Ficus Techniques : 37

What do I do now?

by Jerry Meislik

Bonsai lover Rusli Wardjojo of Jakarta Indonesia writes about his Ficus microcarpa.

Ficus microcarpa, photo Rusli Wardjojo, 2010

"I'm Rusli from Jakarta, Indonesia. I've kept this tree for about 7 yrs. This is one of my first few bonsais I used for learning purposes. When I got it, there was only a few buds and no trunks at all. Height of this tree is about 50cm (base to crown) and width about 70cm. I know there are much improvement needed on this tree. I would like to hear more opinions and comments on this tree from all our friends out there. Thanks. "


You have a lovely Ficus microcarpa that has improved greatly in quality and size in the few years under your good care. Typical of Ficus grown as bonsai, it now has longish branches without much taper or inner foliage. This is as a result of your good efforts to get it growing larger in size and in health. However as you state it is now time to make some decisions on the future of this tree.

1. It can be wired and pruned lightly and become a very nice bonsai.

2. Or it can be reduced back moderately to increase its taper and overall impact. I drew the red line at the points that the tree seems to have little or no taper. See picture below showing one possible trim line.

Ficus showing the red line for a moderate cut

It is OK for a tree to have little or no taper but that degree of taper should match the lower trunk. In this case your lower trunk has significant taper. The amount of taper set in the trunk is not followed by similar taper in the branches. To me this indicates an inconsistent design.

So for my eye the reduction back would make the design much more consistent. See reduction points in photo below.

Lines now showing more drastic cut back to adjust to consistent taper

Many good bonsai people would just trim your tree back in the less severe pattern and wire the branches to good position and this is something that you could do. Or, you could take the position of cutting back and re-designing the tree with the new growth to bring the whole design into a more consistent pattern.

Rusli as the owner and artist you get to decide on where you see the future of your tree.


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