I Have A Two Year Old Ficus Benjamina That I Grew From A Clipping That I Would Like To Grow Into A Bonsai (Photos Included)

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I Have A Two Year Old Ficus Benjamina That I Grew From A Clipping That I Would Like To Grow Into A Bonsai (Photos Included)

Post  lonegreywolf20 on Fri Jan 02, 2015 9:40 pm

A few weeks ago, my wife purchased a juniper bonsai for me for Christmas knowing that I have wanted a bonsai tree for near as long as she has known me. After doing a bunch more research then I did without a bonsai I decided that the juniper was not suited for apartment life. Especially when said apartment doesn't have a deck/balcony, plus I live in Central Florida, not exactly a great place for it to go into dormancy.

So I have decided to grow this two year old ficus benjamina into a bonsai if I can. I have a much larger ficus benjamina that I have put into the woods behind our apartment that I can also take clippings from if for some reason this two year old one will not work.

There are questions that I have, such as how do I get the trunk to thicken up? Can I even turn this two year old ficus into a bonsai?

I will probably have more, but I do not want to get into an information overload.

Here are the photos that I mentioned:




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Two year old Ficus benjamina

Post  bonsaisr on Fri Jan 02, 2015 10:14 pm

Oh dear, where to begin? First of all, a standard F. benjamina is not the best choice for bonsai, but it will do very well to practice on. I would like to see a picture of the parent tree. It might be more suitable. The first thing I noticed about your rooted cutting is that it is not getting enough light. The growth should be more compact. Unless you can site it at a south facing window, you may have to forget bonsai. Nearly all species require full sun.
The only reasonable way to get the trunk to thicken up is to plant the tree in the ground and feed it heavily. Go plant your specimen near its parent in the woods.
Join the nearest bonsai club and take some bonsai books out of the library.
Iris

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Re: I Have A Two Year Old Ficus Benjamina That I Grew From A Clipping That I Would Like To Grow Into A Bonsai (Photos Included)

Post  lonegreywolf20 on Fri Jan 02, 2015 10:24 pm

bonsaisr wrote:Oh dear, where to begin? First of all, a standard F. benjamina is not the best choice for bonsai, but it will do very well to practice on. I would like to see a picture of the parent tree. It might be more suitable. The first thing I noticed about your rooted cutting is that it is not getting enough light. The growth should be more compact. Unless you can site it at a south facing window, you may have to forget bonsai. Nearly all species require full sun.
The only reasonable way to get the trunk to thicken up is to plant the tree in the ground and feed it heavily. Go  plant your specimen near its parent in the woods.
Join the nearest bonsai club and take some bonsai books out of the library.
Iris

The only reason why it doesn't look like it's getting a whole lot of sun is that it's a cloudy day here in Florida. The sun is just now peaking through the clouds. The window is a south/slightly facing southwest facing window. Trust me, we get the sun from right before noon till almost sunset all year round. Our electric bill can attest to that.

Unfortunately, the nearest bonsai club is over 50 miles away from me. :/

I will see about getting you a picture of the parent tree. The apartments have been kinda lax this year with keeping the edge of the woods/brush from overgrowing.

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Re: I Have A Two Year Old Ficus Benjamina That I Grew From A Clipping That I Would Like To Grow Into A Bonsai (Photos Included)

Post  lonegreywolf20 on Fri Jan 02, 2015 10:26 pm

Will kinda be depressing if I cannot do a bonsai from this cutting. Just one more thing to add on not being able to do because we are in an apartment.

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Re: I Have A Two Year Old Ficus Benjamina That I Grew From A Clipping That I Would Like To Grow Into A Bonsai (Photos Included)

Post  Precarious on Fri Jan 02, 2015 11:39 pm

wellll... We've just been through this recently with another person just starting out, so the varying opinions are fairly fresh. If I can partially sum it up, bonsai can be approached several ways, and to some degree it depends on your goals and temperment.

If your goal is, as with most, to get to a tree in a pot that looks like an ancient, weathered, scarred full-size tree in nature, the focus really needs to be on getting the size of the trunk thickened first of all. If just left in the pot it's in, in the soil it's in, it may take a very long time. There are ways to speed that up. Planting the tree in the ground may be the quickest- a few years in optimal conditions. In a pot you may well have to pot up a few times over several years, and quickly learn how to optimize light, soil, fertilizer and watering. Fortunately, with tropicals you can get a thick trunk in a pot in less time than with, say, a conifer. Ficus, it seems, like to be pot-bound and grow well that way.

Some would say to forget growing small sticks into suitable bonsai, as it takes too long. Go out and find a well-developed nursery tree or a tree in nature and start pruning it down. This may well be quicker but it's still a discussion of years of development. Your 'mother tree' might be a suitable tree from nature to dig up and pot, and thus have a head start. I have grown them up and cut them down, and like both ways, though growing them up gives me a greater satisfaction somehow.

If I were you, in an apartment as you've described, I would research inexpensive supplemental lighting for a starter, and would read up on soil, fertilizing and watering(which you may have already done). Here are two good websites- the first general, the second specialized for tropicals.
bonsai4me.com
bonsaihunk.com

Others will weigh in, I am sure, with more experienced answers. I hope all of it helps keep your interest up!

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Re: I Have A Two Year Old Ficus Benjamina That I Grew From A Clipping That I Would Like To Grow Into A Bonsai (Photos Included)

Post  leatherback on Sat Jan 03, 2015 8:45 am

Hi,

A little thought; I am not in the tropics, so I cannot judge how this sapling will explode in Florida climate. But.. IF you have a parent plant nearby (Which is at least partiallly youra, as you planted it) why not take the short route to a thicker trunk and find a nice fat branch on the mother plant and airlayer / trunchion cut it? In your climate you should be able to get a 6 inch branch to root easily.

Remember: Bonsai are often not grown up from small, but cut down from larger specimens

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Re: I Have A Two Year Old Ficus Benjamina That I Grew From A Clipping That I Would Like To Grow Into A Bonsai (Photos Included)

Post  bonsaisr on Sat Jan 03, 2015 4:16 pm

It seems strange in Florida, but as David said, look into growing under lights. T5 are recommended these days. I didn't mean that your tree isn't getting enough light today. It hasn't been getting enough light the past 6 months. Compare it with a Ficus that is growing outdoors in the sun.
Leatherback, F. benjamina usually does not explode. It is a slow steady grower. I dunno about in Florida. I didn't recommend air layering because he is a beginner.
Iris

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Re: I Have A Two Year Old Ficus Benjamina That I Grew From A Clipping That I Would Like To Grow Into A Bonsai (Photos Included)

Post  beer city snake on Sat Jan 03, 2015 5:12 pm

in florida there are many species that will work for you, if not the one you have... and some of which may work with your current lighting situation (after all, i have numerous "tropicals" here in wisconsin)

your location of central florida is vague, but wigerts bonsai in north fort myers may be worth the trip and i seem to recall that they have a 2 part beginner class starting there in january (w/ material provided i believe)...

http://wigertsbonsai.com

being in wisconsin, i only know this because i will be visiting my mum in ft myers in a week or so...

good luck

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Re: I Have A Two Year Old Ficus Benjamina That I Grew From A Clipping That I Would Like To Grow Into A Bonsai (Photos Included)

Post  Sorcertree on Sun Jan 04, 2015 8:37 am

I am in an apartment. If I were you. In Florida....

My (outside) windowsills would be full of tropical shohin.

It looks to have about 2 inch internodes. I've been gettin 1/2in internodes under t5s with f.Ben.
So inside is an option.

In Florida, if you look at a ficus it will grow roots, I think an air layer (or 6) Off mom should be easy for you.

You're on the right track ditching the juniper. Old Ben is fun to work with!

Sorce

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Re: I Have A Two Year Old Ficus Benjamina That I Grew From A Clipping That I Would Like To Grow Into A Bonsai (Photos Included)

Post  lonegreywolf20 on Sun Jan 04, 2015 1:16 pm

Sorcertree wrote:I am in an apartment.  If I were you. In Florida....

My (outside) windowsills would be full of tropical shohin.

It looks to have about 2 inch internodes.  I've been gettin 1/2in internodes under t5s with f.Ben.
So inside is an option.

In Florida,  if you look at a ficus it will grow roots, I think an air layer (or 6) Off mom should be easy for you.

You're on the right track ditching the juniper. Old Ben is fun to work with!

Sorce

Thanks. I wish I could do outside windowsills, but our windows have no outside windowsills... lol. The windows are completely flush with the outside wall.

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Re: I Have A Two Year Old Ficus Benjamina That I Grew From A Clipping That I Would Like To Grow Into A Bonsai (Photos Included)

Post  beer city snake on Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:07 pm

lonegreywolf20 wrote:I wish I could do outside windowsills, but our windows have no outside windowsills... lol. The windows are completely flush with the outside wall.

simple !
just get one of these:



except just let the baby sleep in it at night and in the daytime put your trees in it...

or something like that Wink

in all seriousness though, i am sure they make an apartment window ledge that hooks on the inside and is supported by a simple bracket on the outside that would just rest against the building without drilling into the building...

might be surprised what you come up using the google goggles... i sure was !


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Re: I Have A Two Year Old Ficus Benjamina That I Grew From A Clipping That I Would Like To Grow Into A Bonsai (Photos Included)

Post  lonegreywolf20 on Sun Jan 04, 2015 5:33 pm

beer city snake wrote:
in all seriousness though, i am sure they make an apartment window ledge that hooks on the inside and is supported by a simple bracket on the outside that would just rest against the building without drilling into the building...

might be surprised what you come up using the google goggles... i sure was !


Per the lease we're not allowed to have anything hanging from our windows. We're not even allowed to use a box fan in our window.

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Re: I Have A Two Year Old Ficus Benjamina That I Grew From A Clipping That I Would Like To Grow Into A Bonsai (Photos Included)

Post  lonegreywolf20 on Sun Jan 04, 2015 9:29 pm

Thank you all for your answers.

I have actually decided to just buy a bonsai rather than try to grow one up. While I would get good experience growing one up, buying one allows me to start with a tree already grown for the most part.

What I am looking at purchasing is a Golden Gate Ficus.

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Re: I Have A Two Year Old Ficus Benjamina That I Grew From A Clipping That I Would Like To Grow Into A Bonsai (Photos Included)

Post  bonsaisr on Sun Jan 04, 2015 10:17 pm

'Golden Gate' is a cultivar of Ficus microcarpa. You will find plenty of information online. Don't discard your F. benjamina. You need something to practice on. Your Golden Gate will also need more light than you are giving the benjamina.
Iris

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Re: I Have A Two Year Old Ficus Benjamina That I Grew From A Clipping That I Would Like To Grow Into A Bonsai (Photos Included)

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