Earlier this year during, I’ll admit, a period of time where lucidity had been suppressed chemically, I defoliated and unwired this ficus.
I can’t tell you exactly when because my sense of time was altered, as I said, with the application of free-flowing opiates I received, first, whilst hospitalized, and then during the subsequent recovery.
I know that I didn’t repot it (or I hope I didn’t, ‘cuz I’m a gunna do it in a minute). The leaves have gotten pretty big since the initial defoliation, which seems contrary to the teaching, but I think I may have fertilized it…..maybe. P’raps I should start writing things down, I am getting old and I kinda have this good chance of developing lesions on the brain in the near future due to B vitamin deficiency.
This is an ungrafted ficus microcarpa, most likely grown from seed, that started life as one of those evil, much despised and maligned, and, so-called, ginseng ficus.
You can see the bulbous nature underneath those aerial roots. I last wrote about this tree in this award winning and controversial, even troublemaking, post here.
I know that these ficus seedlings are ubiquitous and often sold as bonsai but, as a definition, it’s not bonsai unless it looks like a tree. I know, I know, it’s all art, yadda yadda yadda….but a landscape painting tends to have the land and the sky, maybe trees or such. A rock n roll song tends to have a backbeat. A figure drawing tends to have a human (often nude, heehee) in it. So when we say a bonsai, it is more than a plant in a pot: it’s a stylized representation of a tree. And these seedlings tend not to have many of those characteristics of a tree that we are looking for.
It doesn’t mean that they can’t. It just takes a few years of growing. If you do want to buy one and develop it, try to get one with a nice trunk and a good transition into the soil.
One way to develop it into the tree-ish look is to plant it deeper, the way it’s supposed to be as a wild tree.
Whatever you do, don’t plant it like this.
Often you’ll see a different variety ficus microcarpa leaf grafted on top.
Grafting is a valid bonsai technique, but not in this way on a ficus. Now, on a pine they’ll graft Japanese while pine (pinus parviflora) onto Japanese black pine (pinus thunbergiana) root stock because the roots on the Jbp are stronger and convey that toughness to the jwp. On the ficus, the f. microcarpa grows faster and has a whiter, smoother bark than most other leaf varieties they use for grafting, therefore, a trunk/root graft just doesn’t look right. So, just chop off the grafted branches on top, and grow the original foliage, the tree will be more even looking. If you like the grafted leaves better (and you should have rooted that chopped part), you do the graft after all the primary branching is mature, then you graft onto those mature branches, not onto the trunk. That’s how many of those spectacular Taiwanese ficus are created. Some are totally a result of the easy willingness of ficus to graft: the trunks are made up of two or three smaller trees, the mature branches are grafts, the nebari is all grafted, and then the secondary branching (with the most desirable leaf) is grafted. I’ve seen pics with nails and tacks and grafting tape and plastic baggies all over a tree: looked like Madonna getting ready for a photo shoot.
Here is one tree I’m growing out, I think this is a year from first planting it. Jealous? Move to Florida. The base is filling in sweetly, I’ll probably give it a few more years like that though. The secret was letting the roots grow out of the drain hole and into the ground.
And here’s one a friend gave me.
Anyway, after all that, let’s get back to the main tree.
Almost like a cocoon. It is a nasty bug called the Cuban laurel thrip. Cuban laurel being a common name for f. microcarpa. A thrip is an insidious creature that is tough to get rid of. I use a granular, systemic insecticide myself but you can use a spray; either an insecticide or an oil spray. Here’s the bug:
Thats the adult stage. There’s the egg stage, 2 larval stages, 2 pupal stages, and adult. They are fairly resistant to treatment in the pupal stages, as are most insects, so if you are spraying you need to have a regimine and stick to it. That’s why I use a systemic in granular form (meaning that the plant takes it up in its vascular system and, when the bug eats it, it gets a dose of the insecticide) I prefer granular because a spray can kill bugs you don’t want killed. Like bees or ladybugs.
While you’re looking up insecticides, I’ll defoliate again.
I’ll either use the brown rectangle for the new pot or, O_o…..I’m excited, the marble slab I carved in this post. Rake and trim roots.
I’m going with the slab because……slab. And I made it myself and it’s what they call an opportunity for a back link.
I definitely need some tie downs. Good thing I made holes for that. I must be a genius.
How’s it look so far? Hmmmmmnnnnn? I thinking I don’t need that one branch and I need to wire that other one. And then one more thing. Well, two more things. I need a caramel to fortify the spirit. Bullseye!
Well, as they say, third time pays for all. Notice that the first wire scar is almost gone, the second was wired across the first, and so the third wire should be in a different space than the first and second. Let me also point out those pleasingly dirty hands. My wife loves it when those filthy, calloused hands run down her naked buttocks. Like it or not baby, I’m baaaaack! (Much to the dismay of a few, I’m sure)
I need about one or two years on it, at least, but it’s making me happy right now.