Pruning ficus b. after July 9 Repotting. Pic Heavy!
Hello to all and a big thanks for all the things written and discussed here, members writing about their problems and successes along the way, the collective experience of the fora, and particularly to Al who's generous spirit really lights up this forum in a special way.
So, true story - I moved to a 3rd fl apt July '11 shortly after which I picked up an orphaned 8' Ficus Benjamina which was being discarded on the sidewalk during a neighbor's move. It's shape suggests it was against a wall for some period, rather bushy on one side while flat on the other.
Being a novice, I brought 'Gladys' home in the back of a trusty Corolla and drug her up 3 flights of stairs to the new place and put her in a South window. After a period of extended protest, I finally found a watering schedule that suited the plant and the hard soil it was in (every 5 days). This forum was instrumental in clueing me in on the watering issue. So all is good till late winter / early spring '12 when I notice how sticky the floors and couches are. About this time I also notice the tiny spider mites jumping about every time I water. I bide my time.
Trips in May and June disrupt the watering schedule and the plant reacts with a small, but distinct drought response. I bring Gladys outside in Mid June, repotted July 9. Although I did cut off a good 2 inches of root from the bottom and cleaned out as much old soil as I could, I did not do a lot of major corrective root pruning (next year perhaps). Got supplies for Al's Gritty Mix, applied Bonide systematic Houseplant Insect Control to deal with spider mites, and got repotting done. This was July 9, 2012. Applied Neem oil at same time and again July 26. (50% H2O, 50% Alcohol, 1 tsp Neem Oil, a couple drops Dawn = quart).
Ficus looks pretty good as of July 31, 2012 - still a few leaves with major sticky - What Is This? Thought it was scales and Neem would take care of it. Otherwise most leaves feel pretty clean to touch. Watering every other day w/ addition of Dyna-Gro Foliage-Pro.
Which brings me to the big issue of top pruning. I've tried to read a lot on the concept behind pruning and the idea of energy reserves and although I think I'm getting close, I'm still a little dim when trying to put it all together. It's getting late in the season, I did not go into repotting with full energy, and the plant is a weird shape!
Here we are Aug 1, plant looks pretty good to my untrained eye. Do I wait for next year to do hard branch pruning or do I say meh, and grab shears pronto while summer is still about? I don't have a clear idea of what this Ficus wants or what I should do. I know Al says one can be pretty aggressive when pruning it's just I'm concerned about timing.
My pics are on a shallow 3rd fl balcony ( apologies) so the best I can do is offer close shots at various angles, while turning the plant. The ficus is 8' tall while apartment ceilings are 9' in height. I am in Boston, the ficus is currently on outside balcony facing East, Northeast (direct light till noon) and south facing living room during winter.
First pic of ficus after repotting about 3 weeks back, then a series of pics taken yesterday showing current state of affairs. Plant rotated counter clockwise to hopefully give an idea of shape and the like. Knife blade on top of pot hopefully gives a sense of orientation - 4PM, 1PM, 10 AM, 7AM. Many thanks again! Sorry for so many pics:-)