HELP! - Ficus Tree Tap Root!

halogengirlieNovember 5, 2010

We have a large ficus tree (approx 7'). We allow it to stay outdoors in the summer, but bring it inside in the winter. We have done this for the last 3 years.

Tonight our temperatures are supposed to drop to 38 degrees, so we decided to bring the Ficus indoors. When lifting the pot we encountered a great deal of resistance. We eventually pried the pot up, only to discover that we had severed a 1" thick tap root.

I've heard of root pruning a ficus, and it seems to include trimming the foliage as well. Since we broke such a thick tap root... do you think we have a chance of saving the tree? Should we cut back the foliage?

Thanks!

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

What species is it? Ficus carica (hardy/edible fig), benjamina (weeping fig), elastica (rubber tree), other?

Al

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 9:13PM
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halogengirlie

ummm... I'm not sure... It's an ornamental non-fruiting...

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 9:28PM
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halogengirlie2(7B)

After looking at some pictures of the plants you suggested, it looks most like a benjamina. It's certainly not a rubber tree and it does not fruit.

Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 9:51PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Assuming it's a plant commonly grown as a houseplant, I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't have some issues bringing it in, though not necessarily related to the loss of the big root. The extreme chill will not have been good for it (it's best to bring houseplants in before night temps start dipping below 55*); and you may experience some foliage loss, from minor to extreme, as a result of a sudden decrease in light.

I wouldn't do any serious pruning of the canopy until early summer, unless the tree happens to shed most of its foliage, in which case it won't matter much if you prune. Be very careful about your watering habits (don't over-water). It sounds like you might want to be thinking about a full repot, including root pruning, come early summer.

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    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 10:00PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

That should have been: I wouldn't be surprised if you did have some issues bringing it in, though not necessarily related to the loss of the big root. Sorry. ;o)

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 10:02PM
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halogengirlie2(7B)

I appreciate the info... The tree right now looks very healthy, full of leaves waxy green. However, every year when we bring it inside the leaves do thin out and quite a few drop.... I'm just nervous about the tap root, since that it a new twist to our ritual...

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 10:07PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It's true that having to sever the large root can't be scored in the + column, but I don't think it will be quite as large a minus as you're thinking it might be. ;o) Plants in high energy states are very resilient. It's the highly stressed plants that are of greater concern. Bringing it in sooner next year would be something I would count as one of my priorities, though.

How quickly the plant bounces back, or to what degree it bounces back, depends a lot on how root bound it is in the container. Potting up would probably be a good move, until you can repot. If you do, don't go too much larger in pot size, and be careful to water only when you're sure it needs it. Taking advantage of a wick to drain excess water would also be helpful.

Best luck.

Al

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 12:31PM
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