Have bonsai, will travel….

Two willow leaf ficus.
Two failures.
Well, not really, one failure and regrow, one just a slow grower, to be fair.
I previewed the two trees in the last post. Here they are again
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It’s a special posting this time, I’m on the road today working on these trees
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My wife is at volleyball practice for the March of Dimes Mudd Volleyball Tournament
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It has 2 d’s because its extra dirty.
She is on one of the McCoy Federal Credit Union teams.
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She’s the pretty one in pink.
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They’re practicing very hard in the sun, in hopes of maybe winning this year
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and it’s very hot and humid today.
Which is why I’m in the shade…,
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But seriously, the event is August 24th in Orlando on Lee Vista Rd. near the airport. It’s a fun filled event.
Click on this link (click) for details and a chance to donate.
The event begins at 8 am and will last all day. They will be selling food and drinks and you’ll get to meet all types of local celebrities and watch some very competitive mud volleyballing. And if you go, be sure to cheer on my wife’s team.
And did I mention the mud?
It’ll be the dirtiest charity event you’ve ever seen.
If you can’t make it, click on that link; even $10 helps.
Now, back to the task at hand:
Have bonsai, will travel.
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Let me talk about this tree first
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Ficus salicaria.
You saw it in this post (here) and I left it like this
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There was an apex
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For some reason, it died.
Here we are today
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The apex was here
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It’s possible that I broke the branch when I wired it but I’m not really sure.
Sometimes they do things and we don’t know why.
Anyone who claims they know it all or tries to answer every question with a pseudo-answer (here’s a good one, usually indicative of ignorance: “you probably under watered it or overwatered it”) should be believed with a grain of salt.
What’s the plan with tree now?
You remember my sketch, right?
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Can I still accomplish anything like that?
Maybe….. I could wire and bend and twist
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But I won’t this year.
I’ll leave it until the spring. It can wait and so can I because, ultimately, bonsai means patience.
And I do have a second tree to work on today.
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How do I consider this tree a failure?
Examine the previous post on it (here)
This is how I left it
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You’re saying
“It’s grown in all swell and groovy Mr Adam”
Exhibit A:
Here’s the side view,previous
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And now a today
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It’s bushy…on top, but the lower back branches I really needed didn’t grow.
They’re there but they’re not much more than buds.
The two things I did wrong:
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I had it on a bench with too many trees and they were too close to one another. So the bottoms were shaded. No light, no growth
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And I should have been cutting back the top more. Trimming the top pushes the bottom growth (if you leave the terminal tips intact).
I was expanding the nursery at the time when I should have been attending to the development of this tree so I do have an excuse. But we’re not about excuses here, only results.
Ah well, c’est la vie.
The good thing is, this tree won’t be hurt too much. I’ve only wasted time. It’s a ficus after all. They only know how to grow.
First, I’ll prune out some unneeded new shoots (the ups and downs and the inside-curves and multiple-sproutings-from-one-points)
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Most of the new growth was towards the top of the tree.
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To further develop the low branches
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I’ll defoliate and tip-trim every branch except those ones.
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If you were paying attention (odd phrase that one. With what enumerated currency does one pay to “attention”) you’ll have noticed the wire has been removed.
The maintenance I performed on this so far this year was to remove that wire, probably in June, and I topiary trimmed it at that time. And a second topiary trim in July.
I fertilized in spring and again last month.
I’m still tempted to cut the top off (see the original post)
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But I won’t.
I do know that it needs repotting.
One sign is aerial root formation
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And another is this
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Looks like someone didn’t wash the lava out very well.
Ok, now where’s my chopstick…….. gosh darn it, I guess I forgot to pack them.
Well, any sharp stick will do in a pinch
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The roots grew well despite my lava washing ineptitude.
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If I recall, I cut back the roots pretty hard on this tree last year so, therefore, I’m satisfied with the development.
I think I’ll raise the tree a little to show off those surface roots.
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And from now on I think I’ll be using the word “nestle” when filling up the spaces between the roots with a chopstick. It has a positive connotation that “jamming a chopstick repeatedly into the crevasses” just somehow lacks.
Nestle, nestle, nestle.
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Looks good.
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By raising it, I’ve obviously made the tree taller, plus it’s grown as well, so I need to shorten it a bit. I’ll do this with wire.
But, we start on the bottom and work our way up, right? (Unless you’re the bosses son)
branch on the right:
Before
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After
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Onward and upwards
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To shorten the top, we put some bends in it.
Before
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I bent it to the right, then to the left.
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And then, every branch
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Side and back views will show you the itty bitty branches I am trying to make into big, strong branches.
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Kinda looks like someone chasing after a chicken, right?
Back
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So now I have this tree positioned in my yard so that the back of the tree is facing the sun.
I’ll trim the top more and hopefully the back branches will catch up. They should.
How’s this for a parting shot?
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Epic, ain’t it?
See ya’!

About adamaskwhy

Visual artist specializing in bonsai, mostly.
This entry was posted in branch placement, maintenance, progression and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Have bonsai, will travel….

  1. cmarch9976 says:

    Looks good Adam. One of the tricks that works for me is that the ficus S. likes large shallow pots rather than the traditional deeper ones. Do an experiment where you take one of them and put them in a shallow tray where the roots can grow sideways near the surface and watch the difference in growth and development
    Charlie

    • adamaskwhy says:

      I hear you Charles, normally I would have it in a more shallow pot but I like this one (at the moment, we are fickle bonsai people) for this tree.
      But you are right. Most ficus react this way

      • BK Doerge says:

        Hey Adam , I live in the Houston area and had THE MOST GORGEOUS JAP MAPLE BONSAI you have ever seen . It was an Acer palmatum dissectum. If you wish , go to my LinkedIn page and contact me . I’ve been a horticulturist for over 25 years on the gulf coast region and can tell you the secrets of growing jap maples in our climate . NOW LET ME BE HONEST!!!!!! I did not grow the bonsai, I bought it from our bonsai society . But I can give you all the tricks of the trade as for as growing J M in your climate if you wish.
        BONSAI !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BK DOERGE

      • adamaskwhy says:

        I’ll look you up on LinkedIn

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