30 year old ficus

30 year old ficus

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Question: 30 year old ficus

as I said, I have among others a 30-year-old ficus benjamina, practically the trunk has been stripped and at the top has a beautiful green crown, exceeding 3 meters. I had to remove it from the previous site where it could lean against the wall. it looks like a bow (I put a support on it) they are also growing back leaves on the trunk, but I basically don't know what to do. I am not very expert, I would kindly like an easy advice.

Answer: 30 year old ficus

Dear Paola,
ficus benjamina are native to central Asia and some areas of Australia; in nature they grow like large trees, which easily reach 30 meters in height, producing an enormous crown, as happens in the most ancient woods for centuries-old oak specimens in Europe. These large trees are grown in Europe as houseplants, because they can withstand the hot and dry climate present in the house, and because if they are grown in pots they tend not to grow excessively in size over the years, even though they grow vegetated without problems. This is what happened to your ficus, which is now a giant, given the size of the house, and therefore suffers because of the small space in which it is kept. Since it is not possible to move the ficus outdoors, because they fear the frost, you are forced to keep it inside the house, and its size will become more and more a problem; in addition to your height your ficus has a problem also linked to the sapling training: along the trunk there are no leaves, and the foliage is all up high, where it clashes with the ceiling. As with most plants, the ficus also produce buds for all the length of the branches, but these buds are dormant, because the plant grows where it finds more light and more space, therefore in the upper part. You can solve the two problems of your ficus with a single intervention, that is with pruning: on the one hand you will shorten the height of the plant, so that it can stay indoors without having to raise its ceiling; on the other hand you will encourage the awakening of dormant buds along the stem, and therefore you will get a plant with vegetation even in the lower part. Clearly you cannot think of practicing a single vigorous pruning, which goes to remove most of the foliage, or show that the plant dies for lack of foliage. We proceed by degrees: at the end of winter we start with the first cuts, which will shorten the upper branches, those that grow towards the ceiling. If the crown has an apex, or a branch that clearly develops upwards, it is appropriate to shorten it, so as to stimulate the production of secondary branches further down. Subsequent pruning will be done from year to year, in September-October and in March, in order to modify the development of the whole plant, and make it more similar to a rounded shrub, than to a tall tree. The ficus respond well to pruning, and it will only depend on you to decide when the plant will have reached the size and shape you prefer; therefore the transformation process could last a couple of years, or you should wait a few more years, depending on how you want the ficus and how the plant will respond to pruning. When you are pruning use shears that are well cleaned, cover the cutting surface with mastic for pruning, and avoid excesses, trying rather to shorten the upper and upward branches slightly, and lighten the hair slightly. Try also to move your ficus in an area where it receives more light, so as to avoid it tends to grow upwards in search of brightness.