Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ficus trees not for the faint hearted

Tis the season of the great leaf drop.

I have written before about the ficus benjamina that stands over 7 foot tall in my living room. A $30 "please take me" plant from an apartment dweller overwhelmed by its size, this ficus came home to us stuffed in the back of a minivan October of 2006.

A ficus is a deciduous tree, meaning it drops its leaves come fall and the change of sunlight, just like the oaks and maples do outside. Only ours begins the great leaf drop around November and continues into January. It's been worse this year due to the real lack of winter sunlight. We've gotten very little variety to the overcast grey skies that have marked this winter.

The ficus is not for the faint hearted. It will lose lots of leaves. LOTS. Just now I swept up two enormous piles from the carpet. Mostly these are interior leaves that drop due to lack of light. This shouldn't be confused with exterior leaf drop or yellowing, which is often a sign of under watering. My big guy sits in a 26" diameter pot and gets one gallon of water per week (for those of you playing the home game).

But don't worry. He'll be all right. come March the new leaves will begin to bud and he'll fill out in the center and be all happy again.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, this is how big the ficus benjamina would get if outdoors in its native southeast Asia (as opposed to its non-native midwest USA!)

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