fast! I sure this will be a great mix rhizo, and thanx again!

pirate_girl,

Yep, I made that mistake too years ago. We've probably all done mistakes like that.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 8:29AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

To make it easier for you to privide the greatest opportunity for your plants to grow to their potential, a very large fraction (75%+) of your soil should be chunky material. It's difficult to go wrong using pine bark as your soil base, but easy to go wrong using fine particulates, like peat, coir, compost, topsoil, sand ........

Starting with a large fraction (80%) of pine bark like this

and adding a smaller fraction of peat and perlite (10% each), will yield a soil that will remain well-aerated and free-draining for a long while:

Good root health is a prerequisite to a healthy plant. As a group, hobby growers give far too little consideration to the impact root health has on the health of the organism as a whole.

If you're interested, we can talk more ....

Al

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 4:28PM
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tropicbreezent

I was going to suggest woodchip or pinebark as well. A lot of ficus can grow (or start off life) as epiphytes, although their roots eventually extend into the soil. But they like the air around the roots and high humidity. Larger particles in a pot provide this environment for the roots. Things like peat are too dense so while retaining the water they still impede air circulation.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 7:38PM
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bedtime

tapla and tropicbreezent,

I can buy that pinebark and easily do this again, thanx. It might be a few weeks before that happens, but I will definately repot with these combination.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 8:37PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I think you'll be well-pleased. Best luck!

Al

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 5:08PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hey Bedtime,

I forgot to mention what a nice Ficus that is. I'm quite fond of the variegated F. Elastica like this one. I will say a bad mix is what lost me mine so, I'm enjoying yours vicariously. I hope it does well in your new mix when that happens.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 6:53PM
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bedtime

pirate_girl,

Aww, thanx.

Another question while this thread is here: when repotting into a bigger container (obviously with the soil combo mentioned above) would it be a good idea to throughly wash the roots, untangle, and rinse all old soil away, and then put into the new soil? Or just put the ficus into the new soil as is, with the old soil still holding its roots?

Thanx

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 7:00PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

When you repot trees, it's best to REPOT, not pot up. Repotting includes root pruning and changing all or a considered fraction of your soil. It ensures your plant will at least have the opportunity to grow to its potential within the effects of other potentially limiting factors, while only potting up ensures it can never reach its potential. I always bare-root Ficus when I repot them.

Al

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 8:48PM
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bedtime

I hope I did this right. I took all the plants out, loosened and untangled the roots and washed away almost all original soil. I did not root prune. I know you told me to, but I was afraid to.

I bought 'Orchid Media' which contains: Fine grade fir bark, medium grade fir bark, charcoal, and coarse perlite. I mixed about 10-20% peat moss. It was the only fine bark available and has bankrupt me for this month.

The pictures are below. The containers are abit big but I hope not to have to repot for about 2 years.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 1:45PM
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bedtime

This plant I divided from the original container as it was actually 2 plants and I'd rather have my trees seperate. I've not posted the other one.

Ficus elastica burgundy:

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 1:47PM
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bedtime

Bearss Lime Tree (AKA Persian Lime Tree or Tahiti Lime Tree):

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 1:50PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Your soil looks great! I'm sure you'll be glad for your efforts. Don't be afraid to prune the roots when you repot, though the fact that you repotted at this point in the growth cycle makes it a good thing that you left the root system largely intact. Take a look at the following pics - just so you get a feeling for how well Ficus tolerates root reduction.


If you would like to read more about tending trees in containers, let me know, and I'll link you to some info you should find helpful.

Al

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 12:44PM
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bedtime

tapla,

Thanx and it would be great to get those links if that's okay. :)

BTW, most of the leaves on both ficus trees feel much softer then usual. I've been mosting like crazy and no improvement. I decided to water the plants again. Should I be watering about every day? I'm concerned I'm going to lose my plant.

This post was edited by bedtime on Sun, Mar 10, 13 at 14:42

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 2:24PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I would cease the misting.

Are the trees in direct light?

Josh

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 2:47PM
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bedtime

Josh,

Yes, they are currently in direct light indoors. Though I have another ficus elastica that is in direct light too that I did not repot and its leaves feel firm.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 2:57PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

After a re-potting, we often protect the plants from direct light and wind until the roots have come back "online." Granted, these plants are indoors...but I still think it will help prevent moisture loss. Also, after re-potting, the mix does need to kept more uniformly moist in the upper layers.

Josh

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 3:18PM
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bedtime

Thanks for the quick reply.

Most of the leaves seem to be firming up more since I watered the plant about an hour ago so I think its headed in the right direction.

I'll make sure to keep the upper layers moist.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 3:30PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It's important to keep the roots hydrated during the repotting procedure. Allowing fine roots to dry for even a few minutes can kill them, so a tub/bucket to dip the roots in frequently, or a hand spritzer is the order of the day during repotting procedures ...... and now you know that repotting Ficus is better done in Jun or early Jul.

This link will take you to lots of basic information about maintaining trees in containers over the long term.

This one will help you understand the importance of soil choice to your ability to get all you can from the growing experience.

This one discusses a sound nutritional supplementation program.

If you haven't already read it, this one discusses how to maintain Ficus, specifically, in containers.

Best luck.

Al

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 4:58PM
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bedtime

Thanks for the links. Guess I have a little reading to do! ;)

This is going to help out alot!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 9:54PM
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