Ficus benjamina questions

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Ficus benjamina questions

Post  alonsou on Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:03 pm

Hello everyone!

I have the opportunity to buy a couple 8ft tall Ficus Benjamina with a 4-5" trunks. They seem to be healthy as far as I can see.
The question I have for anyone with some experience on this specie:

If I get them, I will need to chop them down really hard (maybe a foot or so) to add some movement and a little more taper to the trunk, would it be safe for the tree to take such a drastic change?
Now if I do chop them down, do I need to leave a leader or will buds start popping out from around the cut?


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Re: Ficus benjamina questions

Post  Bob Pressler on Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:15 pm

I haven't had much luck chopping them without leaving live growth. Id suggest passing on them if your thinking about making bonsai's from them. Unless you airlayer the tops, that might work.

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Re: Ficus benjamina questions

Post  drgonzo on Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:55 pm

My BIG Benjamina is, or rather was, one such as what you have pictured, I keep it as a mother plant for clones which I grow out and work with. It stands about 7 ft tall and has a good 5 foot wide canopy. I just keep it as a nice ornamental "tree" I occasionally get little buds that pop out from down low on the trunk, but in my heart (knowing of their need for live foliage) I have never been able to bring myself to chop it. There are sentimental factors involved too.

Benjamina are difficult/annoying bonsai subjects for many reasons, and the time spend working against all their various foibles could be better spent on more workable species. Having said that I confess to having 3 in training, the afore mentioned clone mother, and a shohin.

-Jay

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Re: Ficus benjamina questions

Post  alonsou on Fri Jan 13, 2012 1:59 am

What would be a better (ficus) Bonsai material? Willow Leaf perhaps?

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Re: Ficus benjamina questions

Post  Bob Pressler on Fri Jan 13, 2012 2:11 am

Definitely willow leaf.

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Re: Ficus benjamina questions

Post  alonsou on Fri Jan 13, 2012 2:13 am

Bob, since you are local, Do you know of a good place to find some decent Willow raw material?

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Re: Ficus benjamina questions

Post  Bob Pressler on Fri Jan 13, 2012 2:13 am

PM sent

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Re: Ficus benjamina questions

Post  alonsou on Fri Jan 13, 2012 2:15 am

I just read it.. Laughing thanks!

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Re: Ficus benjamina questions

Post  drgonzo on Fri Jan 13, 2012 2:32 am

alonsou wrote:What would be a better (ficus) Bonsai material? Willow Leaf perhaps?

I sometimes look at my Benjaminas that I have to jump through all sorts of wierd pruning and styling hoops with and say to them "why can't you just act like a willow leaf!"

-Jay

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Re: Ficus benjamina questions

Post  rock on Sat Jan 14, 2012 1:09 am

alonsou wrote:Bob, since you are local, Do you know of a good place to find some decent Willow raw material?
Anyone in LA should go see Bob P he has the goods !

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Re: Ficus benjamina questions

Post  Russell Coker on Sat Jan 14, 2012 3:56 am

rock wrote:
alonsou wrote:Bob, since you are local, Do you know of a good place to find some decent Willow raw material?
Anyone in LA should go see Bob P he has the goods !



Isn't retusa/microcarpa available out there? Doesn't get much easier then that one.

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Re: Ficus benjamina questions

Post  alonsou on Sat Jan 14, 2012 6:22 am

Russell Coker wrote:Isn't retusa/microcarpa available out there? Doesn't get much easier then that one.

Sorry Russell, I have "0" experience with any Ficus, I will contact Bob Pressler one more time and ask him about this specie, last night he sent me a few pictures of some very interesting Willow-leaf, but I will totally consider Retusa/Microcarpa if its even easier (or same) to work with than Willow-Leaf. Cool

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Re: Ficus benjamina questions

Post  bucknbonsai on Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:47 pm

DrGonzo, i think your the most interesting man in the world.

Alonzo, I think the microcarpa/retusas easier than willowleaf as they seem to get less leaf drop and insects yet where you live you probably leave them outside all year so that probably wouldnt be an issue. I would get both the willowleaf and the retusa as they look completely different in terms of leaves and trunk. I wouldnt waste the time with the benjamanis, I stupidly got lots of large ones of them including different cultivars when I started off, now that I realize they are not as good for bonsai Ive been stuck with them because im attached to them even though they are big, uglier, and take up lots of valuable room in the sunroom.

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Re: Ficus benjamina questions

Post  Bob Pressler on Sat Jan 14, 2012 2:36 pm

Russell Coker wrote:
rock wrote:
alonsou wrote:Bob, since you are local, Do you know of a good place to find some decent Willow raw material?
Anyone in LA should go see Bob P he has the goods !



Isn't retusa/microcarpa available out there? Doesn't get much easier then that one.
Thanks Rock.
They are available by the thousands, most with ruler straight trunks though. Its probably the most common hedging material used in L.A.. The best thing if you want to start your own is to start cuttings about 8-10" long and thumb size then put some movement in the trunk with wire. On e of the ones I have is a huge one that was in the landscape.


Last edited by Bob Pressler on Sat Jan 14, 2012 2:38 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : add text)

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Ficus benjamina Questions

Post  bonsaisr on Sat Jan 14, 2012 3:38 pm

From my limited experience, I would also say that F. microcarpa is easier than F. salicaria 'Willow Leaf.' Try the tiger bark with its intriguing texture. Only don't call it retusa. That is an old error that got into the trade. F. retusa is a separate species which is probably not in cultivation.
Later on, try 'Willow Leaf.' It is quite different and makes exquisite shohin bonsai, but some of us find it more difficult.

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Re: Ficus benjamina questions

Post  Bob Pressler on Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:03 pm

I don't know but since we keep them out all year with only minimal protection in winter we don't seem to have problems with willow leaf. They both are easy and different enough that I'd suggest both.

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Re: Ficus benjamina questions

Post  rock on Sat Jan 14, 2012 11:54 pm

Russell Coker wrote:


Isn't retusa/microcarpa available out there? Doesn't get much easier then that one.
Yes I hear you...but

do you know that word u·biq·ui·tous/
Adjective:
Present, appearing, or found everywhere: "his ubiquitous influence".

That is what its like. We just dont use it, only really seen as mailsai and swapmeetsai. Silly I think we are crazy about the willow leafer.

It reminds me of the person I read somewhere who posted they couldn't find good material, they lived in the great northwest. Well when I was up there every tom dick or harry nursery had killler little dwarf conifers all over the place we would die to grow in so cal.
Every nursery in town has ficus galore and hardly anyone uses them
Shocked

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Re: Ficus benjamina questions

Post  Ryan on Sat Jan 14, 2012 11:55 pm

I worked one down that was originally 6 feet tall. It looks rough now as I haven't been taking the best care of it, it's been attacked by bugs, and it needs a wiring. Basically all I did was air layer, which made sprouts pop down lower. I also kept it in a very humid greenhouse. Here's the tree, don't laugh:


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Re: Ficus benjamina questions

Post  Russell Coker on Sun Jan 15, 2012 7:52 pm

rock wrote:
Russell Coker wrote:


Isn't retusa/microcarpa available out there? Doesn't get much easier then that one.
Yes I hear you...but

do you know that word u·biq·ui·tous/
Adjective:
Present, appearing, or found everywhere: "his ubiquitous influence".

That is what its like. We just dont use it, only really seen as mailsai and swapmeetsai. Silly I think we are crazy about the willow leafer.

It reminds me of the person I read somewhere who posted they couldn't find good material, they lived in the great northwest. Well when I was up there every tom dick or harry nursery had killler little dwarf conifers all over the place we would die to grow in so cal.
Every nursery in town has ficus galore and hardly anyone uses them
Shocked



Yes, well, that's like boxwood here - but I'm sure as hell not going to let that stop me!

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Re: Ficus benjamina questions

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