Why defoliate Ficus

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Why defoliate Ficus

Post  remist17 on Fri Sep 02, 2011 2:21 pm

I have two ficus now and I see alot of people stripping all the leaves off them. Can you point a me in the correct direction?

- Why defoliate?
- When to defoliate?

Thanks

remist17
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Re: Why defoliate Ficus

Post  Ryan on Fri Sep 02, 2011 2:46 pm

Defoliation encourages backbud and allows new leaves to grow in smaller.

It's best to do this in the summer when the tree is actively growing. If you do defoliate, make sure the humidity where the tree is is high so it can properly bud back and regrow.

Ryan
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Re: Why defoliate Ficus

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Fri Sep 02, 2011 4:03 pm

remist17 wrote:I have two Ficus now and I see a lot of people stripping all the leaves off them. Can you point me in the correct direction?

- Why defoliate?
- When to defoliate?

Thanks

Maybe/probably too late for you now, defoliate as soon as all danger of frost is past and you can give as much light as possible.

Never defoliate a tree that isn't healthy, even here it will not recover.

Defoliation will reduce leaf size, IF you keep the tree pruned and it will also speed up ramification if you also clip the terminal bud on each branch.

But, defoliation requires that you monitor new growth to achieve the benefit, if you can't keep up with the tree weekly, don't bother; you will stress the tree for nothing.

Billy M. Rhodes
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Re: Why defoliate Ficus

Post  MrFancyPlants on Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:45 pm

I have a followup question. I partially(very lightly) defoliated my benjimina month or so ago and the new growth has been coming out nearly white. The leaves are still small and not fully developed so I am hoping that they will darken as they mature and it is not some sort of deficiency since I fertilize regularly. I'll try to get a picture posted unless someone verifies that this is a common growth characteristic.

Thanks!

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Re: Why defoliate Ficus

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:41 pm

The leaves should not be white. Is the plant getting enough light?
If you detail soil, fertilizer and watering practices along with where you are keeping the tree, we might be more help.

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Re: Why defoliate Ficus

Post  MrFancyPlants on Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:40 pm

The tree was re-potted about two months ago and then lightly defoliated about a month ago in the hopes of setting some new leaves before I bring it indoors for it's hibernation when temps get lower. I made a rare splurge on pre-made "bonsai soil" when I re-potted due to time constraints and wanting to get it done while it was still hot out. I ended up mixing "tropical" and "evergreen" bonsai soil because the tropical soil had a bit too much bark in it for me.

I did bring it in for a day or so when the hurricane rolled through last week. I didn't want it rocking around on those new roots. It was heavy with rain preceding the hurricane. It is possible I am slightly over watering since I was trying to pamper it in it's new free draining soil mix. Its a deep pot, so maybe I should go by weight of the pot rather than digging an inch or two down and checking for dryness? I fertilize with liquid every couple weeks starting immediately after my re pot.

The re-pot may have been slightly traumatic. I removed about 40% of the roots and a lot of fine sand and dry black dust. I only got one or two yellow leaves falling off in the 2 weeks after re-potting and figured it was a success.

I just moved it to a slightly sunnier area a few days ago. Thanks for fielding my inquiry.

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Re: Why defoliate Ficus

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:40 pm

Even Ficus will suffer from root rot and white leaves might be a sign that the tree is unable to take up nutrients. Did you anchor it in the pot with wire?

The Tropical soil and Evergreen soil have specific ingredients. What are they?

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Re: Why defoliate Ficus

Post  MrFancyPlants on Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:10 am

I don't have the specific ingredients, but it looks like roughly 60% something equivalent to schultz' aquatic plant medium, 20% (maybe pine) bark, 15% expanded shale of some form, and a sprinkling of red lava. It is very free draining but also seems to hold some water.

Sorry for highjacking the thread. To bring the topic back, I would reiterate that you should only defoliate if a tree is in perfect health and showing signs of growth. I made the mistake of getting impatient after re-potting even though it was only a 15% defoliation. I'll add that the less tropical the area that you live in, the more careful you have to be about defoliating tropical trees. Unless you have a fancy indoor lighting setup for the winter and/or you really know what you are doing, I couldn't recommend a complete defoliation.

Thanks,
David D.

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Re: Why defoliate Ficus

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:30 am

Lots of heavy soil with no roots to use up the water and limited light to slow growth as well as root reduction could lead to root rot. You might take a look at the roots.


Last edited by Billy M. Rhodes on Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:31 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : correct spelling)

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