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Tracy

Ficus socotrana (vasta) planting

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Tracy

I finally found this Ficus socotrana which has been lumped in with Ficus vasta I understand, but since it was labeled as socotrana, I'll stick with it.  I fell in love with the one at Quail Botanical Garden now San Diego Botanical Garden about a decade  ago or perhaps even longer.  I never started looking for it until about that time.  They had one large specimen for sale at a nursery in Rancho Santa Fe, but when I inquired about purchasing it, was advised it wasn't for sale and would only be used for propagation, and that I should call back the following spring.  I did follow up that following spring and a few more, but there were never any available.  We just removed a parking space along our driveway which opened up a new planting area this week.  We went to Quail Botanical... I mean San Diego Botanical on Saturday for inspirations, and again walked by their Ficus socotrana.  My wife likes the tree as well and I commented that I would plant one in a heartbeat if I could find it.  Yesterday, I suggested we go to a local nursery we can walk to for fun, and lo and behold they had 3 of these in 1 gallon pots.  It didn't take me much time to get home, and plant it out along with a couple of other things I had in pots that were waiting for a home. 

It could be a mistake planting it near our paver back driveway, with the roots these can develop, but I love the trunk color and the low canopy they tend to grow.  I have no idea how slow from a 1 gallon this will grow, but have obviously watched the one at Quail for a long time, so have seen that it hasn't grown out of control large.  I remember Gary Levine has one at his garden in Escondido, and I recall someone else growing this species or the mainland version that the Socotran fig has been lumped in with, Ficus vasta.  Please share if you have experience with either the sub-group of Ficus vasta from Socotran island or Ficus vasta.

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Tracy

A pair I photographed in 2019, one at the San Diego Zoo and the other is the one at Quail (San Diego) Botanical Garden.  I'll let you guess which photo was the Zoo.  These don't get too high but they do have a spread on them!

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Tom in Tucson

I grew this species when I lived in San Diego. The leaves would sunburn during hot spells, so I moved it to a more shaded location, and within 2 years it grew 3 feet higher. When I was preparing to move I rooted 2 cuttings. They are growing well here, but haven't grown as fast yet.

HTH

Hi 106˚, Lo 74˚

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Silas_Sancona
7 hours ago, Tracy said:

A pair I photographed in 2019, one at the San Diego Zoo and the other is the one at Quail (San Diego) Botanical Garden.  I'll let you guess which photo was the Zoo.  These don't get too high but they do have a spread on them!

20190106-104A2132.jpg

20190330-104A2857.jpg

 

12 minutes ago, Tom in Tucson said:

I grew this species when I lived in San Diego. The leaves would sunburn during hot spells, so I moved it to a more shaded location, and within 2 years it grew 3 feet higher. When I was preparing to move I rooted 2 cuttings. They are growing well here, but haven't grown as fast yet.

HTH

Hi 106˚, Lo 74˚

Added to my list.. :D 

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Tracy
On 8/10/2020 at 9:30 PM, Tom in Tucson said:

I grew this species when I lived in San Diego. The leaves would sunburn during hot spells, so I moved it to a more shaded location, and within 2 years it grew 3 feet higher. When I was preparing to move I rooted 2 cuttings. They are growing well here, but haven't grown as fast yet.

HTH

Hi 106˚, Lo 74˚

Since mine came out of a greenhouse, I opted to do something I have never done before, which was to create a cover with 30% shade cloth.  No palm, cycad, tree, flower, orchid or bromeliad has ever been so privileged in my garden(s) over the decades.  I will probably remove it in the autumn sometime after the days get shorter, unless I decide to keep it on so I can easily throw something over it to protect it this first winter from overnight cold.  So Tom, a couple of follow up questions on your experience with this tree.  What part of San Diego did you live in where the leaves would sunburn during hot spells?  I'm hoping that won't be an issue given my coastal location about 500 meters east of the ocean.  Second question is what sort of growth rates did you experience and what size did you start with?  If you have any photos of growth on the ones you are growing in Tuscon, it would be great if you can share them.

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Tom in Tucson
7 hours ago, Tracy said:

Since mine came out of a greenhouse, I opted to do something I have never done before, which was to create a cover with 30% shade cloth.  No palm, cycad, tree, flower, orchid or bromeliad has ever been so privileged in my garden(s) over the decades.  I will probably remove it in the autumn sometime after the days get shorter, unless I decide to keep it on so I can easily throw something over it to protect it this first winter from overnight cold.  So Tom, a couple of follow up questions on your experience with this tree.  What part of San Diego did you live in where the leaves would sunburn during hot spells?  I'm hoping that won't be an issue given my coastal location about 500 meters east of the ocean.  Second question is what sort of growth rates did you experience and what size did you start with?  If you have any photos of growth on the ones you are growing in Tuscon, it would be great if you can share them.

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San Diego neighborhood: San Carlos - it borders the towns of Santee and El Cajon (some of the warmest regions in San Diego county besides the desert).

I started with 1 rooted cutting about 6" high. I moved it to a shadier location when it was around 8" high. The only photo I took was when I first planted it. As stated originally it grew much faster when shaded. It also sent out many branches, and had the same form you showed at the botanical garden.

Hi 109˚, Lo 78˚

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Tracy
13 hours ago, Tom in Tucson said:

San Carlos - it borders the towns of Santee and El Cajon (some of the warmest regions in San Diego county besides the desert).

I started with 1 rooted cutting about 6" high. I moved it to a shadier location when it was around 8" high. The only photo I took was when I first planted it. As stated originally it grew much faster when shaded. It also sent out many branches, and had the same form you showed at the botanical garden.

Thanks for the details Tom.  Based on where you were in San Carlos, I'm certain the sun is much more intense there than in my yard.  I'll stick with the 30% shade cloth to get it established and hope for the best that once it is established it will do fine in full exposure here.  The one at Quail (SD) Botanical definitely gets filtered light as there are a number of tall trees around it.  That said, even though it's a short distance away, it is on the other side of the next ridge inland from where I live and is noticeably hotter and sunnier there most of the time.

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Tracy
On 8/12/2020 at 9:35 PM, Tom in Tucson said:

San Diego neighborhood: San Carlos - it borders the towns of Santee and El Cajon (some of the warmest regions in San Diego county besides the desert).

I started with 1 rooted cutting about 6" high. I moved it to a shadier location when it was around 8" high. The only photo I took was when I first planted it. As stated originally it grew much faster when shaded. It also sent out many branches, and had the same form you showed at the botanical garden.

Hi 109˚, Lo 78˚

After good performance late summer and early Autumn, my Ficus socotrana stalled over winter, which I expected.  It didn't lose any leaves until dropping a couple of the lower ones recently.  I expected it to start pushing out new leaves when my edible fig tree, Ficus carica, started to push out new leaves.  The F carica go dormant during winter here, losing all their leaves.  Even though the F. carica now has small fruit and has been putting out new leaves for weeks now, the growth point on the Ficus socotrana remains at the same stalled point.  I treated them similarly regarding water, not over watering but also not starving them of water over winter, as the sandy soil they are in drains fast.   I'm curious what you experienced in spring coming out of winter with yours.  I probably should go up to Quail... er San Diego Botanical Gardens and talk to someone there that is familiar with their tree.

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Tom in Tucson

My 2 retained their leaves this winter, but have not grown much yet. I expect them to start growing faster when the temperature goes up to at least 67˚ at night.

Hi 94˚, Lo 62˚

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Tracy
On 5/16/2021 at 8:18 PM, Tom in Tucson said:

My 2 retained their leaves this winter, but have not grown much yet. I expect them to start growing faster when the temperature goes up to at least 67˚ at night.

Hi 94˚, Lo 62˚

Thanks for the update Tom.  I'll be interested to see when your start growing again.  My wife just commented this morning that she's worried ours isn't going to come back after watching everything else in the garden growing this time of year.

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Tracy
On 5/16/2021 at 8:18 PM, Tom in Tucson said:

My 2 retained their leaves this winter, but have not grown much yet. I expect them to start growing faster when the temperature goes up to at least 67˚ at night.

Hi 94˚, Lo 62˚

I wanted to check in on how yours did over summer and open up to anyone else growing this species of Ficus. Mine has dropped all but 3 leaves and didn't move an inch over summer.  I decided to dig it up, but not after finding another one that was a little more established to plant in it's place.  After acclimating it for over a month to my garden, I dug the original and put it in a plant.  From what I could see of the roots, they appeared healthy so I put the original plant in a new pot where I'll move it to a more protected part of the garden for a while.  The replacement Ficus socotrana is below.

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Tom in Tucson

Mine did grow faster once the nights got warmer. I did not move them from their mostly shady location. They are still slower here than they were in San Diego. The leaves are larger by about 25% than they were last year.

Good luck with yours. Once the Santa Ana season is over I'm sure yours will appreciate more sun. I'm still pleased with their appearance overall.

Hi 93˚, Lo 67˚

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BigFrond

You better have a big yard.  I believe Palomar College has this next to their theater in the front.  They actually have a big ficus collection in the arboretum.  They're all nice but waaaaay big.  Roots are yuge

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Tracy
21 hours ago, BigFrond said:

They're all nice but waaaaay big.  Roots are yuge

I have admired the one here in Encinitas at the former Quail Botanical Garden, now San Diego Botanical Garden for well over a decade now.  That was how I learned about this particular species of Ficus.  This seems to have an umbrella, spreading habit when grown in this climate, as both the one at Quail...oops, San Diego Botanical Garden and the one at the Zoo show (photos higher up in this string).  Am I a little worried about the roots?  Yes, as with any Ficus (except my dammaropsis), but it is at the opposite side of my lot from where my water line comes in, and about as far away from my house and sewer lines as one could be and still be on the lot.  The one risk is to my back driveway and detached garage, but hopefully I have enough time that it will be my sons' problem and not mine.

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BigFrond

Yeah, the umbrella spreading is very nice.  I have the space for one, maybe two but it would take over the whole backyard.  Haha, let your son deal with roots later on is the best solution. The tree form and roots on ficus are second to none in my opinion.  The big roots and buttresses will give the tropical look.  UCSD should be growing these instead of the eucalyptus trees.

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Tracy
On 10/9/2021 at 10:14 AM, BigFrond said:

UCSD should be growing these instead of the eucalyptus trees.

They are growing buildings instead of Eucalyptus trees now.  Many of the groves have disappeared over the decades as new colleges have emerged.  When I went there the 4th college had recently opened (Warren), when my son was getting his degrees there they had 6 and there are 7 now.  Adios Eucalyptus groves.  It has been one of the few UC campuses with room to expand but I don't think Ficus socatrana are on their list.  I would have to bribe them with a lot more in donations than I currently give the alumni association.

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BigFrond

UCSD do have some ficus near the VA hospital.  They are quite nice.  Many are planted near the sidewalk.  UC IRVINE has more ficus variety than UCSD.  They are also much bigger too.

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BigFrond

Here is the ficus at Palomar.  This guy is growing fast.

 

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Tracy
On 10/5/2021 at 4:37 PM, Tracy said:

The replacement Ficus socotrana is below.

A mild Autumn thus far has resulted in the replacement planting in October is putting out new leaves still in December.  I'm hoping this one doesn't go dormant for a year like the other one I dug up and put in a pot.  The one I moved to the pot still looks stalled, but alive with no leaves.  Jury is still out on whether it will come back.

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Tracy
On 10/5/2021 at 4:37 PM, Tracy said:

Mine has dropped all but 3 leaves and didn't move an inch over summer.  I decided to dig it up, but not after finding another one that was a little more established to plant in it's place.  After acclimating it for over a month to my garden, I dug the original and put it in a pot.  From what I could see of the roots, they appeared healthy so I put the original plant in a new pot where I'll move it to a more protected part of the garden for a while.

My original plant that I dug up and put in a pot has finally pushed a new leaf.  It was the first sign of growth after not putting out a single leaf since last spring.  This time of year, the spot that I have moved it to is basically full shade.  I'm not sure what to do with it if it recovers.  I did get the larger replacement plant which I installed where  I extracted this one.  That's a bridge I will cross later, first is insuring this plants survival.

The replacement plant continues pushing out new leaves through winter as well.  It makes me wonder if these are better winter growers in this climate?

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Michael Smith

A beautiful Ficus species for sure!

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Tracy

An updated photo of the specimen here in Encinitas at the former Quail Botanical Garden, now San Diego Botanic Garden, with someone in the photo for scale.

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Tracy

When we visited the San Diego Botanic Garden on Saturday, I noticed a second Ficus socatrana aka vasta planted just down the hill from the older and larger one.  I'm curious and will have to find out if they grew it from a cutting of their own plant or if this newer and smaller one was sourced elsewhere.  Odd that I had not noticed it before but perhaps it is because I was walking in a different direction on the path than normal, going up it instead of down it.

Newer baby plant and the bigger tree at mid-day in Spring, so pretty shaded during that time of day from canopy overhead.

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