Last year I had a mini-rant about ficus and this is a follow up on my ficus progress.
I decided over the winter that I was starting to have this indoor growing thing down. I bought a T5HO fixture and thought in January that I was ready to try Ficus again. Pretty much everyone I asked said the best tree for indoor growers is the Willow Leaf Ficus, or Ficus salicaria (nerifolia, salicifolia). I bought this tree in the beginning of February of 2012 and was really excited about my purchase.
It was a pretty large size and I thought that it wouldn’t take long at all to have this tree looking really nice. I was in for quite a surprise.
In the end of February, some of the leaves were dropping off. This was to be expected, and is a known trait of this type of Ficus. It brought no worry to mind and I thought things would be fine.
Two weeks later and things had gone from bad to worse. This is NOT what I was hoping for I really thought everything would be ok with this tree. The leaves were dropping like mad, was this still part of the normal expected leaf drop?
A week later, and things were grim. But the tree was budding out everywhere! Looks like it was just normal leaf drop, what a relief.
A week a half after the buds popped out, the leaves started shriveling up and turning black. This is worst case scenario and certainly didn’t seem to be a good sign. Now I was really quesitoning everything I was doing. Watering too much? Too little? Light too close? Too far away? Was it humid enough? Was it warm enough?
This takes us up to 03-24-12. I decided that once all the new growth turned black that I needed to do an emergency repot in mid-April. I was going to repot in summer, but decided it couldn’t wait any longer. I had bought Jerry Meislik’s book and through the help of an online friend, decided that it was a fungal problem. Since the tree was in it’s nursery pot, I am 95% sure that the soil was retaining too much water. And as a result, if I didn’t correct the situation I would end up with a dead tree.
On May 5th, I dropped the tree off at New England Bonsai as I was getting married the next day. I dropped my trees off for them to take care of while I was on my honeymoon, and I was hoping by the time I got back all would be well and the tree would be budded out. I believe I started seeing new buds right before it was dropped off. When I picked the tree back up, it hadn’t budded out yet but seemed to be recovering. By the end of May things were looking bright again.
I think that getting the tree into well draining substrate made all the difference. While it was a gamble to repot while it was so weak, I am glad I made the choice and it might have saved the tree. Here is the growth from June through the end of July.
I know, not the best pot choice but was the only one I had that was large enough. This is easily my favorite tree on the bench and I have just loved watching it’s transition this year. This tree went through hell and back, almost as a rebuttal to my prior rant. I may work on it at the end of this month but I am also thinking about just letting it recover until next year. For a final pot I am envisioning a cream colored rectangle at the moment, though that seems a long way off. For what it’s worth, Jerry’s Book is an absolute must for any indoor or ficus grower.
So there you have it folks, this Ficus has proven that they are pretty much indestructible!