Can I straighten this Ficus benjamina?

Corry_EngelbrechtFebruary 6, 2013

This ficus has been in a co-worker's office for yeaaaaars and she's now relinquished it's care to me. I've never done any sort of reshaping/reforming of plants before, so I have no idea about this sort of thing. I'm curious if this ficus can be made to stand up straight again? It's a little under 6 feet tall (well, 6 feet high. I'm sure it'd be taller if it weren't hunched over). If it is possible, how would I go about doing it?

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Man, this is one quiet forum!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 3:20AM
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I am by no means an expert, but FBs are tropical plants. They do not like cold. Can't tell what zone you are in but when something grows indoors it gets leggy like your picture illustrates. My advice would be to keep indoors until it gets over 60 at night. I would chop it to the table height and wait till it leafs out again. Keep it under good light, more the better. When you are ready to take it outside later, re-pot to a larger pot and comb out the roots if they are root-bound. Slowly get it use too stronger outdoor light. Put it into a good draining bonsai soil mix. Growth will be much better when out side in good light. Then start designing it into an upright style. You should have many options with all the new branches that start. These are fast growers and when outside, keep an eye for those aggressive roots that take off into the ground. What you are looking for is to increase the trunk diameter and let the roots thicken and partially emerge from the soil. Also these trees will have aerial roots come from above and reach to soil. Encourage these by keeping the humidity high around this tree by watering frequently but standing water wet. aloha

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 10:27PM
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Good advice from lehua13.
Yes you can straighten it up.
Just drive a stake down beside the trunk and tie the ficus to it. You may have to do this in stages so as not to break the trunk. Looks like it would be pretty flexable though.
Good Luck

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 11:09AM
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To straighten it out, all you have to do is reposition it in the pot. Pull it up out of the pot slightly so that you can tilt the rootball just enough to get the trunk vertical. Hold it in place and then tamp down the soil all around the rootball so that it stays in place. That's it. No root pruning required.

If it continues to be wobbly in the pot, then you can remove excess soil around the outside of the rootball and move the remaining rootball into a tighter, smaller pot where it will have better support.

Straightening, repotting and pruning can all be done at any time of year. No need to wait.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 3:03AM
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Sorry, I thought I updated this thread! Thanks for the advice! I did stake it up, and did some pruning, as well. This baby looks like a whole new tree! I'm hoping that in a few months the foliage will thicken up, too. :)

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 8:11AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Try the link below for some cultural guidance.


Let me know if you want more information - like how to manage roots and maintain trees in containers (and in good health) for the long haul.

Here is a link that might be useful: More about Ficus in containers if you click me!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 6:33PM
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Nice office score and great job at trimming/pruning/getting it to look good.

I have had my little ficys in my office for about 3-4 years, its a much much smaller plant, more of a bonsai but still a ficus none the less. I shocked it so bad when I first got it by keeping it in my office with no windows/depriving it of light that within a month or two every single leaf had fallen off of it. It was bald!

So I did some reading, trimmed it like a wild man, soaked it weekly in a bucket of water (it was in its pot still FYI), and put it in a place where it got moderate interect lighting from the sun. After 3-4 months it was completely full of beautiful leaves and growing like a champ!

Too much information im sure but the moral of the story is this, ficus' can take a beating and come back better than ever if given the proper care. ;)

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 11:09PM
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Glad to know that it did turn out right. Lovely plant!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 2:53AM
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