A mere two months later, time to remove wires, re-wire, and Cut It Back.
Here’s how you saw it last, a Ficus microcarpa from a client’s back yard.
Got some good backbudding, excellent.
The wire is cutting in perfectly.
One of my aphorisms for developing ficus bonsai “If you don’t have wire marks, you’re not using enough wire.”. I say that because if you don’t leave the wire on long enough, the branch won’t hold shape. Especially on a ficus. Then you’re just wiring for wiring sake.
The rain was pretty heavy this summer here in the state of Florida, or at least in my backyard. And I think this is fungus.
It’s on many of the leaves, something I don’t see on F. microcarpa much. I will treat with BioAdvanced All-in-one Rose and Flower care, which has a systemic fungicide (tebuconazole), a systemic insecticide for Cuban laurel thrips (imidacloprid) and fertilizer (6-9-6). Just right for going into fall for a ficus in Florida.
I believe it’s a fungus because, not only the leaves but some of the stems are black too, as seen in the pic above
It could, of course, be photo-toxicity, from the imidacloprid I applied in the last session releasing too quickly because of all the rain we’ve had. But we are going into the dry season and that shouldn’t be a problem as we go forward (as I write this, though, the forecast is calling for a severe thunderstorm event that’s been sweeping East, across the Gulf States. It hit Louisiana pretty hard a day ago).
But the newest shoots are nice and green, so I’m not worried.
And it’s a ficus. It’ll be ok.
Defoliation, and cleaning up all the old leaves is, as always, the first step (which I began before the first pics at the top).
Then some wiring, very little.
And some tie-down wires (guy wires, so to say. funny name for them, though I do know some guys into bondage. I don’t understand it myself).
Let’s get back to the work at hand!
After defoliation, a good way to get rid of all those fallen leaves is to use your scissors like you are a maintenance worker policing a yard.
Jab the leaves…
Simple. It took me 18 years of picking them up by my fingertips to figure that one out.
It’s the next morning, and looking at the tree, you’ll notice that the branches have risen a bit and some of the movement has straightened out. Which is why I also teach that bonsai is “cutting, wiring, un-wiring, re-wiring, un-wiring, cutting, re-wiring, ad infinitum”.
And so you don’t have to scroll back up to compare the upward movement, the first pic again:
As the song at the beginning said, “the ficus has no taper so I gotta cut it back”
My students complain that they spend months growing ramification and I come in and cut it all off.
Trust the process. Taper, movement, proportion. And don’t worry. A tree grows. That’s its job.
Now a bit of wire, on the new branches and re-wire some of the old ones. (Wire, un-wire, re-wire, ad infinitum).
And, more importantly, I’m going to tie down many of the main branches.
Why do new branches grow up? Same reason teenagers rebel, hormones. They are forced by the action of hormones to grow towards the sun (auxin is the main one, and auxin doesn’t like sun, so it collects on the underside of the branches, in the shade, and cause those cells to elongate faster than the cells up top, pushing the branch up).
And that should be good, until next spring. Except some un-wiring, re-wiring, etc….
Now I get to enjoy the rest of the morning. Maybe…..
Hard to believe that the little ficus on the right is what our subject once looked like, just a few years ago. Growing-out in the ground (or a big pot) erases many sins. Such is life and is a truism for growth in general.