There are many ways to handle a tree with little or no apparent taper. In this case a Ficus ‘Mystery’ was grown from a very straight and taperless cutting.
Fortunately there were several existing aerial roots that were brought down along the trunk and rooted into the ground. The aerial roots provide a visual thickening to the lower part of the trunk creating some taper that just does not exist. The roots coming off the aerials provide a nice surface flow that helps to visually stabilize the tree.
The area circled in red shows the straight cutting including a few aerial roots
The bonsai shows some nice taper provided by the aerial roots as well as nice surface rootage.
Slave branches are used to thicken a bonsai trunk or even branch. By allowing wild and untrimmed growth of these branches the trunk or branch can be thickened.
Once the thickening is done the slave branch can be removed or trimmed back.
Wild and untrimmed growth to thicken this branch on a Ficus natalensis/thonningii complex bonsai
The branch has been shortened back once it has the proper thickness but needs secondary and tertiary branches to be developed
The branch thus thickened, as in this case, now has a proper thickness but will need more work to ramify it and develop secondary and tertiary branches. This can be done with repeated nipping out of buds and defoliation techniques.
Aerial roots are kept on this branch as they speed branch thickening
I was gifted this Ficus microcarpa from my good friend David Fukumoto in 2004. It was just accepted into the bonsai collection of the Denver Botanic Garden this July of 2015.
Defoliated to show the branch patterns
Partially re-leafed after defoliation
In full leaf
Larry Jackel, curator of the DBG bonsai collection, and his Ponderosa pine
I am greatly honored to have one of my best trees find a wonderful home for the next phase of its life. A place where it will live and be admired for many years.
To review the history of this fig please refer to:
The definitive reference work on Ficus
for bonsai. The book is a softcover, 8 by 10 inch volume, with 144 color pages, containing detailed information for the beginner as well as the advanced hobbyist. Click here for more information