My wife just bought me a Alii Ficus that looks VERY root bound. It
has 1/4" roots that protrude from the soil surface as they coil around
the perimeter of the pot. How much of this mess, if any, should I cut
back when repotting?
Thanks in advance,
I asked the same question on the gardenweb forums and got this very detailed
In your zone, Ficus alii ( ay -lee-eye) is probably able to be repotted
almost anytime w/o complications. If I had to select the best time, I would
say at the spring equinox (around mid-March). All trees are good candidates
for root-pruning. The key is to eliminate the largest roots, allowing needed
room for fine feeder roots to establish. Bare-rooting (removing all soil) is
the best method. This is one of the requirements of repotting bonsai trees
that are passed from generation to generation. If you examine the roots of
these perfectly healthy trees, you will note that there are no coarse roots,
only fine, feeder roots. Not bare-rooting will eventually cause the
hardening of soil in the old, original root mass, making air & water
penetration impossible. When this occurs, the first symptom is the death of
individual branches accompanied by an overall lack of vitality.
After soil is removed, reduce the size of the rootball so you can return it
to the same pot if you wish. Then, remove an additional 1/3 of the largest
roots. All the Ficus tropical species will easily tolerate this kind of
reduction. Repot in a fast draining spoil & allow to get very dry before
watering again. Alii is well adapted to dry conditions. Repot in a fast
draining soil, using dull chopsticks to work soil into all the air pockets.
Make sure the fine roots do not dry out during the operation. Spritz
frequently while working with the roots (if it's hot - spritz yourself and
Trees treated this way often sulk a bit, but the subsequent growth push
always surpasses plants that are only 'potted up' to larger containers. You
can begin a fertilizer program a couple of weeks after new top growth is
noted. Start with 1/4 recommended dosage, then move to 1/2. Low
concentrations & frequent applications of fertilizer are much better than
more infrequent full doses. Never fertilize a dry or declining plant,
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.