Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Post 219 Large ficus root pruning

The following shots are of one of the trees I've root pruned today, a large root over rock Ficus Benjamina 'Baby Ben'.

This is before starting. Over the cooler months it has been quite static but new shoots are just starting to emerge at the ends of the branches. All those leaves keep pumping water however and it has become increasingly difficult to keep the water up to it and overcome the tree's capacity to dry out its potting medium. Once dry in the center it is almost impossible to wet again without soaking the tree and that's too difficult with the size of it. I can't imagine it going two years without root pruning.

 First task is to reduce the leaf load so that there is a balance between the impaired root capacity after pruning and the tree's capacity to discharge water. This is also done to give it a preparatory pruning for the coming growing season, to bring in the reach of the branches and foliage.

 That done the attention turns to the roots. As expected there is a tight mass of roots to resolve.

 I begin by using the root hook to tease out the walls all around the edge, in towards the surface roots, at the same time removing any new ones running over the surface.

 Then a slice off the bottom, taking about half the root depth. Ficus roots are not easy to cut but the machete does the job very well.

 This is followed up by tidying up any roots running sideways. You can see that it is quite dry under here.
 Here you can see the final root mass left after pruning. 

And finally re-potted and ready for the season to come. The new medium will allow water to get to where it is needed and even with less roots the tree will be far better off.

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