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Fiddle Leaf Fig Trunk Help

Donnie
9 years ago

Hi,

I recently purchased a Fiddle Leaf Fig and it’s very dependent on the supporting stick to stay vertical.Without it, the plant will droop quite dangerously to possibly snapping off.


What can I do to get a strong thick tree trunk? I’m thinking of removing the stick and it’ll eventually support itself? ( It’s 67cm / 26 inch and is currently under stress with brown edges and rusting.).


Im new to this plant and I'm been learning by reading up on the Lyrata posts in this forum.


It droops quite bad, putting alot of stress at the bottom of the trunk. I suspect it always had the supporting stick, was not expose to any wind and the leaves are very heavy.

Use my dog to compare the growth down the track... She has stop growing,

hopefully the tree will continue to.


Thanks.

Comments (52)

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    9 years ago

    I think you feeling like you're gaining an increased understanding of your plants' needs, and even giving their natural rhythms some consideration, can help you gain a heightened sense of communion with the plants you tend. There is little doubt that we care for plants in order that we might fulfill an individually inherent need to nurture, and feeling like you're a better nurturer can only be a good thing.

    Figs are fairly widely divergent in their growth habits, especially the hardy fig, F carica, which is able to handle temps well below freezing while in a predictive dormancy. Your tree won't go dormant, but it will slow down considerably during the winter. Be careful about how you water if your soil is water-retentive. It's generally a bad idea to water in small sips, but access to RO or otherwise deionized water turns that around because there are no dissolved solids to build up in the soil.

    Any significant pruning should be done in the summer months - mid-Dec thru mid-Mar, for you, but you might want to hold off if you just repotted, until next Dec, other than some light pruning to keep the plant in bounds.

    For you, I think I'd try the north window, the brightest, but maybe in a spot that wasn't in all day intense sun. They'll get a lot more sun on the north elevation than the east, but the east can always be a plan you can fall back on.

    I'm glad for the opportunity to visit with you. Thank you. I hope you'll fare well.


    Al

  • Mario A
    8 years ago

    Hello. I am new to the site. I would like to piggyback on this thread as I am seeing similar behavior in my FLF. Wife and I were given this FLF in December of last year. When we got it, it was no more than 18" tall. Some of the earlier leaves browned in spots and fell off of the tree.

    The growing season has been kind to it! It has shot up to just over 4' tall. It looks great, all the leaves look healthy.

    I'm in NJ, so the cold months are upon us now. I was wondering what I should do to help firm up the trunk. If I need to cut off the top, where should I cut? I would like for the tree to be firmer and fuller with more branches out of the top.

    Here is our FLF as she stands...

    Thanks for you help!

    Mario & Sandra

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  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    8 years ago

    FWIW - the predicament you find yourself in is the result of the tree receiving insufficient light.

    Think of the trunk as a river and every leaf as a tributary stream emptying into the river. As the leaves/streams add photosynthate/water to the trunk/river, it gets thicker/wider/deeper. IOW, the more leaves there are on the tree the faster the trunk thickens. So, you can cut the plant back, which will have the effect of strengthening the trunk (It really doesn't, it just reduces the amount of deflection [bending]), but in reality the trunk will thicken/strengthen more slowly; or, you can keep the tree staked for now and make the cut next summer. It's likely you'll get a much more enthusiastic back-budding response if you wait. Also, you won't need to cut the tree back as far to make the trunk self-supporting.

    Al

  • Mario A
    8 years ago

    Our home faces the west. Unfortunately, we only have 1 southern facing window in our home. Ideally, we would like to keep the tree where it has been, but if we need to move it, so be it. I will move it to this window for the winter and see what happens. I would also like to re-pot the tree. When should this be done?


    Thanks

    Mario

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    8 years ago

    You can keep it there, but the downside of that is, you'll need to cut the trunk back regularly so it can support itself and the plant will be leggy - which means a long space between leaves and branches. I get the fact that you can't always just plop a plant in front of any window, and everyone doesn't have great indoor light that keeps plants in a growing frenzy. We just adapt the best we can and work with what we have. Summering the plant outdoors would really make a difference, if that's an option?

    Repot somewhere around Father's Day (Pot up any time, but summer is best for that). The plant will (should) have a lot of reserve energy and will be entering the most robust growth period of the growth cycle, which ensures quickest recovery and minimal susceptibility to insect and diseases while it recovers from the repot.

    You're aware of the difference between a repot and simply potting up?

    Al

  • Mario A
    8 years ago

    I misspoke earlier... I plan to pot up. Yes, aware of the difference between the two.

    We had a string a nice days here and I decided to let the tree get some extra light. I placed it outside on my deck during a 70deg day. I don't know what happened!

    HELP!!!

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Exposure to light levels the plant was not conditioned to tolerate causes the release of oxygen free radicles that attack the first organic molecule they contact. These free radicles are exactly the same O- radicles in hydrogen peroxide that bleach your hair and attack bacteria in cuts & scrapes. What happened is technically called photo-oxidation and commonly called sunburn. All you can do is wait to see how the plant responds, but I wouldn't remove the partially green leaves (more than 25% green) unless you absolutely can't stand looking at them. If they aren't carrying their weight in terms of energy production, chemical messengers will tell the plant to shed them. Really sorry for the misfortune, but hang in there!

    Al

  • Donnie
    Original Author
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Hi,

    I thought I’ll give an update –

    It’s been 8 month and my plant is doing much better. The brown
    rusting on the leaves are no more and the trunk is much thicker, it’s able to
    support its self. It’s positioned at the Northern window and I’m slowing transiting
    to have some outdoor exposure with the upcoming warm sunny days.

    I decided to wait on the pruning to let it restore some energy
    then when it started to grow new leaves – I didn’t have the heart to cut it.
    The old leaves are hard and rustic but the new leaves are softer, able to bend,
    more vibrant green and glossier. Currently I’m dosing a light liquid fertilizer
    to help with the growth.

    I’m not sure why but the leaves are very compact and does
    not flop out like other fiddle leaf figs. Could this be because my plant is not
    a Ficus Lyrata but something else, or inadequate lighting, not enough watering?

    My watering is very minimal, I let the soil really dry out
    before watering.

    The slight tilt is because I forgot to rotate the pot.

    Thicker Trunk

    New Growth

    Thanks.

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    8 years ago

    I'm pretty sure your plant is F lyrata "Compacta" a cultivar of the species plant.

    You can correct the 'tilt' when you repot. FWIW, I think trees with movement (crooked trunks) are much more interesting than perfectly straight trunks. When you cut it back, you'll need to be thinking about training the new leader that will appear near the pruning cut to an appropriate attitude. More on that when you've repotted and cut the plant back, if that's your intent.

    Al

  • Mario A
    8 years ago

    Hello all! Chiming back in as spring is fast approaching and I'm not really sure what the best course of action would be for our Fiddle Leaf. Below is a picture of the tree in its current state. There continues to be new leaf growth and the tree itself is getting taller. The trunk is not getting wider, though. We would like the tree to be more robust up top. No leaves were shed after its sunburn last season, but there are a few leaves we wouldn't mind removing due their unsightliness. Should I pot up? Should I cut back? When should I be doing anything? I am in Central NJ. We are still not past thawing outside, but inside is never below 70*.


    Thank you!


  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    8 years ago

    Today, you can start making a plan. I would be figuring on repotting the plant very close to 3 months from today, today being the first day of spring and 3 months from today the first day of summer. Actually, I like to repot a week or two before that day, the second week of June would be about perfect for you. I wouldn't prune until about 2 weeks AFTER the repot, when the plant is pushing new growth again, and I'd make sure I have an appropriate soil prepared for the plant before the repot. For my own purposes, I deny the descriptor 'appropriate' to any soil that can't be watered to beyond saturation (so you're flushing the soil as you water) w/o significant limitations in terms of root function and/or root health. Soil choice and light are critical elements in maintaining houseplants, and you can learn all you need to know about light in 30 seconds or less, so making it a point to learn more about soil choices will not only serve you well as it relates to your V lyrata, it will help you get more from every plant you keep in a container.


    After you repot and the plant recovers, you might want to cut the plant back quite a bit and put it in more light. The thin trunks are due to light deprivation. Keep in mind that just because the plant grew it is no reason you have to keep it. Remove the idea that all growth is sacred and replace it with the idea that sometimes sacrifices must be made to get your plant to the point it pleases the eye instead of jarring it. I'm not suggesting that's the case with your plant, just that the tendency is for trees grown indoors to look quite unnatural if left to their own devices ..... and that needn't be.

    Thoughts?


    Al

  • jamilalshaw26
    8 years ago

    So what exposure do indoor Fiddlevleaf do best in? North, south, east, or west?

  • Dave
    8 years ago

    In the northern hemisphere, a south facing window would be best.

  • Chanice Parker
    5 years ago

    Hello, I’m jumping in on this conversation quite late, I hope you are still on here

    I have a f lyrata that seems to be struggling. It’s leaves are yellowing up top, the darker leaves are quite hard and the trunk is being supported by a stick. It is 1m high and the leaves are few and far between. I’m in SA, Aus so its winter here. From what I’ve read I gather it doesn’t have efficient light and may be getting to much water (the pot doesn’t seem to drain very well)


    I’m wondering what the best course of action is?


    Thank you.


  • Ekor Tupai
    5 years ago

    You knew the problems. That condition have made the plant do metabolism too slow and lose some of it's leaves since on that rate, no use having too many leaves. Increase light, soil volume/quality, and air circulation will increases metabolism rate. If metabolism rate increase, plant need new leaves etc and start growing. Soil, light, air.. try to improve them. Start with the easiest base on your recent season. If not making immediate improvement, at least it's not getting worse till next growing season, when more things can be done easier.

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    5 years ago

    Hi, Chanice. Plants suffer when we ask them to tolerate conditions they're not genetically programmed to tolerate. Our only job as growers is the recognize and eliminate to the greatest degree possible those cultural influences that limit our plants. We know that F lyrata likes a very fast draining soil with lots of air porosity, it likes warm temps, it doesn't like cold drafts, root congestion, or a nutritional supplementation program you can't maintain control of.

    I'm not sure how much effort you're willing to make for your plants, but here is the plan I would try to have implemented by Christmas.

    First: I would make sure I have trained myself to water in a way the plant approves of from now until Christmas. Watering in small sips is not a good way to water, but it WILL help you avoid over-watering without much in the way of short term damage. Tis is especially true if you set aside a couple of opportunities to flush the soil between now and Christmas.

    Second: I would make sure I am meeting the plant's nutritional needs. This means controlling the o/a level of fertility, and controlling the RATIO of nutrients in the soil solution, one to the others. This is extremely easy if you can water correctly or have included plans to flush the soil periodically.

    I'd also move the plant outdoors into open shade as soon as night temps (reliably above 10*) allow. This will give your plant a significantly better opportunity to realize more of its genetic potential.

    Finally - between now and Christmas, I'd try to get a better understanding of how much impact soil choice has on how much potential you'll be able to squeeze out of your plant; and hopefully, you'll be able to repot into a soil that leaves no cause for concern over how long saturated soil conditions will linger after a thorough watering. Once you get to the place where you no longer have to incessantly wage war against the soil you chose for control of your plants' vitality. A very high % of hobby growers are in that fight and nearly as many aren't even aware of it.

    If you have questions or more detailed help implementing your best plan ..........


    Al


  • Mario A
    5 years ago

    I'm chiming back in... our FLF has been growing well, but I'm not thrilled with how its been growing... I pinched it a while back and it only shot out one new growth. Now all its weight is on that one side so I've braced it. It is starting to branch out along the top, but not sure what I can do to help it. We have a covered deck where the FLF stays during warm months. Its been very happy out there, it seems.




  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    5 years ago

    If you're not going to give it the light it wants, you're either stuck with the stake, or you can prune it. Pruning will stiffen the trunk in the same way that shortening a long flexible stick eliminates much of its flexibility, but pruning is a half-measure compared to providing better light. Still, I'd take a shortened/pruned tree any day over one that's lassoed and hog-tied to a stake. If you are limited to providing a site with insufficient light, regularly pruning/shortening the main stem and pinching branches religiously is by far the best remedy.

    Some might remind you that the more photosynthesizing surface area (foliage) a plant has, the faster it will thicken; but in instances where there is not enough light to allow the plant to thicken enough to support itself, that provides little in the way of consolation.

    Al

  • kat_772366325
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Hi everyone, also jumping on this thread in hopes of some advice!

    This is my friend Figaro - have had it for around a year now. When it first came to live with me, a few of the leaves browned and fell off. But after I was stoked with it's new growth (around 6 new leaves!)

    I am likewise concerned about the thickness of the trunk. Ultimately, I'd like to remove the stakes and prune Figaro into a tree shape, but I don't think the trunk will hold up.

    Figaro sits next to a window and gets filtered Sydney sunlight for at least 4 hours a day. Any suggestions for care and pruning? Your advice would be very appreciated!

    Kat

  • Dave
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Lack of light is the main reason a plant grows long and spindly and cannot support itself.

    Kat, judging by the placement of your Ficus Lyrata, it’s not getting enough light.

    Filted sun - most people get the wrong idea as to what this means. Filtered sun can be direct sunlight shining through a window. The glass filters it. It doesn’t need to have curtains or other obstacles in the way of the sun.

    What your plant is getting is indrect sun, and only 4 hours of it. It would prefer 15 hours of direct sun outdoors if it had a choice.

    Right up in front of your brightest unobstructed window will be best.

  • sophia pinella
    5 years ago

    I am in Denver, and my FLF can't even handle a few minutes of our strong unfiltered sunlight, unless it's before 9am. I bring mine outside, but directly into the shade. If I left mine outside for 15 hours it would be a pile of dried leaves after the 5th hour. I've had one for about a year and a half, and one for almost a year.

  • sophia pinella
    5 years ago

    I forgot to ask my question! So, I took a week vacation in June, came back and my FLF had dried up, with most leaves brown, crispy and on the floor. I specifically told my plant caretaker to skip watering, because I only water every 2-3 weeks. I didn't have any doors open, or windows, or the swamp cooler on, like I usually do in summer, and it had been nearly 100º every day. My house was so hot when I returned, and FLF just couldn't rally. But now it's shooting off at least 17 new, tiny leaves waaaaay at the bottom of the trunk-- almost touching the soil. There are also 2 new leaves on the tippy top. So basically, it's got 3 trunks, no branches (maybe a "compacta" version?) with a bunch of 'senior' leaves up top + 2 newbies, and a whole mess of them after a break of nearly 2 feet with no leaves at all. It's a little under 4 ft total height. It's not very attractive, wondering if I should do something about the bottom leaves growing so close to the soil?

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Sophia - your tree is genetically programmed to tolerate equatorial full sun, even though the mantel of foliage it has now cannot. New foliage that grows under a given photo load will be best adapted to that level of light. It can adapt to brighter and to a lesser extent a light level not as bright as it's conditioned to, but there are limits to the degree to which a leaf can adapt to variation in light loads.


    The new leaves growing off the trunk are actually new branches if they're occurring immediately distal to the bundle scars where the now dead and gone leaves had been attached. In case you have doubts, a second leaf occurring distal to any single leaf confirms its branchhood. 17 new branches (trunks) at the base of the plant is a LOT of branches, so at a minimum, there should be a considerable amount of thinning in your plants near future. I'd like to see an image of what you have going on, to see if it's roughly the same as my mental image of your plant, before I suggest pruning strategies.

    Al

  • Julio Ortega
    5 years ago

    Hello. I have FLF for about a year and a half now. I believe is doing well. My concern is that it is growing to tall. Is there a way I can cut the top and put something in the place I cut to prevent the plant to grow vertically. Also, when is the best time to separate them (there are to plants together) and to notch it, to get lateral branches? I leave US north east, (Edison, NJ). Thanks

    for your comments

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    5 years ago


    The image is a Ficus retusa cutting I started, then truncated (cut the top of the cutting off). You can see the new branches growing in the axils (crotches) of the two leaves. This very predictably what happens when you prune the growing tip of the branch off.


    The tree's response to the pruning varies throughout the growth cycle. Assuming a tree is in good health, it will respond with a lot more enthusiasm if you prune it any time between the summer solstice (Jun 21) and Independence Day (Jul 4). During this point of the growth cycle, the tree's energy reserves are very high and growing, and the tree's ability to make food is peaking. You CAN shorten the tree now, and can be sure a new branch will form in the leaf axil closest to the pruning cut - the top leaf. It's probable but not carved in stone that new branches will occur in the axils of the second and third branches from the top. It depends on how healthy the tree is, and in part, how far apart the leaves behind the pruning cut are; whereas, if you were making the cut in the summer, you could be pretty sure you'd get branching from leaf axils further down the trunk. If you shorten the tree now, there is no reason you can't shorten it again next summer to take advantage of the better timing.


    Repotting Ficus (other than hardy Ficus) should also be done a couple of weeks before the tree's most robust period of growth. Learning to work with the tree's annual growth cycle is easier on the tree and makes the grower feel better about making the allowance. Why fight the tree when a little patience and planning will better all around? I said that so I can say you should separate the 2 trees when you repot in Jun. I'd say the benefits of waiting to repot/separate are actually greater than those associated with waiting to shorten the tree(s) - mainly because you can shorten it again next Jun.


    Tip: if the trees will be in the same room or same pot, determine which tree has the thicker trunk ...... and make sure that's the taller tree after shortening.


    Best luck!


    Al

  • Julio Ortega
    5 years ago

    Thank you very much. I will wait until June to start the process. Not in a hurry.Again, thanks

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    5 years ago

    Es un placer - buena suerte!

  • Susannah Graham
    5 years ago

    Almost all of my windows have vents below them. How badly should I worry about air drafts for my plants? Also, see my FLF below. I have a tight space and this lean takes up a lot of room. Should I just cut back where I've marked it in blue?




  • Mario A
    4 years ago

    Hello all! So a year later... my FLF is definitely stronger. No more brace and she's been growing.


    I clipped a section off the top and potted it. That is also doing very well. It had a couple of leaves at time of pruning, lost them, but has since grown several new ones.


    The original plant still has a weird shape, not sure there is anything I can do at this point, but she's doing well.




    New plant.


  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Susannah - what did you end up doing? Sorry I missed your post last fall.


    Mario says: The original plant still has a weird shape, not sure there is anything I can do at this point, but she's doing well. To begin the fix, in June, allow the low branch moving to the right in the image to grow. Prune the next branch moving right back to 2 leaves. Prune the left branch to the most proximal (lowest - closest to the roots) leaf, the attachment point of which faces the plantings central vertical axis. Imagine a vertical line straight up from the point where the trunk exits the soil. When you cut the left branch back, it's top leaf should face that axis.

    You can treat the branch tips you remove as cuttings, start air layers (now would be best), or start preparing the future cutting in a way that predisposes it to strike (grow roots) much sooner subsequent to separation of the propagule. Ask if interested in layering or pretreating the future propagule.


    Al


  • Mario A
    4 years ago

    Al, so what you're saying is to cut where I have indicated with the red lines and allow the branch circled in yellow to grow? That's going to leave a really bare main tree.... :( But if its for the best overall health of the tree, I would consider. Both those cuttings would be great new trees, provided the roots strike. I'm still VERY much new to all of this. Looking at some videos for air layering. It looks a little scary... lol




  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    4 years ago

    Sorry I was MIA for awhile.


    For honesty's sake, a hard pruning isn't in the best interest of the tree's health, but it is definitely in the best interest of its future appearance. Cutting a tree back hard represents a temporary setback in terms of the trees ability to change energy from the sun's light into food (carbohydrates/sugar) which it uses to keep its systems orderly and grow. What's wrong with allowing FLFs to grow as they will is, you cannot even hope the tree will grow anywhere near as it would if growing in situ (where it naturally occurs). Because of this fact, it requires action from the direction of the grower to guide the tree to grow in the shape you choose. The longer the tree grows without restraint or control over how energy flows in the plant, the more difficult it will be to bring the tree back under control.

    I often talk about how people feel obligated to save every cell their plants ever made, as though each are sacred and all have the potential to erase your plants' viability should you inadvertently kill a cell or two, or commit the sin of removing branches and/or foliage. Good health and pruning are the keys that unlock the potential for eye-appeal. No not be afraid to prune the top or the roots. They are imperatives if you require of your perennials (trees are perennials, too) that they are pleasing to look at. In most cases, any poor results that result from repotting or heavy pruning befall us because the timing of the work was off, the (root)work was poorly executed, or the tree was too weak to work in the first place and didn't have the reserve energy to push a new flush of growth. If you prune a healthy tree at the appropriate time of the growth cycle, the results can be amazing. For instance this sequence shows a Ficus retusa pruned very hard in June:

    allowed to grow wild (unpruned or wired) until Aug:

    when it was pruned a second time and wired:


    I can show you ficus after ficus treated in the same way:







    Working on a bonsai is actually much more difficult/dangerous to the tree than working on a tree grown under conventional container culture because the small pots and soil volumes can quickly limit vitality and growth. The tree you see immediately above is the fruit of 5 F benjamina cuttings, their inosculation (fusing), and the addition of a couple of additional cuttings fused to the main plant over the years. The point I'm making is, there are tons of techniques that are almost unique to bonsai, but could be employed by any container gardener anywhere.

    So, before you start the work, have a plan you can stick to. Yes, your tree might be bare for a month or so until it starts pushing new growth, but you can't have it all. I start with trees that are >10 ft tall, and cut them back to 3" with NO BRANCHES ..... as a matter of practice; this, because I'm more than willing to sacrifice appearance on the altar of the temporal for a base structure I can build on.

    BTW - it's rare to lose the branch you're layering. In most cases, if a layer fails, it's because the wound healed over and there is no collection of auxin and carbohydrates in the tissues immediately above the layer site. I sometimes by an interesting tree for bonsai and discover it has ugly roots, so I layer the whole top of the tree right off of it's roots.

    Layer semi-prepared because the roots are one-sided and uuuglyyy:




    The result after separating the top of the tree from the old roots. The roots you see are perfectly spaced and radiating horizontally away from the trunk. Good roots are one of the most important feature of show quality trees. Notice the tourniquet wire still attached. This can be done with very large stock. I've layered 4" trunks, so your tree should be a snap.

    Al

  • Mario A
    4 years ago

    Thanks again, Al, for all your help. Gave it a go with the air layering. I did it 3 weeks ago and I just cut the branches off and potted them.






    And this is how the rest of the tree looks...




  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    4 years ago



    I noticed the soil you're sticking the cutting in looks very water-retentive, which might end up a problem. Using some ballast in the bottom of the pot (quite different from a 'drainage layer') could prove to be very helpful, though it won't fix compaction or a general lack of air porosity.

    Good job on the layering!

    Al

  • Julio Ortega
    4 years ago

    Hello Tapla:
    I followed your instructions and just separated my 2 FLF. They look great. Thank you. I also cut both because they were getting too tall, and I have a question. If I put the clipped branches in water, will they root, so I can have two more plants?

    Thank you very much,
    Julio

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    4 years ago

    They will very likely root, but the roots that form in water are quite different than the roots that form in a solid medium (soil). Water roots have at their core a tissue called aerenchyma, which allows roots to get the oxygen they need to function from above the water line by way of diffusion through the plant. The roots of terrestrially grown plants are filled with parenchyma, so they secure oxygen directly from the soil. Water roots are very brittle, often don't survive the transition to a solid medium, and function poorly if at all once transplanting is completed. For those reasons, it's better to root your cuttings in a well-aerated medium, kept damp/moist (never wet/soggy), in open shade and out of the wind. I would also reduce the size of the leaves by 2/3 by cutting across the veins.


    While the plant is able to carry on photosynthesis as long as the leaves are getting water, and the food manufactured in leaves is part of what sustains root growth, There is a risk of the propagule shedding the leaves as a drought response if they 'ask' for more water than the propagule is able to absorb. Counter intuitively, it's actually easier for a propagule to absorb water from a solid medium than from being immersed in water.

    Al

  • Julio Ortega
    4 years ago

    Thanks, Al. They have been in water for around 5 days. Would it be to late to get it in soil?

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    4 years ago

    Would it be to late to get it in soil?

    No. Now is fine.


    Al

  • Mario A
    4 years ago

    Since cutting off the branches I layered, there has been lots of new growth. Parent Fiddle is definitely looking better and seems very healthy.





  • Ashley Edwards
    4 years ago


    Hi everyone, I’m jumping in this thread for some advice on my FLF. I recently (just yesterday) accidentally left this plant outside for too long, I was only intending to leave it out for under 30 minutes and forgot about it for 2 hours. My question is, should I prune this plant back or just wait it out and see what happens. Prior to this accident, I have not been fertilizing. I plan to pick up some liquid fertilizer today to help it heal. Any advice?

    TIA

    -Ashley

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hi, Ashley. What would be best for you, even though it would be a minor setback for the plant insofar as it's growth and development is concerned, would be to force an entirely new flush of pristine foliage by way of a complete defoliation, and perhaps a bit of a pruning. Whether or not you should defoliate sort of pivots on geography, and whether or not you should prune depends somewhat on geography, but also on what you envision the plant looking like prospectively. So, where do you live and have you considered what form you'd like to move your plant toward?

    Al

  • Ashley Edwards
    4 years ago

    Thank you for your reply.

    I’d like for the plant to eventually have this sort of shape. And I also live in Central Illinois. So should I defoliate and prune?

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    4 years ago

    If you have a spot in open or dappled shade, I'd defoliate it completely by cutting through the leaf petiole (stem) immediately proximal to the body of the leaf. The stub will fall off in a week or two.

    Matters of import:

    * your plant will use very little water after you defoliate because transpiration will reduced to a small fraction f what it had previously been. For that reason, I would consider using a wooden dowel rod as a 'tell' - to 'tell' you when it's time to water or if water should be withheld.

    * If the periderm (bark) was corky and fissured, you could just site the plant in direct sun, and the new leaves would come on line acclimated to full sun. Since there is green periderm tissue that can also suffer sunburn and death there from, you need to acclimate the tree to anything more than dappled or open shade. Open shade is full shade with open sky above - like you would have on the north side of a fence, outside the northern drip line of a shady tree, or in the shadow of a building on its north side).

    * Fertilize when you see the tree back-budding and pushing new growth.

    * Let's look at the tree in it's defoliated state before you decide what to do about pruning it. 4 images from 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock, or N S E W compass points, or after rotating the tree 90* between images.


    The tree in the most recent image you posted is actually way overdue for a pruning. The 2 branches should have been pinched when their length was about 1/2 of what it is now. Had that been done, the tree would have many more branches and leaves. For most trees as houseplants, the apical meristem (growing tip of the branch) should be pinched back to 2 leaves when the 3rd leaf on any branch is mature or nearly mature. This will help you maximize branch and leaf density.


    Al

  • Ashley Edwards
    4 years ago

    Done, what do you think about pruning?

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    4 years ago

    I'd prune it back to just below the relatively bare spot in the top 1/3 of the tree. Keep the short internodes and on the lower 2/3 of the plant. You can cut it back to just above a leaf that's on the opposite side of the lean; or, you can cut it back to the top leaf stem immediately proximal to where the long internodes start and correct the lean by repositioning the root mass in the pot when you pot up.

    Check out this tree that will be radically repositioned at the next repot:




    Al

  • Austin
    4 years ago

    I thought when you defoliate you were supposed to cut the top leaf in half. When should you do that rather then taking all the foliage off?

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    4 years ago

    That wouldn't apply here since the intent is to prune again anyway. Leaving the top leaf or leaving it but cutting in half tends to keep the sap flowing a bit faster, which means the sap has to flow past all of the other leaves on the plant before it gets to the top leaf, It's good insurance, and a good habit when defoliating, but generally not necessary in plants as naturally vigorous as Ficus. Still, you've seen images of my pruned ficus and can see I'm in the habit of using that practice. I guess it would go in the same category as repotting in the summer. It's not a hard rule, but neither is changing the oil in your vehicles and motorized equipment.


    Ashley - be SURE you don't over-water. Use a 'tell' to keep informed about moisture levels deep in the pot, and only water when the soil is getting near completely dry there.


    Al

  • Ashley Edwards
    4 years ago

    Done! I will keep you updated. Thank you for your help

  • Jen Dominic
    4 years ago

    Hi everyone!


    I'm hoping to get some suggestions for my fiddle leaf fig. I've had my baby for about a year and it's been facing the same NE window the entire year. Unfortunately, that's the best light my current house has to offer. It actually put out close to ten leaves from winter to spring, surprisingly, and I live in Virginia if that's relevant.


    The leaves closer to the window are much bigger and juicier and therefore it's a little top heavy. Right now, I have one branch resting on the window and the other is semi-supported by the other branch/trunk. If they're not supported, they completely flop to the sides.

    I often work during the day so it's not feasible to let the plant outside for wind support for more than a few hours per day.


    I would deeply appreciate any advice. Thank you in advance for your time and your knowledge.








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