Late Season Ficus Pruning Before Storage Question

hemmy

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What does your late summer ficus pruning look like in the MidWest? How hard and how many weeks in advance do you prune ficus before bringing them inside for winter?

Moving, mosquitoes, life, and work are all the excuses I’m using for not getting in a final summer pruning on my Ficus microcarpa in training. Now I’m facing another ~1 month before they have to get acclimated to come inside. Inside is planning to be a large poly tented space in the garage with heat, humidity and ventilation fans.

With shrinking days and nighttime lows in the 50s (days in the 70s-80s) only a couple weeks away, I’m past the point that I feel comfortable making any large cuts or defoliation. But it does look like we have one last week of 90s/70s F day/night temps. I am going to remove some leaves for light penetration and maybe some light wiring. For scale they are around 6-8” in diameter. The black can is working on secondary branching and taper, while the wooden box tree is on tertiary+ ramification.

Thoughts?

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Colorado

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Good looking ficus there. I did my big defoliation/pruning work on my microcarpa about a month ago. I agree that now it’s a little late in the season for big work on ficus in the Midwest, but probably wouldn’t hurt if you want to do some light pruning/wiring like you mentioned.

I believe some people actually defoliate and/or prune them when they bring them in for the fall/winter, but I don’t use that technique.
 

penumbra

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As always, it depends. Most of mine were cut back in July and August but some are being cut back now and some in a ferw weeks. The difference is how they are being stored. Many of mine are more or less held in stasis for winter but others are under bright lights that are on at least 12 hours a day to encourage them to grow and develop all winter.
 

Ugo

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Hi!

@penumbra is right on work and after work storage conditions but I would like to add
that defoliation or any kind of work on the foliage really depends on the stage the tree is in.
Ficus are "picky" when it comes to pruning or atleast they don't react like other tropicals or evergreen.
I would compare their reaction to pruning to a vigorous maple, shooting long shoots with long internodes when pruned instead of develloping secondary branching.

So the technique, stage the tree is in and timing have all to be taken in consideration.
 

Carol 83

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I just repotted one the other day, I'm not worried about it. I have never defoliated them but mine seem to grow just fine all winter under the lights except for the Willow leaf that stalls from around November until April. We have a week of hot weather ahead, I'll probably cut most of them back this weekend.
 

It's Kev

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If you northerners are doing work, then I can certainly clean up mine a bit, was away from home for like 3 months and left it under a dripping tap, it grew like crazy
 

hemmy

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The difference is how they are being stored. Many of mine are more or less held in stasis for winter but others are under bright lights that are on at least 12 hours a day to encourage them to grow and develop all winter.
Good point on storage conditions. I’ll have to take it easy, since this my first winter overwintering trees in a garage and I’m not sure how “tropical” I can keep it.
 

sorce

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I wouldn't be afraid to cut it back to just 2 buds AND start it inside completely naked.

That way, it takes half the winter to grow back and since it's more open, the growth is more balanced.

Speaking of balance.... leaving a lot less higher up can prevent the reversal of thicknesses inevitably brought on by growth under lights, it's quite mandatory.

Cut em on move day.

Sorce
 

Ben in Kzoo

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@hemmy glad you asked the question
Are you planning on using heat mats?
My trees will be on a shelf under lights. I can’t control the humidity but I hope mats can help with temperature
Wondering if anyone had a successful winter with them
 

penumbra

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@hemmy glad you asked the question
Are you planning on using heat mats?
My trees will be on a shelf under lights. I can’t control the humidity but I hope mats can help with temperature
Wondering if anyone had a successful winter with them
I am guessing your reference to a successful winter refers to keeping in garage. Mine are in the basement and a few are in my office. They do fine for me all winter but I am constantly upgrading my lighting. They love humidity but seen to do just fine without high humidity. Most of mine are kept with a minimum temperature of about 60F. I use heat pads only for the youngsters that are either rooting or have been recently root worked.
 

Ben in Kzoo

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I am guessing your reference to a successful winter refers to keeping in garage. Mine are in the basement and a few are in my office. They do fine for me all winter but I am constantly upgrading my lighting. They love humidity but seen to do just fine without high humidity. Most of mine are kept with a minimum temperature of about 60F. I use heat pads only for the youngsters that are either rooting or have been recently root worked.
Thanks @penumbra
I have to keep mine in an office, where I cannot control humidity (gets dry with heating). I plan on keeping the vent closed and compensate temperature with heating mats, for all my tropicals
 

penumbra

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Thanks @penumbra
I have to keep mine in an office, where I cannot control humidity (gets dry with heating). I plan on keeping the vent closed and compensate temperature with heating mats, for all my tropicals
If it is above 60 or anywhere thereabouts, I would not use the heating pad. You are likely have more trouble with drying out,
 

hemmy

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@hemmy glad you asked the question
Are you planning on using heat mats?
My trees will be on a shelf under lights. I can’t control the humidity but I hope mats can help with temperature
Wondering if anyone had a successful winter with them
I’m not sure, this winter crap is all new to me! The big one is in a 15-20 gal plastic pot. So it would probably have to sit on the garage floor. But I have no idea what temp the floor will be. So the big ones on the floor might have to be on a platform with heat mats. I was figuring an oil heater to heat the space. If I can make this a separate enclosure from my Mediterranean trees (olives, redwood, cork oaks), then I’ll try to keep it warmer. The Mediterranean enclosure will try just to stay above freezing. But I’m worried that the garage is actually going to stay too warm.
 
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My indoor season starts in about a month. I generally like to give them at least 6 weeks after a big trim before I transition them indoors. I generally don’t defoliate but trim back for bifurcation if I can. For kicks today I defoliated my houseplant ficus. I figure a few more warm weeks should be enough to set some smaller leaves on it before I bring it in.38F606E4-C55F-4DE7-A2E2-B5223B397207.jpegA2714C8D-637B-437C-B884-27B47A2B9981.jpeg
 
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