What to do with the bush; trimming and disease control

Six trees. I’ll be brief (tough for me in text form I know, but if you meet me in person I am actually very quiet and of few words). I’ll try to be informative at the same time. I also need to warn you; there are no pretty “after” shots either. I apologize to my Instagram buddies as there’ll be no photogenically acceptable posts forthcoming. Not to mention the light was terrible for this photoset. Sorry. Let’s start with….. 20130928-154404.jpg A very bushy ficus salicaria. I would say it’s filled in well. 20130928-154807.jpg The pic above was from this post which was published on August 16 2013. This bushiness is very typical behavior for a willow leaf ficus. It can be daunting. 20130929-141223.jpg This pic below shows an area I had to shave: 20130929-141559.jpg In that little band (about 1/4 inch thick and a little more than an inch wide) there were more than 30 shoots. Inconceivable. Can you imagine if the Japanese had this species a hundred years ago? In a way I’m kinda glad that we have it now because it’s up to us to figure it out. And we growers and artists in Florida are at the forefront. One of those artists is Ed Trout. He is touring the country this year giving demos and leading workshops. If he is close by your town, and you get the chance, go see him. I highly recommend it. This is one of his trees: 20130930-091707.jpg And here is the man himself: 20130930-091822.jpg Always a smile, a joke and a kind word. He is one of the true gentleman of bonsai (unlike me, I’m gruff and taciturn at best) He will be at Wigert’s Bonsai’s open house this year (November 2-3 www.wigertsbonsai.com) And I am excited to say, one of the headliners for the 2014 Bonsai Societies of Florida annual convention, alongside Peter Warren and Enrique Castano. More on that as we get closer but mark the calendar; May 23-26 2014. So here’s the tree with all of the unnecessary growth pruned away (like a bikini wax almost). 20130930-102639.jpg Then a topiary trim except for this apex branch- 20130930-102947.jpg And these back buds- 20130930-103115.jpg The new branches are too young to wire, so that’s it. 20130930-103248.jpg There’s a definite improvement but it’s not pretty. This is the theme of the post. Next tree is the ficus triangular from this post 20130930-103601.jpg The progress on this tree is the improved health, the wire has set the main branches (which I removed about a month ago) and the shorter internodes. When last you saw it it looked like so- 20130930-143828.jpg You may think I’ve let it go, but no, I’m letting it grow……get it, go….grow…? Waka waka!! Seriously though, I’m not sure how winter will treat this tree here in Orlando so I’m being a bit cautious with it. An abundance of leaf surface area will make for better transpiration (the process that ultimately leads to water usage, which is something I’m concerned about in this shallow pot. Shallow pots don’t drain as well as deep pots. Don’t believe me? Look up “perched water table” in containers). And more leave surface area means better photosynthesis, how a plant makes food (and you thought you were “feeding” it with fertilizer. Nope. Think of fertilizer loosely like vitamins). Lookie here! 20130930-145006.jpg Them’s look like fruit. They ain’t …um, they’re not. Those are ficus flower bodies. The unmentionable bits are inside this little hole on the end: 20130930-145315.jpg And it takes a specialized wasp with a long, thin, thingy to pollinate it. I don’t think those wasps live in Orlando. They might though, every thing else is an import. Even Walt Disney was from Chicago. The next tree, or trees, are Chinese elms from this post. 20130930-150831.jpg 20130930-150917.jpg I do believe these trees have stopped growing mostly. 20130930-151159.jpg A quick trim- 20130930-151328.jpg Yes, I think it’s time to sacrifice the, uh, sacrifice branch. And after a quick trim- 20130930-151548.jpg Now for a (partial) failure report. The juniper from this post. How we left it: 20130930-152314.jpg How it is today: 20130930-152506.jpg Two dead branches. The top is growing well though. When I wrote the original post I had warned that the bark and cambium were “slippery” in the summer in Florida. And that wiring and moving branches was sometimes risky. I proved my point I guess. I didn’t kill the whole branch back to the trunk; these two secondary branches are the dead ones- 20130930-153042.jpg 20130930-153154.jpg But this third one is healthy and growing: 20130930-153259.jpg You could say it’s the main branch even. The rest of the tree is pushing growth too- 20130930-153522.jpg The only thing to do is….snip! 20130930-153653.jpg On to the last tree! This is the ilex from Walmart (this post) What has gone before… 20130930-155145.jpg And now- 20130930-155244.jpg Whoa! Don’t you ever trim that bush. It’s like a 1970’s…….never mind, I won’t go there. Let’s talk fungus on ilex vomitoria. One of the biggest contributors to black spot fungus on ilex is reduced air flow. 20131001-095327.jpg The canopy on this little tree is just too dense (like me, sometimes). The ilex will almost self-prune itself when the canopy is this thick, which the brown tipped leaves represent. The leaves with the black spots on them are, duh, black spot disease. I use this product 20131001-131940.jpg normally, with this active ingredient- 20131001-132055.jpg But I couldn’t find it so I got this one- 20131001-132234.jpg Which has the same active fungicide: 20131001-132440.jpg Just not as high a percentage. First, trimming (it’s not very healthy to touch a recently sprayed plant. And it makes your tacos taste funny) and then spraying. Half trimmed: 20131001-134017.jpg And all the way trimmed. Side view: 20131001-134257.jpg And the front: 20131001-134450.jpg I tipped all the branches except the apex (again) 20131001-135331.jpg And that’s all. A totally un-glamorous post on maintenance that no one hardly ever shows in these progression pieces. I hope it was informative. And the last bit of advice: Keep those bushes trimmed, ya hear?

About adamaskwhy

Visual artist specializing in bonsai, mostly.
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3 Responses to What to do with the bush; trimming and disease control

  1. Tom H says:

    Thanks for this post. I think it’s important to show the in between stages of development. One of the most difficult things I learned when new to bonsai was that my trees would NOT look like “bonsai” most of the time while on the bench. Waiting in the hardest part.

  2. Good post! Coincidentally, I have a ficus salicaria that I let get a little too out of control this summer. I didn’t want to cut the top though, thinking it would help speed up the development of the root system that I have been working on. I’ll probably make a post about it in the next couple of days.

  3. DJ says:

    These are exactly the type of posts that I need. Thanks, man.

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