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Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

Posted by KariAptGarden Zone 10, FL (My Page) on
Thu, May 29, 14 at 23:19

Hello!

I apologize in advance for the lengthy post, but the more info I give, the less you have to guess!
After having my Ficus Lyratas for 7 months, I have scoured for information on helping them thrive in my apartment. This website (especially Al's wealth of endless knowledge) has the absolute most comprehensive information on these beauties. So I am writing in hopes of getting some customized input to help them be as happy and healthy as possible after some hiccups (pretty please!). I will try to do my best in organizing my list of questions.
Firstly, some background. I live in Miami. I purchased them at IKEA (photo included) back in late October 2013.

After a month, they were absolutely weak and droopy, as I noticed they would not take water; after A LOT of research, I discovered that the soil was hydrophobic. I sunk them in a bucket with some dishwashing soap overnight and they revived (I could practically hear them gasping for air!)! (Photo included).

Since then, I have watered them by sinking them in a bucket until almost no air bubbles come up, and they seem to like it (although after each soak, a bottom leaf routinely falls off, so something must be off...). If I try to water normally, the plants don't seem to be absorbing any of it...
A couple of months ago, we moved. They have survived the move (thank goodness!), but I am constantly worrying about them! We only have North-Easternly facing windows, and they are right by our floor-to-ceiling ones where they get light all day long, with direct sunlight in the morning, until 10:30 AM max. (See pic).

I try to mist the leaves every day to keep the moisture up, since we are in an air-conditioned environment (I also open the window for about an hour every day to let fresh air in). Some leaves fall off once in a while, others develop brown spots and/or holes, and they don't display the perkiness/uprightness these plants are known to have (especially towards the bottom).
I re-potted one of them last week, but recently realized I did not make the best choice of potting soil after going through Al's dissertation (love it!), and lazily having used MG Moisture control.
Here are my questions:
1. I would really love for them to grow a lot taller at the trunk and bushier at the top. After a lot of reading, it seems like placing them outdoors for the summer seems like the favorite option for growth, BUT: I live on the 16th floor, which gets a lot of ocean breeze (sometimes even a bit chilly), and I am two blocks away from the ocean (salt in air?). Also, we get A LOT of torrential downpours in Miami during the summer. Do these factors eliminate the option of placing them outside for the summer?
2. To re-pot these specific plants, (with the purpose of root health=happy and thriving growth), do you recommend the gritty mix or the 5:1:1 mix?
3. What does it mean when the buds at the top are not green but brown and dry? (see photo)

4. What does it mean when the main trunk/stem is brown all the way to the leaves instead of greening towards the top?

5. Is it normal for some leaves to be so heavy that they break from the stem and hang more limply?

6. If my plant grows during this summer, will the main trunk below the "Y" at the bottom emerge from the soil and make the tree grow taller? How can I make this happen?

6. Do my plants seem sickly in any way from the way they look?
7. Once I re-pot them with more well-draining soil mixture, how often and how much (considering all factors and size) do I need to water them?
8. Any other input/advice?
A couple more pics:

Thank so much in advance!

Waiting patiently,
Karina


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

I can't really answer your questions, but what I see:
you repotted into a pot without a draining hole. You need to get rid of that and find an inner pot with holes at its bottom.
See the pictures after question 8? Both plants lean towards the light/window. I would turn them occassionally so the trunk remains straight and they can develop leaves on the other side as well.

good luck with them!

MsGreen


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

Thanks MsGreenFinger
The pot deceptively looks like it doesn't have drain holes, but it can be lifted from the attached saucer and the holes are at the bottom!


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

obviously your plants are stressed from drying up too much - that would dry up the top buds. but otherwise they look healthy.
the top trunk is green only when young - so my guess is the top is old growth (may be the VERY top growth was pruned?) .
the trunk under Y will not grow taller out of the ground.
i am in nyc and sometimes i put my lyratas out on the balcony when it gets steady above 70F at night - just for a couple of months. they do beautifully on the N-NE balcony mostly in shade under 5' overhang, with may be an hour or two of sun at 8am. no burning.
and i have high wind - am above 20th fl and it's EXTREMELY windy next to the river (very similar to miami actually in that regard, even the temps in summer and humidity are similar).
yours would do good on your balcony. just acclimate them over a week or so - put them out when it's cloudy and not so windy, so the leaves do not burn. best to keep them just in the shade for a few weeks first.
i've seen plenty of ficuses in miami out on the streets next to the beach and also in resorts in coastal mexico - i don't think that salty breezes will be a problem.
they just love humidity and temps in the mid 80s. 90F is ok too.
down-pour can be OK provided the soil mix drains fast.
when it's in the 80f-90f and very humid - which is your summer , the tree will grow fast and will need lots of water, especially if you have a windy balcony. best would be to protect it from wind somewhat by placing next to the wall.
it will need to be placed in double pot - ceramic - to prevent it from toppling.
gritty would be good , but will make it very heavy to move in and out. and gritty will dry up too much for your heat, i think. even 5-1-1 might dry up too fast, will need to be watered a lot! ficuses are very thirsty trees in sub-tropics.
you can just cut cactus soil with bark and pumice in equal
proportions - this will be ok for indoors and outdoors too.
if you lay a few inches of lava rock on the bottom - it will absorb a lot of water and then slowly release it - good for less watering outside and it's very light when dry.
there is one problem with too much bark in your case:
it gets moldy in high heat and humidity. also you need to make sure it's sterile -use orchid bark? otherwise all kinds of eggs can be in it, molds, bugs,etc.
if you search for "ficus lyrata pruning" on the bottom of the page you'll get a lot of info. this has been discussed in great detail many times. you need to look thru the info first. there are sev very long threads devoted just to f.lyrata.
i prefer to notch first, wait for buds to develop and then cut - i usually get 2-4 buds. 2 of which are strong, others weaker. but i can choose the placement this way.
when you just prune off the top - very often you'll just get 1 bud and a tree that looks like a question mark.
i have posted before with more detail about notching - so search for that too.
summer is a good time to prune.
if you decide to keep it strictly indoors - n-ne light is not bright enough for good growth. it needs some 4 hours of east or west sun to do good.


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

Thank you Petrushka!

I will move them outside then. I am not sure I am understanding the process: are you saying move them out for hours at a time at first when it's cloudy and not windy, put them back inside for the rest of the day, and continue gradually with more hours outside than in until they are outside fully? When I have to place them back inside, is it the same process?
Got it on the notching. I will re-pot before Father's Day, let them get settled, and do the notching/pruning about a month later when they've got some strength.
I'll start looking into your soil mixture components in the meantime.

Thanks again!
Karina


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

yes, you have to lug them back and forth, if you have direct sun every day in the morning for hours.
when you are moving into no-direct-sun area - then they can stay, unless it's cold at night (below 65F)..
it depends on how your balcony gets light.
by shady i mean 'no continuous direct sun'. the leaves burn from hi temp: heating up in the sun. when sun moves quickly in dappled shade 30 min of sun in one spot will not burn the leaves. also if you do fine-cool-mist on the plants in direct sun and cool them off they will not burn (nozzles to cool off the patio like in AZ).
but that is not possible on the balcony, of course ;).
look at the forecast, try to select a period when you have sev semi-cloudy days in a row. and not too gusty.
the plants are not large and heavy yet. i suggest moving them out for half a day past 2pm a day or two at a time. then you can skip a day or two, just keep increasing exposure gradually.
it is some work - but it's worth it.
even putting them behind chairs and some other obstruction is better then nothing. like drape a beach towel on a chair and put the plant behind it... after a week they should be fine. hope, i am not chewing too much ;)??
moving back is less of a problem - since temps are lower in fall and light is less intense. so from NE balcony you can just bring them in - in one day.


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Jun 3, 14 at 22:19

Got your message last week, but I've been really busy with getting tropical bonsai out and on the benches, plus a deck project, so my GW mail is really backed up.

Answers to your questions

1) Is there actually salt in the air? Are there ficus (even F carica - hardy fig) in the nearby landscape, and do they seem to be affected by salt spray?

If the plants are in an appropriate soil, torrential downpours don't present much of a problem, but wind does. Some wind is your friend, though. Flexing of the stem and limbs stimulates lignin production, which strengthens stems/limbs and makes them stiff.

"Bushier at the top" is the plant's natural habit, but growing it indoors suppresses the plant's ability to grow naturally. Fortunately, you can easily reach that goal by judicious pinching. Lets get the plant on track & worry about manipulating it once you're comfortable with your ability to provide conditions that ensure reliably good vitality

2) I obviously have the option of using either the 5:1:1 mix or the gritty mix. I grow all my ficus, in fact, all my woody material in the gritty mix because it makes everything monkey easy. I can water on a schedule w/o out having to be concerned I might over-water, and maintaining excellent root health doesn't get easier. It takes some time to find ingredients, and some effort to do the screening, so weigh those considerations while you decide. A soil like the 5:1:1 mix is still far superior to 95% of the commercially prepared media you'll likely find.

3) Aborted buds can be caused by over-watering, under-watering, a high level of dissolved solids in the soil (solution), nutritional issues, and a few other less common causes.

4) What does it mean when the main trunk/stem is brown all the way to the leaves instead of greening towards the top? Normal growth habit. The smooth outer skin is starting to die, which is how bark forms. It will get fissured and scaly as it ages.

5) Is it normal for some leaves to be so heavy that they break from the stem and hang more limply? Yes. The leaf and stem were once wrapped in a protective sheath. As the leaf emerges, growth regulators cause elongation in petiole (leaf stem) cells away from the light, this bends the leaf petiole and effectively orients the leaf to maximize photo exposure.

6) If my plant grows during this summer, will the main trunk below the "Y" at the bottom emerge from the soil and make the tree grow taller? How can I make this happen? No - the crotch will always be exactly where it is, unless you change the soil level. All linear growth originates in apices (apical meristems), at the growing tips of branches and stems. If you remove an apical meristem, that branch can no longer extend - ever. Secondary branches will emerge from the truncated branch, and THEY will extend, but the truncated branch will not/cannot. That fact is also your friend and allows you to predict very precisely what the result of your pruning efforts will be.

7) Once I re-pot them with more well-draining soil mixture, how often and how much (considering all factors and size) do I need to water them? It will vary - too many factors to offer anything meaningful, and it will change with the growth cycle and maturity of the planting (how long it's been since the last repot. Probably every 2-6 days.

8) Other input? Stop using dish soap on the plant. You can hose the plant off occasionally, or give it a shower, but misting is a futile effort to raise humidity. You're probably more apt to inadvertently cause a problem than benefit the plant.

If you get the soil right, get the plant in good light, get a good nutritional supplementation program in place, and regularly do your root work, there is no reason you shouldn't be able to pass your plant on to the next generation of plant lovers, still a manageable size and in excellent health.

Al


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Jun 3, 14 at 22:37

Got your message last week, but I've been really busy with getting tropical bonsai out and on the benches, plus a deck project, so my GW mail is really backed up.

Answers to your questions

1) Is there actually salt in the air? Are there ficus (even F carica - hardy fig) in the nearby landscape, and do they seem to be affected by salt spray?

If the plants are in an appropriate soil, torrential downpours don't present much of a problem, but wind does. Some wind is your friend, though. Flexing of the stem and limbs stimulates lignin production, which strengthens stems/limbs and makes them stiff.

"Bushier at the top" is the plant's natural habit, but growing it indoors suppresses the plant's ability to grow naturally. Fortunately, you can easily reach that goal by judicious pinching. Lets get the plant on track & worry about manipulating it once you're comfortable with your ability to provide conditions that ensure reliably good vitality

2) I obviously have the option of using either the 5:1:1 mix or the gritty mix. I grow all my ficus, in fact, all my woody material in the gritty mix because it makes everything monkey easy. I can water on a schedule w/o out having to be concerned I might over-water, and maintaining excellent root health doesn't get easier. It takes some time to find ingredients, and some effort to do the screening, so weigh those considerations while you decide. A soil like the 5:1:1 mix is still far superior to 95% of the commercially prepared media you'll likely find.

3) Aborted buds can be caused by over-watering, under-watering, a high level of dissolved solids in the soil (solution), nutritional issues, and a few other less common causes.

4) What does it mean when the main trunk/stem is brown all the way to the leaves instead of greening towards the top? Normal growth habit. The smooth outer skin is starting to die, which is how bark forms. It will get fissured and scaly as it ages.

5) Is it normal for some leaves to be so heavy that they break from the stem and hang more limply? Yes. The leaf and stem were once wrapped in a protective sheath. As the leaf emerges, growth regulators cause elongation in petiole (leaf stem) cells away from the light, this bends the leaf petiole and effectively orients the leaf to maximize photo exposure.

6) If my plant grows during this summer, will the main trunk below the "Y" at the bottom emerge from the soil and make the tree grow taller? How can I make this happen? No - the crotch will always be exactly where it is, unless you change the soil level. All linear growth originates in apices (apical meristems), at the growing tips of branches and stems. If you remove an apical meristem, that branch can no longer extend - ever. Secondary branches will emerge from the truncated branch, and THEY will extend, but the truncated branch will not/cannot. That fact is also your friend and allows you to predict very precisely what the result of your pruning efforts will be.

7) Once I re-pot them with more well-draining soil mixture, how often and how much (considering all factors and size) do I need to water them? It will vary - too many factors to offer anything meaningful, and it will change with the growth cycle and maturity of the planting (how long it's been since the last repot. Probably every 2-6 days.

8) Other input? Stop using dish soap on the plant. You can hose the plant off occasionally, or give it a shower, but misting is a futile effort to raise humidity. You're probably more apt to inadvertently cause a problem than benefit the plant.

If you get the soil right, get the plant in good light, get a good nutritional supplementation program in place, and regularly do your root work, there is no reason you shouldn't be able to pass your plant on to the next generation of plant lovers, still a manageable size and in excellent health.

Al


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

Follow up.

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply amidst your busy schedule, Al! And thanks Petrushka for answering my questions! This forum is fantastic!
And Al, I only used the dish soap once to 'cure' the hydrophobic soil :)

Before re-potting, I placed my plants outside for the day to see how they did with the breeze/wind as I plan to haven them out for the summer. They were knocked over quite a bit! This made me decide to go with the gritty mix--aside from this forum's and others' support for it--it would surely help support the base with its weight.
These are the ingredients I ended up purchasing after quite a hunt. I hope that the substitutions ended up being the right ones...ReptiBark + Napa FloorDry 8822 + Aquarium Gravel. I did not add Gypsum as I plan to fertilize with FoliagePro.

As you can see, I used Aquarium Gravel in lieu of the crushed granite. The size of the rocks are comparable to the repti-bark but a bit larger than the FloorDry...
I screened both the gravel and the FloorDry with a 1/16" insect screen: BEHOLD!: This is a day-long process!

The Aquarium Gravel did not have much waste

Here is the final result

It was kind of difficult to get all the original soil out of the roots; and as a novice I am not sure what I was doing; but I combed the roots out while keeping them moist and trimmed them overall before re-potting.

This is one of the plants right after re-potting

I watered them thoroughly when I repotted, and I left the plants in the bathroom for a day and a half as I had read you need to give them some time to adjust before exposing to light (?).

And these are the plants today (3 days later)

As you can see, they are not looking very happy so far. But I am guessing they are adjusting??? I watered again two days later as they looked thirsty. Can anyone tell why they are showing the droopiness, yellowing, and brown flecks?? Were they used to being sunken in a bucket and prefer that amount of watering?
Also, as you can tell, I ran out of material when preparing my mix: do I need to fill to the rim?

I am so clueless :/

Thanks again!

Karina


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

yes, they will drop those leaves soon - it's not taking enough water. try to keep top part of the pot where roots are moist. dribble some water on every day. it needs as much humidity as you can give it for the next 2-3 weeks. tent it in dry-cleaners bag if it is inside. you should have very hi humidity outdoors, except it's windy .... it needs to stay out of the sun, no wind, but 85F and 90% humidity. that would be optimal.
and you don't need to top the mix, what you have is fine.


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Jun 21, 14 at 11:24

Hi, Kari. I see nothing to disagree with in P's directions just above. That's pretty much the basic program for any plant that's recently been root-pruned.

The soil you made is coarser than it needs to be to get all its potential benefits, but it will still work very well, and It will be almost impossible to over-water plants potted in it, unless you work at it, so don't be concerned about watering every day. Withhold fertilizer until you see first signs the plant has recovered from the repotting and is pushing new growth.

I'll have more, but first: Is the picture of the roots before or after root-pruning? I want to get you to the point where A) there is no trepidation when you think about root pruning because you know all will go smoothly after the repot, and B) the act of root pruning itself becomes something you can do by feel - it becomes a 'second nature' act.

I had yesterday afternoon off and I repotted (for me, that includes some rather aggressive root pruning) about 15 trees - most of which were Ficus. There were a couple of scheffs in there, a couple of Portulacarias (mini-jade) and a Eugenia (aka brush cherry, I think), but most were Ficus. The root systems and plants were healthy, so I don't expect any problems with those plants. Most of them went right back into the full sun location they were in prior to the work. More about your plant after the question I had about the roots.

TTYL - Al


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

Hi!
That was quick: thanks guys!
Al, that picture is AFTER root pruning...any tips??
Thanks again :)


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

Hi!
That was quick: thanks guys!
Al, that picture is AFTER root pruning...any tips??
Thanks again :)


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 22, 14 at 11:31

Yes - the important roots are the fine roots. We only need enough large roots to serve as anchors and as plumbing - to move water and nutrients to the canopy and carbohydrates to the roots. There are other biocompounds and chemical messengers that move about the plant, but those are the main functions of heavy roots. I probably would have removed the 2(?) large roots that are growing highest on the stem. The other large roots, I would have truncated at a point about even with the bottom of the main part of the fine root mass. If you look at your picture, that would be about the point where you can just start seeing through the roots - where you can start to see the towel in the background. Those roots aren't supplying water or nutrients in any significant way, anyway, so you might as well clip them at the next repot. When you do clip them, don't cut straight across the root. Clip it diagonally so the wound face is facing out. That way, the roots that emerge from the wound will grow outward. Also, when you truncate a root, be sure you make the cut just below a root already facing outward.

The next time you repot, you can start removing all the roots growing downward under the trunk, leaving the roots growing horizontally. The plant below (maple) was layered off another tree - the layering tourniquet is still visible. Note that I have pruned all the roots growing off the trunk except for the horizontal ones, and all the secondary, tertiary, .... roots are emanating from the horizontal roots.
 photo repots013-1.jpg

What % of roots would you guess you removed?

When you work on roots, it's important to keep the fine roots moist. I usually work over a tub, or with a hose, and never go more than 1 minute w/o dunking the entire root mass or rewetting it. It only take a little over a minute for the very important fine roots to die, so be sure to work in the shade & out of the sun if you can.

Sometimes, plants will feel insecure or unstable in the pot after root pruning. Stability is important. You don't want the plant to move in relation to the pot, so securing it to the pot is a big help, until the plant is again anchored firmly. Making sure the plant is secure significantly hastens reestablishment because it prevents the newly forming fine roots from being broken when the plant is moved or jostled. I use some sisal twine and a few cheap clamps to temporarily secure plants I think might be in jeopardy of toppling.
 photo repotting027.jpg
 photo TooLittleRepot045.jpg.

Don't be afraid to water the plant daily until it starts to perk up. Once it recovers from the work, you'll see a lot of new growth. Even in consideration of the time it takes to recover, the plant should have grown more than it would have (and be healthier than it would have been) if you'd simply potted up.

Next time you repot, it won't be as traumatic for you OR the plant. ;-) The more fine roots your plant has, and that's what you're starting to develop, the easier root pruning is on the plant. The more often you root prune, the easier it becomes.

Al


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

I am not sure what % of roots I removed. i know that while I was trying to remove the old soil, some roots parted with it, but other than that, I just trimmed the rest and did not remove others entirely. And I am a bit afraid I might have let some fine roots die as I did not continuously soak them as you explained here...uh-oh. I just sprayed them after removing the soil and then sprayed again after trimming the roots.
Okay...I tired to interpret your explanation into this graphic below. Am I understanding you correctly?

Also, do you think that I need to wait until next spring to do this right? Will it be too much on the plants if I tried to do it now since I just re-potted?
I am going to have to figure something out for stability because I do have to move them quite a bit when I water to dump the water drains through...
I have been watering daily since you and Petrushka told me to, but no signs of getting firmer yet. I'll clamp them down once you let me know if I can do the root work or not so they stabilize.
Is putting them outside for the summer still a go if they stabilize?
Also, is it detrimental that they get quite a few hours of direct sun in the AM since it faces NE??
Sorry I have so many questions: is there an Al for all questions in life? :)
--Kari


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 23, 14 at 21:52

Yes - you understood what I was trying to impart.

I'd wait until early summer of '16 or even '17 to work on roots again.

At this stage, you want to try to avoid things that will cause leaves to be shed. That means you can put the plants outdoors, but limit full sun exposure to a couple of early hours and a couple of late hours at first. If the leaves are badly damaged by excess sun, the plant will shed them. It probably has enough energy to push a new flush of foliage, but there's no sense in tempting fate.

I'm used to a lot of questions. I answer them all day long at work, then come home to a flock of neighborhood kiddies that never stop with the questions. Every day, I find a bunch of email questions from various forums I frequent, and If all that doesn't give me my fill, I might peruse a couple of favorite forums to see if there is anything I might add to help someone get more from their growing experience. So your questions aren't a bother. Besides - every time you ask a question, it presents an opportunity to help reshape the thinking of others who might want or need the guidance.

Take care.

Al


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

I love all the insight everyone has to offer. I hope someone can help me with my Ficus Lyrata. I live in Panama, so I only have a rainy season and a dry season. I've had my plant since August. It is now 8 feet tall at the highest point. I had it inside in air conditioning for a bit and that caused it to loose a lot of its foliage. It is stable now that it is outdoors. I water it once a week. The burn marks on the leaves are from a time it was under direct sunlight in another patio. I would like to know how I can encourage new foliage to grow on the existing branches. I thought that once the leaves fall off they don't grow back. It only gets growth at the tips?
Should I prune? and if so, how much? If you look at the enclosed picture, from left to right, branch number 3 is the tallest, should I cut that one right above the spot where the trunk branches to branch number 2? I read somewhere that if I prune it at the wrong spot it will not grow again?
I await your comments, thanks,

Luis
ps. how do I post several pictures at the same time?


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Jun 24, 14 at 22:09

I would like to know how I can encourage new foliage to grow on the existing branches. I thought that once the leaves fall off they don't grow back. It only gets growth at the tips? To encourage new growth and back-budding: A) Make sure the plant is not root bound. B) Make sure you are using a soil you can water properly (to the point you're flushing accumulating salts from the soil) without having to worry about root rot or root function being impaired by a soil that remains soggy for extended periods. C) Fertilize regularly with a quality fertilizer that has a ratio at least close to 3:1:2 (examples are 24-8-16, 12-4-8, 9-3-6 ...) D) Make sure the plant gets plenty of light and air movement - outdoors is best by far. Do those things and your plant will respond very favorably.

Plants are not regenerative organisms, like animals. They cannot regenerate their parts in the same spatial planes the old parts occupied. What they will do though, is activate latent buds that are sleeping just above old leaf bundle scars - if you are able to provide the conditions I described.

If you're able to improve cultural conditions, I'd prune all the branches except the leader (#3) back to 2 healthy leaves. This will force back-budding.

Send me your address & I'll send you instructions on how to alter text and post pictures.

Al


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

Hi, all, I've been using a 24-8-16 fertilizer on my plant in the hopes that that will help it with new leaves. No such luck so far. It's been over two months since I started using the fertilizer, am I too impatient?

I noticed something that looks like roots growing out of the lower part of the main trunk. Are they roots? (don't mind the little basil plants at the bottom)

 photo IMG_57821_zpse29a5154.jpg


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 27, 14 at 20:05

A form of adventitious roots commonly called stilt roots. They can occur naturally or might be a result of hypoxia (water-logged soils) or nutrient deficiencies.

Keep the soil just damp and be patient. If you have good light, good nutrition, and a happy home for roots, the plant will eventually respond favorably.

Al


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

Thanks Al. Do I cut them off now while they are pliable?


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 27, 14 at 20:19

Yes - just rub them off with ur thumb if you'd rather not have them growing off the trunk.

Al


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Update on my Ficus Lyratas

Long time no write!
Hope everyone's having a wonderful summer! I am writing to post some updates on my ficus lyratas...unfortunately, it is not a very happy story for the moment :/
Here are some pictures with dates



As you can see, the leaves seem to be sunburnt and something has taken over my poor plant! Should I cut it from the top? If so, how far down? Each stem has has 2-3 new leaves so far...
Please help if there is any way to reverse the damage from the elements...or if there are any suggestions.

Thanks so much in advance,
Sad Karina


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 28, 14 at 16:05

What happened between Jul 12 and Aug 27th? I'm sure your plant didn't go from green and healthy to the way it looks in the pic taken on the 27th/28th in a single day or 2 (observation - not said in a snarky way). Tell us more about its very recent history and how you were managing it, please.

Al


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

I know! There wasn't that big of a change between those dates, other than slight yellowing on some leaves. I imagined it was because of the sun but that they'd acclimate. There have been really strong winds and the plants got knocked over a few times these past 2 weeks and I kept tying them down to the railing but the currents were weird and somehow they always managed to fall over. That's why I brought them inside, but they obviously did NOT like that. It's like they aged 20 years (like a person, not in a good way) overnight! Any advice?


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 29, 14 at 18:18

Maybe from the root disturbance or drying out, if there was a lot of soil spilled; or the tree laid on it's side in the sun, the soil might have really heated up ...... hard to say. If you can keep it healthy until next summer, you can defoliate it. Then, all the new leaves that are produced from the back-budding will be pristine.

Al


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

sorry to hear that your ficus is not doing well. are there any changes as of now?
i just recently read about soil temps in containers that have a lot of gravel/rock content: if the container is exposed to sun the soil temp can be 30F degrees higher inside the pot, burning the roots! especially when the moisture levels are low.
so it's very important to water well and not allow it to dry out. were you watering it enough? were you doing a 'stick-test' for moisture levels?
putting the original pot inside a larger container helps to keep the soil-temp down, it's best to have smth like 1.5-2" all around. try to find a white container. also the square containers do not fall as easily as round ones. if you could get wider pot that narrows at the top to prevent the inner pot from rocking inside in high wind.
F.lyratas are very resilient, it should recover.
give plant consistent good moisture - it should be able to push out new growth quite fast.
if the leaves are looking very ratty, you can trim them a bit with scissors, but it's best to allow the plant to extract nutrients from them. after they yellow - they will fall off by themselves.


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

Hi all, I am trying to make my own 5-1-1 mix, but I'm having a hard time finding the ingredients. I need to repot my Ficus Lyrata. I live n Central America and the supply of ingredients is limited in the big box stores and garden centers.

I've not seen any pine bark. I've found Perlite, and I don't recall seeing any Sphagnum peat, let alone Dolomitic lime.

Here are some of the items I've seen can anyone tell me if you think it will work? Can I substitute plain dirt for the Sphagnum peat?

Thanks,

Luis

 photo IMG_51201_zps3dbb376a.jpg

 photo IMG_51231_zps201a15f3.jpg

 photo IMG_51211_zps2679a99b.jpg

 photo IMG_51191_zpsd6454ba8.jpg


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

Hello all, for better or for worse, I hope for the best, lol, I found a Pine bark mulch that I felt was the right size. I made my 5.1.1 mix and repotted the ficus after I trimmed the roots. Did not stop to take pictures during the root process because I was afraid the roots would dry out if I didn't work quickly. As it is, I hope I did it well.

This is what I ended up with. I hope it's suitable and that it will help my tree thrive and reach its full potential...

 photo IMG_62631_zps9049c8db.jpg

After reading through the posts about the mix. I cannot figure out how much water I should water with. Every post I've read says you should water more often, and have the ability to flush the soil if you need to.

I will water when I stick a chopstick deep into the pot and see that there's no wet particles stuck to it, is that right?

The biggest question I have is: How much water should I use? I used to water it weekly with about 4 quarts of water. Should I use the same amount of water now each time I water (which seems like it will be every other day), or should I use more water and if so, how much more?

I hope someone will chime in with some advice as I have to water it today and want to do it right.

Luis


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Sep 25, 14 at 14:05

Soil looks very good. Did you add the lime when you made it?

The 5:1:1 mix isn't foolproof, but you pretty much have to work at over-watering; so just by employing your good sense, you should be able to flush the soil as often as you think your plant needs water.

Immediately after repotting, you need tro give SOME consideration to where the fine feeder roots are in the pot. If there are lots of fine roots close to the bottom, water when your stick tells you it's time after pushing it deep in the pot. If most of the fine roots are near the TOP of the soil mass, you need to water often enough to keep the top moist, so those roots don't dry out. That's about it.

Your plant will reestablish faster if you secure the plant to the pot, so the plant can't move relative to the pot if it gets jostled or is subject to a stiff breeze. Start fertilizing when you see evidence of new growth. If temps are above 55*, your plant wants to be outdoors, in shade, and out of the wind.

You'll need to water more often than you're used to, and some growers think that's a problem. It just might be .......... from the grower's perspective - but not from the plant's perspective. To me it doesn't make sense to slight a soil because 'you have to water too often' when you're comparing it to a soil that's inherently limiting because you have to water too infrequently due to the fact it holds too much water.

That's the view from here. ;-) I'd say good luck, but luck really doesn't play much of a part in the process of learning to grow with consistent proficiency.

Good growing!

Al


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

Thanks Al for your response.

I did add lime, but not sure if I added enough or if it mixed well enough into the soil. I will attempt to test it with vinegar and baking soda to see if it's neutral enough. If not, you think I can add more lime diluted in water? If so, in what proportions? I think this is at best a 4-5 gallon container

I tied it down this way, it still has a bit of give, I don't think I can totally immobilize it.

 photo IMG_62831_zpsab4f7fda.jpg

The fine roots are either in the middle or top I think. So I watered it for the first time in this soil yesterday, I only put in 1/2 gallon of water and I think most of it drained out eventually, is that enough water? I can water daily, unless I go on vacation then I'll have to find someone...

I plan to tip prune the branches in about a month as long as the plant looks like it's doing alright in the new soil. I intend to do two branches at a time to see how it fares. I am in the tropics so the plant is outside in 80+ degree weather in the shade. There's a breeze at times outside that's why I tied it down.

Luis


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Sep 28, 14 at 9:59

The lower the ties are on the trunk, the more secure the plant will be.

I add 2 tsp - 1 tbsp. of dolomitic (garden) lime to 1 gallon of soil or 2/3 - 1/2 cup per cu ft.

I don't know how much foliage is on the plant, but that will have a considerable influence on how often you'll need to water.

Al


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

I could lower the ties to where the lowest branches come out of the trunk if you think I need to do that.

The tree is about 7-8 feet tall at it's highest point. Lost a lot of leaves in the beginning of the year because I had it indoors and the AC was blowing cold dry air on it. It showed three new leaves on the tip of a branch about 1-2 weeks ago. That's the first growth I've seen all year.

 photo IMG_62941_zpscabec3b4.jpg

The leaves at the very top seem perky so I am assuming they are receiving water. I wipe the dust off them from time to time, they are very dusty now, do you think it will help?

Luis


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RE: Ficus Lyratas in need of growth and health

Hello all, I figured I'd post a bit of an update. The tree seems to be thriving in it's new mix. Thank goodness!!

Here are some pictures of all the new growth on the tips of all the branches

 photo IMG_67511_zpsd94facc2.jpg

 photo IMG_67531_zpsf2923279.jpg

 photo IMG_67551_zpsf4d7b001.jpg

 photo IMG_67571_zps9deab21d.jpg

 photo IMG_67591_zps678e728d.jpg

Here's a front view

 photo IMG_67611_zps15e6e0e5.jpg

Here's a back view

 photo IMG_67491_zps495ed953.jpg

Here are my questions:

Looking at the back view, last picture. Branches would be left to right, 1-5

Should I tip prune branch 1 only
Should I tip prune branches 4 and 5 together
Should I tip prune all the above at the same time
Does the tree still have enough energy to boost new growth if I trim one or all those branches now that it has already pushed out so many leaves?
Ideally I'd like to encourage new branches, but I don't know how that is done.

I await your suggestions,

Luis


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