From here, unless you zoom in, all you see is that it’s overgrown a little.

I just repotted this tiger bark ficus into a wider pot. Zooming in close, on the left side, you see…..a hole?


Not a hole (wait until you see a crepe myrtle I’ve found with a hole…).

Well now, this shot doesn’t clear it up. It does show the new growth though. Meaning it’s time to do some work.

Here we go….can you see it?The branch wraps itself around the backside of the tree.

You can see it here, from the tree’s left side view, poking out.

The “first branch” on our right is really coming from the left side of the tree. The tree was a gift (actually it was a “please take this tree I’m killing it”) from my oldest son’s 7 or 8th grade teacher Mr. Meyers.

I have shown it before, I think it was the last time I had repotted it.

The tree just kinda grew those branches around the back on its own.

And I let it.

In the pic below, you can see where I have pruned off a side branch; it was actually a dead stub that the tree aborted itself. That was the “official” first branch.

And it’s not like I haven’t had a hand, even a heavy hand, in the shaping. As evidence by the old wire scars below.

So what am I gonna do?

I could cut it, and any other “offensive” branches, off.

Try to force it into a peer reviewed and democratically accepted mold.

Style by consensus…

Make it look like every other bonsai out there……

Or, I could let the tree decide.

Listen to what the tree is saying.

Like here: yellow leaves (and new growth), in the springtime means the tree is saying,

“Get off the pot! I’m ready to grow!”

A quick removal of old leaves is the first step.

I said I had repotted it already. It went into a wider pot and I fertilized with Espoma Brand Biotone. A very stinky, organic blend with mycorrhizae and some beneficial bacteria.

I’m guessing there’s chelated iron as well, this is regular pumice stained orange from the Biotone.

I’ve pruned off the dead ends, the multiple or un-needed branches (well, most of them. Under my thumb I haven’t decided what to keep there, I’ll have to bend the branch first to see what fits…).

Now it’s time for the wire.

Surprisingly, just one length of wire is holding this branch. So much for the “aluminum wire needs to be almost as thick as the branch” principle.

Wrap wrap

Snip wrap bendAnd Bob’s yer uncle.

With a quick glance, it’s pretty conventional. Nice base, good taper, an even distribution of branches.

But, upon further inspection, you begin to see the unconventional structure. The weirdness, the oddity, The wackiness.

And you know what. It works.

I think you can see my smile in the car windows reflection.

And that’s all that matters.

8 thoughts

  1. Hi Adam
    I’m interested in understand whether you recommend cutting off the yellow leaves as a general rule or if you’re not styling the tree then would you let them drop naturally so the tree can maximise recouping of nutrients from those leaves?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cut them off if they’re damaged, discolored (yellow or yellowing).
      Once they are yellow they’ve already taken back in the chlorophyll so that’s not an issue. But a damaged or sick leaf takes energy instead of giving it, so it’s better, in our closed bonsai pot culture, to remove them and makes the tree grow new, efficient leaves


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