Trunk Styling my Ficus Microcarpa

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Trunk Styling my Ficus Microcarpa

Post  bmeinders on Wed Dec 25, 2013 3:13 am

I'm a bonsai newbie and would like ideas or advice on how to handle the trunk on my new banyan fig. It is 5 years old and has been in training for 3 years (so said the plant's tag). I don't know what vision the trainer had for the specimen, but the trunk is very straight, then with a crook to one side and three or four branches extending without a clear leader. I don't really want the broom style, which the plant kind of looks to me like it is destined for right now. Is it too late to go for a tapered trunk that extends further upwards towards the crown, and that has more of a curvature to it - more character? The plant is 9 in. high. The straight part of the trunk is 3 in. high and 1 in. thick at the base and 3/4 in. thick right before the knobby crook begins. Would wire work to bend the trunk or do I need to use a bending clamp? Am I wrong to even think about changing the trunk at this time?


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Re: Trunk Styling my Ficus Microcarpa

Post  Twisted Trees on Thu Dec 26, 2013 4:46 pm

Not wanting a broom style your only other option is to pick a trunk, remove the rest and let it grow unhindered for a year or so.

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Thanks

Post  bmeinders on Thu Dec 26, 2013 9:00 pm

Thank you. I'll give that serious consideration. That'll give me a twisted tree. I like the sound of that!

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Re: Trunk Styling my Ficus Microcarpa

Post  KennedyMarx on Thu Dec 26, 2013 9:46 pm

You could try to style it more in the style of a conifer. Adam Lavigne posted a ficus styling on his blog that reminds me of what you could do with this one: https://adamaskwhy.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/this-is-what-happens-when-you-leave-a-bonsai-at-my-nursery/

Alternatively you could cut the top back pretty hard and see where the buds pop lower on the trunk, then develop those into the new branches. Change the potting angle and pick those branches and in a couple years it would look completely different.

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Re: Trunk Styling my Ficus Microcarpa

Post  kauaibonsai on Thu Dec 26, 2013 10:02 pm

air layer the top and build a multi trunk shohin from the new tree.

happy new year, sam

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Thanks

Post  bmeinders on Fri Dec 27, 2013 4:41 am

KennedyMarx wrote:You could try to style it more in the style of a conifer. Adam Lavigne posted a ficus styling on his blog that reminds me of what you could do with this one: https://adamaskwhy.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/this-is-what-happens-when-you-leave-a-bonsai-at-my-nursery/

Alternatively you could cut the top back pretty hard and see where the buds pop lower on the trunk, then develop those into the new branches. Change the potting angle and pick those branches and in a couple years it would look completely different.

Adam's link is great. That helped a lot. Much to think about now. So that is the way to defoliate, huh, to cut the leaf leaving about a third of the base? Course if I take off branches the leaves go with it. I would just need to leave at least one branch that has some leaves in order to keep the roots supplied with energy? Would the tree necessarily die if the trunk was chopped so that there were no leaves remaining? I'm not going to do that, just want to learn. Bill

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Re: Trunk Styling my Ficus Microcarpa

Post  Ryan on Fri Dec 27, 2013 2:18 pm

bmeinders wrote:
KennedyMarx wrote:You could try to style it more in the style of a conifer. Adam Lavigne posted a ficus styling on his blog that reminds me of what you could do with this one: https://adamaskwhy.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/this-is-what-happens-when-you-leave-a-bonsai-at-my-nursery/

Alternatively you could cut the top back pretty hard and see where the buds pop lower on the trunk, then develop those into the new branches. Change the potting angle and pick those branches and in a couple years it would look completely different.

Adam's link is great. That helped a lot. Much to think about now. So that is the way to defoliate, huh, to cut the leaf leaving about a third of the base? Course if I take off branches the leaves go with it. I would just need to leave at least one branch that has some leaves in order to keep the roots supplied with energy? Would the tree necessarily die if the trunk was chopped so that there were no leaves remaining? I'm not going to do that, just want to learn.  Bill

That's a way to defoliate. I remove the whole leaf when I defoliate. However, Adam lives in warm Florida, and that allows him to be able to defoliate at this time. In WA, I wouldn't defoliate right now.

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Nice idea

Post  bmeinders on Fri Dec 27, 2013 7:26 pm

kauaibonsai wrote:air layer the top and build a multi trunk shohin from the new tree.


Thanks for the great suggestion. Yes, it looks like doing a multi trunk would fit this tree well. Don't think I want to go in that direction though. I have no experience with air layering either.

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Re: Trunk Styling my Ficus Microcarpa

Post  Ashiod on Sun Dec 29, 2013 4:05 am

With ficus you can pretty much just chop it in half and plant the top. The things grow new roots like none other. It's a good opportunity to gain some experience trying an air layer on something almost guaranteed to succeed. You could also bind the new "trunks" together so that they fuse and form an interestingly shaped single trunk. F. microcarpa are fun little trees to experiment and learn on because they're cheap and deal well with the punishment. If you don't want to experiment much with it, your best option is probably to chop back everything but one lead branch.
As for your question of whether or not a bare trunk will put out new foliage, it will given some time to recover. I hacked my 'green island' microcarpa in half this spring/summer and the thing is growing like wildfire(for being in artificial light inside) now. The downside is that you can't guarantee where it will sprout out at, mine decided that the base just above the soil line is an excellent place to push new growth, so I plan to give it a bit of time, let the roots grow out and do a bit of aggressive trunk work to see if I can create a somewhat convincing lightning struck root over rock look. It was a bit of a throwaway experimental plant anyway, so there's not much to lose.

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Re: Trunk Styling my Ficus Microcarpa

Post  bmeinders on Sun Dec 29, 2013 4:57 am

Ashiod,

Thanks for your input. Ya it would be a good chance to learn air layering. My latest thought is to chop all the branches off except the rightmost one - in the top 2 pictures. It's the branch on the leftmost side in the back view picture. This branch, although not the strongest branch on the tree, has the best line via the trunk in my opinion and also lends itself to the possibility of a semi-cascade style. If I do an informal upright, the tree could have a wickedly nice bend to it. One more question if I may: the branches that were already cut off over the past 3 years or so, most of them have stubs remaining. Can I cut these off, flush with the tree? The wood seems to be dead. And when I cut off my branches in a couple of months (if that's what I decide to do) can I cut them back flush right away, or should I leave stubs at first, then cut the dead stubs off later? Over time the trunk probably will grow to encompass the stubs, but wouldn't it happen faster if I cut off the stubs, or knobs or whatever you call them? Bill

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Re: Trunk Styling my Ficus Microcarpa

Post  Ashiod on Sun Dec 29, 2013 8:51 am

You might check to see if they've already died back enough that you can just pop them off with a little force. I bought one that looked a lot like yours last year and found that most of the branch stubs could simply be knocked off with my thumb. I haven't seen much in the way of die-back on my ficus, but someone else would probably be able to answer the question with more confidence and authority than I have.

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