Ask a Question forum: Fiddle Leaf Fig

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Name: Kerstin Powers
Columbus, Ohio
Just breathe
Houseplants
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Kerpow72
Jun 18, 2017 12:35 PM CST
I have wanted a fiddle leaf fig for nearly 15 years. I finally found one at Home Depot and timing and price was right. Since I purchased it in January, it has nearly doubled in size:) However the trunk is staked (same stake from when I bought it), and the top 12" of the trunk is still green and very thin. Yesterfay, after several weeks of research, I decided to take a deep breath and notch the trunk to encourage branching. After I did this, I also decided to put it out on my balcony for a few hours (heeding some last minute advice I found on the internet). I thought it was the perfect day for it and the article I read said the direct sun might encourage branching. The temperature was in the low 80s with little to no wind. All of a sudden a gust of wind came up and my precious fig's trunk bent right where I notched it. I brought it inside immediately and extended the stake to the top of the plant then tied the trunk gently to it. I'm just not sure what to do from here. So far the top five leaves above the notch/bend still look good. Should I continue caring for it as I have been and see if the trunk repairs itself? Or should I cut the tree back to where i notched it (where the trunk bent in the wind)? I can include pictures if that's helpful.
A side note...I am a school teacher and the building where I teach was scheduled to be demolished and rebuilt about 7 years ago. Just inside the front door of the original building, in the lobby were two "habitats" (we are a STEM building). On the right was a "rainforest" and the biggest, healthiest fiddle leaf fig I've ever seen. There were literally chains to hold the branches up towards the ceiling allowing for clearance at the front door. Her branches crept all the way across the front entrance to the desert habitat on the other side. Truly a beautiful introduction to the school. When we tried to move it before the scheduled day for building demo, we discovered that the feisty sucker had sent it's roots through the concrete floor, and under the front wall and walkway. There was no way we could come up with to save the beautiful fig. I think about that plant to this day. That gorgeous thing is why I have always wanted one.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Jun 18, 2017 1:41 PM CST
Welcome!

That sudden gust of wind saved your trees life! A house plant (your Fig tree is a big house plant) cannot survive a sudden move to the sunshine. It would have been completely burned in just a couple hours.

Cut it off at the notch. It will branch below that. I have never heard of notching a plant to encourage growth. If you want a fuller plant, do a little pruning, not notching. The trunk will develop and strengthen as the tree grows. But trees only grow what they need - your tree has a stake so it doesn't need a hefty trunk.

You should be able to root the part of the tree you cut off. I have never done it but I suspect it is not hard to do. I'm sure someone will be along momentarily to help you with that. Don't cut the top off until you know how to procede with the cutting.

That Fiddle Leaf Fig in your school was healthy and happy because it found some extra root space. If its planter box had managed to maintain it, it would not have grown that large.

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

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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jun 18, 2017 5:28 PM CST
I agree with all that Daisy wrote. I might be inclined to allow the notch to grow back together as that is a sketchy way to encourage branching (Beware of advice offered on the internet!). Pruning and pinching are the best way to promote branching.

The thickness of the base trunk is pretty much determined by the amount of light it received when it was initially propagated. It may get a tiny bit thicker as it ages, but it will be insignificant. If it is potted properly, not leaning and kept pruned so it is not lopsided, the stake should not be necessary.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Kerstin Powers
Columbus, Ohio
Just breathe
Houseplants
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Kerpow72
Jun 19, 2017 6:10 AM CST
Thank You!
I appreciate the advice from both of you. Last night I took the stake out of the pot and cut the tree back to the notch. I am trying to root the portion I cut off, and the tree seem plenty strong enough to stand without a stake. I will definitely post if the tree branches. Thanks again.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jun 24, 2017 10:28 AM CST
Rooting these cuttings is not easy. Propagation is best done by air-layering, although that is not now an option for you. Don't be upset if the cutting does not develop roots.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Kerstin Powers
Columbus, Ohio
Just breathe
Houseplants
Image
Kerpow72
Jul 13, 2017 9:59 AM CST
WillC I think you're right....not much success with the cutting. HOWEVER, I have what looks like a branch and a leaf bud since cutting the bent branch. Thank you all for the great advice. Hurray!
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