My Ficus religiosa Dieback Problems, The Bonsai Zone, Feb 2023

Hi everyone Nigel Saunders here all is Not well in the plant room I have a tree That's dying back it's my Ficus Religiosa my large one so I'm very Concerned about it I I first noticed one Branch was the leaves suddenly went limp On it And I thought oh I Thought well maybe I bumped the branch And kind of broke it or something And the leaves fell off and then another Section of the branch started the leaves Went limp and it started dying back and I thought Oh maybe it's got some insects or Something so I sprayed it with soap and Water Kept my eye on it and the rest of the Branch seemed to be okay And then I noticed that started dying Back And So I don't know what's going on with it If there's some kind of insect I'm not Seeing or if there's a problem in the Roots so I think it's warm enough today That I'm going to bring the tree from The plant room out here in the Greenhouse where I can get a good look At it and try and figure out what's Going on and if I have to do an Emergency repot maybe there's Crane fry crane fly larva in the soil or Something like that that I've got to

Look at so I'll get the tree from the Plant room now and hopefully I can Overcome this dying back of my ficus Religiosa It looks like today is going to be the Last of the sunny days for a while in Fact it's supposed to Cloud over this Afternoon but this is four sunny days in A row The plants are really going to love that So let's head inside to the plant room Now here I am outside the plant room I'm Not going to bring the camera in because It'll fog up Um so the focus religiosa is right Right about there It's in the sun it's been watered Carefully all the other leaves look Really really healthy on it Now I did notice That a branch on the top has started to Do the same thing so that's why I'm very Concerned that it's not just that one Branch It seems to be happening all over the Tree so I've gotta pull it out of here And check what's going on one of the Problems with having this plant room so Crowded Is that it's really hard To have a good look at each plant I have No place to pull it out inspect it Other than the floor down there is about The only spot I have open

So I think Um what I'm going to do this summer is If you see the back wall in the plant Room which is you know fairly tall I'm Going to build like bleachers there so There'll be it'll be like steps and I'll Have probably four or maybe five Different levels so I'll start down here In the aisle way and it'll step up and Up and up Uh up the back wall and then I'll have Overhead lights LED lights hanging from The ceiling to light up these shelves And I'll have a a walkway up the middle So I can access the plants from both Sides so I can water them and uh yeah Make it uh Make it so I can access all the trees so They're not jammed in like this I mean I Can't even walk down my aisle way anyway At the moment I have to go underneath This table in the middle and pop up on The other side it's It's just too crowded and it's going to Get worse as these trees get larger and Larger so I think having those Those cells on the back wall is really Really going to help me out For a while anyway Uh so I'm going to pull out the tree My Ficus religiosa bring it out to the Greenhouse it's above freezing and we'll Have a good look at it check it over for Insects

I'm going to pull the Moss off the soil Check the soil over And figure out what's going wrong with This tree Foreign [Music] Okay there's the tree I've got the tree out here in the Greenhouse now this is the side that I Normally see All the leaves are facing the other Direction so this is the sort of the Opposite of the window side and I can Already see all over the bottom of the Leaves I can see it looks like white fly There's little white dots on it I can See the odd bit of scale but not very Much So I think the first thing I'm going to Do is take the tree outside carefully Not disturbing the white fly and spray It down with soap and water once again I'm going to move The Ficus religiosa Outside now it's only like three or four Degrees Celsius three or four degrees Above freezing outside not very warm so I want to do this quickly I'm going to Move it outside spray it down this soap And water is you know fairly warm Once it's sprayed down I'll move it back In here for the rinsing operation so the Tree is outside in that cold weather as Little as possible So here I go

And I'll be careful with the tree not to Disturb the white fly It's kind of in the Sun Get out my soap and water give it a good Spray down All right here I go I'll spray the Moss The trunk of the tree everything In case there's Critters in it Do the back here it's Underneath Trying to get all the leaf surfaces Covered with the soap and water Okay and rotate it around For the last side Like that [Applause] Okay that should do the spring I'm going To bring the tree back into the glass Greenhouse now and give it a good Thorough rinsing after the soap and Water is sat for maybe three or four Minutes Thank you I did lose that one hanging branch that I really really liked that was the first One to die back and Oh well let's see if we can save the Tree and get it back to health That'll be the next step it's been three Or four minutes now I've let the soap Sit on the tree so now I'm going to Rinse it down So here I go the rinse cycle

I'll rinse it top to bottom Rotate the tree around so I get all the Different sides of it Rinse out the soil thoroughly Okay I think that's good While all that water is draining onto The floor of the greenhouse I'm going to Have a look and inspection of the tree Right away I can see there is some scale Insects on some of the branches Not at all places it seems to be very Isolated But that'll be my next step is to really Inspect it and start scraping off the Scale insects that I see Yeah so I'm gonna have to Get out my scissors and scrape all those Scale insects off So I use you know just a pair of Scissors and then I go in and I Just scrape all the blisters And I'll probably re-spray it with soap And water when I've done this operation I've been trying to keep my plant room Cooler between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius Over the winter But all these sunny days we've been Having lately the temperature has really Gone up in the plant room like it goes Up to 30 Sometimes 32 degrees And that's with the heat off in the Daytime and Yeah so maybe that's you know why

There's problems coming up as the warmer Days the plant rooms warmed up a bit and All the insects become active and they Just sort of attack This usually happens towards the end of This winter I get a lot of insect problems in the Plant room Go at the trees but So I'm going to Dead branches like here the whole branch Is dead I'm going to prune It Off Just maintain my good living branches so I'll take that Branch right out of here Like that see there's no life in it at All The rest of the branch looks good so The leaves look good on it I think it's Doing all right This one looks kind of Limp I'm kind of Concerned about this one But I think if I get the scale off of it I'm hoping it rebalance And scale they're just little blisters They're very fine on most of the Branches like almost If I didn't have my close-up glasses on I don't think I'd be able to see them They're so fine That's probably I couldn't see them in The plant room So that's another reason you shouldn't Have

Too many trees is that You know unless you have the space to Display and have a good access to them They're going to suffer and you can see In this case it did Okay so here comes my favorite branch That had that cascading branch It's got to come off so I'm going to Remove it I'm going to just get my Branch pruners here So the upper part is still alive but This part is definitely dead Take it off in stages all right Yeah no life in that no life So I'll prune it right back to the Original Branch here No life in it at all There I'm back to a bit of living tissue There so I'll keep my eyes on that that Branch this part of it's died off You know there's nothing like you know Having the tree Outdoors or in a Greenhouse like this to really inspect Them closely For insects So I'll have to do better with the like Plant room make sure I can pull each tree onto a spot with Good lighting and inspect it and spray It if I need to I've lost a lot of trees Because of that that I'm just too Crowded and I just don't have good Access to the trees to see them the kind

Of the back of the plant room and I Can't even reach them to pull them out And they get scale on them and I don't See it from back there and then It's not till it's too late that you Realize there's a problem So I'll have to watch all the other Trees in the plant room also uh bring my Spray bottle in there and try and You know if it's warm enough bring them Out here spray them down make sure I've Got It all under control You don't want it spreading to your Other trees And that's another thing with a crowded Room like that the insects spread more Easily I try not to have any of my plants Touching each other but It's still easier for them to spread When there's so many Trees in one little space You know it's definitely little fine Scale and sex on the On the branches here Hard to see they're very small Yeah very The large-scale blisters that you can See easily There's very few of them there's like The odd one on a leaf or something but Not very many it's there's on the stems I can't show you it because they're so

Small there's little tiny blisters kind Of covering Some of the leaf stems So right here on this Leaf stem you can See two bumps and these are fairly large Ones On the other ones there was ones about That half that size and they're kind of Covering sections of the you know the Stems of the leaves the petioles Yeah so they're very very fine scale Insects but I guess that's what Did it in maybe in combination with the White fly that was on it I don't know So far on this tree what I've seen of Scale and sex and those white fly on it Don't seem to be enough that a branch Would die off like that so I'm going to look for a third problem And that's in the roots I'm going to Peel all the Moss off and try and Inspect the root base and see if all is Well with the root system This tree wasn't repotted too long ago I'm not sure exactly when maybe it's Been three or four years but It is possible it has those crane fly Larva in the soil like I had on my Norway maple which was just stopping and Growing with vigor So I'm going to peel off this Moss it's Getting too thick anyway it's like Really really thick There's a lot of roots that have grown

Into the Moss But I better just kind of Check and see if there's anything Obvious I noticed those crane fly larvas tend to Be very close to the surface where the Moss is So I'm just kind of looking In the Moss and that to see if there's Anything alive Not seeing anything Now I noticed The soil under the Moss is quite dry Especially here You know it's not bone dry or anything But Considering the amount of water I just Put on flushing the Moss Out it Certainly didn't reach the soil you can See it here it's quite dry So maybe you know this Moss was just too Thick and it was Blocking the water getting to the root System Maybe that weakened the tree also There's a good possibility of that but It just wasn't getting the water you can See it really dry here yeah So I'm thinking that's I think the combination of all three is What killed those branches off I think Water wasn't getting to the soil And insect problems and they all Compounded each other or

Um complemented each other into creating A weak tree and the scale insects and White fly kind of finished it off Or started to hopefully I can reverse that trend Okay first I'm going to give this a good Thorough watering because it just Yeah it's it's dry it's wet up here There's a lot of spots that just You can see the soil just didn't get the Water All right here I go with the water Now is it soaking in It is it's draining So I think I think you know it doesn't need Repotting I don't think it's root bound Foreign I'll keep watering it make sure it's Thoroughly saturated You know it could be a wet spot in the Corner where all the water is running Down and draining down in one spot And other sections of the soil are Staying too dry Now that's soaking in and draining Really really well I'm quite certain my Ficus religiosa Will be on the road to recovery I've solved three problems uh the dry Soil because of the Moss that thick Layer of moss on top I think that's Resolved because I peeled it off I got Rid of the white fly and I've gotten rid

Of the scale so I think I I hope that I see a big recovery in The tree that it starts getting back Buds and budding out once again and Hopefully I can regrow that canopy again and yeah Make a really nice tree in the future I found a good example of those fine Scale insects on the leaf here and I'm Hoping you can see it see along the leaf Vein there there's little tiny blisters Of scale and it's all kind of It's on one two three of the veins and Down the center spline here so I'm just Rubbing those off They're very very small and that's what Was on A lot of these branches all over the You know the leaf stems the petioles and On the branches just really small fine Scale So normally I don't think that would be Enough to hurt the tree but Again I'm thinking the factor of the Watering The white fly and the scale all added up Killing off branches Yeah I can see it all over some of these Leaf petials So the spray will definitely help Regular spring Seems to do the job almost Cases with aphid scale White fly

ER mites And I won't always kill spider mites but I think if you keep at it Your chances are really good of getting Rid of them I mean nothing like soap and water It's usually lethal to most insects kind Of Smothers them Yeah I can see on all these Leaf Petty Ulcers that fine scale insects all over Them So I'm rubbing it all off And then I'm going to give the tree Another spray down with soap and water So the soap gets into those blisters and Really does them in I've gone over the tree at least three Times rotating it around inspecting the Top of each Leaf the bottom rubbing off Any scale insects I can find so I think It's time now to give it a final spray With the soap and water let it sit again For a few minutes and then rinse it off And then the tree can go back in the Plant room now this is kind of a warning I'm sure my other trees in the plant Room some of them will have scale Insects on them so I'm going to have to Inspect them uh really have a good look At all the trees see if there's any Signs of skill insects developing and Get them treated hopefully the weather Will stay kind of warm so I can spray The trees outside or in the greenhouse

Here So yeah I'll get it uh sprayed down once Again I'll start underneath here Spray upwards Rotate the tree around Getting all the bottoms of the leaves That'll come above Spray from the top rotating it around And then do the soil surface You can even spray the pot it might be Insects crawling on the pot you never Know Okay so that's thoroughly sprayed down I'll let that sit for a while and come In and rinse it all off All right it is time To give the tree a good rinse once again So I think it's time to take the funkus Religiosa back into the plant room And I'll have to be very very careful That I look at all my other trees and Check for scale and sex and treat them Foreign Is back in the plant room in the sun and The warmth I think if I had left that problem any Longer it may have killed the tree so I Think I got it just in time the rest of The tree looks really healthy it's a Shame I lost those branches but I'll Just have to grow new ones in their Place so that is all for today I'm Nigel Saunders thanks for joining me In the Bonsai Zone


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