Ficus Base Question

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Ficus Base Question

Post  Ryan on Sun Dec 30, 2012 8:28 pm

Hi all,



Picked this tree up about a month ago from Meehans Miniatures in Maryland. The base was the main reason I bought it. Here is the tree as bough (poor pictures):




Made a quick virt of where I'd like to take it (the branches won't be in that position, just drew them that way for who knows why):


Chopped it back:


And it's budded back and is happily growing today:




My question is, what would you all recommend I do to further improve the base? The three main roots are nice, but how exactly would you recommend I go about improving/fixing them?

Ryan
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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sun Dec 30, 2012 9:27 pm

Well, for a longer term project, you can root some cuttings and then do approach grafts or even graft in roots to improve the base.

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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  Just Mike on Sun Dec 30, 2012 9:55 pm

ficus grow roots like crazy, and can have petty drastic things done to their roots...with that said, you could drill little holes where you want new roots to grow, fill them with rooting hormone, then either pot the tree deeper so that the areas are covered and remain slightly moist, or cover the area with sphagnum moss...you should have new roots emerging from those areas in a few months depending on growing conditions and all that good stuff...


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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  Just Mike on Sun Dec 30, 2012 10:03 pm

you could also layer it at the base to creat a whole new nebari...

whatever u do, the current roots are way to big (pretty common in ficus) and something will need to be done to either induce smaller roots further up on the existing roots so that they can be pruned away over time, or to grow a whole new nebari, which doesnt take nearly as long as it sounds like it would when dealing with a ficus...

i guess i should add that if you do plan to layer it and create a new nebari i would wait and let the tree grow free and fertilized for a season to recover from the trunk chop first...

just my opinion

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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  MrFancyPlants on Sun Dec 30, 2012 10:32 pm

I tend to agree that the current roots are too thick to look natural, but they do have some nice spread. I would vote for a ground layering and or splitting or hard cutting back the existing thick roots to increase the numbers.

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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sun Dec 30, 2012 10:56 pm

The roots could be split all the way to the trunk and spread with stones.

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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  Just Mike on Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:09 pm

Billy M. Rhodes wrote:The roots could be split all the way to the trunk and spread with stones.

this is a very good idea too...and given the nature of ficus, it will most likely form new roots at some areas along the split as well (if it is burind or covered of course) that can be pruned back to in the future developement of the nebari...

here is a link to a very brief description of splitting the roots on a ficuss


http://www.bonsaihunk.us/ficusforum/FicusTechniques/FigTechnique9.html


Last edited by Just Mike on Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:14 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  Ryan on Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:13 pm

Thank you all!

Great ideas all around.

I really like your idea Billy, of splitting the roots and using stones to spread them. Problem is I'd be afraid of messing something up and ruining the base Mad

Ryan
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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:17 pm

Ryan wrote:Thank you all!

Great ideas all around.

I really like your idea Billy, of splitting the roots and using stones to spread them. Problem is I'd be afraid of messing something up and ruining the base Mad

Its a Ficus, it will heal.

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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  Just Mike on Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:20 pm

Ryan wrote:Thank you all!

Great ideas all around.

I really like your idea Billy, of splitting the roots and using stones to spread them. Problem is I'd be afraid of messing something up and ruining the base Mad

in that case i have to go back to my original idea of drilling small holes and inserting rooting hormone...you can drill tiny holes at spots along the existing roots and fill them with a bit of rooting hormone and the should sprout new roots from those specific spots...i have seen this done on japanese maples and those are harder to root than ficus...seriously, your success rate with this should be like 99.99999%...and, if by some weird set of circumstances, one of the holes doesnt creat roots, it will just heal itself over rather quickly anyway...

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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  JimLewis on Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:08 am

As Billy said, "It's a Ficus." You really can't screw up a Ficus. Chop all the roots and new ones will grow.

I think splitting the roots (and you can then wire them to provide some movement in the root spread) is an excellent idea.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  bonsaimark on Mon Dec 31, 2012 3:09 pm

Hey Mike, You say drill small holes and fill with root hormone, Could you give a little better details.. Like what size holes. How deep do they need to be drilled? Thanks, Mark

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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  Just Mike on Mon Dec 31, 2012 4:38 pm

not very big at all (like 1/8" give or take)...and not very deep either...deep enough to go through the cambium but you dont have to drill all the way through or anything...basically, what you are doing is the same thing that is done when airlayering or rooting a cutting...you are creating a wound that the tree will want to heal over...the rooting hormoe makes it so that the cells created in the healing process are root cells capable of sending out new roots...which reminds me, if you drill small holes, a ficus grows and heals so quickly that it will most likely just heal over the wound and not feel the need to send out new roots, so you need to place something in the hole to prevent it from completely healing over...like a toothpick, or part of a skewer or something...im not the one who thought of this method and im certainly not the first to have used it, so ill try to find an article or 2 on the technique so you have a reference...i will say this though, its pretty reliable on species that root easily, and its pretty handy given that you can choose where you would like new roots to grow...




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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  Just Mike on Mon Dec 31, 2012 5:26 pm

so here are 3 links all referencing the technique i was talking about...unfortunately, none of them go into much detail...really, there isnt much detail to go into, but i was hoping to find one with some pics for you (i swear i have seen a pic tutorial on it before, but cannot remember where)...either way, do a search for "drill" on the page and it will take you to the part describing the technique...in the mean time i will keep looking for somehting with pictures.

http://www.capebonsaikai.co.za/articles/327-developing-good-roots.html
http://www.bonsaitree.co.za/knowledge/articles/977-roots-and-the-role-they-play-in-bonsai.html
http://bonsaihunk.8m.com/info/TexasEbony.html

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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  Ryan on Mon Dec 31, 2012 6:04 pm

Thanks everyone!

I think I just may drill holes in the roots and dust with rooting hormone and make small sphagnum "plugs" to plug the holes. I read about something similar on an Australian bonsai forum, where they drill holes then stick sticks of wood, like chopsticks, in the holes. Not sure how that would affect the roots that come out, but it sounded interesting.

Ryan
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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  MrFancyPlants on Mon Dec 31, 2012 6:11 pm

I would want to get a little creative where the holes are drilled... rather then doing them a straight circle, I would put some movement into line of holes. Please take a picture once the holes are drilled. Are you going to let it regain some strength before drilling?

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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  Ryan on Mon Dec 31, 2012 7:59 pm

MrFancyPlants wrote:I would want to get a little creative where the holes are drilled... rather then doing them a straight circle, I would put some movement into line of holes. Please take a picture once the holes are drilled. Are you going to let it regain some strength before drilling?

Oh it's plenty healthy, there's backbud everywhere. The chop was done last month and the tree has pushed strong growth since. I won't drill just yet though, I'm going to search the web and forums a bit to see what I can find about this technique.

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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  Just Mike on Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:55 pm

Ryan wrote:Thanks everyone!

I think I just may drill holes in the roots and dust with rooting hormone and make small sphagnum "plugs" to plug the holes. I read about something similar on an Australian bonsai forum, where they drill holes then stick sticks of wood, like chopsticks, in the holes. Not sure how that would affect the roots that come out, but it sounded interesting.

the chopsticks or toothpicks or matchsticks arent there to influence how the roots grow, they are placed there to prevent the wound from healing over so that roots do form...understand that the tree doesnt want to grow roots from a new area, it would rather just keepgrowing the roots that are already there, so, if possible, it would much rather just heal over the wound...placing something in the holes prevents the wound from completely healing over, and the addition of rooting hormone makes sure the cells that are created in the process of attempting to heal over the wound are root cells, in essence creating a callous of root cells which the tree then would have no problem throwing out roots from...i hope that made sense.

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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  Ryan on Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:25 pm

Just Mike wrote:
the chopsticks or toothpicks or matchsticks arent there to influence how the roots grow, they are placed there to prevent the wound from healing over so that roots do form...understand that the tree doesnt want to grow roots from a new area, it would rather just keepgrowing the roots that are already there, so, if possible, it would much rather just heal over the wound...placing something in the holes prevents the wound from completely healing over, and the addition of rooting hormone makes sure the cells that are created in the process of attempting to heal over the wound are root cells, in essence creating a callous of root cells which the tree then would have no problem throwing out roots from...i hope that made sense.

Ah okay, that makes excellent sense. I notice that the sites are suggesting covering the holes with moist soil instead of sphagnum moss. My only concern with doing this would be that what if the soil dries out? What would happen to the newly formed roots? Or what if I don't keep the soil moist enough for new roots to form?

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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  Just Mike on Tue Jan 01, 2013 12:06 am

basically, you have to create an environment where roots can grow...just like you would when taking a cutting, or creating an airlyer...i dont think the tree much cares how this environment is created...

the problem you are going to run into with moss is that it retains water much much better than your soil mix would...so, the soil may be drying out and ready for water way before the moss is...some people do ground layering by splitting open a small plastic nursery pot and placing that around the trunk and filling with whatever medium you are using to root...that way, the pot for rooting can be monitered for moisture and watered accordingly seperate form the pot the tree is in...this also eliminates having to repot the tree...

also, it doesnt have to be moss...more and more people are choosing to use a nursery pot with substrate soil mix as opposed to moss for layering...there are a lot of bonuses to doing it this way as opposed to moss, but its not always convenient or possible depending on the location of where the layering is being performed...



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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  Ryan on Wed Jan 02, 2013 9:24 pm

Thanks Mike!

I'm wondering now what the difference in results would be if I were to simply expose the cambium of the roots instead of drill into them. I would then dust with hormone and cover with sphagnum...

Ryan
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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  Ryan on Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:18 pm

Here's some updated shots to show how it's growing where I have it:



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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  Just Mike on Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:00 am

Ryan wrote:Thanks Mike!

I'm wondering now what the difference in results would be if I were to simply expose the cambium of the roots instead of drill into them. I would then dust with hormone and cover with sphagnum...

i would think it depends on how big and deep you make the wound...im not sure if just scraping the cambium is enough for the tree to want to form the kind of callous you need in order to induce rooting...the drilling allows you to basically pinpoint exactly where you want roots to grow...

are you afraid of the drill? be honest...lol...the drill actually would leave a smaller wound than scraping to expose cambium...

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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  Ryan on Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:25 am

Just Mike wrote:

i would think it depends on how big and deep you make the wound...im not sure if just scraping the cambium is enough for the tree to want to form the kind of callous you need in order to induce rooting...the drilling allows you to basically pinpoint exactly where you want roots to grow...

are you afraid of the drill? be honest...lol...the drill actually would leave a smaller wound than scraping to expose cambium...


Laughing Laughing I'm not so much afraid of the drill as I am the results of it. I just fear that I wouldn't be able to keep the soil moist enough to encourage root production.

Ryan
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Re: Ficus Base Question

Post  Just Mike on Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:48 am

let me try to explain a little better so you can make an educated decision that fits what your goals are the best...

ok...so we have basically decided that the roots you got going on right now are too large and kinda misplaced (like the one growing directly on top of another large root)...but, the base has a nice flare to it and has the potential to look very sturdy...so we need to do something about the roots...so lets go over some options...

one option is layering...with ficus this is actually a pretty good option since the roots grow so quickly you can completely replace the roots with an entire new nebari in a matter of a few years...seriously, under good growing conditions you can have a whole new nebari with substantially thick roots in about 3 years...maybe 4...i wouldnt claim to be able to do this in 3 years with other species, but im telling you, ficus grow roots to the point where it is annoying and i find myself telling my ficus' "cmon man, i just repotted you a few months ago..."

the other option is creating new roots further up on the existing roots and then reducing the large roots to those points...this option leaves us with a couple other options...you can graft, which take redily on ficus, but requires you to grow some cuttings or obtain a bunch of small ficus somehow...or, force the plant to induce roots further up on the roots somehow...you can hack the crap out of ficus roots (within reason of course) and it will heal and produce new roots at certain areas...maybe in areas you would like them...and maybe not...only the plant knows...or, slectively wound (drill) areas where you want new roots...i would drill like 2-3 spots on each of the existing roots and on any areas of the trunk that need a root...in my opinion, considering the species and what you are trying to accomplish...this is the fastest, easiest, and most sure-fire way to get roots where you want them...after you grow the new roots a little bit, you cut back the large roots to the points where you drilled and viola! new nebari with nice branching...

dont forget, you dont have to commit to only 1 method (unless you choose layering)...this tree has several years of development ahead of it, so you have time to try a couple different things...try the drill, take some cuttings now so you can use them for grafting later...make some wounds if you want and see if you can get roots to sprout...etc etc

hope that helped

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