Ficus benjamina backbud?

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Ficus benjamina backbud?

Post  Ryan on Thu Feb 10, 2011 6:23 pm

Hey all,

Does anyone have any experience with back budding on Ficus benjamina? I have the opportunity to buy one with a beautiful curving trunk, but it has no growth in the first 2 feet or so (it is a very tall tree). Anyone have any experience or advice about how to get back budding to occur? I think I might as well air layer off the top of the tree since it curves throughout the whole trunk. I read Jerry Meisliks article about how he reduced benjamina stumps to the point where they have no leaves, so I'm assuming they can backbud?

Here is that article:
http://www.bonsaihunk.us/ficusforum/FicusTechniques/FigTechnique15.html

Thanks,

Ryan

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Re: Ficus benjamina backbud?

Post  JimLewis on Thu Feb 10, 2011 6:35 pm

They don't. Don't buy it.

_________________
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 benjamina backbud?

Post  Tom Simonyi on Thu Feb 10, 2011 6:45 pm

Hi, Ryan...the article you have referenced refers to one of my trees. It is a benjamina that was intially reduced from about seven feet in height to a stump as is noted in the article. Jim is right, the species is very finicky and unpredictable when it comes to back budding....I was lucky in being able to coax this tree along...I just took a chance as I really lilked the lower trunk and surface rootage. If you do elect to trunk chop these trees just be aware of the risk. Hope this helps and good luck. You can also e-mail Jerry M. He is always gracious and very eager to help whenever he can.

Best regards,
Tom

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Re: Ficus benjamina backbud?

Post  Ryan on Thu Feb 10, 2011 6:51 pm

Tom Simonyi wrote:Hi, Ryan...the article you have referenced refers to one of my trees. It is a benjamina that was intially reduced from about seven feet in height to a stump as is noted in the article. Jim is right, the species is very finicky and unpredictable when it comes to back budding....I was lucky in being able to coax this tree along...I just took a chance as I really lilked the lower trunk and surface rootage. If you do elect to trunk chop these trees just be aware of the risk. Hope this helps and good luck. You can also e-mail Jerry M. He is always gracious and very eager to help whenever he can.

Best regards,
Tom

Beautiful tree, btw Tom. I have contacted Jerry about their ability to backbud and he said basically what you said. There is a branch about where I could chop/air layer the tree, would that be enough to keep it alive? What conditions was the tree growing in that allowed it to backbud? Thanks!

Ryan
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Re: Ficus benjamina backbud?

Post  bucknbonsai on Thu Feb 10, 2011 7:00 pm

Must be growing fast and in summer to back bud. Why not graftsmall leaf benjamina rooted cuttings to it this summer

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Re: Ficus benjamina backbud?

Post  Ryan on Thu Feb 10, 2011 7:08 pm

bucknbonsai wrote:Must be growing fast and in summer to back bud. Why not graftsmall leaf benjamina rooted cuttings to it this summer

Thank you, I could very well do that. Jerry Meislik discusses doing something like that and like what I want to do here:

http://www.bonsaihunk.us/rex/AdvancedGrafts1.html

Ryan
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Re: Ficus benjamina backbud?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Thu Feb 10, 2011 7:13 pm

Ryan,

[ from the Caribbean ] it does it, but where it wants to and it is a situation where you have to be very flexible design wise. Note Caribbean - Tropical.

I am presently dealing with that situation and it requires ----- patience, lots of patience.
Until.
Khaimraj

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Re: Ficus benjamina backbud?

Post  Tom Simonyi on Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:04 pm

Ryan, thanks for the kind words...During the initial stages of development regarding the tree (first 3-4 years) I was fortunate to have it housed in a greenhouse. I am sure that contributed to its subsequent success.
Good to hear you have spoken with Jerry....Good luck once again....

Regards,
Tom

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Re: Ficus benjamina backbud?

Post  Ryan on Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:16 pm

Tom Simonyi wrote:Ryan, thanks for the kind words...During the initial stages of development regarding the tree (first 3-4 years) I was fortunate to have it housed in a greenhouse. I am sure that contributed to its subsequent success.
Good to hear you have spoken with Jerry....Good luck once again....

Regards,
Tom

I think I can setup a makeshift indoor greenhouse. I have several ultrasonic humidifiers I have set up in a large sized greenhouse, and so far it feels pretty humid. I went back to the greenhouse and had a talk with some of the employees about my fears of chopping down a benjamina. I told them I wanted to experiment on some if possible, and they showed me 2 large ones that I can buy for $10. I will definitely buy them, chop them, and see what comes out. The trees were $60, but I'm good friends with an employee that talked them down to $10 a piece. I think the fact that the trees look somewhat sick might have also helped lower the price Smile

Ryan
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Re: Ficus benjamina backbud?

Post  Tom Simonyi on Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:34 pm

Ryan, that sounds like a workable plan and with minimal cost. Best of luck...
Tom

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Ficus benjamina backbud

Post  bonsaisr on Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:25 pm

From my experience, yes it will backbud if it feels disposed to do so, not dependably. Try shortening the trunk in stages, not all at once.
Iris

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Re: Ficus benjamina backbud?

Post  Ryan on Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:31 pm

Thank you all for your replies. I have went out and bought the 2 trees, both only $10 each, down from $60. Here they are:

Tree #1:



Tree #2:



bonsaisr wrote:From my experience, yes it will backbud if it feels disposed to do so, not dependably. Try shortening the trunk in stages, not all at once.
Iris

Interesting you say this Iris. What is the difference between chopping a bare trunk all the way down, and chopping it down in stages even when there is no foliage? Thanks!

Ryan
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Re: Ficus benjamina backbud?

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:37 pm

As an alterrnative you could leave some foliage and wound the trunk to encourage sprouting. Just above the aerial roots take a sharp knife and make a deep cut 1/2 way around the trunk, you might get a bud break just below the cut, once that growth develops you could chop the trunk.

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Ficus benjamina backbud

Post  bonsaisr on Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:44 pm

Ryan wrote:What is the difference between chopping a bare trunk all the way down, and chopping it down in stages even when there is no foliage? Thanks!
Sorry I wasn't clear. What I meant was to chop it down to the lowest branch with leaves, then let it alone until it backbuds. Then if you get a new lower branch, you can chop the trunk lower.
Iris

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Re: Ficus benjamina backbud?

Post  Ryan on Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:51 am

That's an interesting idea, Billy. I might have to try that once the trees recover. They seem slightly unhealthy right now.

Thanks for clearing that up, Iris, it makes a lot of sense now.

Now, to ensure these trees recover well and allow me to work on them, inside my indoor greenhouse I have placed a warm moisture humidifier inside the greenhouse. I stuck my hand inside of it and boy is it warm and very humid. Here is what it looks like as of tonight:



The light on top is temporary, until I can find some way of hanging one or soemthing....The trees tops are touching the top of the greenhouse, and that is after I shortened the top a little bit. But I figured that won't really matter.

Thoughts/comments are always welcome.

Ryan
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Re: Ficus benjamina backbud?

Post  Ryan on Fri Feb 11, 2011 2:25 am

Also, a thermometer inside the greenhouse reads around 92 F, or 33 C. Is that too warm?

Ryan
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Ficus benjamina backbud

Post  bonsaisr on Fri Feb 11, 2011 2:30 am

My F. benjamina is OK here during the summer, but I think that is rather warm for it, especially in the winter.
Iris

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Re: Ficus benjamina backbud?

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Fri Feb 11, 2011 2:32 am

Ficus wood is very soft and large cuts will take a long time to heal, we sometimes use epoxy marine coatings in the cuts to keep water out and prevent rot.

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Re: Ficus benjamina backbud?

Post  Ryan on Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:07 am

bonsaisr wrote:My F. benjamina is OK here during the summer, but I think that is rather warm for it, especially in the winter.
Iris

Thanks Iris. Since the foliage is so high up I don't think it will matter too much. And the thermometer was also right above the steam, so that probably affected it.

Ryan
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Re: Ficus benjamina backbud?

Post  Ryan on Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:08 am

Billy M. Rhodes wrote:Ficus wood is very soft and large cuts will take a long time to heal, we sometimes use epoxy marine coatings in the cuts to keep water out and prevent rot.

Thanks Billy, I may need you to explain that wounding technique a little more so I know exactly how to do it correctly.

Ryan
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Re: Ficus benjamina backbud?

Post  Ryan on Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:52 am

How successful would an air layer be on trees of this size?

Ryan
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Re: Ficus benjamina backbud?

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sun Feb 13, 2011 2:27 am

If you decided to do an air layer, I would up pot the tree and get it growing vigorously and try the layer at the beginning of summer.

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Re: Ficus benjamina backbud?

Post  Ryan on Sun Feb 13, 2011 2:54 am

Billy M. Rhodes wrote:If you decided to do an air layer, I would up pot the tree and get it growing vigorously and try the layer at the beginning of summer.

Good idea. That will be quite a challenge though. These roots seem very compact. Almost like the roots on the Willow Leaf Ficus I posted. They wrap around and around. How do these respond to root pruning? Thanks again.

Ryan
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Ficus benjamina backbud

Post  bonsaisr on Sun Feb 13, 2011 3:02 am

F. benjamina doesn't mind root pruning. Of all my Ficus, I think the best nebari is on this stupid benjamina. It is probably because when it was a houseplant, I rarely watered it. tongue
What is even worse, the one with the most compact, neat growth habit is my granddaughter's F. elastica 'Rubra.' It would make a perfect bonsai for the Jolly Green Giant. alien
Iris

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Re: Ficus benjamina backbud?

Post  bucknbonsai on Sun Feb 13, 2011 6:05 am

What is there that is worth air layering, I think the first 12" of trunk is the only usable stuff there. Mid summer cut bottom 1/2 of rootball off

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Re: Ficus benjamina backbud?

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