Craigslist Ficus

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Craigslist Ficus

Post  f1pt4 on Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:29 pm

After seeing Yvonne Graubaek ficus post last week, with her 3 Ficus' she's been growing since '89, on a ficus finding mission after work I went searching for specimens at garden centers and nurseries which I could start tinkering about with.  Coming up empty handed on a whim I searched on Craigslist and low and behold found one.  After no haggling I picked it up for $30 (that's CDN dollars) with pot and drip tray.  I saw potential in it, as the trunk is about and 1inch in diameter at soil level, and it has lots of branches that can be worked.  It also seemed compact enough to turn into a proper bonsai over the years, compared to other tall ficus trees of the same age that I usually see.  I haven't really looked to see what's under the soil, so perhaps when I repot it in the spring I could be pleasantly surprised.

The owner said he had it for over 10 years and was just pruning it, to retain it's shape so I figured that in about 15years of care I should be nearing Yvonne's specimens if done right.  

First off, what kind of Ficus is it?  I'd like to say Benjamina, but I'm no expert.

Second, the tree seems very top heavy compared to the trunk.  from soil level to the top of the crown it's about 14 - 15 inches tall and about 13 - 14 inches in overall diameter.  Am I incorrect in assessing it as imbalanced?  I would like to reduce the overall size of the tree, and increase ramification.  There is very little back budding going on, as I'm pretty sure not enough light is getting past the perimeter leaves to the interior part of the tree.  I'm weary of pruning it too far in, as from my experience ficus branches die back if pruned too much.  Any guidelines and suggestions regarding this would be whole heartedly appreciated.  I'm in a zone 6a/b climate so there won't be any significant work done on this until the spring.  

Overall, the tree seems fairly healthy.  It has new green shoots opening up everywhere.  Sure it has a slight aphid problem, it was grown inside a shopping plaza over 10 years under the plaza's florescents, so that's why it's in quarantine right now by a south facing window guarded by Nikolai Volkoff.  I'm spraying it with neem every second day, and misting with plain water on the alternating days.  I plan on keeping it here at least for the next two weeks before I bring it in to my indoor growing area.  

Thanks in advance to any comments and suggestions.

Cheers!







Last edited by f1pt4 on Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:58 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : removed styling question, as this is not the place for it! :))

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Re: Craigslist Ficus

Post  kevin stoeveken on Tue Nov 18, 2014 9:21 pm

sorry, but everybody knows that nikolai volkoff is ineffective in guarding from pesky pests...

for true protection, there is only one answer



and when it is time to cut back (which ficus respond well to)
who else but larry the ax hennig



and again, sorry but i cant help with the I.D.
so maybe someone with a bigger brain than mine can answer that one...

someone like...

yup - you guessed it

bobby the brain heenan



hope that helps !

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Re: Craigslist Ficus

Post  f1pt4 on Tue Nov 18, 2014 9:33 pm

lol!

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Re: Craigslist Ficus

Post  Guest on Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:10 am

Hi F1....do you also have a name? Smile

I feel quit sure the tree is a ficus natasja, just like my trees...the smallest of the benjamina type.
Your tree is quit nice as it is, but to make the crown smaller and denser as you say, is a good idea. From reading your topic, can I understand you pretty much know how to care for the tree, you are on the right track.

Kind regards Yvonne

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Re: Craigslist Ficus

Post  f1pt4 on Wed Nov 19, 2014 8:36 pm

Hi Yvonne,

Thank you for your response. For the record. I do have a name and it's Mike Smile

I do appreciate your assumption that it's the same species as yours. Your trees are a great source of inspiration for me!

In terms of cutting back the crown, do you have any suggestions on how far back I can cut back without having whole branches dieing on me? I worked on a big box store Benjamina last year only to have 50% die on me due to over anxious pruning. 25% is still in good health, the other 25% squirrels decided it tasted good, even though it was all wired up.

For me, this tree is a very long term process, but I would like to start cutting it back to let light in, and to induce back budding. How far can I go?

Thanks again for your response.

Cheers,

Mike.


p.s. @bybeercity Now I know I should have went with the Legion of Doom as the ultimate guardians of trees. I crack up every time I read your post. good stuff.


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Re: Craigslist Ficus

Post  kevin stoeveken on Wed Nov 19, 2014 8:50 pm

f1pt4 wrote:p.s. @bybeercity Now I know I should have went with the Legion of Doom as the ultimate guardians of trees.

yeah mike, you cant go wrong with the L.O.D. because as they themselves often said:
"THERES ONLY ONE PART OF US THATS SOFT AND ITS NOT SOFT ALL THE TIME, IF YOU KNOW WHAT WE MEAN, GENE" (okerlund)
(i've never heard them speak in lower case letters)

and now back on topic... i wonder if your die back after cut back might be due to some other issue...
i mean, a ficus can do well with even a total defoliation, which i did last summer for the first time...
i have a thread about that somewhere around here...

maybe it wasnt in the peak of health... or ... scratch

maybe yvonne has a thought about that... ?

(oh yeah: R.I.P. road warrior hawk)

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Re: Craigslist Ficus

Post  f1pt4 on Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:26 pm

You know, now that you mention it, it could have been one of many factors including my ineptness that led to the death of the twiggy ficus's. After reading your response and older post from October, and then subsequently looking at and reading about total ficus defoliation elsewhere on the intraweb, there's a very good chance it wasn't only the pruning that killed most of it.

SO... with that said, total defoliation in the summer I'm assuming. General pruning throughout the winter/spring. Or should i just leave it until spring altogether and let it do it's thing over the winter... like trying to survive.

Unless I get another light, this ficus will probably have to stand solo, in permanent quarantine, by the window over the winter. However, knowing me, I'll end up getting another light.

Cheers,

Mike.



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Re: Craigslist Ficus

Post  Norma on Wed Nov 19, 2014 10:18 pm

Hi Mike,
This looks like a dwarf benjamina cultivar called "two little" .  I have had a small forest of these for many years and they do best in our cold Minnesota winters under lights...I have both a 400 watt sodium lamp plus over head double florescent lights for the basement tropical room.
I also have a south kitchen window with florescent  lights and the neea buxifolia , bouganvillia (flowering), orchids and many accent plants are thriving.

The trees grow very slowly and do drop their leaves when they are brought in for the winter.  I've used a spray of dish soap, alcohol and water when I spot spider mites .  For  scale I sometimes use just Q-tips and alcohol because these can be tough little buggers!!

I never prune my trees in the winter; I read where it weakens the bonsai!  Been at it for 20+ years and most of my pruning is done in the summer.  I have wired my trees in the winter but with care.

Best regards, Norma    [Zone 4 Minnesota]

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Re: Craigslist Ficus

Post  Guest on Thu Nov 20, 2014 8:38 am

I agree with Norme, it can also very well be a "two Little", they are very similar.
I would never dare to defoliate my trees, just prune, and cut back branches to shape the tree. To let the tree grow heavy and then cut to improve the design does also work, but always leave green parts.

Kind regards Yvonne

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Re: Craigslist Ficus

Post  kevin stoeveken on Thu Nov 20, 2014 12:17 pm

btw - the one i defoliated is a tiger bark ficus...
i did it in early summer and it responded with many many more leaves than before the defoliation
and the resulting leaves were much much smaller.

as i believe jim said in another thread
"your results may vary" Wink

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Re: Craigslist Ficus

Post  Precarious on Thu Nov 20, 2014 1:18 pm

I read of a method where the tree is defoliated (again, in Summer) to all but one end-leaf on each branch. The intent is to prevent those branches from dying back. I have used it successfully, but I do not have vast experience to be able to recommend it. Has anyone here been doing it that way?

The particular cultivar must be considered. I believe it was Dorothy on another thread that said Salicaria backbuds quite readily. Others may be more finicky. BTW see the link below- there was no hesitation to completely defoliate. Note, of course, that the guy lives in Hawaii where nothing dies. Very Happy
http://ibonsaiclub.forumotion.com/t15787-ficus-development?highlight=defoliate+ficus

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Re: Craigslist Ficus

Post  leatherback on Thu Nov 20, 2014 5:08 pm

I have done full defoliation in early summer on both retusa as benjamina with good results: When you remove the growing tips of the branches, it will/should throw out loads of side-branches inside the canopy, which gives you points to cut back too.

Unless you have a really good setup, I would not cut back much in winter if you are in a dark-winter country.

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Re: Craigslist Ficus

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