The first rule that we bloggers get in our official blogging contract with the managers of the internet is that we should “……avoid alliteration, always…”.
But I’m a rule breaker, an iconoclast, a loner, a rebel. This blog is, after all, “An irreverent blog by a questioning Bonsai Artist”.
Which brings us to today’s tree: a ficus salicaria, the famous Willow leaf fig.
I can’t remember if I’ve blogged about this tree before, or if it was in a YouTube video, but I’m pretty sure it’s on Instagram somewhere (edit: the original styling is on YouTube, here are some screenshots for those that don’t want to watch an incredible handsome and funny bonsai dude play with a little tree…)
The finish(Make sure you watch past the credits, I was doing post credit scenes before it was cool).
The stock material was pretty regular and not exceptional.
Marginal, as I said.
But, after a few years, and several wiring and unwiring sessions (including the unwiring I just did moments ago as you were watching the video), here’s the tree:
Notice the unwired tree has gotten shaggy. Here’s an interesting aside concerning trees (this is important when you are chainsawing big trees in the landscape as well as bonsai) there the phenomenon of branches pushing back against an object, like another branch or, in our case, the wire. Meaning that, as an example in a big tree, a branch, as it grows, will push against an object, say a telephone pole or a neighboring branch, creating what could be substantial tension. This might be dangerous when using a chainsaw (or any saw) when pruning. You could be sawing away and “POP!!” The tension suddenly releases, whipping the branch, and could hurt you or someone below.
What happens on a bonsai is that as soon as you remove the wire, the branch will move. The branch is pushing against the wire. It is, thankfully, not much movement on our little trees, but it means you might need to rewire almost immediately.
Especially on a ficus.
Example on today’s tree, the before, with wire:
And without wire:
And before someone says that I took the wire off too soon, this ain’t my first tree. I keep the wire on long enough for it to cut in, as you can see below.
And, before I get the “you done ruint that there banzai with the wire” rant, I’ll say again, this isn’t my first tree. Those wire marks will grow out. Promise.
This is probably the third wiring, and you can’t see the marks from the first wiring anymore, can you now?
This time, I’m only going to use some guy wires to keep the main branches down….…..and one wire on the top left.
I could leave it without wire and let it grow out, but all those twists and movement might be lost, and the branches will start to grow up again.
Why do branches grow up you ask?
Why, that’s an interesting question. I’m glad you asked…
As a tree grows, it tends to put more material on the undersides of branches and, interestingly, in the insides of curves.
The underside growth is for two reasons.
We have gravity trying to pull the branch down, the tree needs to grow up to the sun for photosynthesis. Our friend, auxin, the main hormone for growth regulation, doesn’t like sunlight (which is funny because that’s what causes trees to grow towards the sun) so it collects away from the sun, on the bottom of the branch. That auxin then stimulates growth, and “pushes” the branch up. This explains why trees and most plants grow towards the sun or a light source (sun on one side, auxin on the other..phototropism) and explains why branches want to grow up after we’ve “trained” them down. The auxin is on the underside of the branch and “pushes” the branch up.
This same characteristic explains why a trunk with extreme twists will “straighten” out in time.
A young S-Curve tree tends to have an exaggerated “s” in the trunk compared to the older, thicker ones available. That’s because the auxin hides in the shade of the inside of that curve, causing more growth and creating more tissue, and, therefore, “fills in” the curve.
And that’s your horticulture lesson for today. Mark as “read” and file it for future reference.
And that’s that.
The tree shall grow and maybe you’ll see it again soon.