Q • My ficus benjamina, which I estimate is at least 15 years old, keeps needing to be repotted about every six months. I suspect it is pot bound again as it continues to produce new leaves and drops older ones. I now have it in a pot that is approximately 17 inches in diameter and don’t want to put it in a larger pot. Is there any way I can keep it at its present size but have it continue to flourish?
A • Just prune its roots. Remove your weeping fig from its pot and using a sharp tool, cut or slice off about an inch or two of the roots from top to bottom all the way around the root ball, and an inch or so off the bottom of the root mass. Just pretend as though you are carving a roast or slicing a loaf of bread. Repot in the same size pot you removed it from, using fresh soil to fill in the gap you just created between the root ball and the inside edge of the pot. Prune back the top some if you desire. Place your plant in a sheltered location with somewhat subdued light to recover for a few days after surgery before returning it to the spot you normally keep it at this time of year.
Write to Chip Tynan of the Missouri Botanical Garden at firstname.lastname@example.org or Horticultural Answer Service, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, 63110.