New Ficus Lyrata help

Olive625April 1, 2012

Hi Everyone:

I'm a first time poster - and a first time plant grower - so I'm in need of some help for my new ficus lyrata tree. We bought her a couple of weeks ago and she is in our living room by a west facing window so she gets great afternoon bright sun (well at least the leaves do). Its been a little cloudy here over the past week though.

The tree is around 4 feet tall and has a really thin stem thats slightly bent and it has a lot of large green leaves at the top. I've rotated her so that the sun can try to pull her back straight. The leaves look fairly healthy (big and dark green) but all of the new growth (I think its new growth...they are pointy and coming straight from the stem) is brown, really dry and flakes off. I've also just noticed a few little brown spots on the underside of some of the leaves.

I've only watered the plant once since the store told me they had watered it recently. When I did water it, I also used MG 20-20-20 since thats what was suggested in the store. I'm not sure how much water the plants normally take, but I was kind of shocked because it seemed like very little water (maybe like 3 cups?) was given before water was flowing out of the bottom of the container.

So I guess my question do I encourage strength in the stem (would staking work?) and what do I do about the new brown/dried growth (should I pull them off of the tree?)? How can I get healthy growth??

I really want this little tree to survive and grow well so any help would be amazing!


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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You didn't give a hint at how large the tree's container is, so it's difficult to judge if 3 cups of water is adequate. It may be that the soil has become water repellent (hydrophobic) and the water is simply running down between the soil mass and the container wall. I probably wouldn't have fertilized yet, and I would have chosen a different fertilizer ratio, but it's not a big deal, unless you over-fertilized in your quest to coax the tree to grow. Try to remember that plants grow at their own speed if you keep them healthy, and you can't speed that up with magic elixirs or extra fertilizer.

I'm going to suggest a couple of threads for you to read. The first one is about basic houseplant care. The second one is aimed specifically at the care of Ficus trees in containers. Hopefully you'll find them enlightening.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 2:16PM
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Thanks for writing back. I've seen some of your posts so I'm very excited for your help!

The tree is in a 13 inch container so I suppose it really doesn't need a ton of water - and maybe it really wasn't ready to be watered. Perhaps its the beginner gardener in me...

I followed the directions on the fertilizer package in terms of how much of the solid to dissolve in water (I believe it was 1/2 teaspoon in 2Q water) - and then watered the tree with that mixture until the water was draining from the bottom - which wasn't very much water. So hopefully I didn't over fertilize!

Should I do anything about the new dry/brown growth or leave it be?

I'll be sure to read through those threads that you are great for writing back so fast! Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 3:36PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'm a little confused about the 'new brown growth'. Can you offer more details, or preferably a picture?

A piece of wood dowel with an end sharpened in a pencil sharpener and inserted deep into the soil is a good 'tell' for whether or not it's time to water. If it comes out warm/clean/dry, it's time to water. Cool/damp/dark looking means you should wait. Watering is a very important part of your skill set, so it's worth the extra effort until you get a good feel for when your plant is getting dry. Damp, not wet, is the order of the day for best root health. You'll find more about watering in the threads at the end of the links I left.

Thank you for the kind words, Olive - I'm pleased to help.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 6:49PM
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