Lyrata 14" Standards - A Cut Above

Farm Life 14” Lyrata Standards - A Cut Above the Rest

We at Farm Life would like to share the details about our 14” Ficus Lyrata Standard line of plants. The Lyrata, as an interiorscape and retail product, has become a very important plant. The demand for this plant has risen dramatically in recent years and because of this so has the supply.

Farm Life has been producing bush style Lyrata’s in 10”, 14” and 17” sizes, continuously year after year, for well over a decade. The 14” Standard went on sale in January 2005 and has been a staple item, produced monthly, for the last 8 years. Since it first went on sale Farm Life has sold 8,597 14” Lyrata standards. As a grower that strives to produce the best foliage plants on the market, Farm Life has continuously changed our program to address important aspects of this plant. Aspects such as trunk caliper, clear trunk length, number of branches, age of soil, acclimation, and the overall aesthetic look and proportion are some of the specifications that make our 14” Lyrata Standard different.

In an effort to demonstrate this difference we surveyed 100 random 14” Lyrata Standards. Measurements were made for trunk caliper, clear trunk and number of active growing tips. That data has been summarized below. First, though, a word on what those terms mean.

Trunk Caliper:

Trunk Caliper was measured six inches below our first cut point on the trunk. This spot is about 16” above the top of the soil. The caliper tool used can be seen in the photo below.

Clear Trunk:

The clear trunk was measured from the soil to the first branch as you move up the trunk. The first branch is usually a few inches below the first cut point and this varies depending on how the plant breaks after the first cut is made. The first cut point is critical in helping to achieve the right proportions between clear trunk and head size for our desired finishing height of 5 to 6 feet. The Lyrata has a tendency to branch with most branches angled at about 45 degrees upward. Picture an inverted cone with the apex sitting on top of the clear trunk. Due to its growth habit, a 6 foot Lyrata with too large of a clear trunk will put the majority of the new growing tips above the viewers eye and expose the thinner, older sections of the plant to eye level.

Also, by removing some leaves around the first branch points, a couple of inches after the first branch point can be counted as part of the clear trunk. This has the aesthetic benefit of barely exposing the initial branching which helps to show off the underlying shape of the plant and adds to its appeal. In an effort to keep the measurements objective, though, the clear trunk was measured as described above. In the photo below you can see how the first few inches after the branch can be exposed for clear trunk. For the measurements, this plant would have been recorded as having a 19.25" clear trunk.

Quantity of Growing Points:

This is a measure of the fullness, or number of branches that our plants have. The number of actively growing points can be traced back to the number of times that the plant was trimmed in order to increase fullness. All actively growing tips were counted towards the total.

The Results:

The results above describe a Farm Life 14" Lyrata Standard with respect to trunk caliper, clear trunk and branching. Trunk Caliper ranged from .75" to just over 1" with an average of .89", with over half of the plants measured having a caliper over .87". This size trunk is the result of growing these plants in a shaded, but high light environment during the development stage of production, as well as, a few special techniques that we employ to increase trunk caliper.

Clear trunk height ranged from 18.5" to 25.5" with an average clear trunk height of 21.43", with over half of the plants having a clear trunk height greater than 21". Again, this is the distance from the soil to the first branch on the trunk, and the clear space below the canopy can usually be increased a couple of inches by removing some lower leaves.

The number of growing points ranged from 3 to 15 tips with an average of 9.59 points. 70% of the plants have over 8 actively growing tips and 95% have over 5. Lyratas can be unpredictable in the number of new branches that they form after trimming, so the number of trims and an attentive eye are important to achieving this result. Plants with as few as 5-6 growing points can be very attractive while plants with 8 or more are spectacular.

One final word about the production process. This is a long term production, which means that it takes, on average, 380 days to grow this plant from start to finish. At Farm Life this process is broken down into 3 stages. The bulk of the growing and shaping is done in the first 2 stages. This leaves the final finishing stage to be the shortest possible needed to complete the canopy under the proper shade percentage for interior light conditions. The finishing stage can take anywhere from 60 to 90 days depending on the time of year and this is the only time frame that the plant is in its final pot. This process ensures that when our customers receive a 14" Lyrata Standard from Farm Life it is, not only beautiful and well shaped, but also arrives with "fresh" soil ready to go the distance in it's final home.

Thanks for reading and, to our customers, thank you for using Farm Life Lyrata Standards!
-The Farm Life Tropical Foliage Staff

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