Hi, and a little advice on leaf size and Ficus

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Hi, and a little advice on leaf size and Ficus

Post  Damienindesert on Thu Apr 21, 2011 5:29 pm

Helo there all.

New member here living in the United Arab Emirates.

First question: I have a large old Ficus microcarpa with lovely proportions and excellent taper. I bought it from a Chinese chap here and unfortunately some rather odd judgement was made in the shaping of the tree. It was also hopelessly overgrown in a tangled mess, having just been trimmed from the outside. I fell in love with this tree, with impressive aerial roots and nebari. I've since done a lot of pruning and branch removal, and have thinned out the secondary and tertiary growth to about a third of what it was and wired up the rest. I also cleaned up the root ball and repotted the tree. That was all 6 months ago and the tree is now starting to take shape with big, bold foliage pads. The growth has been consistant and the leaf size has too, but in the last month or so (beginning of the really hot weather here) the leading leaves have been coming out enormous, and the distance between leaves quite extreme. The tree gets half a day's full sun and where I live is at about 85% humidity in the summer. I've been pruning terminal growth and large leaves faithfully throughout, yet suddenly, these monster leaves appear. Any ideas? I'll defoliate in about a month's time, but as mentioned, have been partially defoliating throughout.

Equally strange, is that smaller specimens of the same species, in the same spot (my balcony) have retained their small leaf size.

I do water them more thoroughly now that it is so hot.

One other question: I'm running out of balcony space and the tamarisk bonsais are growing and getting restless. Are there members out there that are growing F. microcarpa indoors, and still maintaining small leaf size? My experience with F. benjemina (not bonsai) has been that they tend to put out monster leaves, even under high quality artificial lighting.

Thanks in advance for any help

Regards

Damien Very Happy

Damienindesert
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Re: Hi, and a little advice on leaf size and Ficus

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Thu Apr 21, 2011 7:08 pm

the leading leaves have been coming out enormous, and the distance between leaves quite extreme.

This is usually a sign of too little light. Which way does your balcony face, as the sun moves in the sky the same part of you balcony might not get the same amount of light.

It can also be that you gave it a big shot of fertilizer. What is your regime for fertilizer?

Billy M. Rhodes
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Re: Hi, and a little advice on leaf size and Ficus

Post  Damienindesert on Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:31 am

Hi Billy

The tree's getting more light now with the summer coming around than it ever got - Around 7 hours direct, but otherwise pretty bright shade. As I said, the other microcarpa in the same position haven't changed at all, apart from pushing out more vigourous growth.Fertiliser's a good point. I generally feed a very weak solution every month, but gave them a slightly stronger shot on their last feed. The stuff I'm using is also a bit heavy on the nitrogen..

Thanks for the advice. I'll put him on a diet and let you know how it goes. Laughing

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Re: Hi, and a little advice on leaf size and Ficus

Post  sulrich on Fri Apr 22, 2011 6:58 pm

Hi Damien,

I just saw this Ficus of yours in another thread - thanks a lot for showing it, it's really quite impressive! About leaf pruning I once got some great advice from Billy in this thread: http://ibonsaiclub.forumotion.com/t3225-ficus-defoliation-day:
Billy M. Rhodes wrote:After defoliation regular pruning is required to keep leaves smaller. The first leaf is always smaller, so when your tree has produced two new leaves from each bud, cut just before the first leaf. As an alternative you can break out the growing bud. Either way those new leaves will not get any larger in size and new growth will form. This is how you get smaler leaves and ramification on Ficus.
By following this strategy, I got really nice small leaves after the defoliation; here's a recent picture, and even after the winter with very low light conditions here in northern Europe (it's indoors without additional lights), the leaves are still quite small:



Here's a sketch of the process, in idealized form ;-)


Cheers,
Stefan


Last edited by sulrich on Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:56 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Added sketch)

sulrich
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Re: Hi, and a little advice on leaf size and Ficus

Post  Damienindesert on Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:46 am

Hi Stefan

Thanks for going to all the effort of explaining so thoroughly. It's very kind and very useful too. I'll have a closer look at your diagrams when I get home from work this evening.

Regards

Damien

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Re: Hi, and a little advice on leaf size and Ficus

Post  Damienindesert on Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:34 pm

Hi again Stefan.

Back from work. I've been doing a similar thing with most of my trees, although my motives were more to achieve density. I noticed small Acacias, where I grew up, always had really dense foliage pads in areas that were heavily overgrazed by wildlife or domestic stock. Basically the goats or antelope would nibble out the newer shoots in preference to the bitter mature leaves, and the thorns would also protect the inner growth. The result was some stunning, yamadori. I basically tried to emulate that in the pot. Unfortunately, my work causes me to travel a terrible amount and I'm too unsettled to see results year after year...Hence my love of Ficus (Things happen quite quickly).

I'll give the Ficus a month or so of good growth, defoliate, and start this process. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Thanks again

Damien

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Re: Hi, and a little advice on leaf size and Ficus

Post  Damienindesert on Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:40 pm

Oh, one more thing I forgot to ask. You mentioned you were growing your's indoors through the winter. Didi you notice a marked difference between sizes of new leaves vs. the older established ones? I'm looking at setting up a bank of compact flourescents with reflectors and growing some of the smaller ficus trees in what looks like a giant plastic vivarium. The idea here being to place an ultrasonic humidifier in the thing and coax some decent aerial root growth.

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Re: Hi, and a little advice on leaf size and Ficus

Post  Ryan on Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:59 pm

Damienindesert wrote: The idea here being to place an ultrasonic humidifier in the thing and coax some decent aerial root growth.

I will say that you will get aerial roots like crazy using one of those. I have a couple of them in different aquariums and they cause aerial roots to sprout everywhere. Ficus benjamina seem to throw the most roots though.

Ryan
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Re: Hi, and a little advice on leaf size and Ficus

Post  Damienindesert on Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:19 pm

Thanks Ryan.

I have had some reptile vivariums with benjamina in where they have produced some roots, but not that many. I guess it also depends on the variety and, I suppose, maturity. I'll give it a bash with a few sub-standard trees that are just hanging around drinking water and see what happens. It'll save them from the Dremel in any case ThumbsUp

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Re: Hi, and a little advice on leaf size and Ficus

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:42 pm

Keep in mind that aerial roots cause reverse taper, since the plant trunk/branch will grow thicker above the aerial roots, but will stop growing below.

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Re: Hi, and a little advice on leaf size and Ficus

Post  sulrich on Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:56 pm

Hi Damien,

Damienindesert wrote:Back from work. I've been doing a similar thing with most of my trees, although my motives were more to achieve density.
Yup - a higher degree of ramification will also lead to smaller leaves. Looking forward to updates on this tree!

Oh, one more thing I forgot to ask. You mentioned you were growing your's indoors through the winter. Didi you notice a marked difference between sizes of new leaves vs. the older established ones?
Well, actually I try to prevent it from growing as much as I can during winter, by keeping it cooler and very much on the dry side; this just works best for me to keep it healty. But I'm sure your conditions in Dubai will be quite different, with much more light available in winter :-)

Cheers,
Stefan

sulrich
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Re: Hi, and a little advice on leaf size and Ficus

Post  Damienindesert on Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:02 pm

Billy M. Rhodes wrote:Keep in mind that aerial roots cause reverse taper, since the plant trunk/branch will grow thicker above the aerial roots, but will stop growing below.
Hi Billy

I've noticed that. I want to build up trunks with interesting features, effectively layering the aerial roots right up the trunk until the first branches.

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Re: Hi, and a little advice on leaf size and Ficus

Post  Damienindesert on Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:05 pm

Stefan, our winter is hotter than many peoples' summer Embarassed

Summer's a nightmare

Thanks again for the info

Damienindesert
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Re: Hi, and a little advice on leaf size and Ficus

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