Bo Tree

dan4279November 27, 2011

I have a bo tree (ficus religiosa) that I received as a tiny seedling in the spring. It grew great outside all summer and more than doubled in size. About 6 weeks ago I brought it inside and put it in front of a south facing window. In the past week it has dropped 4 of it's leaves. Today I noticed brown spots on the leaves, and several cob-web like things. I sprayed it with a 50/50 water/rubbing alcohol spray to get the cob-webs off. My plan is to continue to spray the leaves. My question is, should I remove the leaves with brown spots? Would it be okay to remove all of the leaves and cut the trunk back some? Would it grow back? Any other suggestions?

Here's a picture of the tree:

Here's the brown spots on one of the leaves:

Dan

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The rubbing alcohol is very effective against mites, and it sounds like that's what the plant's ailment is. Leaf loss could also be due to the change in photo-intensity accompanying the move indoors - something the Moraceae family and Ficus in particular is noted for.

I'd bite the bullet & tolerate the untidy appearance for now. If the leaf shows green, I'd leave it. It's still either contributing some measure of photosynthate. or at a minimum donating nutrients and other reusable biocompounds to the rest of the plant as the plant prepares to shed the leaf.

You can defoliate and cut Ficus back hard if the timing is right. In West Massachusetts, the window of opportunity is limited to sometime between Father's Day and mid July, and only if the plant is growing well, has plenty of energy reserves, and hasn't been repotted (which includes root pruning) in the same year.

Al

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 7:45PM
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dan4279

Thanks, Al.

Should I continue to fertilize throughout the winter, or cut back until spring? If it's dropping leaves and not putting on new growth I assume it doesn't need as much fertilizer??? I currently use foliage pro 9-3-6 weekly. I use 1 teaspoon per gallon of water.

Dan

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 8:27PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I use the gritty mix & grow my Ficus under lights over winter. I use 1/4 tsp of 9-3-6 that's been slightly diluted so everything stays in solution per gallon, every time I water ..... which is about every 3 days. I do water so at least 10-20% of the water I apply exits the pot. If you have lower light conditions and/or different watering habits - you'll need to adjust the dose so your plants are getting less. You should be able to get pretty close to a good dose based on what I offered. There is a fair amount of latitude that comes with using a soil like you're using, so if you're flushing the soil, it's hard to go too far wrong.

Al

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 7:39AM
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dan4279

Thank you, again. That's very helpful. What exactly do you mean by "9-3-6 that's been slightly diluted so everything stays in solution per gallon"? I just pour the fertilizer in the can and then fill it with water. Is there some other technique that I'm missing?

Dan

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 7:10PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Sometimes, when the full strength fertilizer gets cold, some of the ingredients can come out of solution & settle to the bottom. Diluting the fertilizer slightly helps to keep that from happening. Maybe this will make it clearer: I use 1/4 tsp of 9-3-6 (that's been slightly diluted so everything stays in solution) per gallon - every time I water .....

Al

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 8:28PM
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dan4279

Okay I think I got it. So you add water to the container of FP 9-3-6 so that it doesn't come out of solution? How much do you add? Sorry if these are really basic questions or if this should have been more obvious to me. I had just never thought of that being an issue.

Dan

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 8:38PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

If you want a guess, I'd say about a pint to a gallon does the trick.

You can't dilute too much and keep the solution around because you'll start getting bacteria or other organisms multiplying in the solution & it won't smell like synthetic fertilizer any more. ;-)

Al

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 1:09PM
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dan4279

My bo tree has done some interesting things in the past couple of months. Eventually all of the leaves fell off and it was just a stick. Then, after a couple weeks, new buds began to form and now it appears to be growing new branches. I'm glad I didn't do anything drastic when the leaves first started falling off. I guess I don't have a question...just thought I'd post an update.

Here it is now:

Dan

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 7:55PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Strong work, Dan! Looks like your plant is back on track. Good luck - and please keep us posted. Soil looks great, too.

Al

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 8:15PM
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dan4279

Thanks, Al. I really appreciate your help...with the tree and the soil!

Dan

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 8:37PM
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