Bonsai Study Group Forum

General Category => Tropical Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: bonsaikc on June 20, 2009, 12:56 PM

Title: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: bonsaikc on June 20, 2009, 12:56 PM
Developing a ficus can be challenging in less-than-ideal conditions. In the midwest and parts north, some kind of warm, humid, bright location is important to keep these trees growing. A heated greenhouse is ideal, but by no means necessary. This is a tree that I have had for over ten years. As the first prebonsai tree I had ever bought, I thought it was a huge bargain. It was originally planted at the following angle (I do not have a photo of the tree from that time). I repotted it and just let it grow for some time. The new planting angle gave the tree some nice movement at the base.

In May of 2005 I put the tree in the 8 inch Korean glazed oval pot. It remained in that pot, almost unchanged, my lack of knowledge about growth habits or many other things allowing it to languish.
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: bonsaikc on June 20, 2009, 01:12 PM
In January of 2007, I photographed the tree from my cubicle at work. Its lack of development is easily seen. In the dry environment of home or work, the tree was static for several months each year.
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: bonsaikc on June 20, 2009, 01:44 PM
I was unsure how to go about changing this tree, which needed either a complete makeover or donation to the auction. During a trip to Hawaii, I made a discovery at Fuku bonsai that gave me an idea for a path for this tree. David Fukumoto had a number of tropicals with thick trunks, fantastic warped root masses, and some with aluminum foil down the trunks. I looked, and these were filled with coconut fiber or something like it.

I wanted to give this tree some character instead of the thin, S-curve trunk it had. So I in summer of 2007, I wrapped the trunk with wet sphagnum moss and aluminum foil. As autumn and cooler weather approached, I placed the tree in a south window on a humidity tray, and covered it with a clear dry cleaning bag. Instant greenhouse! It wasn't very pretty, but here are my results in July of 2008. The tree that hadn't changed in ten years had outgrown its pot and had to be repotted into a ten inch pot!
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: bonsaihunk on June 21, 2009, 09:52 AM
Nice progression series. Shows the great advantage of warmth, humidity and good care.
Are you fusing the aerial roots to the trunk with tape?
Jerry







Edited to remove "Signature";
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: bonsaikc on June 21, 2009, 06:26 PM
Nice progression series. Shows the great advantage of warmth, humidity and good care.
Are you fusing the aerial roots to the trunk with tape?
Jerry

Jerry,
I can't tell you how much it means to me to have you here. That is my plan, although I am rethinking it with time. I don't want the roots crossing each other so much and need to wire a couple of the aerial roots to make them less bowed and more natural looking.

Here are front and back after chopping the trunk...
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: clrosner on June 21, 2009, 07:20 PM
Bonsai KC: I don't know if this idea will help you, but I have taken plastic straws, slit them length wise, cut to fit the aerial root and place them in the soil. I let them grow into the soil... they can then be removed after a couple of months.  Pictures are always better than words....
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: bonsaikc on July 04, 2009, 11:58 AM
Here is a shot from July 3,32 days later. I just removed the wire which was cutting in, and trimmed and rewired new growth. The tree is progressing well with the heat and humidity we've been  having.
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: clrosner on July 06, 2009, 06:54 PM
Irene:

The straws are not color coded.  I just took them out of the multicolored box of straws.  No, I did not add anything into the straws. During the winter I do have about 60 percent or higher humidity, so my Ficus love the humidity and the aerial roots develop on their own.  I just sort of guide them into the soil, where I feel they will add to the overall design.

Here in Southern NJ, I have a room specifically set up for Bonsai.  My dear wife, calls it my "Tree House"!  I do have an Oscillating fan and a humidifier as well as two heaters.  I have about forty trees in there during the winter!

Warmest regards,
Carl
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: bonsaikc on July 07, 2009, 01:43 PM
Great information Carl! I've heard tell fo the straws idea before, and may try it soon in the future. I plan on repotting again this year and sorting out the roots better. I will post the results.

Chris
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: bonsaikc on July 23, 2009, 01:16 PM
After repotting this tree and wiring and arranging the roots, here is the result so far. I think that rotating the tree in the pot a bit might improve it even more, plus a more appropriate pot.

Any suggestions for pots for this tree? It can certainly go into a much shallower one.

Chris
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: bonsaihunk on July 23, 2009, 02:12 PM
Chris,
A few shallower too-brightly colored pots.
Jerry
PS can you sketch your future for this tree. What is the apex and what are branches?
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: JTGJr25 on July 23, 2009, 02:34 PM
This tree has definitely progressed into something worthwhile.  One thing though, that I cant stop being distracted by, is the thickness of the whole left side.  The whole thing just doest flow.  I am thinking that you could remove that whole side and grow a new trunk line off of the great base that you have worked hard to achieve.  I believe this will be a better route in the long run.

Tom
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: bonsaikc on July 29, 2009, 12:30 AM
I defoliated the tree today to wire, prune a bit, and get some good photos for design purposes. It's amazing what pics do for what you can see. For instance, I see the tail end of an anchor wire that I forgot to clip! More importantly, I can see that some of the branch directions I have set may seem to conflict a bit, but most of this will be removed after the branches increase their girth somewhat. I left some foliage at the top in order to thicken that leader and bring it more into proportion with the rest of the tree.

Benign neglect has produced something a bit different on this tree, a couple of competing sub-apices that I hope to incorporate into the design. Not being much of an artist with either paint or photoshop, I made a rudimentary diagram to show what I hope to achieve.
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: andy graham on July 29, 2009, 07:39 AM
Excellent !  I've been wondering where you were going with this one. You may struggle to hold the first branch on the left in check. It's already quite a bit larger than the trunk where they join. A little carving perhaps?

Andy
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: bonsaikc on July 29, 2009, 08:21 AM
Andy, your question is similar to to Tom's and I wanted to show the bare photos before replying. If you look at the early photos, that branch was actually the trunk. The base of it isn't going to swell so much more as those branches develop, and the plan is to grow the top as big as it needs to be in order to get that new trunk line in proportion with the lower trunk. That should also increase the size of the base while bypassing this branch. I say "should." If the branch becomes a problem in the future, I will rework that area.

Chris
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: bonsaihunk on July 29, 2009, 08:30 AM
Chris,
looks like a good plan.
Jerry
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: bonsaikc on July 29, 2009, 04:25 PM
Jerry, thanks! I am really having fun with this one.

chris
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: joe cervantes on October 05, 2009, 11:03 PM
Beautiful. More pics!!! :)
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: bonsaikc on July 29, 2011, 11:11 AM
New photo of the ficus! It's coming right along and moving into the refinement stage. I still have to reduce the top to smaller growth but should have at least one more opportunity to do that this summer.
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: coh on August 18, 2011, 02:11 PM
Nice progression and lots lots of helpful information. Thanks for sharing! I'm looking to add a ficus to my collection and will be referring back to this thread. Please keep us updated!

Chris
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: bonsaikc on October 12, 2011, 04:19 PM
So here's the tree at work with me. Boss said no but I thought I'd give him a chance to see it before he makes his "final" decision. See what I just did there?  ;)
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: coh on October 12, 2011, 04:56 PM
Hey, I'm curious - are you still doing the "plastic bag greenhouse" thing every winter? If not, have you implemented another method to increase humidity in the growing area?

Chris
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: bonsaikc on October 12, 2011, 07:44 PM
I plan to do it again this year. It never hurts to increase the humidity of a ficus, and trapping the heat in there helps tremendously. I don't know if the window at work will be insulated enough, I may have to take the tree back home.

Chris
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: jacksmom on October 17, 2011, 08:11 PM
Questions from a beginner who really liked what you did with your ficus!
When you wrapped the tree with the wet sphagnum moss, why did you cover the moss with aluminum foil?  Could you use a plastic wrap like an air layer?  Did you keep the moss wet with just water, or did you add anything?  Finally, would a little rooting hormone powder help get the process started if my golden gate ficus with the unnatural S curve does not have any roots visible to start with?

Loved the progression of photos and information.  Thanks for sharing.
Title: Re: Ficus Microcarpa progression
Post by: bonsaikc on October 26, 2011, 03:29 PM
Questions from a beginner who really liked what you did with your ficus!
When you wrapped the tree with the wet sphagnum moss, why did you cover the moss with aluminum foil?  Could you use a plastic wrap like an air layer?  Did you keep the moss wet with just water, or did you add anything?  Finally, would a little rooting hormone powder help get the process started if my golden gate ficus with the unnatural S curve does not have any roots visible to start with?

Loved the progression of photos and information.  Thanks for sharing.

You could use plastic instead of foil, either way the moisture will stay inside. I used foil because that's what I saw Fuku Bonsai using, and it's easy to handle and form and doesn't stick to itself like cling wrap. You should never need to use rooting hormone to get  a healthy ficus to sprout roots. I think this one is Golden Gate if I remember correctly. Just keep it humid and the roots will come.