Tiger Bark Ficus and dormancy or winter time

BonsaiJames1986

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Greeting Everyone,

I have had some confusion while searching online about how my Tiger Bark Ficus should be treated during the winter months in Wisconsin. As this is a tropical tree I was under the impression I could better care for the tree in these winter months by purchasing a grow tent and a 1000 Watt Full spectrum grow light. I have had some other hobbyists mention I am not supposed to work on my trees at this time of year because it isn't the growing season. No root pruning etc....I completely understand why they would say this. Yet with my set up I have my trees under the light 12 hours per day set on a timer. I live in an apartment so when temperatures raise above 60 to 65 I move my plants out onto my balcony and they get morning direct sun and mid day and afternoon indirect sunlight. I don't notice that my trees slow down with their growth during the winter with my set up. If anything I would say the Wisconsin Summer months are my trees slower growth period.

Do tropical trees such as the ficus need a dormancy or time out from growing? I understand that with trees native to colder climates the trees will die unless they have their dormancy. I do not want to cause my trees to be stressed or die after a year or 2 as they mean very much to me. From what I can tell my trees are incredibly healthy and grow vigorously. I am also getting arial roots from the trunks on some of them. No leaf drop or anything that indicates a problem beyond an occasional isolated yellow leaf. I tried growing moss on the surface substrate but found that I was having some issues with over watering. Thus a few more yellow leaves if my assumption is correct. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't causing issues with having the trees grow and be active year around.

Thank you all for your time.
 
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Part of bonsai is getting to know your trees and how they respond. I repot my ficus trees during warmer months, usually June or July, as temps are reliably in the 80s. At that time they are outside in full sun for part of the day, and growing like mad. If your trees are growing really well, and your grow tent is warm, maybe just go for it.

Tropicals don't go dormant, but many can drop leaves as the tropics sometimes have seasons, at least dry and wet anyway. Willow leaf ficus often drop all leaves when conditions change, and one I've had for 14-15 years used to drop its leaves every time it went out or in, but I finally figured out how to avoid that this year. (Very slow adjustment over a period of a month or more)

You could also adjust your grow tent with the light on for 16 hours, high humidity, and 'daytime' temps of 85-90. Perhaps you can simulate the tropics this way.
 

Colorado

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The question isn’t about repotting, the question is “do tropical trees such as the ficus need a dormancy or time out from growing.”

I think the answer is “no,” that ficus are capable of maintaining a high level of metabolism year round without detriment. But I am far from an expert on tropicals and would also be interested to hear from someone with more knowledge.
 

Bonsai Nut

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True tropicals don't have a dormancy like cold-hardy deciduous trees like sugar maples (as an example). However they do have annual growth and pause cycles. In Southern California, growing outdoors, ficus would typically push new growth in late spring, would pause during the heat of the summer, and push a second round of growth in early fall. However these growth cycles were triggered by environmental factors like photoperiod, temperature, rain, etc. Keeping a tropical indoors in a controlled environment with stable lighting and temp, and I think they would grow year-round.
 

Cadillactaste

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I winter my tigerbark indoors for winter. I don't have an enclosed environment such as a tent. Because of the sole reason for my delay of adding ficus was seeing ones fight fungal to the point they got out of the hobby.

Jerry Meislik stated once they don't need high humidity to be happy inside. That...had me pause. Lower humidity keeps fungal issues at bay. Thus, I added ficus to the mix. Mine do not drop below 65F inside...again Jerry had mentioned his don't see below 65F. So mimicking the temps here with his being so well known as a ficus guy. Do my ficus grow inside...yes. BUT slowly...nothing like when outdoors. Which is why repots are end of June early July. When actively growing and acclimated outside once more.

20210122_211005.jpg
 

HorseloverFat

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Greetings, fellow frigid-dweller! The Woody Dwarves would like to take this moment and welcome you to the TinyForest with the customary dance.

I live in between Green Bay an the Lake... If you were interested in being part of our (Mostly “remote”) study group?

Pleasure to make your acquaintance.

🤓

(also my Tigerbark winters indoors, window with a bunch of supplemental lighting. Also look into creating coldframe atmospheres. Above or below ground.. there are many options/designs.

🤓
 
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HorseloverFat

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Also.. a good way to learn/grow/develop as a “TinyTree” artist is to join a local club ORRRRR a Study Group..

You could ask around and see if there are any in your area. ;) ;) ;)
 

BonsaiJames1986

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Thank you for that tip as well. I appreciate any and all facts and even opinions anyone has. We are a community and its nice to be connected. I so badly want to join a local club there is one in Milwaukee. I work second shift however for the time being and all of their meetings are when I am at work. I will check into that again though maybe they are doing something on the weekends now.
 

HorseloverFat

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Thank you for that tip as well. I appreciate any and all facts and even opinions anyone has. We are a community and its nice to be connected. I so badly want to join a local club there is one in Milwaukee. I work second shift however for the time being and all of their meetings are when I am at work. I will check into that again though maybe they are doing something on the weekends now.
Hehe! Milwaukee Bonsai Society, from what I hear, is excellent.

@Leo in N E Illinois will be able to clue you in more.

The study group that I “host” has members (only one, actually 🤣) as south as Manitowoc (the majority of us are further north).. but most our stuff is done online, due to current conditions..

I might open a thread for my study group HERE.. I believe there is a “section” for that.

Waukesha is about a two-hour drive for me.. but we’d still love to have you.



Either way, I’m glad your here.. you’ve stumbled upon/into a wonderful communal wellspring of shared knowledge/experience... drink when you need.... share when you can.

🤓
 

BonsaiJames1986

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Hehe! Milwaukee Bonsai Society, from what I hear, is excellent.

@Leo in N E Illinois will be able to clue you in more.

The study group that I “host” has members (only one, actually 🤣) as south as Manitowoc (the majority of us are further north).. but most our stuff is done online, due to current conditions..

I might open a thread for my study group HERE.. I believe there is a “section” for that.

Waukesha is about a two-hour drive for me.. but we’d still love to have you.



Either way, I’m glad your here.. you’ve stumbled upon/into a wonderful communal wellspring of shared knowledge/experience... drink when you need.... share when you can.

🤓
Thank you very much, I appreciate the welcome and I plan on being active and involved. I will be getting some pictures and posting my little projects and things I'm doing with my pots and trees in the near future.
 
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I have about 20 bonsai and pre-bonsai growing in a 4'W x 4'L x 7'H mylar grow tent, under 100W-135W quantum-board style LED lamps positioned 12"-18" away from plant tops for 16 hours per day. These are mostly ficus, plus some portulacaria, crassula, bougainvillea, and podocarpus. Conditions average around 95F and 70% humidity during the day and 65F/100% at night. All winter, these plants will never come out of the tent, and get normal weekly feedings. They grow constantly, to the point that frequent pruning is necessary to keep them small enough for the space. A month after repotting the majority of them (in January!), root growth has progressed such that I frequently have to prune roots back from the drain holes. I am noting significant thickening and wound callousing. From this I draw the conclusion that with simulated tropical conditions, tropical plants will not go into dormancy. Now, as for whether the absence of a winter dormancy will cause their long-term health to deteriorate, I am not sure. But considering the conditions in their natural habitats, I tend to believe that they are not genetically programmed to require dormancy in the same way as temperate species.

Observing my several ficus houseplants, I can attest that they definitely slow down and drop a few leaves after the fall equinox as days shorten and temperatures fall. Some species seem to start growing as soon as the winter solstice passes and daylight starts to lengthen, but others seem to wait for the long days and warmer temperatures after the spring equinox to do so. There are two possible explanations for this - (1) ficus and other tropicals have some genetic adaptation to trigger semi-dormancy in places with seasonal cycles, or (2) it is just a natural, spontaneous response to unideal growing conditions that result in an energy shortage.

So, how one should handle tropicals during winter in temperate zones seems to depend on the conditions that you can provide.
 

Mellow Mullet

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I winter my tigerbark indoors for winter. I don't have an enclosed environment such as a tent. Because of the sole reason for my delay of adding ficus was seeing ones fight fungal to the point they got out of the hobby.

Jerry Meislik stated once they don't need high humidity to be happy inside. That...had me pause. Lower humidity keeps fungal issues at bay. Thus, I added ficus to the mix. Mine do not drop below 65F inside...again Jerry had mentioned his don't see below 65F. So mimicking the temps here with his being so well known as a ficus guy. Do my ficus grow inside...yes. BUT slowly...nothing like when outdoors. Which is why repots are end of June early July. When actively growing and acclimated outside once more.

View attachment 352434

You need to get some wire on that one, Caddy!
 

Cadillactaste

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You need to get some wire on that one, Caddy!
This winter has been...different. With remodeling and then my MIL getting covid and passing. I just felt the more tender branches didn't need wire scars...with the way my life was at. Just...watering is enough for my mind most days. Still dealing with the drama of family.
 

BonsaiJames1986

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I have about 20 bonsai and pre-bonsai growing in a 4'W x 4'L x 7'H mylar grow tent, under 100W-135W quantum-board style LED lamps positioned 12"-18" away from plant tops for 16 hours per day. These are mostly ficus, plus some portulacaria, crassula, bougainvillea, and podocarpus. Conditions average around 95F and 70% humidity during the day and 65F/100% at night. All winter, these plants will never come out of the tent, and get normal weekly feedings. They grow constantly, to the point that frequent pruning is necessary to keep them small enough for the space. A month after repotting the majority of them (in January!), root growth has progressed such that I frequently have to prune roots back from the drain holes. I am noting significant thickening and wound callousing. From this I draw the conclusion that with simulated tropical conditions, tropical plants will not go into dormancy. Now, as for whether the absence of a winter dormancy will cause their long-term health to deteriorate, I am not sure. But considering the conditions in their natural habitats, I tend to believe that they are not genetically programmed to require dormancy in the same way as temperate species.

Observing my several ficus houseplants, I can attest that they definitely slow down and drop a few leaves after the fall equinox as days shorten and temperatures fall. Some species seem to start growing as soon as the winter solstice passes and daylight starts to lengthen, but others seem to wait for the long days and warmer temperatures after the spring equinox to do so. There are two possible explanations for this - (1) ficus and other tropicals have some genetic adaptation to trigger semi-dormancy in places with seasonal cycles, or (2) it is just a natural, spontaneous response to unideal growing conditions that result in an energy shortage.

So, how one should handle tropicals during winter in temperate zones seems to depend on the conditions that you can provide.
Thank you for your detailed answer and its seems we are caring for our plants in a similar fashion.
 

sorce

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Welcome to Crazy!

What are you holding up in that picture?

Sorce
 

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