I’ve been a little more mobile of late, after getting off The Machine. (Welcome my Friends! Welcome…to The Machine!) It’s the same machine I was allegorically referencing in the post A Painting a few articles ago, a negative pressure wound therapy contraption that helped in the healing of that foot long midline incision I was left with after my last surgery (of which I’m still offering signed photographic prints, hit me up, I’m having a half off sale!). 

Anyway, here are three ficus (Fici? Ficuses? Bah, who knows, there haven’t been any Romans around to ask for millennia). 

The first is my small, banyan style ficus microcarpa.   Sharp readers of the blog will notice the different background. I am doing so well that I was able to drop in on the Bonsai Society of Brevard’s monthly study group at Dr. Reggie Purdue’s house. 

Dave came along too…..  Although he looks a bit like Yule Brenner there. That’s Donny in the background performing the Herculean task of defoliating a massive ficus salicaria. Dave is working on a collected buttonwood from Puerto Rico while I was busy defoliating and un-wiring my tree.  

 This is only about a third of the wire on it. In fact, there was so much wire on the tree that it was generating a magnetic field under the right atmospheric conditions. It made it handy when I dropped my shears in the tall grass, I just waved the tree around it and they stuck to the trunk. Sometimes I even picked up a radio signal from Tokyo. Anyway, I chose not to repot this year and no reapplication of wire (yet!). The ramification is really beginning to develop.  There are a few branches that need a few spins of wire but I’m letting it grow; wiring sometimes slows growth because the bending could damage and restrict the sap flow. All I did was remove the top layer of soil, added fertilizer and put a new soil layer over that. 

Back at home in The Nook, I tackle my own, smaller, ficus salicaria.  

  I don’t believe I’ve touched it since November of last year (at the Brevard club’s zoo show.  Click here for the post). 

You know the drill: defoliate, unwire, prune:

 I think I’ll change the pot this time too. If you haven’t been active in the Facebook bonsai scene, there are several auction pages and groups that one can find good deals (on one of a kind trees or pots, and other bonsai related sundries) that have come into being. I won this pot from one of those auctions.  

   It was made by an Indiana potter named Mike Thiedeman and I recommend you keep an eye out for his work. He’s beginning to make a name for himself. His work is outstanding. 
Here’s a tip for you, involving the securing of those pesky drainage hole screens. My method (the only one you really need learn, IMNSHO). 

Make two loops, going in opposite directions and make sure the wire loops over the top.   

The end of the loops should be spaced about the size of the drainage hole.   


Next, push firmly on the top of the doodad.   

And then bend the ends going through the hole, flush with the bottom of the pot.   

If you have the hand eye coordination that video game play had bestowed upon me, or you’re just naturally mechanically inclined, this should secure the mesh tightly and keep it from moving. As evidenced by my straining fingers in the next pic.     That’s not a faked pose, I am really trying to move the screen. It’s pretty darn secure, I’ll tell you what. 

Some soil…   

Some wire….  

I didn’t need to wire every branch this time, the tree is definitely developing well.   

It really has great taper and superior movement. I got it from my good friend Rick, who grew the trunk and the first few branches. He makes some good trees.  

Next up is one of the trees that put me, briefly, in the hospital, way back in April: a tiger bark ficus I got from my friend Seth during a marathon styling session.     You can read about it Here, along with my exploits before and after the hospital stay. 

This is how we saw it last: 

 And again, defoliate it (I didn’t wire it at the time, I was really under the weather, I left some surprises in the guest bathroom that day, sorry Seth) and prune.  

 It’s moved fast this year. And in that super shallow, oh so sexy pot too. 

Now, it’s therapy time (or you could say it’s time for my fix, almost the same thing, endorphin wise)…..wire and shaping! 

Oh yeah!  Damn that’s a sweet tree. Thank you Seth Nelson my man! 

Everything gets fertilizer and a fresh application of a pre-emergent weed treatment and then back to the benches and the nourishing Florida sunshine and rain. 

 I truly enjoy summertime and the ficus work it entails. You can push them like no other tree. But don’t neglect them either, they grow so fast you can severely damage a branch if you let the wire cut in too much. I think the next few posts will be ficus themed with at least one BRT thrown in. 

And I’m working on that soup recipe for you too. Or maybe I’ll try some babyback ribs on my gas grill and reveal my super-secret method for getting them to be so tender they fall off the bone without having to smoke them for four hours…..maybe. We shall see my friends. Ttfn! 

13 thoughts

  1. Great work as always. I’m inspired to work on a banyan that needs a styling restart, a tiger-bark that needs a new pot, a schefflera that needs its first pot, a green island that needs to get out of a pot, and so much more to do before Summer moves along too much further.


  2. Hello,
    I am new to your blog, i like reading it very much. A question… Why defoliate the whole tree, like the tiger bark ficus? I think,it is very pretty the way it looked before. Remember i am learning here


    1. Defoliating a tree serves a couple of purposes. First, it’s easier to see the branch structure. Second, by cutting off the leaves, you are spurring the tree to grow secondary and tertiary branches, further increasing ramification.


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