Ask a Question forum: ID help and advice

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Name: Dave
Dayton, TN (Zone 7a)
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TennesseeDave
Jun 4, 2017 10:01 AM CST
My wife and I bought this plant about 14 years ago in South Florida at Fairchild Gardens during a plant show. We had it in our sun room in Florida for a couple of years until our move to Tennessee. At that time we gave the plant to my wife's mom who lives in Florida still. She kept the plant on a covered porch for all of these years. The only thing we remember about the plant is that the vendor called it "Elephant foot". It has been in the same pot all of these years. It obviously needs some work but I don't quite know how to proceed. So a few questions:

1) What is this plant
2) Is it a bonsai and if so what do I need to do to repot?
3) Should I just dig out a bit of dirt and replace with fresh?

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Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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dyzzypyxxy
Jun 4, 2017 10:12 AM CST
It looks beautiful, Dave. I wouldn't do a thing to it, other than what your mother's been doing.

I'm not sure exactly which it is, but probably a Dioscorea or a Pachypodium. They're plants that form a "caudex" which are the big bulgy things above the soil, below the leaves. The plants store water and food in their caudex so they can go long periods without any watering or fertilizer. Very drought tolerant plants, but also quite slow growing.

Hopefully someone else will come along with a better ID for you, but my advice is leave it be!
Elaine

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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Jun 4, 2017 10:29 AM CST
It looks like a Ficus. I'm amazed that it hasn't been repotted in 14 years. Some fresh soil would be good. But, you want to put it back in the same pot so maybe digging out some dirt and replacing it will be fine.

I would also give it a prune while you are at it.
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Jun 4, 2017 10:30 AM CST
Your bonsai is a type of Ficus, closely related to Ficus benjamina. As a bonsai, it has been miniaturized and kept in a small bonsai tray deliberately. It appears to be remarkably healthy and in good shape after all these years, so its care has not been far off. It would be a mistake to attempt to repot, replant or replace the soil at this point. You will want to fertilize it at half strength monthly to replace depleted nutrients. Keeping it pruned is the key to keeping it looking good. The pruning is a way to give it the shape that you want. In general, it is best to prune off suckers that grow at the base and prune back long stems that grow over the top and out to the sides. Don't hesitate to prune because it will do no harm to the plant, but it will keep it looking good.
Will Creed
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Name: Dave
Dayton, TN (Zone 7a)
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TennesseeDave
Jun 4, 2017 11:19 AM CST
I thought the leaves looked like a Ficus. I shared the information and advice with my wife. We are going to do nothing except put it on the porch, keep it pruned and fertilize as suggested by all the knowledgeable members here. This is why I love this place. Thanks to all of you.

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