Keiki care for baby Ficus
This tutorial shows how to encourage new leaves on a young Ficus elastica with Keiki paste.
Ficus is a popular tropical houseplant with large oval leaves. They can be trailing or upright, and colors range from dark green to green and cream variegated.
Keiki paste is very effective on younger plants with supple stems, like this baby green and cream Ficus Elastica Variegata from World’s End Nursery in West London , one of my favourite garden centers. Right now, the plant has only three mature leaves - the perfect experimental subject. I’m going to use Keiki paste to encourage new buds that will develop fully in spring.
Keiki paste can also be very useful if you have a rare white variegated ficus. These plants are stunning random mutations that make a normal ficus look like it’s been splattered with white paint. Cuttings go for upwards of $60 online. WIth Keiki paste, you will have a reliable propagation method for your unicorn ficus.
Step 1: Finding nodes
First, select ‘nodes’ to apply the Keiki paste to. Nodes are parts of the plant where new leaves emerge from. Keiki paste contains growth hormones that give the dormant buds a boost.
Ficus nodes are located along the main stem. They show up as raised rings.
These are all the nodes on my Ficus plant:
Step two: Applying Keiki paste to nodes
Dip a cotton bud in the Keiki paste and dab the paste around the node rings where you want new leaves to form.
On plants with slightly thicker stems like the ficus, you might want to score the node very lightly with a needle or small knife before applying Keiki paste to the wound.
Step 3: Wait
The Keiki paste can take up to a month to work. During this time, place the plant in optimal conditions. Ficus does best in partial shade, just like its natural home in the dim undergrowth of tropical rainforests.
After applying Keiki paste, give your plant some fertiliser to help it push out new growth. Make sure you do not over-fertilise in the dormant winter months. One dilute dose of fertiliser should be enough to help it along.
Ficus love humid air and this is especially important after you’ve applied the Keiki paste. Maintain at least 60 % humidity by misting your plant with a water-spray bottle or by placing your plant on a tray of gravel half-filled with water.
Soon, you will see tiny new leaves emerge from nodes you applied the Keiki paste to.