Help identify Ficus

staze(8)July 11, 2013

I THINK this is a Ficus Retusa (the bark looks like it), but I'm not positive. Anyone have any more definitive answer? Reason I ask, I can't get it to backbud, and before I go hacking all the leaves off, I want to make sure I'm not going to kill the thing. It's probably 8-10 years old at this point, and I've nearly killed it twice (bad soil).


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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Hard to say what it is. It doesn't typically look like a pot-bellied fig, but close enough that it could be.

To get it to back-bud - get it outdoors in full sun, in a larger pot, fertilize it often, let it grow lots of leaves, then cut all branches back to 1-2 leaves. If it was my tree, I'd repot now into a large pot, then fertilize liberally while sitting on my pruning tools until next Mem Day - Father's Day when I would prune it hard and start building a tree.

Leaves are the only source of a plant's food, so the more foliage it has, the faster it will grow, both additively and multiplicatively. Lots of leaves will mean lots of stored energy to push new growth immediately after you cut back hard early next summer.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 2:09PM
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Awesome, thanks. About 6 months ago, it was nearly dead in "bonsai" soil. Some crap I bought ages ago, and figured it would work. Was largely bark. =/ I took a decent sized branch off it at that point figuring it was going to die.

I transplanted it into this pot (which I wouldn't call a bonsai pot, it's about as deep as it is wide), with Gritty then, and there were almost no roots. Since then, it's done much better. It's in a garden window inside. gets a decent amount of sun, but maybe I'll try outside. I worry about it burning since it's been hight 80's to low 90's for the least couple weeks.

I've been doing the 1/4tsp per gallon of FP each watering. So it's getting a good amount of food at this point. Just probably could use more water.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 3:15AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It will take that much sun without complaining if you shade the container so soil temps stay in bounds. I don't try to acclimate ficus that are quite a way from being worthy of a bonsai pot. I move them from indoors directly into full sun. The leaves usually burn & fall off, and are followed immediately by a new flush of growth (and additional back-budding) that will be perfectly conditioned to the light where the trees are sited. All my ficus get full sun except F pumila, which gets protection from midday sun.

When temps are below 85 and above 70*, you can easily double the dose of 9-3-6, if you're using those NPK %s.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 3:14PM
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Cool! I'll stick it outside tomorrow morning. What temps should I worry about in the evenings?

How long do you keep them out? I think you're in Michigan? So Humidity is going to be a bit higher there, but we're not Arizona... so that shouldn't be too big an issue.

Not sure how I'll shade the container, but I'll figure something out. =)

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 2:27AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Mine stay out until night temps start to drop into the upper 50s - usually some time in mid-Sep. Once the temperature drops much below 60-65*, the plant starts using more energy than it can make, which means it starts to decline.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 7:54PM
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guess that's a difference there. Western Oregon doesn't stay above 60F at night regularly during the summer. Mid-50's and above is normal.

I'll keep it out there and see what happens... if it starts looking weak, I'll pull it back in. Right now, it looks okay, though a bit shocked. I know a F. Benjamina would have lost all its leaves if I just THOUGHT about moving it. =)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 2:28AM
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