Houseplants forum→beed HELPPP with my beloved Ficus Altissima

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rsamin
May 25, 2020 7:38 PM CST
So ... I got this amazing big ficus altissima from a friend which was doing fine in the beginning except for whenever i watered it, it would lose one leaf and also the new leaves were curling (and i was watering once every 2 weeks or 20 days and always checking for the soil to dry with a chopstick) so i though there might be something wrong with the soil and started taking 1/3 of top soil mixed it with pumic to help it dry faster and then ... I wanted to also add some pumic to the bottom of the pot so that the roots won't sit in water. when i took it out of pot i realized it has so much root at the bottom of the pot (outside it, sitting in the bottom plate) all branching from one big root , what i thought was : "I should prune this big root" and so did I... and since then it had started to lose leaves one after another, like... each day i'm loosing 1 leaf or 2 , they go yellow and pale green from the center and then fall Crying Crying Crying Sad
how can i save this beauty? I'm super sad and clueless please guide me
Thumb of 2020-05-26/rsamin/e763df
Thumb of 2020-05-26/rsamin/737b8b




Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
Image
WillC
May 26, 2020 8:03 AM CST
If your Ficus was struggling initially it was because you were letting the soil get too dry. When properly potted, it should be watered when the top half-inch of soil feels dry to the touch. You don't need a chopstick to make that determination.

If there are subsequent problems, it is because the soil and roots were disturbed. Trying to improve the soil is a common mistake that creates new problems because roots are easily damaged in the process.

It is hard to advise you going forward without knowing just how much of the original soil you removed and from where? Also, did you trim off some of the roots? Did you repot it or keep it in the same pot?

Please post a photo that shows the entire plant and also one that shows how it is now potted.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

rsamin
May 26, 2020 11:38 PM CST
WillC said:If your Ficus was struggling initially it was because you were letting the soil get too dry. When properly potted, it should be watered when the top half-inch of soil feels dry to the touch. You don't need a chopstick to make that determination.

If there are subsequent problems, it is because the soil and roots were disturbed. Trying to improve the soil is a common mistake that creates new problems because roots are easily damaged in the process.

It is hard to advise you going forward without knowing just how much of the original soil you removed and from where? Also, did you trim off some of the roots? Did you repot it or keep it in the same pot?

Please post a photo that shows the entire plant and also one that shows how it is now potted.

Thanks for the answer

Root : well it had one root ball and the one strong root that was going out of pot and shaping another dense root area which i trimmed , but i didn't touch the middle root ball

Soil: I added pumic to the bottom of the pot and to the top 1/3 but the area in the middle that had root ball stayed with the previous soil I luckily couldn't touch that part (in total i removed less than 1/3 of previous soil)

Pot : I kept it in same pot, only lifted it from pot so i could add pumic from on side to the bottom
I believe you can see leaves yellowing in this picture too :(

Thumb of 2020-05-27/rsamin/aaea30

[Last edited by rsamin - May 28, 2020 4:57 AM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
Image
WillC
May 27, 2020 8:06 AM CST
Let the top half-inch of soil get dry before watering thoroughly enough that some water trickles through the drain holes. It should be fine, but may continue to lose some leaves as it recovers from the repotting. Be patient.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

rsamin
May 27, 2020 6:49 PM CST
WillC said:Let the top half-inch of soil get dry before watering thoroughly enough that some water trickles through the drain holes. It should be fine, but may continue to lose some leaves as it recovers from the repotting. Be patient.


ok thanks I was feeling like i should do other stuff for it .... then I hope it can make it back to its beautiful healthy state !

Is it better to water it from the bottom or top? i find watering from the bottom easier but don't know how it affects the plant
Name: Paula Benyei
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
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Turbosaurus
May 27, 2020 10:31 PM CST
I know that feeling..." I have to help... "
DONT...lol
Every time you repot, you damage roots... you have to expect the leaves that relied on those roots to die back. It's okay.
Overwatering, fertilizing.. all bad ideas. The issue is not a lack of water or a lack of nutrients... it's missing plumbing. those roots are gone or damaged and the only way to resolve it is to wait for them to grow back. Your job is to avoid overdoing "care"
The plural of anecdote is not data.

rsamin
May 28, 2020 4:56 AM CST
Turbosaurus said:I know that feeling..." I have to help... "
DONT...lol
Every time you repot, you damage roots... you have to expect the leaves that relied on those roots to die back. It's okay.
Overwatering, fertilizing.. all bad ideas. The issue is not a lack of water or a lack of nutrients... it's missing plumbing. those roots are gone or damaged and the only way to resolve it is to wait for them to grow back. Your job is to avoid overdoing "care"


yeah true, i should practice
the problem comes from me always dealing with cacti and succulents and now underwatering and being too uncertain about these green plants i've got recently
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
Image
WillC
May 28, 2020 7:27 AM CST
Paula makes an excellent point. Many plant-lovers tend to be nurturers by nature and tend to over-care for their plants. Most plants do better with some benign neglect. I cannot tell you how many plants I killed years ago because I was constantly fussing with their roots, experimenting with different soils, trimming roots, using fertilizers, and moving plants around from one location to another. Now, my plants are much more care-free!

As long as a plant's roots get the right amount of moisture and oxygen, they don't care if you water from the top or the bottom. If you have success with bottom watering then it is probably best that you stick with it.

That said, there are some advantages to top watering. It is faster because you see within seconds when you have given it enough water to saturate the soil. With bottom watering, you have to wait for the water to slowly wick up while you monitor it carefully. The other advantage of top watering is that excess nutrients and mineral salts in the soil get flushed through and out. With bottom watering, those minerals remain in the soil and can create "hot spots" that may damage roots unless the soil is flushed from the top periodically.
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: Paula Benyei
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
Image
Turbosaurus
May 29, 2020 7:03 PM CST
Will made good points about top watering vs bottom. I kinda like to check the soil, err on the side of underwater, and get your finger in to at least past the first knuckle.

Trust what your eyes tell you about the plant,
but trust what you feel about the dirt.. overwatering and underwatering have the same outcome in the long term... no supply to leaves. No supply bc you overwatered and the roots rotted, or no supply bc they dried up crispy... almost always the former, but shoving your finger in past the first knuckle is a good way to check too wet or too dry and some substrate make it difficult. Peat moss is the biggest culprit, because when it's wet it soaks up 10x it's weight in water, but if you let it get completely dry it's Hydrophobic and so lightweight it can just float if you try to soak it. You can get a very dense wet center with a dusty dry outside or the opposite.. top is dusty dry but center is dipping wet. Make sure you have a way to figure out what's happening at the center of the pot... you can use color change on popsicle sticks, putting your finger in the pot, feeling the weight, but it can't only be visual
The plural of anecdote is not data.

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