Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

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Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  madonnaswimmer on Sat Sep 22, 2012 4:13 am

This is a long post, so please bear with me.

I went to a beginner's workshop this weekend, and this is the ficus I styled. I need some guidance.

1.) First of all, I think I have 2 possibilities for the front. The first front was the one that my helper and I had picked out at the workshop:


Here, I have highlighted the trunk in yellow, as the camera flash kinda makes the curvature become lost with the branch in red behind it:


The second possibility for the front came about after I took it home, and noticed a bare area slightly to the left of what had been the front. The problem is that it doesn't have as much curvature of the trunk as the first option.


And here, with the trunk highlighted:




2.) I was planning to repot this into its bonsai pot in May. When I do so, I was planning to plant it in a slanting style, so as to mimic the tree I took for inspiration:


(Here is the tree I used for inspiration)


My concern is this: It is my understanding that trees in the "slanting" style have all of their branches on the "up" side of the tree (the side that would be facing the sun). Should I remove or re-wire the branches on the left side of the picture to be on the "sunny" side?


3.) My tree was originally in a weak plastic pot, and when placed outside, it tipped over in the wind (yikes). Two branches broke (and I'm lucky is was only 2). The double lines in the picture show where the breaks are. Note: the blue branch is not broken, I just highlighted it to show how close it is to the purple branch:

I was a dreamer at first, and tried to realign the broken area and seal it with tree sealer, but the branches died. No surprise, but a girl can dream! I am planning to trim the branch outlined in green one back to just before where it originally broke-- do you think this branch will grow leaves ever again?


4.) I was ALSO planning to cut the purple branch back to the area just before where it broke... but now am wondering if I should just remove this branch, because it is so close to the blue branch. What do you think?


5.) As you may have noticed, I have a big wound in my tree from where we had to remove a big branch:


The area is still a little jagged, so I was thinking of cleaning it up/rounding it out with a dremel. When I do so, I was thinking of making it look a little more natural by tapering out the ends:

What do you think?

Thank you for your help.

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hi

Post  tap pi lu on Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:24 am

is this the idea you want to perform.
[img]C:\Users\hoan\Pictures\Sep1023_zps15f6ffb1[1].jpg[/img]

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hi

Post  tap pi lu on Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:44 am

[img][/img]

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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sat Sep 22, 2012 10:52 am

I don't know who conducted the workshop, BUT. Was this tree provided for the workshop or did you bring your own?
The foliage is much too far from the trunk with lots of thin branches, leaves are too big.
If you are in Milwaukee this is a very bad time of year to work on Ficus.
I would advise you to take off the wire, keep the tree alive over winter and then in spring come back to us, when I would advise some drastic pruning.
This tree will back bud and grow like crazy in the right conditions but this is not going to happen that far north this time of year.

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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  Guest on Sat Sep 22, 2012 1:06 pm


I don't want to spoil the fun you had with your workshop....but,
The wiring doesn't help and not serving it's purpose, It will do more harm than good with your ficus.

Why don't the workshop organizer or a senior/more experienced bonsai people teach beginners the basic of bonsai, like wiring technique in workshop like this?


regards,
jun Smile

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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  Guest on Sat Sep 22, 2012 1:09 pm

tap pi lu wrote:[img][/img]


I find this funny, An edited version of a natural tree...hehehe scratch
Maybe we should wire the second branch too, it is too straight at the moment. alien


regards,
jun Razz


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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sat Sep 22, 2012 1:11 pm

There was a bonsai conference in Milwaukee, WI, USA last weekend. Peter Tea came from Japan to present. I hope he didn't have anything to do with this.


Last edited by Billy M. Rhodes on Sat Sep 22, 2012 1:15 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Confirmed information)

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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  Guest on Sat Sep 22, 2012 1:20 pm

,,,,And that big cut at the front will create an ugly bulge in the future.



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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  Guest on Sat Sep 22, 2012 1:24 pm

Oh!!!! this is your first post,,,welcome to the forum. Don't feel disheartened. It is part of the learning process, good thing you posted it here.


regards,
jun Smile

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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  Russell Coker on Sat Sep 22, 2012 2:13 pm

jun wrote:
I don't want to spoil the fun you had with your workshop....but,
The wiring doesn't help and not serving it's purpose, It will do more harm than good with your ficus.

Why don't the workshop organizer or a senior/more experienced bonsai people teach beginners the basic of bonsai, like wiring technique in workshop like this?


regards,
jun Smile


Jun, I was thinking the same thing but figured I'd keep my mouth shut! But since you've said it, that wiring really is a hot mess.

But the tree has potential, and it's not a bad first stab.

R

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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sat Sep 22, 2012 2:20 pm

I am not great at wiring so I didn't comment on that, but as I said, it really serves no purpose this time of year where he/she is.
Indoors the tree is going to really slow down growth, outdoors it would freeze.
Why would a conference in Milwaukee even offer a Ficus workshop this late in the season?

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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  nrdvjr1979 on Sat Sep 22, 2012 2:35 pm

Good Day IBC
Im new to this forum
What is the ID of this tree Question

Thank You

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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  Ryan on Sat Sep 22, 2012 2:50 pm

nrdvjr1979 wrote:Good Day IBC
Im new to this forum
What is the ID of this tree Question

Thank You

Welcome to you as well, this is a Ficus microcarpa.


As everyone else has said, I'd take the wire off and let this one recover. Judging by the color of some of the leaves, it's not all that healthy. So first, get it healthy and actively growing.

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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  madonnaswimmer on Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:36 pm

Thank you for welcoming me to the forum. Sorry for my late reply, I had to work today.

The Milwaukee Bonsai Society has their biggest publicity draw and expo at the state fair, which is at the beginning to middle of August. I think they schedule the workshop now because they fill most of the slots with people who hear about it from state fair. I think if they had the workshop in early summer like they probably should, nobody would attend because nobody even knows about it.

The tree was provided. There were 25 of us in the workshop, and 27 or so trees. We each got to choose one, and then the people helping with the workshop gave us advice on how to apply the wire, where to remove branches, etc.

The person immediately helping me in the workshop been doing bonsai for decades, and had some gorgeous trees at the exhibit. I am apt to think it is my tree rather than his guidance that was lacking.

I can tell from your reactions that you are shocked at the look of my tree-- perhaps some more constructive criticism of where to move the branches when I wire in May would help. My plan was to keep the wire on but not do anything more until May, when I would repot it, trim back the shoots to have some back budding, etc. I will have to rethink what to do with the wire, and whether to remove it. The workshop has been run for years now, with trees surviving despite the late wiring, so I am tempted not to remove it.

I'll admit I am a little disappointed that some of my questions weren't answered... like which side should be the front, and whether to remove that lower branch that broke entirely. But thank you for your posts so far.

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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  madonnaswimmer on Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:47 pm

tap pi lu wrote:is this the idea you want to perform.
Well, sort of. This is the tree I drew inspiration from, but I understand that my tree will not directly look like that tree (or any other tree, for that matter). But I was hoping that by slanting it when I repot it, that it might look more natural.

jun wrote:Why don't the workshop organizer or a senior/more experienced bonsai people teach beginners the basic of bonsai, like wiring technique in workshop like this?
That's exactly what they did do. I learned what it feels like to wire, what gauge of wire to choose for which branch, how much effort I can put into bending the branches, and not to cross the wires. I have a feeling the artistic aspect comes with practice, and cannot be learned in a 3-hour workshop. I guess I don't see what exactly was wrong with my wiring technique... could you be more specific?

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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  madonnaswimmer on Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:49 pm

Billy M. Rhodes wrote:IThe foliage is much too far from the trunk with lots of thin branches, leaves are too big.
The tree came this way, and I was hoping to prune to induce back-budding in May. As far as the leaves being too big, can you defoliate a ficus to make the leaves smaller, as you can with maples? (Not that I would attempt that anytime soon)

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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:58 pm

I think I said I was not good at wiring, but on the last photo you posted above the wire loops are too far apart to be the most effective hold, the ideal is a 45 degree angle. Also it seems to me that there is a lot of wire around the trunk. I know this wire is put there to hep secure it, but some of it seems too much. One technique when you are wiring this many branches is to use a wire long enough for two branches on opposite sides if the tree and anchor the wire on the other branch rather than wrapping the trunk so much.

With a Ficus the broken branch can probably be removed. As to front, I think you should wait for spring and see how the tree does over winter. The big cut should go to the back if possible.

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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:01 pm

[/quote]
The tree came this way, and I was hoping to prune to induce back-budding in May. As far as the leaves being too big, can you defoliate a ficus to make the leaves smaller, as you can with maples? (Not that I would attempt that anytime soon)[/quote]

You should defoliate your Ficus next spring and prune it back. If your Ficus has no leaves and only stubs for branches it will regrow everything.

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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  madonnaswimmer on Sat Sep 22, 2012 11:40 pm

Billy M. Rhodes wrote: You should defoliate your Ficus next spring and prune it back. If your Ficus has no leaves and only stubs for branches it will regrow everything.

You don't think it will be too much to defoliate, repot, and prune at the same time? I was considering pruning and repotting this may, and waiting to defoliate until the following may.

When I prune, I was thinking of leaving 2 leaves on each branch so there would be some photosynthesis for the plant. Do you think there will be enough back-budding if I do this? Or would you recommend pruning further back on those lower branches, maybe leaving 5 inches of branch or so left on the trunk? Or would that be too drastic?

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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  rps on Sat Sep 22, 2012 11:51 pm

As footnote to the sound advice already given by other members, let me assure you that the ficus retusa is a forgiving and elastic species. There is no urgency to set the branches or make tough design decisions until summer, whereupon you can cut it back hard to bring in the foliage and manipulate the branches to your heart's content. Once it's drinking up the sun, it will respond with vigour to your efforts and coaxing. Note: once new growth has pushed out six to eight leaves, cut it back to two --- or you'll soon find yourself back at square one, with foliage situated disproportionately far from the trunk.

Even though it will slow down through the winter, it will continue to grow --- including the branch and trunk girth. Remove the wire now, or at least keep a close eye on it; otherwise it will cut into the bark. You'll be surprised [possibly alarmed] at just how quickly, that happens.

You may want to supplement its winter light with an artificial bulb. One upside to the preponderance of CFL bulbs on the market is that they provide a reasonable and inexpensive means to that end. If you can find COOL WHITE, they are preferable to SOFT WHITE. This is entirely optional, mind you, as ficus will be survive without the boost.

I've been at this long enough to know that patience pays dividends --- but not long enough to be any good at practicing it. Your tree shows promise and, incidentally, I like your first selection for front.

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beginner with a ficus

Post  moyogijohn on Sun Sep 23, 2012 1:49 am

WELCOME !! I would like to say,,i have been where you are many times,, Billy and Jun are fine people and would not tell you anything but to try and help..... I too would remove the wire because it will serve no purpose to you if in spring you cut back branches to get foliage close in to the trunk..imho i would leave the tree in the pot it is intill i had branches,leaves,,where i wanted them... a small bonsai pot will slow down your process doing this..do you have it in good soil ???? use the lights to help with growth.. I would use the front in the first pic and re wire my branches to suit it... You have a good trunk just work with it.. have fun,,take care john

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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sun Sep 23, 2012 2:07 am

This Ficus will back bud fine if taken to a stub/stump with no leaves at all.
But you are still getting way ahead, come back to this tree when your daytime temps are in the 70's F and the night time is above 50F.
Between now and then, get the wire off, give it as much light as possible, water as needed, fertilize monthly with a house plant liquid according to package directions.
Here in Florida in the Spring, Summer, and Fall we would defoliate, prune and repot all in the same session.

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bigginer with a ficus

Post  moyogijohn on Sun Sep 23, 2012 2:07 am

I forgot to ask,,how tall is the tree ?? Also i would like to say,,at the top,,apex,,there are too many branches,,i would chose one for a apex and remove the rest unless they are low enough to be used for short brahches....hope this helps a little !!! john

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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  Guest on Sun Sep 23, 2012 5:28 am



jun wrote:Why don't the workshop organizer or a senior/more experienced bonsai people teach beginners the basic of bonsai, like wiring technique in workshop like this?
That's exactly what they did do. I learned what it feels like to wire, what gauge of wire to choose for which branch, how much effort I can put into bending the branches, and not to cross the wires. I have a feeling the artistic aspect comes with practice, and cannot be learned in a 3-hour workshop. I guess I don't see what exactly was wrong with my wiring technique... could you be more specific? [/quote]


...In the proper ways of learning bonsai, or like some bonsai school or gardens of masters that receives apprenticeship. students will learn and touch wires after some months or for some even years. I am saying this to show how critical wiring is for your tree (I am not saying you should go enroll to one), Wiring like you did here without proper guidance will ultimately destroy your tree or worst kill it.
...Ficus microcarpa grows relatively faster than most species of trees used for bonsai. your wire will strangle your young ficus.
...The size of wire you used (in most part) is not the appropriate size.
...The cut that they allow you to do will create a very ugly mark on your tree.
...The purpose of wiring is to bend branches and not to make feel you are wiring a tree for the sake of wiring it.
...You dont wire the trunk of a tree....NEVER!
...Use different size of wire- from thick wire on the thicker girth of branch, and as you goes to the end of the branch apply thinner wire.

...This tree should not be wired to the max like a "mummy", minor bending in the branch portion nearer to the trunk is more than enough, a guy wire is easier for this purpose.

The artistic aspect doesn't comes with practice, It is in your "genes" if you have it you have it-- From Hans van Meer Theory of relativity which is quite controversial but I quite sadly agree.


regards,
jun Smile


PS. Don't be disappointed because people here did not directly answer your question regarding design idea or which should be front. There are stages in bonsai which must be followed, and choosing which front or design is suitable has it's own time in that bonsai period...but definitely not that huge cut as front...unless you make a new a apical leader from this cut portion.







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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

Post  leatherback on Sun Sep 23, 2012 12:05 pm

Just a little comment.. I hear everybody suggesting to remove the wires. Although I admit I am probalby one of the least experienced in bonsai in this thread, I disagree with the advice. The damage to the branches is done. When you wire & bend the branches, you damage the bark ever s slightly. The tree needs active growth to quickly repair the damage. THat is why it is much better to wire in spring / summer. However, the wires are on. So the tree will need to fix the damage. In my view, removing the wires is only going to hurt the tree more, with more handling of the branches, more bending. I would leave the wire on. Move the tree to the brightest spont in the house, and give it lots of TLC. Make sure it is in a warm spot, and keep the tree slightly moist;

Just my 2P

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Re: Beginner with ficus-- guidance needed (lots of pics!)

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