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This is a cutting I took from a Ficus Salicaria in June of 2015. I just cut it off, trimmed the edges of the cut with a very sharp knife, and pushed it down into this little blue pot. 

Here in Virginia, I keep ficus in my office window during the cool months, and outside in the summer. (I don’t have a greenhouse to protect them from the cold.) I try to protect my tropicals from any temperatures below 50 degrees F, which I have been told is far to conservative, but be that as it may, they are inside about six months of the year. They do pretty well though. The cutting above, for example, grew to this in two years:

And that was starting with zero roots!

As I mentioned in my last post

I like to let my ficus get hot and happy in the summer sun, and just as they start to show signs that they are going to push a bunch of new summer growth, I do whatever heavy work is needed: pruning, repotting, wiring… the works if necessary. In my experience, this approach results in a quick recovery time and gives the tree more than enough time to grow out before they need to come back inside in late fall. 

This little Salicaria has been outside for a few weeks, and those lighter green leaves on the tops of branches in the image above are new growth. Time to get to work!

Since I knew this had been a stick pushed down into the pot, I figured a good part of the base was buried. I needed to see what I was working with before making any decisions. 

As expected, the roots were very low in the pot. And look what I found when I washed most of the soil off.

Pretty sweet, right! Now that I could see the base of the tree, I could begin to decide what to do. But where to cut… I know. Right about… here. 

Did I do that?

Now, before you think I am a terrible, horrible person, I want you to know I am not crazy. I learned practically everything I know about working with Ficus from someone… well, from someone who is crazy! Adam Lavigne gets all the blame here! (Thanks, man.)

Seriously though, Adam really knows his stuff. If you don’t follow his blog, AdamAskWhy.com, you should. And besides, after you check out some of his projects, you won’t think I’m such a horrible guy. 

Now, where were we. Ah, right. The butcher job. 

I cleaned up the cut with a nice sharp knife and got it tied down into the same pot. A chopstick is the tool of choice to make sure soil fills all of the spaces below and between the roots. And then I decided to do some more cutting. I mean, it really doesn’t need leaves at the moment, right? 

Now we have visible surface roots, a nice bend in the trunk, and taper. All good things! And I swear it will be pushing out all new leaves in a matter of days. 

But wait! We’re not quite done. I did just chop off a significant chunk of a tree that rooted super easily. Let’s do it again. 

Here’s the big chunk. 

This time I decided to try a little rooting hormone on this and two other branches that seemed a shame to waste. 

Here they are. Three cuttings in the same pot. 

The irony is, I don’t really want these. My office window is only so big. Maybe they will find their way into the hands of one of my friends from the local bonsai club. We shall see!