cutting back willow leaf ficus

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cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Guest on Sun May 01, 2011 4:35 am

Hi Folks
This guy is due for a major hair-cut after growing strongly and quite out of controll for two years.
Question: how severly can I prune into this tree? Back to bare stubs? I want to start a whole new canopy much closr down on the trunk and I'd love to use some of the larger branches to do that. Is it like a Benjamina adn I need to leave something green on the branch to maintain sap flow? Help would be greatly appreciated
-MOTM


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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Ryan on Sun May 01, 2011 4:54 am

man on the mountain wrote:Hi Folks
This guy is due for a major hair-cut after growing strongly and quite out of controll for two years.
Question: how severly can I prune into this tree? Back to bare stubs? I want to start a whole new canopy much closr down on the trunk and I'd love to use some of the larger branches to do that. Is it like a Benjamina adn I need to leave something green on the branch to maintain sap flow? Help would be greatly appreciated
-MOTM



I grow tons of these. From my experience, no, you do not need to leave any leaves on the branches in order to get backbud. I've wacked them all the way back to nothing and they bud back prolifically. Also, with the roots you can cut off almost all of them and new ones will sprout, given proper humidity.

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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Guest on Sun May 01, 2011 5:05 am

Thanks ryan

I knew about the root thing, I just wasn't sure about the top thing..

This is going to be fun... Twisted Evil

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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Ryan on Sun May 01, 2011 5:19 am

Here is an example of a really ugly one I cut back:




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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  JimLewis on Sun May 01, 2011 12:32 pm

Speaking of roots, those need work. I would cut the one that curves across the front and the one on the right that appears from underneath the right-hand-most root. Cut them flush with th trunk. Then planting a bit deeper will also help.

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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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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Guest on Sun May 01, 2011 2:52 pm

Hi Jim

The fellow who started this tree At one point, Long ago, took all the long octopus roots this tree had produced then basically twisted them all together and weaved them in amoungst themselves then let them grow in, bulk up, and fuse together. Its become part of the style of this tree. Though it may violate some of the rules of Bonsai I choose to leave them as they are although normally YES I would attack roots like that ...crossing every which way...Interestingly Its the roots that garner the most attention whenever someone sees this tree, always positive comments as well.

When (seasonally) is the best time for me to hard prune into this ficus, I assume now...springtime..

Thanks for all the comments everyone
MOTM

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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Ryan on Sun May 01, 2011 3:26 pm

I love hacking the roots off these.

Before:



After:


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Cutting Back Willow Leaf Ficus

Post  bonsaisr on Sun May 01, 2011 4:32 pm

I am also concerned about the roots, for the health of the tree. When roots are intertwined, there is risk of a strangler root, where a root grows coiled around another root and cuts off the circulation, like a tourniquet. The strangled root will die, & there is a possibility of rot. When we are told to straighten out the roots so they radiate, it is not just for looks. Figs can grow admirable nebari without this danger.
Iris

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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Guest on Sun May 01, 2011 10:10 pm

I could only cut some of the thinner roots back, but as you can see many of these roots are nearly as thick as the trunk and have LONG scince grafted to each other, theres no untangling this..And in fact if I were to lift this tree out of its pot you would see that the tree was sawed flat directly underneath this root mass and then re-rooted. But I definately see the small roots pinching at the right and will get those out of there, thank you Iris. The ultimate solution would be removing that root mass entirely which I am unwilling to do. Oh by the way those wiring scars? that wasn't me that was the previous owner.


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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Guest on Sun May 01, 2011 10:11 pm

this is going to be a fun project I'll keep taking photos and updating as I work-

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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Ryan on Sun May 01, 2011 10:37 pm

man on the mountain wrote:I could only cut some of the thinner roots back, but as you can see many of these roots are nearly as thick as the trunk and have LONG scince grafted to each other, theres no untangling this..And in fact if I were to lift this tree out of its pot you would see that the tree was sawed flat directly underneath this root mass and then re-rooted. But I definately see the small roots pinching at the right and will get those out of there, thank you Iris. The ultimate solution would be removing that root mass entirely which I am unwilling to do. Oh by the way those wiring scars? that wasn't me that was the previous owner.



Why aren't you willing to just cut those roots flush with the trunk??

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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Guest on Mon May 02, 2011 1:28 am

I like the roots the way they are, they're mangled and horrific. I'll neaten up some of the stragglers but the twisted knotwork of roots is one of the best features in this rather ordinary looking tree. As I said earlier my goal is to shorten down the canopy significantly that will make the roots even more powerfull via proportional change. Of all the 'rules' of bonsai the one I follow first and without ever breaking is "create Bonsai YOU like." Anyway I can always whack those off later after my new canopy is established, need lots of roots for now to grow a good top.

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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Guest on Mon May 02, 2011 1:31 am

They remind me of a budha sitting lotus style, and now that I just came up with that image I will keep that in mind as I start my new design. I kinda like that idea.

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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Mon May 02, 2011 10:54 am

That look of roots is fairly typical of the variety.

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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Guest on Tue May 03, 2011 2:05 am

after a few spins on the lazy susan this afternoon I think it's gonna be a complete top reduction down to branch nubs, The wiring scars are rather deep and I dont think they'll ever heal and they're on basically every main branch. Should I slip pot it into a training box for such a maneuver? or do you folks think It will be OK in its Pot/tray? With your recomendation I'll perform the surgery tommorrow, just gotta get my cloning materials ready....all those branches will make a forest of clones!

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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Tue May 03, 2011 3:40 am

Cut away, but take a look at Ryan tree and how it came out, be vigilant and remove all but one branch from each location, don't let them grow a clump.

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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Guest on Tue May 03, 2011 4:52 am

Bill

You think I should slip it into a training box or keep it in its pot?

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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Tue May 03, 2011 11:59 am

If I had it it would be in a 12 inch bulb pan with a bonsai soil for good drainage. (a bulb pan is a plastic [sometimes clay] container that is 1/2 as tall as wide, so a 12 inch bulb pan is 6 inches deep. This helps to keep the root ball from getting to out of hand.

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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Ryan on Tue May 03, 2011 7:28 pm

Billy M. Rhodes wrote:Cut away, but take a look at Ryan tree and how it came out, be vigilant and remove all but one branch from each location, don't let them grow a clump.

Yes, that is a big mistake I made Embarassed

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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Guest on Tue May 03, 2011 9:50 pm

Bill
I have a few training containers that fit that description, Its a bit on the root bound side now as it is and my gut tells me that If I'm going to do work, get it into something where it can stretch its legs out. So I'm gonna follow your lead, Plus I could use that pot!

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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Wed May 04, 2011 1:33 am

They will tolerate root pruning, although probably better in Florida than where you are. On repotting I would remove 1/2 to 2/3 of the roots, usually with a small saw or chisel. I have a 1 inch wide Craftsman chisel and a rubber mallet, they do a great job on root pruning of tropicals

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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Guest on Sun May 08, 2011 3:51 am

I'm hoping Bill will see this in the morning...

I'm going to do the chop tomorrow, and wanted to try to root out some of the thicker branches I'll be removing, what special preparations should I do for these bigger guys in order to help root, I've done a lot of small willow leaf ficus clones but never tried something say about the size of a fat magic marker.

So how do you root the "thickies"

Thanks for the advice in advance
MOTM

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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

Post  Ryan on Sun May 08, 2011 4:38 am

man on the mountain wrote:I'm hoping Bill will see this in the morning...

I'm going to do the chop tomorrow, and wanted to try to root out some of the thicker branches I'll be removing, what special preparations should I do for these bigger guys in order to help root, I've done a lot of small willow leaf ficus clones but never tried something say about the size of a fat magic marker.

So how do you root the "thickies"

Thanks for the advice in advance
MOTM

Personally I don't see any branches that are really all that big, so I wouldn't worry about their ability to root. I've rooted cuttings the size of a magic marker before. I dipped the end in rooting hormone, planted it in bonsai soil, and kept humidity high. Turned out well.

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Re: cutting back willow leaf ficus

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