Ask a Question forum: Ficus - Coming back to life - Now I need help.

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JP
startgarden
Feb 21, 2019 8:07 AM CST
Hello,

My first post.

I have a ficus tree indoors. It's about 1m tall.

I purchased it over a year ago, it had very nice leafs and looked healthy however over time all the leaves practically fell off, its twigs dried up, and the nail in the coffin appeared to be whilst I was away for 1 month my 'DIY wick watering' may have overwatered.

I'm not sure why it lost all its leaves initially, I have a feeling overwatering from my side.

When I got back from my long break, I gave a absolute soaking then just left it in the corner. Its been approaching 2 months now, the soil all dried out and miraculously I see one green shoot.

So I'd like to ask what should I do to get that nice and strong again. I'm delighted its still alive, but really want it back again. I've attached 2 photos.
One other thing the trunk itself, from about 1/3 up, it feels a little flakey - almost as if I the skin is bubbled and I can peel its off - not too much, but a little nonetheless.

Should I cut its height - would that encourage the shoot at the bottom?

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks.

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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Feb 21, 2019 12:00 PM CST
Welcome!

I suspect the tree above the sprout is dead and that's way the sprout is at the bottom. To check that theory, do a scratch test: Scratch the bark with your fingernail or kitchen knife. You are not trying to cut the tree but rather scratch a spot off the bark so you can see what's underneath. If the spot you scratch is green under the bark, the tree is alive. If the spot under the bark is brown or hard as a rock (you couldn't scratch, even with your kitchen knife), it is dead. Try the test just below the bubbly flaky spot.

I suspect your tree will fail the scratch test but the good news is the roots are still alive and the tree is trying to re-grow. Water only when the top couple of inches of soil are dry then water until water comes out the drain holes. Don't let it sit in water.

Keep us posted.

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
JP
startgarden
Feb 21, 2019 11:14 PM CST
Hi,

Thanks for that.
So I peeled a little at the top, middle and bottom - I've attached images from each point.
As described the upper wasn't green however further down it was green.

The middle was also interesting, around where the trunk `skin seemed bubbling`, it was quite dry, easily pulled off. Also in the middle (see the attached photo) I noticed these black spots. What do these generally mean?

Anyhow, do you think I should cut the top part of the tree down to wherever it is alive (i.e. after scratching I see green). Would that help promote/speed up growth down below.

Also, in terms of speeding up growth now, I'll follow your instruction about water at the top inch of or so of soil. However what you recommend in terms of sunlight. Its currently in a corner - the room gets enough sunlight (although that corner isn't directly there).

Finally, should I repot it - would that help at all?

Many Thanks.
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Feb 22, 2019 9:46 AM CST
Unfortunately, your Ficus is in dire straits at this point. When the bark starts to pull away from the cambium layer just below the bark, then there is no way for water and nutrients to flow from the roots to the rest of the tree. The shoot at the soil line is usually the last desperate effort at survival by roots that are almost completely dead. So the prospects are not good.

Repotting will not help. All you can do is to keep the soil moderately damp - avoiding extremes - provide lots of sunlight and keep it warm. Although the room may be bright, the light intensity in the corner is not adequate and may explain its gradual decline. Keep it right in front of a sunny window. If you don't see some healthy, vigorous new growth in the next month or so, then discard it.

Ficus trees are quite hardy indoors as long as they are given lots of sunlight and ample water.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
JP
startgarden
Feb 22, 2019 10:11 AM CST
WillC said:Unfortunately, your Ficus is in dire straits at this point. When the bark starts to pull away from the cambium layer just below the bark, then there is no way for water and nutrients to flow from the roots to the rest of the tree. The shoot at the soil line is usually the last desperate effort at survival by roots that are almost completely dead. So the prospects are not good.

Repotting will not help. All you can do is to keep the soil moderately damp - avoiding extremes - provide lots of sunlight and keep it warm. Although the room may be bright, the light intensity in the corner is not adequate and may explain its gradual decline. Keep it right in front of a sunny window. If you don't see some healthy, vigorous new growth in the next month or so, then discard it.

Ficus trees are quite hardy indoors as long as they are given lots of sunlight and ample water.




What do you think of cutting the height down to where it is alive. Will that help concentrate it's regrowth?
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Feb 22, 2019 10:15 AM CST
Although I suspect the upper portion of the tree is already dead, I don't recommend pruning it way back at this time. Pruning will have no effect on its overall health and recovery.

Wait a month or so to see if has started to recover. If it does, then post a photo so we can see where the new growth is emerging.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Feb 22, 2019 11:56 AM CST
Pruning won't help or hurt the tree. The dead parts are dead. Don't repot and don't fertilize, that may be what finishes it off. The only thing you can do is wait (impatiently) to see what happens. As long as the green shoot is green and growing, the roots are alive. If that shoot dies, the roots are dead and there's no chance for recovery.

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org

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