Look at them.
They’re tempting, aren’t they?
This is the tree that seems to be supplanting the juniper as the official “mallsai”
We call it the “ginseng” ficus, although
it really has nothing to do with ginseng. I believe it’s just a seedling ficus microcarpa that has been treated, horticulturally, to look as it does.
So how did I get there?
First, watch this music video I made so there’s a sound track running through your head.
Got it? Good.
My discovery was somewhat accidental, actually.
I picked up two of these ficus at The Walmart about 3-4 years ago. I got them for $1 apiece (believe it, or not) on the clearance shelf.
They were in 4 inch pots. One I put into a shallow red clay pot and put it up high.
Here it is today:
Back at the big box store I pick out the best of the bunch.
Which is not this one
What criteria did I use in choosing which one I wanted?
The aerial roots. As they thicken they will fuse with the trunk and speed us on our way to trunk-ed-ness.
Let’s get back to the studio nursery and begin:
This ficus was given to me.
It’s grown out some (not in the ground so you don’t necessarily need that step)
Back to the big one.
Now, five years later, we will begin to develop this plant into a bonsai.
Since its had mostly unchecked growth (I do chop all my ficus back to a line in the summertime) for so long it has no branching that is usable. What do we do?
Say it with me loud! I want to hear from you up in the balcony and way back in the nosebleed section!
First though, we will chop the roots.
I have heard so many times I can’t count that its not “correct” to chop the top and the bottom of a tree at the same time.
This is true of many kinds of plants. But a ficus is not one of them. It actually stimulates growth. The mistake people in the temperate parts of the world make is they believe they should repot a ficus in the winter. This tree should not be repotted unless the nighttime temps are above 60 (allowing that you are growing it outdoors) and/or the tree is actively growing.
And how can this be? For he is the Kwisatz Haderach! Sorry. Channeling the Dune movie.
There’s been a lot of talk from the Japanese trained apprentices saying that the “strength” of a tree is in certain parts of a plant; i.e the growing tips of a juniper.
I think the strength of a ficus is in the trunk.
I’ve seen Jim Smith chop a ficus (that would sell as is for $500 in the rest of the nation) to the trunk (because the branching was all wrong) and saw off the bottom and think nothing of it.
Shit, I’ve done it.
I have yet to kill one.
Back to the roots
A little untangling
“Wait!” You say?
“The trunks in the drawing are way smaller than the actual trunks you left”
Do you remember, on the box store tree, that this plant is prone to die back?
I left some trunk in case that does happen
And in case you skipped the video I linked to earlier, here it is again (ginseng ficus shanty)
Enjoy, comment, share!
And most of all, don’t take this Art too seriously.
Laugh, smile, have fun.
You could be digging a ditch somewhere.