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Pix of my new Ficus Benjamina

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2005
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by Rookie Gardener on November 26, 2005 05:05 AM
I thought I would put 2 pictures of Benjy up. He is quite large and very healthy. We recently acquired him from a friend who had to relocate him due to a new baby in the house displacing a toddler who then had to move into Benjy's old room. He is 7 years old, approx. 5 ft tall and 3-4 ft. around. (Benjy...not the toddler.) He has also been used in a TV commercial. I hope to be able to learn how to best care for him. Also, I have gotten quite a few large houseplants and as a former condo dweller need to brush up on my gardening skills. [kitty]

See pix
by Cricket on November 26, 2005 05:27 PM
Beautiful Ficus benjamina you have there! Your friends are very generous to gift you with Benjy! Benjaminas are one of my favorite plants.

Ficus need LOTS of light! Direct sunlight in front of an unobstructed south-facing window is best. They don't like soil to dry out, but they don't like constantly soggy soil either. For a pot that size, water thoroughly until a little water runs through the drainage holes when the top inch of soil feels dry.

Benjy will also likely shed many of his leaves as he adjusts to his new environment. This is normal and the leaves will begin to replace with new growth in several weeks once he is acclimated to your home. Once he is acclimated, it is best to leave him in a permanent location. Benjy's have difficult coping with change and leaf drop is their way of pouting. On the positive side, they are definitely not shy about telling you when something is wrong! [Smile]

Benjy also preferes to be potbound, so repotting is usually unnecessary unless you have to water more frequently that every three days. Good quality potting soil contains all the nutrients a houseplant needs for the first couple years, then fertilize regularly with a balanced fertilizer at 1/2 strength the manufacturer's recommendation. Fertilizer brand names are not important but water soluble fetilizers are usually best.

Benjaminas also are able to only support a finite number of leaves, the number dependent on how much light they receive, so over time older leaves will fall as new leaves grow. The way to minimize leaf loss is two-fold: provide as much direct sunlight as possible and regularly prune the plant, cutting back the longest stems by 1/3. This also serves to keep the plant looking compact and full. Whenever Benjy starts looks a bit sparce in the center, again cut back by a third of the longest center brances to keep him looking balanced. Pruning is like a haircuts - mistakes quickly regrow and you won't do any damage.

It appears your Benjy is healthy and has been well loved and cared for. With a little attention to his needs, you will have him looking his best for many years to come. And you won't consider yourself a rookie for long!

Hope this helps!

by Rookie Gardener on November 26, 2005 11:01 PM
Thanks so much for the great info Cricket. [thumb] That really helps. I'm glad you said they like to be potbound as we couldn't find any bigger pots than the one in the picture. His old cedar box was approx. the same size.
I appreciate the watering advice. I am going to have to be careful with that. I am typically not an over-waterer but worry that he may die of thirst.
He hasn't dropped any leaves yet but we only moved him into his new location on the 16th. I may be in a panic when the leaves start dropping depending on how many.
Great to hear from you and again, thanx, for the info. Benjy appreciates it too.
by plants 'n pots on November 26, 2005 11:30 PM
Cricket gave you excellent advice!
Your ficus is beautiful!
I also really like the piece of pottery on the floor next to it - very nice decorating!

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