Houseplants forum: My baby Ficus starts, to separate or let be??

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Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids Tropicals Region: Mexico
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lauriebasler
Jan 22, 2018 12:44 PM CST
Hi

I grew this plant from tiny cuttings from a friends tree a year or so ago. I intended to train a cutting into a tree.



It's been so healthy and such an easy non fussy ficus, I have hated to rock the boat in any way. What would you do with this plant at this point. Leave it and prune or take out one plant to train into a tree and let the rest grow as a bushy shrub. Tips on pruning would be wonderful, and if the recommendation is for a tree, oh boy, I will have questions galore.

Thanks for the help,

Laurie b

Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jan 22, 2018 8:08 PM CST
Laurie - Great job of successfully growing this nice group of cuttings. If they were mine, I would leave them together, repot as needed, and pruning to maintain it to any shape you prefer.

It is not easy to get Ficus cuttings to develop into tree forms with a single trunk. The single-trunk trees that you see for sale were usually started in nurseries with much larger rooting stocks. In greenhouses and in warm climates, they will develop nice thick trunks.

If you decide not to keep it in bush form, you might consider making a braided trunk. To do that, remove all but 3 or 4 stems that are close to one another in the pot. Strip off the lower leaves of those remaining stems and braid them together while they are still young and pliable. You may need some soft string or yearn to hold the braided stems in place until they grow together. You do not need to unpot them to do this. You may need to prune off some more lower leaves until the stems are well merged. In time, the stems will braid into a single trunk and they will develop a nice canopy of leaves. The more light you can provide, the better.

This is not easy but is a challenge I am sure you can manage as you seem to have a good touch with your plants. Hurray!
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids Tropicals Region: Mexico
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lauriebasler
Jan 22, 2018 8:24 PM CST
Thank you Will. I am grateful for your opinion. I don't think I could bear to braid these guys. I've never been a fan of braiding plants, for some reason. I think I will just leave it as is. I should have figured a tree would be a tall order from something propagated in a dixie cup on my window sill.
These little guys are one of the plants that got me back into houseplants after so many years away, so they are a little sentimental. I am just going to leave them and appreciate what they represent. Thank you very much for the advice. Have a great evening.

Laurie b
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jan 22, 2018 8:29 PM CST
A wise choice! Smiling
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
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purpleinopp
Jan 24, 2018 9:49 AM CST
It's hard to achieve a goal without first defining the goal, and then following a plan that has a reasonable expectation of leading to the goal. If you want a single-trunked entity, starting with multiple individuals in a single pot is not a movement toward that goal. It's a wonderfully fine thing to do, and your pot is adorable! But it conflicts with your stated goal.

A "single tree" is just an individual, vs. a group of them in the same pot. If you want a single tree, there's no reason you should not have one, by either separating one of these from this herd, or by starting a new cutting that is potted by itself.

Ficus has the interesting ability to inosculate, so eventually, when the diameter of each of your individuals increases to the point where they are touching, they will fuse into a single entity. But otherwise, separate individuals do not become a single entity. Like any other woody entity, the diameter of its' trunk is a product of its' age.

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