This indoor tree has thrived for more than 50 years

AW: Wow! This is a high mileage plant. I asked Kathryn to tell the story of the plant, and she added the following. “When I got it, it was about 8 years old and of course the trunk was much smaller. The plant stayed in the same pot for most of its life. In summer she stands under a large maple tree so she doesn’t get a lot of sun, which seems to burn the leaves outdoors.

“Every other year I shave a few inches of soil from the sides and bottom of the root ball and add new potting soil. It doesn’t seem to mind being root bound. I trim the top before moving into the sunny window every fall. In the winter months I add a splash of Schultz liquid plant food to the water and in summer I add tree fertilizer to the pot.

“My ficus doesn’t seem to like to dry out so I keep it well watered but never wet. A few leaves fall in winter, but not enough to worry. Once in Montreal it lost a lot of leaves. My friend and I drove it down the street to her apartment to keep it on during my month-long sabbatical, but she fostered it and seemed happy to return to its own apartment upon my return. During this pandemic and the cold winter, it is a pleasure to sit under the tree and read. “

Thanks Kathryn for a great story.

This ficus is over 50 years old and has thrived in several different cities.  Special about the forum

This ficus is over 50 years old and has thrived in several different cities. Special about the forum


Q: I have four beautiful apple trees in my garden that are 10 years old and produce good harvests. I would like to somehow catch them because the birds destroy so many apples before harvest. To do this, I want to cut off at least 2 feet of branches all around. What do you think? Will I kill the trees Any advice on nets or what type to get and when to put them on? – Katharina C.

A: You are not alone, Catherine, as many apple growers struggle with the same problem, especially since birds enjoy trying almost any apple with a peck or two rather than consuming what they start. Bird repellants fall into three categories: deterrent devices that provide alternative sources of food near the tree, and nets. Almost all fruit researchers at the university recommend netting as the most effective method.

Any of the control methods, including netting, are best started before the fruit begins to ripen. As soon as birds taste ripe or almost ripe fruit, they are driven to keep going and have more perseverance.

Apple trees love pruning, so removing 2 feet of external growth is okay. Such a pruning should be done in March or April before the buds swell. Make an effort to achieve a pyramidal Christmas tree shape with the lower branches being widest and tapering towards the top.

The lower branches better catch sunshine, which increases fruiting at the bottom of the tree rather than at the top. Not only will fruit form where it is easier to harvest, but it should also be easier to cover the tree with netting. Nets are available in most garden centers and online.


Q: How far should I cut my new bark in the spring? – Dale W.

A: Nine barks, both green-leaved and purple-leaved varieties, become very woody after a few years, and pruning will encourage fresh, new branches. If not pruned, they will soon develop almost dead, overgrown branches in the center of the shrub.

To rejuvenate, cut the branches to about 6 inches above the ground in April before they begin to leaf. Once the nine barks are tapered to get rid of old wood, an annual maintenance cut can keep the shrub healthy by cutting the branches back by about half. You can also selectively remove the woodiest branches down to ground level so that the younger, fresher branches are retained.

If you have a garden or lawn maintenance question, email Don Kinzler, NDSU Extension-Cass County at [email protected]. Questions with broad interest can be published. So please include your name, city and state in order to receive appropriate advice.

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