How to proceed, Ficus Retusa

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How to proceed, Ficus Retusa

Post  leatherback on Mon Jul 08, 2013 11:02 am

Hi All,

Over the winter I bought an Experimental Ficus. This EF was in very poor condition, but as it was soooo cheap (Basically, a crate of beer), I decided to go for it anyway.

When it got to my place, it had popped out of the container, showing loads of dried-up shrivveled roots in stone-hard compost. So I took a chance, and repotted. A few weeks later, the logical next problem: Spider mites. Millions of them. After treating the plant I placed it in a foliage-housingto increase humitiy & temperature. The tree made it through to spring but lost a considerable part of thwe top (Which was going to be removed anyway). Now it sits in my greenhouse, and it thriving. Yesterday I placed a light groundlayer, to improve the roots (Effectively I just carves into the bark once with a shapr knive, all around the outside of the thick roots, dusted with hormone and put soil around).

I have some questions:
- Will a 10cm/4 inch diameter cutting of this ficus take if placed in a greenhouse with high humidity (10% at night) where daytime temps run into the low thirties celcius?
- Would you keep the small-leaved grafts or just let the original foliage come back (The unions are horribel, and would have to be redone; However, I feel the bark is different too)
- How much further would you reduce this tree? I am thinking: powerfull relatively short base, wide canopy; Banyan fig style.

Images of the project thus far:

Mid winter:

Two weeks ago:

Yesterday:


Side view (apologies for bad quality):

leatherback
Member


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Re: How to proceed, Ficus Retusa

Post  lennard on Mon Jul 08, 2013 2:20 pm

leatherback wrote:
I have some questions:
- Will a 10cm/4 inch diameter cutting of this ficus take if placed in a greenhouse with high humidity (10% at night) where daytime temps run into the low thirties celcius?
- Would you keep the small-leaved grafts or just let the original foliage come back (The unions are horribel, and would have to be redone; However, I feel the bark is different too)
- How much further would you reduce this tree? I am thinking: powerfull relatively short base, wide canopy; Banyan fig style.

Love the trunk - over time the marks will add a lot of character to the trunk.

- Ficus can be grown from cuttings as thick as you have mentioned. There is a possibility that the trunk may rot from below. To counteract this the bottom part/woody part of a cutting as thick as this must be sealed. To promote root growth a razor is used to cut away the sealant leaving only the cambium exposed. You can dust the cambium with rooting hormone. It is also an good idea to leave the cutting overnight and only plant it the following day- I even do this with my thin cuttings when it comes to Ficus. The strike rate is much higher if you let the cuttings dry out a bit. Leaves must always be reduced whatever thickness cuttings you are trying to strike.

- I would let the original growth take over because they grow much stronger. The leaves on the original growth also reduce well - only drawback is a little bit longer nodes - but with carefull horticultural methods the can be reduced. Most of the time the grafted growth is weak and whole grafts may die. Rather graft original growth on places you need them using twigs from the same tree(inarch grafting)

- If the tree was mine I would not reduce it further. Remember that with thicker branches over time you are going to need all the height you can get.

I would also work off all wounds and seal them properly- Ficus's wood is quite soft and the tree may rot from within if you are not careful.

The tree need some free growing to become healthy again - don't overwork it now.

Good luck and keep us posted.

Lennard


lennard
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Re: How to proceed, Ficus Retusa

Post  MrFancyPlants on Mon Jul 08, 2013 2:22 pm

I am pretty sure you'll have no problem with taking a large cutting. I haven't worked with retusa yet, but ficus in general root at the drop of a hat, esp. w heightened humidity. Leave as many leaves in as you can. It might shed some, but will use their energy to grow the new roots.

I think I would eventually remove the grafts if they are bothering you, because they will likely always bother you, although if you are going banyan style you could possibly lose the grafts in a bunch of roots.

I wouldn't reduce it any more as it has nice movement and taper. Just let it grow out and get healthy. Take some cuttings of the small leaf variety while you are at it.

Thanks,
David

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Re: How to proceed, Ficus Retusa

Post  MrFancyPlants on Mon Jul 08, 2013 2:25 pm

Oops, Lenard beat me to it. Take his advise on the cutting; I am taking some notes as well.

MrFancyPlants
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Re: How to proceed, Ficus Retusa

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