Well, it seems like I should have updated this tree in the summer (from the post green island ficus cascade bonsai) but the poor tree has had a setback.
Read on and you’ll learn what.
Here is how we left the poor thing:
And here it is today:
Now, you see, uh…what had happened was…..termites.
Not in the tree.
But in the wood of the bench the tree was sitting on.
Which caused a small crash.
I live in Florida and, being a semi tropical, rain-every-day-in-the-summer kind of place, any kind of wood just doesn’t last.
Mold, sun, algae, bugs, water, children, animals….you name it, are all the enemies of wood.
The bench just fell over one day.
The bench only lasted about a year.
Not long at all, really.
The mistake I made was building it out of untreated wood.
A word of advice:
If you are making anything that is for the outdoors in Florida, use treated wood.
Or treat it yourself.
You know what?
Just build your benches the way my friend Paul does (OrlandoBonsaiTV-building bonsai benches) you’ll be much better off.
What kind of damage did my cascade bonsai suffer when it fell?
The pic above is the apex.
Below is the left branch.
There wasn’t much ramification:
But there were some new branches that grew which are extremely helpful:
And considering there wasn’t much growth, of course the wire didn’t cut in,
but, the sun did bleach the bark around the wire-
Either that or the anodized color leached onto it.
On the apex the wire did cut in a little:
Considering that and the broken limb….
Some more pruning-
Another crack-
Prune it for movement.
This is the cracked branch I had showed earlier but now, without wire we see how bad break is:
That break will never heal. But I need a branch there.
If I cut it short, chances are I’ll get it to bud back either on the branch or at the base of the branch-
To finish, I’ll rewire and fertilize it.
I really think the broken apex was a little bit of serendipitous good fortune.
This was the tree at the end of the original post
And today:
I made a little progress, but not much.
I have since rebuilt the bench with pressure treated lumber so I’m hoping for no more calamities. Maybe next summer we’ll see this tree in a bonsai pot.

4 thoughts

  1. Love reading your blog and wish more bonsai artists would replace pretentiousness with irreverence.

    A question: Can you explain why you defoliated and fertilized this ficus in December? I’m in Southern California and understand warmer seasons, but it strikes me as either too late, early, or both.



    1. Thanks for reading Max.
      To answer your question first, it is my practice to keep ficus and tropicals growing in the winter.
      My reasoning is that the cooler weather doesn’t allow for evaporative drying of the soil and it’s easy to have waterlogged conditions and root problems. But if the tree is actively growing it is still using water. Problem solved. I’ll still have many days this winter where the temp is above 70 Fahrenheit (today it was 82) and il just have to protect them when the temp nears freezing (I’m not one to bother with them until then).
      Now, about my irreverence, I try to cultivate it. The funny thing is, I was having a conversation with some older bonsai people just yesterday and they were remarking that a lot of today’s bonsai teachers are a bit too formal and serious and that John Naka was terribly irreverent. He couldn’t be serious about anything.
      The thing we should remember, above all else, they are just little trees.
      No matter the artistry, if you keep them alive, you are at least mostly as good as the oldest Japanese master. Because that’s most of the struggle.
      The thing that’s the worst about my irreverence, it’s cost me some in my demonstration invitations because it’s those formal, stuffy bonsai people holding the purse strings at the moment.
      But I think I’m winning over a few people, at least.
      Thanks again for reading Max


      1. It is very interesting that it’s so difficult to get accurate information on bonsai in 70 degree winters, even from experienced club members. I was advised to allow a dormancy for everything (or quiescence in tropicals if you’re in to that sort of thing).

        The Google Machine tells me that you are totally right and that I can push most non-temperate trees through my local winter. Yay.

        Another question: How do you water your trees? I imagine you have a ton of plants. Do you use a drip or sprinkler system? or do you wander around endlessly with the hose checking on each tree and pretending to not hear your family calling you back inside?


      2. I hand water all my trees. It is the only way to ensure that those that need it or not are taken care of.
        And I don’t hear my wife calling me, do you? Naaaah….


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