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Figgy, my ficus

Posted by Gregs_Strat 80014 (My Page) on
Wed, Mar 26, 14 at 18:24

Hello! I've had this tree since I found it in an unoccupied office about 15 years ago. It was a foot high, and had three leaves on it. It is now 8' high, only because I trim it, and about 8' across. It's well formed. The trunk is about 2 1/2" thick, and the pot it's in is about 18" high and almost 2" in diameter.

For the first time, leaves are falling off in droves. Kind of like that movie about 1000 words. They are mostly falling from the top, but starting to fall from the middle. I live in the Denver area (zone 2a, from what I can determine), and this has been sitting in front of a south-facing window for years. It is, of course, very dry here, as we sit at about 5700' AMSL. I've read some of the blogs on this, and maybe got too much information. I figure it has something to do with the salt content in the soil. So, this is in a big pot with holes underneath the pot. I pour water on it, and it pretty much goes straight through. I'm sure new soil is in order, but am not sure in what order I put new soil in. I see that I need to pour a few gallons of water through this to clean the salt out, is that right? I can't really take it out of the pot and let it sit out overnight, as the temps are in the 30s at night right now, or will it tolerate that? We aren't getting to 32 degrees at night. It hasn't been fertilized in a long time, so I need to do that, but where in the sequence? Also, I'm not familiar with, and can't translate the ratios that I saw somewhere in one of your posts. I just gave the tree a slight shake, and a hundred leaves fell off. The twigs at the top of the tree are dry and brittle, but just less than a foot below them, they are still pliable. Through a few moves that this tree has endured, I've brought it back from near-fatal situations three times. I love my Figgy, and have to save her! Thank you in advance for your help!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Figgy, my ficus

Fig trees are notorious for dropping leaves....sometimes just turning the plant around in place will cause significant leaf drop. Usually not a problem as new growth comes on almost immediately. You have checked carefully for any insect problems?

Salt build-up would be due to excessive fertilization or to using hard water for irrigation. If the latter the case, flushing with more of the same is not likely to help. If it were mine, I'd repot with fresh potting soil. The water going straight through quickly is an indication the plant is currently root bound. You may even need to consider a larger container size.

Use any good quality potting soil. Wait to fertilize. A plant under stress is not able to assimilate fertilizer. Just keep the soil evenly moist (not over- or under-watered) and wait for new growth to push. I'd expect to see some significant recovery in a few weeks.

I grew a fig tree for years until it simply got too large for my small house and I gave it away to a larger, more spacious home. IME, these need minimal attention. They have water storage organs in their root system so water only when the soil becomes dry and fertilize sparingly. They don't require much. Bright light but keep out of direct sun. And if a proper situation available, they like to go outside for summer vacation - just expect some leaf drop with that move :-))

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