Dateline:July 6, 2021-
Ficus salicaria, the willow leaf fig.
The tree belonged to a Ft. Myers studygroup member that was downsizing her collection. Well, not really downsizing as far as numbers, but literally down sizing. If she couldn’t lift it, it had to go.
It’ll happen to all of us, unless we can afford the big machinery and young backs to lift our trees. As for me, I have plans on putting big wheels on an engine Jack so I can move the trees when I’m older (I have to admit, I’m getting older. At least my body is, I’m the still a brash, immature, iconoclast you all love (which may just be the non-grey version of the cantankerous, much complaining curmudgeon from central casting. I might allow to be growing up into that. Which is naturally how my family ends up. You shoulda met my grandfather, who we called “Pee Wee”. Old-was he ever young, greasy-smelled like classic, lanolin based mechanic soap, which he had in a 50 gallon drum, bow legged and arthritic. Yeah, I’m turning into that. I’ll be telling the neighbor kids to “Get off my lawn!” soon).
She’s done an amazing job developing it from where it started, which was a cutting about the size in air layering off. The nebari (root spread) is impressive.
I purchased it a few years ago and I’ve done some branch editing but it took me until July of this year to get drastic (hey, I’ve been traveling. I’m behind on everything). I decided to get rid of that one branch. But why waste the branch I’m going to remove? Let’s air layer it.
I had decided to move the font slightly counter clockwise
And, as you see, I went pretty deep with the cut. You’ll see why in a second.
Flash forward to today, September 1, 2021
Let’s see what we have for roots. I hope it’s good, I want to start styling this tree.
Gently, oh so gently, like removing silky undergarments, I pull off the aluminum foil…(I learned early on after I started wearing silky draws that you can’t just rip them off, that’s how you bust the stitching….)
Hmmmmnnnnn…..not what I wanted to see.
There are maybe three visible roots.
One would think that a ficus, which is known for lots of roots, would have made more. But I knew from experience that this species takes a lot longer to put them out on an air layer. The last one I did took a half a year: this big guy…
Here’s the air layered I got from it:
Here’s today’s tree. It did put a root out above the cut, amazingly. Maybe next time I’ll just put the sphagnum on without cutting. Hmmm. Science and horticultural knowledge are one thing, but practicing them is an art. And what may work for you, I may never get to work for me.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
That root I’m pointing to above comes down to here, below.
But the cut, which was pretty deep, as you see from July…..
Never take setbacks as failures. What I’ve learned here is that maybe the best way to heal a big cut is with sphagnum, at least on Ficus salicaria. That’s a big deal.
From here on, considering I still want an air layer, the best practice (science wise) is to recut the line and re-apply the sphagnum and foil.
So that’s what I’m going to do.
And I’ll leave it another few months.
And no worries, I’ll keep up with the updates