Show of your tallest Ficus trees!

hostalover360(4)January 29, 2011

Ok Hopefully this is the right forum to post this on becuase I found out the Fig forum is not the place lol I'm just going to copy what I posted there since I don't want to re write over again, (lazy me!)

I have not seen any posts in the archives regarding this topic so I'd like to start one! Whats the largest, tallest Ficus you own and How long did it take to get that tall?

The one above I've owned for 4 years, I got it from a community plant sale from a woman could not care for it anymore, I'm not sure how old it is but I believe she said it was 20 years old. It's about 4 or 5 feet tall. On me it reaches my shoulders.

I've also had this one for 4 years it is my younger one, I bought it the same year I bought the other one above, It's only been re potted 1 time and it's about a foot or so tall.

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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi HostaL,

My One Ficus isn't tall, but I have to ask, what happened at the Fig Forum that you say it's not the place to ask, since you are talking about Ficus (tho' maybe not fruiting figs?) This curious mind just HAS to know pls???

Nice plants, I really like the variegated F. benjamina in the 2nd pic. Good looking Xmas cactus on the lower right there; good to see an actual Christmas cactus rather than the usual Thanksgiving Cactus sold as the Xmas one. What color does yours bloom?

Likely our friend Al (Tapla) will see this & add a few comments &/or link to some answers for you. He's our resident Ficus man & very generous & helpful w/ his knowledge & his time.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 1:21PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Lol - I didn't reply because I look through the binoculars backwards. I'm more interested in keeping my oldest trees in good health, first - and SHORT, second. ;o)

IF height is your goal, a well-cared for Ficus b, in a large container and fast (draining) soil, in outdoor sun (in summer), in MI or WI, could go from a cutting to 8' in 2 years (easily). The trick is in keeping the tree healthy and giving it all the right cultural conditions. Another way of looking at it is by reducing or eliminating potential limiting factors.

The primary keys to optimizing growth and maintaining peak vitality are a healthy soil choice, good watering practices, an appropriate nutritional supplementation program, and favorable light. The first three are actually quite easy. You don't always have control over how much light you can provide, but getting the tree outdoors into sun from (around) Memorial Day to Labor Day will make a very large difference in how much energy the tree has going into winter - which is a very important consideration.


Here is a link that might be useful: More about Ficus trees in containers

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 2:25PM
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Here is my ficus....

I put it outside on my (mostly) shaded deck in the summer. The tallest branch is just under 8 ft. I will be cutting it back more this spring so it gets fuller.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 3:46PM
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Pirate Girl, A person mentioned that dig was mainly for Fruiting figs rather then the foliage ones.

Actually the cactus on the lower right is an Easter Cactus that flowers red, I unfortunately don't have the real Christmas Cactus variety, but I'd like to have one someday,I have several other Thanksgiving cactus though.

Al, my Ficus has been growing outside for all the years I've owned it, It used to be more of a bush but I cut back a lot of the branches so it would be more like a tree, it used to be severely root bound in it's old pot 4 years ago. I'm not interested in getting these trees tall fast, rather I'd just like them to do there own thing on there own time!

Elkay, Your trees is really nice looking, I much taller then mine!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 12:18AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Please don't take this as me being 'smart' or snippy, but trees are always reactive organisms (to their environment and cultural conditions), so they will always do their own thing in their own time.

I'm just musing here, so this isn't aimed at you, Hosatlover.

There are two sides to the growth control coin. One side is to sort of let the tree grow with as little interference from the human hand as possible, and see what happens. This is usually sufficient to keep the tree small, because it keeps it from growing at even close to its genetic potential. The downside of that is it usually produces unwanted effects. E.g., allowing a tree to become severely root bound slows branch extension to a near stop, usually reduces vitality considerably, which opens the door to disease and insect predation, and causes the tree to lose most of it's lower and inner foliage.

The other side of the coin is, to take the steps to ensure the tree is always healthy from the very beginning, and then control the size/shape of the plant with judicious pruning above and below ground. This starts with the short list of 4 elements I mentioned in my post above.

It's kind of a circuitous thing. You keep a tree looking good by making sure you have lots of pruning opportunities (lots of branches); and the way to get lots of branches (and leaves) is to keep the tree healthy and prune it. The more you prune, the more branches you will have TO PRUNE, and the denser the growth will be.

The roots are the tree's heart, and good health always starts with the roots.

Dr Carl Whitcomb, PhD, wrote what is probably the bible on growing plants in containers. Some "Whitcomb-isms":

"If the root system ain't happy, ain't no part of the plant happy"

"Roots control the tree, the stems and branches just think [not my emphasis] they are in charge."

"The more roots to share the load, the faster the dirty work gets done"

"Roots provide the fuel for the plant engines we call leaves"

"Each root tip casts a vote to decide what the top will be allowed to do"

"Top growth gets all the glory, but the roots do all the dirty work"

He also notes that "Stress can ALWAYS be measured in the root system before symptoms appear in the top [of the plant]".

I've always taken the approach that it's better to keep all my plants as healthy as possible (which includes regular root work where appropriate - it is in most plants), growing like crazzy, and as a result have to restrain it's growth by pruning, than it is to allow stressful conditions to limit growth. The different approaches produce two totally different trees.


    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 12:55PM
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Here's mine. Had to cut off the top and side branches drastically to get it through the doorway. Looks shabby in the photo, but I pruned it back even harder (bad time of the year) but it responded beautifully.

Grows in a large N. Window with 19ft ceiling in commercial potting mix.

Back in the house by the window:


    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 3:15PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I think this is my tallest at the moment. The strings are because it was just transplanted into the pot, and trees/plants reestablish in a fraction of the time if there is no chance they can move in relation to the container. It needs pruning/thinning - especially the very top, but I didn't prune it until the tree was well-reestablished. Leaves provide the fuel that makes roots grow, so when I do full repots, I try to work on roots first, followed in 2-3 weeks by the pruning back of the top.

You can't see the scar, but when I bought this plant, it was in a corner of a greenhouse and about 8-10' tall. I brought a saw with me and cut it back to just above the first branch you see on the left, and sawed off most of the branch on the right. IOW - I bought a tree & took home a stump. ;o) I then repotted it into the gritty mix & let it grow wild for several years to develop the top, then cut that back. (BTW - while it was growing wild and tall, it was too tall to be grown under the fluorescents, so it was in the LR in front of the best light I could give it - a west window for the winters - outdoors in summer.) These are just a couple of techniques that can be applied to your houseplants or modified slightly to help you keep your plants balanced and looking tidy. The difference is who has control - you or the plant. ;o)

The pictures you are looking at are indeed just houseplants that I grow under shoplights. The key to keeping them so healthy lies partially in the extra light they receive (in winter - there's nothing special about my sun in the summer), but I give most of the credit to the soil and the way I fertilize.

This one is kinda cute - early stages of development now that it's firmly established on the rock:


    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 11:31AM
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Jane - I LOVE that window! Oh, I wish I high high ceilings and windows. Love the tree, too!

Al, love your trees, too. I've had a couple of bonsai plants before - one being the original scheff arboricola that all my current scheffs came from. I guess I just don't have the guts to keep pruning, pruning, pruning it! I wind up letting it go......

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 11:50AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You can always come here for help if you want to manipulate your plants. I won't steer you wrong or take a chance with your plant (with my advice) unless I tell you about any risks involved.

Some think that because the trees are in bonsai pots, or because their own skill set won't allow them to produce plants like in the pictures, that the pictures don't count for anything. Rather than tell you that you can't achieve trees with the same degree of health and vitality and leave it go at that, I'm telling you that you can, and I'll share with anyone that wants to know how, how to do it.

You may not become a bonsai master overnight, but I can teach you the principles - the basics behind what it takes to keep your plants healthy and how to manipulate them so they look good and (most importantly) stay healthy.

Bonsai is simply container gardening taken to another level. It's far more difficult than just raising plants in big pots. You, and others, can only benefit by becoming familiar with some of the options and techniques that bonsai practitioners use and applying them to your own growing where/when appropriate. Remember I'm here, if ever you feel you need help.

Best luck & thank you for the kind words.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 12:39PM
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Thanks Elkay, I love high ceilings too. That window is a north window. A normal, north-facing window wouldn't give enough light, but because the window is so tall, it is 'bright' enough for the tree to grow. Lets enough light in.

There is a Bonsai Forum on GW. If you are still interested in them, give it a visit.


Here is a link that might be useful: Growing Bonsai

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 5:31PM
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