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Benjamin Loosing leaves

Bob Kirk reikirk at ksu.edu
Sat Jul 1 14:30:10 EST 2000

"Stephen Jankalski" <CEREOID at prodigy.net>
(smarting from having his ass kicked on rec.gardens, of all places, for
his unfortunate tendency to think knowing something about a subject - 
perhaps even quite a lot - excuses him from having to actually read the
posts he's replying to) snarls:

> <blah>

>>I have a benjamin... and it looses leaves.
>>Can you give me some instructions how to really well take care of the
>>benjamin. What to look for and how to cure what symptoms?... like rippled
>>leaves, falling leaves, yellow leaves
>>                                             Thank you >>Michael

   Rippled leaves aren't a symptom, that's just what kind of leaves it
usually has. Or maybe not: there are probably ten thousand cultivars of
this in the world, but right offhand I wouldn't worry about it unless it
specifically precedes loss of the individual leaf.
  As for yellow or falling leaves - F. benjamina is notorious for this,
usually in response to being moved indoors/outdoors, or even, say, the sun
disappearing or reappearing from behind another building an hour or two
earlier/later as the seasons change.
  It will grow new ones, don't worry. JANKALSKI IS FULL OF CRAP (as we say
in the academy).  This is arguably the best interiorscape tree there is,
coming in there either right before or after the widely-available lance
leaved Ficus alii (may be F. species 'alii', don't recall).
  Rubber tree or fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus elastica/lyrata) are very good as
well, but too coarse to be grown as small plants: figure on a 10-12 gallon
pot minimum and more space than you probably have. 
   Weeping fig, on the other hand, will grow a very effective small tree
in a pot half that size, and more importantly, can be pruned at will to
keep it in the space you want it. As for care - in soilless potting medium
and a pot with drainage I can't imagine how anyone could kill it. Put it
now in the largest pot you will want it in. Keep it somewhere between
soggy and dessicated - e.g., water when the "soil" is dry an inch down.
Apply soluble fertilizer per directions, but hold that and water less
until new growth appears. Once you've got the tree you want, fertilizing
2-3 times a year is plenty.

   All that said, none of these is the most >interesting< plant in either
the interior or landscape, but there are plenty of challenges out there
when you begin to seek them.
   Far & away the likeliest noncultural problem to arise would be scale
insects - and far from not being any bargain, commodity plants like this
are such wonderful bargains that if you can't lose a pest with 2-3 sprays
of horticultural oil I'd just execute it and start over.

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