New to bonsai and have a soil question

Hi all. A neighbor pointed me to this site. I very recently received my first bonsai, a ‘Golden Gate’ Ficus from Eastern Leaf (50th birthday gift from my wife). When it arrived, it looked like the soil was very moist, which seems logical for shipping.

I tried the bamboo stick method of checking to see if the soil is still moist just shy of a week later and the soil seems extremely dense. I have been spritzing it with water daily to keep the humidity up, but watered it for the first time last yesterday and in some areas the water pretty much ran off with little soaking in. Near the trunk, water seemed to soak in pretty much as I would expect.

So, my question is, how should I go about investigating to see if the tree is already root bound in the pot, or if the soil is just really compressed and needs to be aerated some, or…? I suspect I have left out details that could help, for which I apologize. Very early learning and not sure what info is needed to best answer.

Indoor in the Pacific Northwest. In the original rectangular glazed pot it shipped in (7.5" ceramic), approx 12" tall potted.

Thank you.

One of the best ways to check the root ball is to probe with a chopstick or screwdriver. If it’s pretty solid, I’ll use the screwdriver (or awl, or similar pointed object) to perforate the rootball. This helps water soak in when you water and makes it easier to keep the tree healthy.

It’s best to repot ficus when it’s warm so we usually repot them from May/June through August. The warmer it is when you prune and repot tropical species like ficus, the faster they recover from the work.

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