Repotting Mr. Ficus

ficus repottedWe own a ficus tree that’s a hand-me-down from a neighbor. She bought it in grad school and when she unloaded it on us a few years after we moved in, it was outgrowing its ceramic pot. I bought a much larger one, also ceramic. The one drawback was its weight (I admit I could barely lift it empty — these were the days before resin pots were everywhere). The plant thrived in the extra space, though, and we developed a routine for getting it out on the deck in May and back inside in October. We even got the point where it didn’t lose most of its leaves over the winter.

But it was getting cramped again. The roots were taking up so much space that you were never sure how much water got below the soil line. So time to repot.

This time I got a resin pot. That was the easy part. Getting a tree that’s taller than me out of the old pot was a bigger challenge. We took a knife around the edge of the pot, but that didn’t do much. So we rolled the pot down some planks onto the grass and started loosening up the soil on top. Tugging at the plant still didn’t do much. We rocked and shook the pot. Some movement. More loosening. More rocking, using the slope of our backyard and gravity to help us. Finally it came out!

What a rootball!

ficus rootballThen I followed the directions of a video and gave the rootball a haircut — down the sides and along the bottom. That should help it spread out. (The trowel gives you a sense of the haircut — it is shorter than the pot the plant had been in.)

ficus after haircutThen we put it in the new pot. OK, we used garden soil (infused with Miracle Grow) instead of potting soil, and we didn’t have any vermiculite or perlite handy to loosen it up. So maybe it is heavier than it needs to be. But as long as the ficus tree is happy….

I just don’t want it to shoot up so much that it is scraping the ceiling this winter.


2 thoughts on “Repotting Mr. Ficus

    1. True, but it came mixed into the bag of soil we bought (yes, on sale), and given that we hadn’t given the plant anything in addition to potting soil in years, a few nutrients might not be a bad thing. And they’ll be used up in three months (according to the bag). Not like we’re claiming this is an organic ficus!

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