I heard somewhere that in high humidity conditions ficus elastica produces arial roots.
Could this be stimulated? If I where to attach a wet sponge around the bottom 2" of the ficus' trunk would this produce arial roots?
High humidity, warmth, adequate fertility, and some age on the plant will stimulate aerial roots to form on many Ficus species. I try to keep humidity in my grow area between 55-60%, and that's not enough.
Try a search using the search words bonsai ficus stimulate aerial roots and you'll probably come up with a number of innovative ideas from bonsai growers enamoured of prop roots.
A lot of Ficus produce aerial roots but mostly it's from branches. Will also happen from a significantly leaning trunk. Vertical trunks don't seem to do it much. But they require high humidity and warmth. A plant growing poorly will be encouraged to develop aerial roots, as a supplemental or alternative nutrient supply. I have a lot of Ficus with aerial roots, but they're full sized trees. They really look great, but some visitors only see them as problems. A friend plaited some aerial roots like hair. and as they grew they retained the pattern. Today they're really large. Totally different scale to what you're wanting, but here's some photos.
This one is difficult to tell which was the original tree.
i had to bag ficus salicifolia and put it on a water wick elevated over a tub of water, since i was away for over 3 weeks in the heat of august. the room was over 75F and the bag must have been at 80F or more. totally in shade but very bright. when i came back there were aerial roots all over the trunk about 4" long. but as soon as i removed the bag they darkened and became britle. i broke them off since it was not really looking good. if you want to do that - you might need to keep a plastic cover over it for a year.
i also root cacti and orchids and other things in barely moistened 'deer moss' - it's lichen that is brittle when dry, but sprayed is soft and airy, roots love it. but they grow INTO it, so you'll have to be very careful removing it. just spray it, mound around the trunk where you want roots to grow and wait. it's have to be bagged. you might try to use 'air-layering' technique and then when roots are longer, elevate plastic cups with deer moss, so that roots continue extending down.
red mangroves develop aerial roots that become stanchions. that usually happens when they are suspended over and in the water, but not touching the sand. then they thicken and harden. you might google that.
This post was edited by petrushka on Thu, Mar 21, 13 at 12:42
to add: i looked thru my ficus bonsai book. it says: hi humidity. you can wrap long strands of sphagnum moss from where you want the roots to appear, along the trunk to soil area. mist regularly. if you want lower area base: wrap the bottom trunk area and loosely cover with plastic. for hi roots that already started take a plastic straw, cut lengthwise and put the root into it, stand up so it is at the soil level : to route the root. for long roots train them into sep pot that stands on top of 'mama' and they will grow in and thicken much faster. then you pull them out and dig them into the soil where you want them.
it does say that it's mature trees that produce aerials readily.
I did that search and came up with grafting techniques, which, well,.. that's a whole other post, but definately something worth looking into to add some branches in future (maybe 1 or 2 years down the road minimum).
Makes sense that horizontal branches would grow more arial roots. This aside, I have an elastica that came with tons of arial roots at the bottom. Maybe 20+ roots, but I do notice that they've started to dry up and while they are not falling off after a year, they haven't grown even an inch since either.
What I see in that pic I'd like a 5' version of, and with Al's search it seems that grafting is a way to do this.
I like that story. I'm trying to mimic that by tying a wet sponge to the last 3" of th bottom of the trunk and just making sure to keep it moist. Its worth a try, right? Also, maybe that plastic bag over it might do the trick too but for now the spong is keeping moist so I'll stick with this and see what happens.
I like that straw idea. Maybe to get the arial roots started then lead them into a straw an eventually into the soil and hopefully once rooted in the soild they will stay healthy and hydrated without the need of extra moisture.
This is a great place to start. Lots of info here. I'll take a picture tomorrow of the sponge (need sunlight for a better pic).
This post was edited by bedtime on Fri, Mar 22, 13 at 16:28
i think it's too tight. AND they might pierce the sponge - you won't be able to take it off without breaking them. just make a skirt with plastic bag , drop the bottom on the soil, tie the top loosely and squirt some water inside with a mister. it's also better to see what's going on inside. some loose sphagnum inside would be even better. sphagnum is very easy to remove.
if you insist on a sponge : make sev vertical cuts, but don't cut all the way, then stand 'the cylinder' around the trunk, moist, but not touching the trunk. then do the plastic bag around , tie on top. this way the hi humidity inside is guaranteed and roots will be shooting towards the sponge but hopefully not into it.
Thank you so much for all your help!
For now I'm going to do the clear plastic bag over the ficus as you said in my other post (the one about to do with repotting the lime) as these are the same plants. So right now I'm just going to do that, and mist frequently, and besides that I'm basically leave the poor thing alone. I've been working myself up with alot of anxiety over this and I just wanna try to calm down and not get too worked up.
I agree with Petrushka, you might have too much trouble trying to get the sponge away from the roots later.
I bought some supposedly 'clear' garbage bags. At least that's what the package said, but they are not fully clear and that concerns me. The bag to the left is fully clear and the others are not. Do you think they'll be okay? They would be in the full sun.
Yes, that heater below is on, and no I don't want to turn it off. It keeps the house warm. I have a piece of wood to go over it but its too big and needs to be cut down. It'll be at least a week before that happens.
So for now the plants were super misted to complete wetness, the bag put over them, and then the bag/plants misted with bag over and the plastic tucked under.
I'm just wondering about air. How often to let them breath? How does that work? Thanx
* EDIT - Add more info *
This morning after having bagged the plants and them sitting through they night, they felt more rigid and happy then ever! This works like a charm!
This post was edited by bedtime on Sun, Mar 24, 13 at 10:08
A) Take the bags off & allow the foliage dry asap (fungi require a specific incubation period under wet conditions, and you're providing it).
B) Cover the plants with bags large enough that you can keep the bag from contacting the foliage. If you don't, the foliage will, rot where it touches the bag. You may have to do some engineering by poking some sticks or wires into the soil to keep the bag from contacting foliage.
C) No full sun. You have created a passive solar collector, and your plants will quickly overheat and succumb to high temps.
D) Make sure ambient temps are above 55*
E) Snip off a corner of the bag or poke a few small holes in the bag to vent it. Humidity will still remain well above what it takes to support aerial root growth.
I made this tent thing for all 3 plants. There are vent places at the top where I ran out of tape. As well, I'm not sure if there is a good or bad thing but because I ran out of tape There are several places at the bottom that are raised an inch or so. A few places leaves touch but without that tape they must be sacrificed. It's so frustrating to do this kind of thing when you don't have the tools for it.
The temps will be about 15C or more.
I will now take the plants out and let them dry. The sun will not be directly o n the plants as this tent is back far enough that the rays to not hit it.
Thank you Al for giving me this info. It's now time for me to clear my mind and try to relax.
This post was edited by bedtime on Sun, Mar 24, 13 at 13:48
bedtime, i thought you knew how to bag! bagged plants should always be out of direct sunlight and with holes in the bag for ventilation. and not on the heater! i bag mine in dry-cleaners - large bags with lots of air and large vent on top. they should not be so damp as to steam up.
when i read your post, i thought it would be too late, and they would be cooked already!.but ficus is tropical and can take a lot of warmth and humidity, so should be ok.
just make sure the floor underneath is covered in plastic too or you'll get floor damage. 15C is a bit low, if it's only at nite, that's ok, since inside the bag it will be higher, may be 18C. for tropicals you'll need at least 22C(72F) for good growth, so do you have 18-19C during the day? for root development it's the soil temp that matters most: for tropicals you need at least 65F in the middle of the pot(18C). i use an electronic kitchen probe to check the soil temps.
if it's too cold and wet - you'll get mold/mildew and rot.
hot and moist(not damp) for tropicals is not a problem, provided there is enough air circulation and light is bright and diffused (no direct sun light).
usually if your room temps are low or in cool greenhouse people have propagators or heat mats to provide bottom heat to the roots . you effectively set up a propagator but without the heat.
the heat radiator is too hot for that purpose and too close to the window. IF you would close the blinds on that window or put sheers to cover the window, it would be ok to move the rig a bit closer to heat source. i can't see from the pic what's on the window.
yeh, it's a lot, but you decided to repot too early, it's less complicated when it's 18C at nite and 25C during the day.
The heat shouldn't be a problem. It's actually warmer then I thought. Around 15 - 20C inside the house. The current temp is 25C in the terrarium right now during the day so I think the night temp would likely not dip below 18C.
I moved the terrarium right up near the heater and I'll be monitoring the temperature and the sun. As far as the forecast goes it'll be cloudy for the rest of the week and has been cloudy all day. If the sun comes out I could easily put something over the window.
I don't mind doing all this. I've learned so much from you guys. Particularly you and Al with your long responses, lol. But without them who knows what I'd have done. Probably lost some plants! They don't stand a chance without you! You guys are like angels sent to save my plants!
* EDIT - Add picture + additional info *
I found out that the area where I keep my plants was worse then I thought. It had 25% humidity with 25C temperature. That's without sun. Meanwhile in the terrarium its 65% - 80% at 25C.
I took the single elastica out and tied a pole to it to straighten it and keep it straight, as I wont be looking at it much while its in the terrarium anyways. The picture is without the pole of course. Looks pretty healthy.
This post was edited by bedtime on Tue, Mar 26, 13 at 12:46
Very informative thread! I just realized that I bagged my ficus cutting wrong--the leaves are touching the side >
sometimes way too long ... sorry.
you bought a lot of nice big plants - so hopefully all will be well now ;). gardenweb is quite a plant saver :), i learned a lot by searching old posts.
This thread cracked me up!
Bedtime, you are awesome. One suggestion and boom - it's done. Someone says no, no - bag it -- and boom, it's done. Literally! Another says "OMG you're killing your plant!" and boom -- a wonderful makeshift greenhouse. So cute!
Only if everyone was as efficient... :-) Best of luck, bedtime! If it doesn't work, you can always buy more and combine, then take cuttings to put into your "greenhouse". They root pretty easily at leaf nodes and other than coleus or jasmine, might be my third favorite thing to root.
Yeah, I've been doing more net searching lately. Its just that sometimes it's not easy to find specific info but you're right.
Thanx. The plants are actually doing very well. Through all that they've been through not one leaf has dropped. Not one leaf has changed colour or made any indication of poor health. I'm quite impressed.
I have several cuttings in the terrarium. Some in water, some in soil, and they are doing well too.
Only issue seems to be that the plant is not as rigid as it was before when I first got it, but it's getting there. I can see improvements every few days. The ficus elastica tineke actually looks like its colours have became more vivid and no longer so washed out looking, if that is possible. Maybe it's just my imagination.
As well, the plants seem to be stabilizing more within their pots. So that tells me the roots must be stretching out a little and the soil must be settling. I'm hoping for a full recovery a few weeks before outdoor temps raise enough to put them out, so I can slowly transition them to outside. In a few days I might post progress pics but there really isn't much changed about the plants anyways.
Just to give you an idea of the environment they like, last night here the minimum temp was 25c and humidity stayed at 95% all night. Yesterday the humidity dropped a little below 90% for only 2 hours. Just now, midday today, the temp is 28C and humidity 94%, and it's raining. F. elastica wallow in that, just like pigs in .........mud, LOL.
Lately the humidity in the terrarium has been about 24C+ with 70-82% humidity. I try to air it out a little when it gets over 80% to avoid mold and such.
The big burgundy ficus elastica has made several new leaves and arial roots near the bottom. The single ficus elastica (both burgundy and varigated) have started to sprout new leaves on the cut off trunks, which I immediately snipped. The soil elastica cuttings have rooted (checked with pull method) and look to be actually starting to make new leaves, somehow. The water elastica cuttings have developed white blob root things and have also started to all sprout new leaves where they where cut at the top of their trunk.
The persian lime tree has made a few new roots as can be felt when I dig my finger in the soil but otherwise this is absolutely no new growth whatsoever since I bough it. Seems like its dorment or something. Not a flower, not a bud, not a sign of any new leaf growth at all. All leaves in fine shape and just 'there', as if frozen in time! o.o
Today I watered them all and aired out the terrarium and put them back in. Soon I think it'll be time to make the slow transition out of the terrarium and into the apartment and then eventually onto the balcony when weather allows.
Al, so far so good with your mix buddy. It looks as if it works great in this terrarium but the real test comes when I try to take it out, which kinda frightens me a little. But these plants cannot hide in that terrarium all their lives. Just like a child cannot crawl forever. They must eventually be without the intensive care I am now providing. In any event I don't like looking at a giant piece of plastic in my living room. : /
Just thought I'd update. Sorry no pics. Just imagine the same plants with a new leaf here and there. Really not much of a difference visually.
you'll have to transition out of terrarium slowly. like in the beginning let them be outside terrarium for quarter/half a day, out of the direct sun. then back in - for a few days, or a week. then out for a full day, for nite back in. then finally out. but not into the full sun indoors yet - again slowly . most of your plants, except lime do not need full sun, they actually prefer dappled moving sun or diffused sunlight thru sheers or blinds. when you blast the room with hot sun it gets very dry: at 25% humidity you'll start getting brown margins on ficus leaves. if you don't have blinds, you'll have to keep ficuses way away from the hot window, like 2-3 meters away. early morning or late western sun is ok though. once you have many plants grouped together, the humidity will rise. you need to get it at least to 50%, 40% at the absolute minimum. running a humidifier helps.
Instead of letting them out of the terrarium and shocking them with location, light, and humidity change what if I just opened the terrarium and allowed outside air in so the humidity drops? I could open the terrarium more and more over the course of 2 weeks leading up to regular humidity levels and then work on transferring them out and into progressively more light. How does that sound? I don't mean to oppose your advice but I am just wondering.
As far as dry air is concerned my old ficus' doesn't seem to mind (about 1'1/2 tall). Even as low as 25%. Not a single brown tip, and though it will not grow arial roots, it has kept the ones that it came with when I bought it over a year ago. Thing is it's dormant. Hasn't grown an inch in maybe 6 months or more so I definitely see where you're coming from that they cannot thrive in low humidity conditions.
This brings me to thinking, is it worth it to have plants that will not grow or only grow in the summer? The answer is no. Eventually I'll put the ficus in the corner of the room away from the heater and about 2-3meters from the south window and see what happens, but if they don't fare well its bye bye to them. It's just too depressing for me to see them unhappy or in a state of stagnancy.
In contrast I have a lemon tree, schefflera amate, and two heartleaf philodendron's that are thriving and they make me happy.
Once again a pic for you guys to see. If you look at ficus burgundy you can see a new leaf. There are 2 more but cannot be seen in this picture, as well as one that seems to be in the works:
Here's a pic of those 3 leaves:
I now it is not F. elastica, but when i start coleus stems in soil and enclosing them in plastic, the coleus (Coleus blumeri) produce what you can call arial roots
A lot of plants that live in high humidity environments will root readily from the stems. It seems to be built into the plants that when light is low they grow long and then fall. Once leaning they put down roots and repeat the process until they end up in better conditions (law of the jungle sort of thing for survival). High humidity also aids in producing extra roots from stems which then buttress them and strengthen them to get higher into light. It can be upwards and sidewards.
what you want to do to vent the terrarium - it'll have exact same results, but less hassle. it's fine, it's the same thing, may be even more gradual, then fully taking them out.
if your ficus is not growing much, but still looks good - it's fine. it's a slow grower anyway (indoors), why toss it? when you have more larger plants it'll raise the humidity eventually.
i have 3 ficus lyrata that go dormant in winter - and i have 60% humidity. usually i watered them once a week , not too much. this jan i was away for a month! so i put them on ceramic spikes: not much water but steady and they produced sev. leaves! i was very surprised. if growth=steady if small supply of water, then may be it's the way to make them grow even in winter. one of my ficuses was funnelling water to such an extent - it was dumping water in the saucer!
it got flooded! i was quite concerned, but instead it started throwing new leaves all over. may be it thought the wet season started?!
so now i don't really know why they say to water them less in winter. though the new leaves are smaller then in summer, 'cause there's less light - by it's ok by me.
That's basically what I'm trying to do but on a larger scale with this plastic terrarium.
I've read this before and have wondered if tipping the tree on it's side might promote arial root growth. Would look silly for a while though, but once the roots got started they might be able to be trained into the soil.
I've been thinking about just throwing them in a corner of the room but I measured the humidity level and its only 30% in that corner. Better then the 25% that is near the window where the heater is but still quite low. It might just be possible to group them all together in that corner (the one away from the window) and hang my heart leaf philo above them or even drape around somehow and maybe that would raise the humidity to an acceptable level. Would have to try to find out though.
For the past 2-3 days the terrarium has been at 55% humidity and 26C. The leaves do not feel as resilient as when it was at 65%-80% but it'll have to do.
well, just get yourself a hot vapor humidifier - not the cold vapor ones. it's good for plants, it's very good for you. it's also good for wood furniture :), it helps to settle dust and mites hate higher humidity. they are quite cheap. you only need to run it during the heating season and if you're lazy to fill it every day - every other day is better then nothing. they shut off when out of water.
I have a 2L steam humidifier and I've used it before. I don't like it's appearance and also I pay for electricity which could add up. 600W is alot of power to have going much of the day. The plant would be in the living room which is decent sized and there is no way that humidifier could raise the rooms humidity by over 5%. It would have to be right near the plants and it's just not my thing.
I'm just thinking of ease and enjoyment. You saw my other thread on the umbrella plant. It thrives on 25-40% humidity. Not a brown tip on it. That's the kinda plants I want.
It IS really important to grow the type of plants that suit you, your lifestyle and personality. Right now, working from home, I have the luxury and extra time to accommodate as much as I want, but if ever I go back to onsite work -- I don't have time to make gardening my part time job. Haha. Spending considerable and valuable time to recreate (and maintain!) an environment doesn't offer naturally is prohibitive. Also, plants that do not react in a way where it feels rewarding to the grower becomes a waste of time because it feels unrewarding.
As is the case with anything, if it isn't fun, it becomes a chore.
That said, speaking of humidity, I have saucers with pebbles an water EVERYWHERE, and behind some planters, I have pots full of just plain water. Generally, each water pot is surrounded by other plants and almost invisible -- and like Petrushka mentioned, this ups the humidity even more by containing it to one area. They're taking up valuable real estate here, so I did as much as I could -- and then bought some humidity thermometers to keep tabs. Generally, this plus often opening windows has maintained 56-60% humidity indoors. Apparently it still wasn't enough for my maidenhair fern so she, along with a Dracaena I now actually despise lol, got tossed outside; they wanted war, and now they have it, just not with me -- and Mother Nature is not as kind. But the rest? This amount of effort seems to work nicely for them. And running around pouring more water to the rims once a week is not a chore. I can do that.
I agree with you both: I have lots and lots of plants (120 and counting) that most of the time I just look at - no work at all. the thing is when they have what they need - it's a breeze.
I have a pretty hi-tone living quarters without a mess or unsightly gadgets. low maint. is a must too.
there are tricks to conceal things: behind furniture/ in long boxes/behind other plants. you won't see my water containers or tubs,etc - it's all pretty-pretty ready for a pic.
besides that you crack me up, bedtime: talking about ease and enjoyment, while you've been fussing for weeks lately over a leaf here or an angle there ...LOL
This post was edited by petrushka on Fri, Apr 12, 13 at 18:41
This is just me musing .......
"As is the case with anything, if it isn't fun, it becomes a chore."
That's true, but a better understanding of what is today's chore often turns that chore into tomorrow's joy. We have a new puppy that's proving to be much more of a challenge to train than other dogs I've known, but I'll keep after it until he's well-trained and a joy to be around.
I think that some plants are particularly difficult for some growers because their growing habits are such that the cultural conditions they provide are at or near the limits of what the plant is programmed to tolerate. This leaves them able to grow the species more tolerant of the grower's habits, but not those that are slightly more demanding.
I've found that once you've really found the sweet spot, it's actually very large and allows you to grow almost anything you try with ease and minimal gnashing of teeth. I can grow impatiens in the same pot as a jade or ficus if I want to ..... and my biggest concern would be the differing light preferences, not the fact that one plant is purported to be intolerant of the other's preference for soil moisture levels.
Don't be too quick to give up on a plant that's a chore. Keep learning all you can, and soon you'll discover there are very few plants that challenge your patience or ability. Experience runs a distant second to knowledge when it comes to being able to keep your plants happy. If you rely on your practical experience to validate what you've learned, you'll move forward much faster than others fumbling around in the dark learning by trial and error - essentially relying on getting bit on the butt by their mistakes as their primary learning impetus.
I'm not willing to do water trays or humidifiers. I just don't like the look of it. My goal is a simple easy and elegant system. Once I start doing all this then the house starts to look trashy. I do open the window just a crack when it's below zero and more when temperatures allow for it.
In my house it is extremely challenging to hide things as I have no furniture and that's how I like it. Any yeah, I do worry far to much. It's just a thing with me.
I don't seem to have as much patience as you. I took down the terrarium and just put the plants out as they were before. I just can't stand having a giant plastic bag and 4 huge rubbermaid bins sitting right in the middle of my living room. It's been 3 weeks and I'm tired of it. It's too much.
I really hope these plants adapt or they'll be going in the garbage bin, sorry to say. They have 30-40% humidity to work with and that's all they're getting. No tricks. Even right now the place looks unsightly as I have several herbs waiting to go outside as well as the lemon tree and lime bush. Plants are supposed to improve the look of a house and so far for the past 4 months they've made it look MUCH worse. I've invested hundreds of dollars into this, I'm broke, and my house still looks like disaster zone, sigh.
Anyways, sorry to rant. I appreciate the help you all give me. I'm just depressed. * hugs *
looks like you got a dog for the looks of it, without thinking that it needs to be fed and walked...
is it anybody's fault but your own?
Lol - you're kidding - right?
i would hope so!!!!
whuch yah blaming ME for??? he's the one threatening to dump all into a garbage bin AFTER spending the money AND complaining that he is broke!
AND us sitting here for WEEKs trying to help?
I've about had it...you are free to continue the good works...:)))) wah-wah-wah!
Petrushka, I read it as Al and teengardener replying to bedtime. LOL
In any case, this thread is really funny!! :-D
oh! then it's o'right...snif-snif..
Incidentally, Al -- re: your great post above, I concur. Which is why I tell you that you have made gardening fun again. :-) I used to breed working German Shepherds and helped people train their dogs. It was always a joy to see the light come on when you help them understand the DOG rather than "learn training". I guess you probably feel the same about people "getting" plants when they begin to understand soil and the likes.
But after a combined 15 years of killing gardenias, I'm about to call it quits on that one if I don't whip my current ones into shape LOL. I have earned it and the entire species will appreciate it! Haha.
Actually - I was wondering why the dog cracks were necessary - where they even came from??
Seeing that 'light' come on is very gratifying to anyone trying to teach someone else something. I give a lot of talks to gardening groups about various aspects of growing, and I get to see that light whenever I explain how water behaves in soils, about the importance of root maintenance to long term plant health, about fertilizers ....
There are knucklehead dogs and knucklehead people. Fortunately, you can usually ignore the knuckleheads you're not related to, but you can't ignore your knucklehead dog. The point was, the stick to it attitude when it comes to the dog makes the difference between a dog's lifetime of frustration and teeth gnashing (by the owner) vs a companion that rarely tries your patience and loves you without reservation. It takes effort to raise a dog right, and it takes an effort to grow well. It doesn't come naturally, it has to be learned.
Your gardenias shouldn't be all that tough. You're already most of the way there.