Opinions on pruning F. benjamina

mrsgalihad(5 CO)March 19, 2013

Four years ago I brought home an abandoned F. benjamina. Here is what it looked like then:

I lopped off the branch you see arching over the cat at the fork. Otherwise I pretty much left it alone.

Last September after reading all the great information on here I decided it needed to come out of the drainless ceramic pot it had been living in and allowed to breathe. When I checked the roots I found a nursery pot shaped lump of dirt in the middle of the rest of the potting soil and not much in the way of large roots. I sliced that up a bunch and potted it up in regular potting soil (afraid to make too many changes) and into a plastic pot with a wick in the bottom. It seems happy and lost fewer leaves over the winter than usual. Here is is now from roughly the same angle:

So now that you see the progress the tree has made here is what I am considering. Full repot in June into faster soil and possibly a ceramic pot. In July, pruning off all the major branches except for the lowest one. I don't want to remove all photosynthetic ability at once. The hope would be that the upper trunk would back bud and then next year I could remove that large lower branch.
Here is a picture of the branch structure. You can see how the large lower branch is pulling the tree over.
The tree is more or less flat. The branch that appears to go straight up arches toward the camera. This side is what has been facing the wall all winter.

Overall my goal is to shrink the tree and make it more practical to live with. Something more interesting than a lollypop would be nice but I'm not sure I see anything on the tree currently that I can work with. Does my plan sound good to you guys or would you go in a different direction?

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I like the repot idea before the pruning ..... and the timing. I think I'd remove the large lower branch first - right after it recovers from the repot. Then, I would tip prune all the branches on the lower half of what remains, and cut all branches in the upper half of what remains back to 2 leaves. The reason for that is the tree is very apically dominant, and will concentrate at least 2/3 of it's growth in the upper 1/3 of the plant unless you keep it in check by pruning.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 1:34PM
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