can i save my dying ficus tree?

sheilajgwJune 7, 2014

I would appreciate any advice anyone can give me.

I have what was a beautiful ficus tree -- it was potted for about 10 years in a very large pot -- 2 ft. high by 30" wide at the mouth. It lived happily outdoors and grew to be about 10 feet tall with beautiful green leaves. It was the star of the garden. About 2 months ago, it started losing leaves -- I watered and fed it to no avail. Finally I realized that it was probably root bound, and had my gardner take it out of the pot and plant it in the ground. It was, in fact, horribly root bound. After he planted it, It continued to die -- and now all that is left are the very large trunk and branches without leaves at all. There are no new green leaves at all -- and the baby leaves that were there have fallen off. I noticed a green film on some of the branches -- and in some spots it looks like it has developed knotty holes -- dead wood is falling off and leaving the interior branch. Some of the higher branches have snapped off -- dead.

Is there anything I can to do save it -- I am really at a loss.

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I forgot to mention -- I live in Los Angeles -- temperate climate all year round.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 9:50PM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

You have a "moderate" climate. A "temperate" climate involves hot summers and cold winters. You definitely *don't* have that. ;)

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 3:28AM
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How were the roots separated when it was planted?
If they were left circled and tangled up there's your answer.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 7:12AM
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Thanks for the correction re moderate vs temperate. Assuming the roots were left circled upon transplanting --wouldn't they naturally untangle once in the ground? I do believe they were uncurled to some extent. We are using rich soil and frequent watering..

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 1:01PM
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Sounds like it's dead, and time to start over with a new tree. If this was a Ficus benjamina, there should be good-sized trees available for reasonable cost.

Sometimes once potted plants/trees get badly root bound, they need to have their roots "distressed" enough on planting to encourage outward root growth. You can look up advice on how to do this online.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 9:52PM
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Eric_oh-- thank you for this advice --I am so sad that this gorgeous tree has died, though my gardener says he sees the beginning of tiny new leaves on some of the branches (I don't see them). I'll give it another month or so to see what happens. Really can't bear to let it go..

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 7:07PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Ficus benjamina normally drop their leaves at any change of physical location, even from room to room indoors. Likely the foliage will all grow back and you will very much come to regret planting it in the ground, as it buckles any pavement within 25 feet and sucks all the water away from any plant growing nearby with its aggressive, invasive surface roots.

Here is a link that might be useful: thread on F. benjamina, if that is what you have

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 7:17PM
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