Uh oh, I’m doing it again. Look what I’ve done gone and found:
Before we begin, click here for the soundtrack. No, really, you’ll be amused. I need to make more YouTube videos, you can actually make money on those.
Anyway, we have a not-so-average “ginseng ficus” from one of the big box stores, I’m sure you can figure out which one by the color. This one doesn’t have that obnoxious root system most examples have.
And here’s some original foliage. It looks identical to me. We shall see in a few months, after it’s grown out some. I may have to do grafting of my own if not, because I’m using the grafted foliage this time. Usually I remove it because trunk development goes better with the rootstocks original foliage. I’d put the tree in the ground or a big pot and let it mature for a few years. But this trunk is just about the way I want it. I don’t even want aerial roots.
Seems to go right through. Busted! Damn, that’s one I would use all the time.
but three pots here. And the last one isn’t really a pot.
Hey, lookie here, a care card. Let’s read it and have a laugh.
What does the other side say? There’s one of those QR code thingies. I don’t understand the point of those. Let’s put some vital info about the tree you might need to keep it alive and require you to have an electronical device to decode it. It’s probably just an advert anyway- buy more crappy ficus from us!Let’s see: Water well, but let dry? Not with a ficus. It should read: Keep uniformly moist.
Fertilize when growing…..makes sense there.
Don’t set on fire….good advice. Keep between 50 and 85f, those temps are outdoor temps because no one keeps their house below 50f or above 85f. Except my wife’s grandmother. Useless info.
Getting back to the pot situation, the decorative one doesn’t have a drainage hole.
Ok, yeah, I paid $19.98 for it. I know, I know, I could get this wholesale from China for about .50¢ (if I buy a thousand or so) or I could get them from an importer for about $5 each (minimum order of $500) or from a wholesale bonsai nursery for about $12 ($250 minimum), but then I’d have a whole bunch of ugly “ginseng” ficus I didn’t get to choose.
In a container, even if it’s not a bonsai container, the soil needs to be a more coarse with more air pockets. Soil this fine doesn’t allow for proper oxygen exchange to the roots. No wonder these “bonsai” die so much. Add that to a pot with no holes. Poor trees. Let’s wash off that nasty dirt.
Damn that’s one big root. It’s like the John Holmes of ficus. I’m almost uncomfortable touching it. Ok, sorry for that image. Here’s a worse one, especially if you’re a male reader. Time for some “root” pruning.
Don’t worry about the lack of fine roots. At this point in its life, a ficus is more of a caudiciform, instead of a tree-iss-a-form. It can survive with little to no soil. Often they are even epiphytic, germinating in trees (the seeds having passed through the digestive tract of various animals) and becoming “strangler figs”, throwing long aerial roots down in reach of the earth.
We want radially dispersed roots though, so, by making a small cut or two,
We can encourage them to emerge from those cuts. You’ll notice I cut the end of the root off as well. Roots are much like branches, if you prune them, they will “backbud”. Roots aren’t really buds but the concept is the same.
On the apical shoot, I’m leaving the terminal bud. I want the energy to channel into growing the top trunk thicker. I’ll let it grow several feet. It’s called, variously, a sacrifice, an escape, or a running branch.
Yeah, now that will be a respectable tree. I expect it’ll take about five years to mature, especially the trunk. The branching will be there by the end of the summer I suspect (it’s April now). I’ll update as it develops.
So, like I’ve said in previous posts about the “ginseng” ficus (I put the word ginseng in quotes because there isn’t a real species or variety called ginseng. Almost all figs will form these tuber like root structures when they are grown from seed), in order to find a good one, you have to pick one out that has a real trunk-like quality to it.
Next up is a sweet ficus I got from Old Florida Bonsai a few years ago and am finally doing the initial styling.
If you are anywhere near Tallahassee on Sunday, April 10th (2016) I’ll be at the Tallahassee club leading a workshop. And on April 17th I’ll be in Deland at Schley’s Bonsai for Jason’s annual spring open house. I’ll be doing a shohin willowleaf ficus workshop in the morning a demo in the afternoon. Did I mention free beer? Check out his website for details. See you there!