Warning: even though this is the middle of November, I want you to know I practiced the abuse you are about to witness a month ago, before my Louisiana trip.
And, I must reiterate, I am in Florida, don’t do this in Minnesota.
Here’s the poor victim.
Ficus microcarpa née retusa, in the vulgar tongue, tiger bark ficus.
Are you ready?
It’s not gonna be pretty, sorry.
Oh, did you notice the broken branch?
That’s what happens when you try to bend an unbendable branch.
I didn’t need it anyway, first amputation.
So far so good…..uh oh! There’s a giant root in the middle that needs excising.
Breakin’ out the saw!
That’s a big chunk of root.
I’m going to have to be a little more, ah..aggressive, as it were.
Regular tools ain’t gonna cut it here…..sorry, bad pun.
Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound.
I might as well fix the roots too.
This grouping needs to be bent over and simplified…..I really need to focus on it a bit….
And this one is too chunky on the end but, more importantly, it needs to be bent up and flattened out.
And zer roots ees done.
I know, I was just going to comb them out. It’ll be ok, promise….I can see the future! (Actually, since it’s been a month and it’s growing again, I can safely say that what I’m doing here is not going to kill it. Or didn’t kill it. Or won’t….time travel grammar and getting the tense correct is hard).
Since I chopped the bottom back so hard and traumatized about 2/3rds of my readership, I might as well go for 100%.
Are you ready for the top chop?
I think you are….you’ve been waiting the whole post.
Why am I chopping it?
Easy, there isn’t any taper (or very little) in the trunk.
And with such beautiful roots, why shouldn’t the top follow?
And I know that I’ll get new buds all over the tree.
Here’s an example from earlier in the year on another tiger bark.
I chopped it just above my ring finger and it’s grown about 40 new shoots; so many that I’ll need to thin it out or I’ll get a big ugly knob of a trunk.
So…as you can guess…it’s the saw again.
It looks like a voodoo talisman or some weird harvest doll.
Freaky…I need to put it into a pot before it gets up and starts dancing.
Looks like it fits.
First, with a mostly rootless tree like this, fill up the pot with soil.
Then you, gently but firmly, push the trunk into the soil, rocking and twisting it down to the level you want it.
This ensures you don’t have any gaping air pockets.
I made sure to tie it down into the pot….I don’t want any nighttime visitors seeking revenge….
I’m fertilizing heavily.
And that’s it.
This is the “front”, as far as it even having one yet.
What I did here was a step in improving a piece of material that had good potential (but not necessarily style-able yet) and setting it on its path to being a good tree.
Most professional bonsai people would have tried to make it pretty in one step, to make it easier to sell more quickly, but I’m more interested in the art and the growing and the teaching more than I am in the selling.
Now, I think I need to tie the pot down to the bench too, that’s a creepy looking thing.
Is anyone in Minnesota looking to buy a tree?