Rock or Root...

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Rock or Root...

Post  Wm Tom Davis on Wed Sep 30, 2009 4:12 pm

In the back of a garden center in Racine WI I found and "rescued" this shohin Willow leaf ficus. It was salt encrusted around the rim and clumsy me I accidentally dropped it and broke its pot. I planned on buying it in the first place as it was a big bargain for only $29.95. After bringing it home I temporarily re potted it and found this interesting nebari and root culture. To me it almost looks like root over rock, but at the side of the tree there are hardly any roots of the same size, hence my dilemma, and I humbly ask for your insights and opinions; Would it be too drastic to cut away the large under roots now and repot it, or should I use a wiring technique to wrap around the bottom of the trunk flair, tight so as to create a more radial root flair; or should I leave well enough alone???

Here are some pics...

WLF in temp pot.




All ideas and comments welcome!

Wm Tom Davis
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Re: Rock or Root...

Post  JimLewis on Wed Sep 30, 2009 6:34 pm

That is an unfortunate propensity of many species of Ficus. I think they're rather ugly. For yours, I suggest planting it deeper to cover up most of that. That way you get a nice swelling base without the elephantiasis.


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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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Rock or Root

Post  bonsaisr on Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:13 pm

Where are you keeping the plant over the winter? If it is on a windowsill, let it alone until spring & work on it then. If it is under lights or in a greenhouse, you can do this now. In picture #2, you have what appears to be a strangler root already starting to dig into the trunk. You have to cut this off. You can cut off other storage roots at the same time if you wish. If you cut off a lot when you repot, put the whole thing in a baggie (not in sun) until it starts to grow again.
This is a common problem because wholesalers leave seedlings & rooted cuttings in nursery pots too long.
Iris

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Root or Rock

Post  Lazaro Quintino on Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:52 am

May I suggest that you get rid of those large girdling roots immediately. The tree is still small and ficus recover very well after the majority of their roots are removed. Make sure you make clean cuts with a very sharp tool such as a concave cutter or even a saw. Plant the tree in a large (e.g. 12" x 12" or 18" x 18") but shallow container. Plant it in only about 1 1/2 or 2 inches of well drained soil and then make sure to wire it down tightly. The new roots, which will grow very fast, will only be able to grow horizontally and thus encourage thickening of the base and a good root spread/nebari. You can start fertilizing the tree heavily with osmocote after about a couple of months. When the tree starts growing again simply hedge prune it to keep it small, develop branching and reduce leaf size. You will notice amazing results after about a year but try to keep the tree in this shallow container for a couple of years. We all want instant gratification by immediately putting the tree in a small bonsai pot but you will get amazing results if you follow my directions. The final result will be an amazing tree with great taper and well developed branching.

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Ficus roots

Post  Mike Pollock on Thu Oct 01, 2009 1:36 am

I agree with all of Lazaro's advice as long as you're catering to the tree. That means high light (artificial light) so the tree can recover from the work.

At a workshop on nerifolia in Florida at the 2008 BSF convention, we used electric saws the get a flat root base. Given the right conditions, these trees can recover from almost anything. Good luck.

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Re: Rock or Root...

Post  Wm Tom Davis on Fri Oct 02, 2009 3:37 am

Many Thanks to Jim, Iris, Lazaro and Mike.

Jim, in that ficus do regrow their roots fairly quickly, I'm thinking that just hiding what could become a bigger problem might not be the way to go with this tree.

I agree Iris that the strangler roots need to be removed.


Lazaro, your keen insights have been very helpful and I will follow your instructions. In regards to what I'd like to do with this ficus, I'd like to keep it a shohin if possible. After allowing the roots to radiate out, I'm thinking after a couple of years in a shallow grow box I'll have to trim the roots again to repot should not present itself to be a big problem. From what I'm reading here, right now is the time to correct the root problem and develop more trunk flair. In keeping with the down scaled roots, should I cut back the top to compensate for the imbalance? After a couple of years, then begin to develop the branches.

Mike, I do keep my shohins in a south west facing window. As a friar I don't have the room to do anymore than that or keep larger bonsai.
I turn my "flock" everyday and mist them in the morning. I have bright fluorescent ceiling lights that I keep on from early evening till about 10:00PM. Are you recommending something different? If so, what? (Please remember that I am a mendicant friar and not endowed with big funds.)

Again Thanks, and I look forward to more replies. I will take more photos to show whats been done.

Wm Tom Davis
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Ficus conditions

Post  Mike Pollock on Fri Oct 02, 2009 3:53 am

Tom,

If you can add fluorescent lights placed close to the top of the tree (2" above or so), then you'll get close to year-round development. If not, then wait to do work until nighttime temps are well into the 60s.

Used light fixtures are easily found; the plant-specific bulbs can often be found pretty inexpensively too. You can even find small 24" long fixtures and bulbs (very unassuming).

Good luck!

Mike Pollock
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Re: Rock or Root...

Post  Wm Tom Davis on Sat Oct 03, 2009 2:22 am

Thanks Mike,

Our night temps here in Chicago are in the mid forties right now. I'm sure they will warm up before the first snow fall in later Oct/November. I do keep my shohins in my cell in a southwest facing window and my cell temps rarely ever get below sixty-five degrees F.
I'll have to see if I can find some lights on Craig's List. Sometimes you can get good finds there.

~ Tom

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Re: Rock or Root...

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