Growing out after severe pruning

michaelg(7a NC Mts)May 5, 2009

I'm a rank beginner. Three weeks ago I removed about 80% of the branches and leaves on my Ficus retusa. Now I am getting a lot of breaks. Do you advise leaving alone the ones I don't intend to keep, in order to strengthen the plant? If so, for how long?

Or should I remove them now in order to channel growth to other places? There is an area where I want growth to create a blobby apex, but it is the oldest and woodiest part. Breaks there were the last to form and are few.

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hortus_custodis(7)

Leave the new branches closest to the wounds, these will be nurse branches that help to heal the wounds more quickly.

Select the other branches you want and remove the rest.

Be care not to leave too many branches or to leave them for too long on the areas that are wounded and where you want to make girth larger. You can leave them too long and create a reverse taper.

On the older part of the tree make sure to select the branches carefully. Otherwise you may have bad branch placement and be unable to do anything about it.

It was a little early to "Mainline" a tropical. It is best to mainline tropicals in the summer during active growth. Make sure you fertilize well but do not over do it!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 1:17PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Thanks. Could you clarify "Be careful not to leave too many branches or to leave them for too long on the areas that are wounded and where you want to make girth larger. You can leave them too long and create a reverse taper"?

Are you saying that, for example, leaving a lot of shoots near the base of a branch tends to reduce the diameter of the branch in that zone? Also "leaving too long" would be roughly how long?

The tree was in active growth when I pruned it. I have pretty good interior conditions to offer, just no bonsai skills :)

    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 7:24PM
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hortus_custodis(7)

Leave one branch per wound for small and medium sized. Larger wounds two branches at the most. In both cases as soon as the wound has callused three fourths or more of the way remove the nurse branches.

Not necessarily, branches that need to be larger in girth need to have nurse branches at the tips. It is a physiological process that one is using to accomplish specific growth. By leaving the nurse at the base of the branch the cells that are in the trunk and around the base of the branch will multiply and store more photosynthates causing those two areas to thicken. By growing out the branch and using tertiary branches as nurse branches the branch itself will thicken for the same reasons.

Are you modifying the lighting?
Do not forget that Circadian Rhythms play a larger role that temperature. Plants depend on lighting "indicators" to initiate processes more that temperature. Be careful not to leave the plant in a state of perpetual growth. They need a break just as animals do. The anthropomorphication is the only way to say it simply.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2009 at 6:18AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Thanks. My tree gets natural light in a sunspace so there is seasonal variation in light and temperature. It started growing more in late March.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2009 at 10:54AM
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