Here we have before us, my friends, a shohin, banyan style, green island ficus

It’s finally growing again (after an odd winter and spring) and now it’s time for some spring maintenance.
Here’s a better view

I got the tree from Mike Rogers. It was one of those experiments we bonsai growers do; he had cut the top off of a branch and stuck it in some dirt. The experiment was this: the top was only 2 inches long but about 4 inches wide; would it root?
It worked (obviously). I asked him how much and he quoted an ungodly amount (for a chunk of wood in a one gallon pot) and I said yes.
This was about 3-4 years ago.
A year and a half ago the Central Florida Bonsai Club had a photoshoot and I brought the tree in.
This was it then

The photo is by Paul Pikel.
Wow, ain’t it nice to have a professional pic once in a while?
When Mike saw it again he asked me how much he had charged me. I told him and he said he should have charged me double.
I agreed.
I’ve decided to change the pot and use a better quality one.
And it needs some wire I believe. Lots of wire.


A ficus will shed its leaves when it begins to grow again in the spring.
I’ll defoliate it and help that process along (and make it easier to wire as well)

It’s been pointed out that one should never defoliate a tree unless the tree is healthy. This tree is healthy. I’m doing it to increase ramification and to get smaller leaves. I am leaving the terminal buds intact though, I want some more length on these branches, but I’ll probably defoliate and trim again in June and then I’ll cut the branches back.
Here we are

Pretty good shot of the structure.
Lets look at the roots

Not too bad. It needs repotting for sure though.

The pot I’m using is actually wider but more delicate, so visually, it won’t make as much of an impact on the illusion of “bigness” we’re after even though it is bigger. It’s also darker in color, which causes it to recede a bit in the eye.

It’s a handmade pot by my friend Rob Addonizio of Taiko Earth. (
It’s from 2009

One of his early chops.

So, if you’re a faithful reader, you know the drill: comb out roots, repot, wire every branch, bend branches, take some Glamour Shots, and viola.
If this is your first look at my blog, you know the order at least.
I was running out of daylight so I didn’t get too many in between pics but….here it is:
Repotted, wired, but no branch placement yet.

Here, for those who are dying to see, is a close up of the pot

Isn’t that beautiful? The texture and color are sublime. I love this pot. I might just marry it.
And I think the shape and size complement the tree well.
You might not think it does but, you see, it’s my tree.
And now the finished shots
Birds eye view:

Rear view:

The two side views:


And the pics are, your right, then my left. Or if you prefer, my right and your left. Or, the trees left and the trees right.
Confused? Good.
And now….defoliated, trimmed, repotted, wired and adjusted….
The After!

What’s the lesson in this tree? (aside from the few horticultural ones)
If you see a good tree that has potential, and you want it, buy it. They may not sell it tomorrow. I would have paid double for it.

17 thoughts

  1. Awesome. I really love the look of the green islands, but I’ve heard that the leaves don’t reduce as well as nerifolia or macrocarpa. I saw a few at Jason Schley’s nursery last year but opted for a nerifolia instead.


      1. Oh I see where this is going.. actually I don’t really.
        I just posted this weekends work on that juni I was talking about if you want to check it out.


  2. Wow, you guys have awesome ficus material down in Florida (not that you can’t get good material elsewhere). If you ever decide to sell any of your trees, I would be the first in line! Awesome blog – I’ve learned a lot from your close-up wiring photos.


    1. Thanks Tom. We do have the climate for ficus growing.
      The main impetus for my blog (besides, as my detractors say, self gratification) is education.
      Thanks again for reading


  3. Thanks for the overhead shot. When positioning wire, do you start at a random position and just keep moving and spinning, or do you start at a specific angle and work out from there going back just to check for holes? Sorry, beer and binge read again…


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