Journey 225: Baby Ficus Tree

Its been a long and busy day, primarily filled with real estate business. Coming in late this evening, I looked forward to unwinding and puttering a bit. (I think I’ve elevated puttering to an art!)

As I finished the workday by shutting down the computer, I spied my little rootling, sitting in a glass by the large dining room windows. The water-filled glass held a twig from my old ficus tree, the tangle of new roots indicating the time was right to move this baby into a pot with soil.

I’ve had my large ficus tree for years, and my mother had it before me. I’m not sure how old it is, but it’s occupied a spot in my home for a long time. I’ve lugged it around to different rooms and locations until it grew too large to scoot easily across the floor. I’ve hung tiny white lights in the branches at Christmas time and dragonflies have adorned it in summer. And there are extraordinary, and true, stories attached to this tree, full of mystery and magic. I talk to my tree, and caress it like a pet.

My ficus in healthier times. 

Recently my big ficus has shown signs of its age, dropping leaves, and reacting to watering by going yellow. I have it potted in the largest container that I could find. As its branches became more and more bare, I thought I was losing it.

At last I drug the tree out onto the covered front deck, with the intention of cutting it down and disposing of it. But before I did, I decided to clip a healthy twig and root it in water, creating a new ficus tree, and therefore keeping my old friend with me, in a way. I selected a sprig with young leaves and made a clean cut, immediately placing it in a glass of water. That was last spring. In its sunny window, with fresh water added frequently, the little twig thrived and grew roots this summer.

Tonight the young ficus went into its first pot, a pretty dark blue ceramic one that I had on hand. I enjoyed tucking it into dirt, for the first time, murmuring to it soothingly as I did so. I anticipate many years ahead with my new ficus, as it grows.

And my old ficus? It lives still. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t cut it down. I pruned it heavily, removing dead branches and thinning it out. It has remained on the deck and it has thrived as well, in the open air and mottled sunshine. The tree is covered in new leaves, green and shiny.

I did research, curious about the yellowing of the leaves that began to occur last winter. That can be a sign of over-watering, or of being root bound. Those are possibilities. Amazingly I also found that ficus trees are sensitive to natural gas leaks in the home. They are like canaries in coal mines, indicating a problem before humans can detect one. The tree has done so well outdoors that I’m wondering about a small leak, as I have natural gas heat. Before turning the heat on this fall, you can be sure I’ll have the gas company or a heat/air specialist check for a problem.

This old tree, parent now to a baby ficus, may be alerting me to danger. At the least, it’s made me aware of a new possibility and I will follow up with action. I am grateful for my ficus. The amazing stories around it continue.