Tag Archives: Ficus microcarpa

Creating a heavier branch

Sometimes it is desirable to have a heavier branch and the material is grown in a container, indoors or is just a slow growing variety. In this case the material is Ficus microcarpa ‘Melon Seed’. This is a slow growing, miniature leaf form of microcarpa.

In order to develop it as a bonsai I have a good sized right branch but the left side needs a heavier branch. Fortunately, there are several small branches coming out of the left side that can be fused and form a proper sized branch. The apex of the tree is also too thin but there are no other branches that I can use right now to thicken it up.

Ficus microcarpa ‘Melon Seed’ with a nice right branch but a very thin left branch

The left side has several small branches that are pulled together with electrical/cable ties and with time they will fuse

Appearance of the branch now allowed to grow strongly for some months to fuse

Seed grown Ficus microcarpa, Clump style

I collected and sprouted a seed about 13 years ago that resulted in a plant that had low branches which I decided to keep as secondary trunks. The bonsai is what I would call Clump or Sprout style and is not that common in the bonsai world. It may be close to needing a nice container rather than its plastic development pot. Height is about 10 inches.

Ficus microcarpa, seed grown, in the sprout or clump style

Grafting figs

Grafting is a very useful way to improve a fig. It can add branches, new roots or thicken trunks. One factor to keep in mind is to graft identical parts together. Simply use material to graft, the scion, and the stock that are genetically identical. If this is not done the bark and foliage will be a mis-match and not suitable for bonsai.

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The graft point is at 1 and the 2 shows that the foliage of the graft and the stock are not the same. Both are Ficus microcarpa but not genetically identical.

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Close up of the graft point, 1, shows the mis-match in the bark color and texture

Multi-trunk fig tree

An unusual style for fig trees is the multi-trunk style. One way to develop this style is to use a seedling Ficus and allow several trunks to form. Another way is to fuse several trunks together.

This is a Ficus microcarpa, about 12 years from seed. It spontaneously had several low branches as a seedling and these were developed into a multi-trunk style.

Ficus microcarpa from seed, age abou 12 years, height 8"

Ficus microcarpa from seed, age about 12 years, height 8″

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Nearly defoliated to show the nice structure developing

Ficus cuttings, a great way to get more trees

Over the years I have taken many hundreds of cuttings. Most Ficus can be started easily from cuttings and even large size cuttings can be rooted with success.

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Ficus cutting about 8-9 years ago

This is a Ficus microcarpa cutting taken from one of my very large bonsai.

It was allowed to grow without trimming to recover strength and over time branches were selected to keep, other branches were removed and other branches were grafted into areas needing a branch. The bonsai after 9 years of training. Still not completed but it has come a long way from the start.

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Years later the same cutting is beginning to be an attractive bonsai

Consider rooting your extra cuttings to use for future bonsai.

 


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.

Trimmed back

This tree is a Ficus microcarpa that has been growing wildly for some months to gather strength and to build up the right lowest branch. Now it is time to get it trimmed back and looking pretty.

Bonsai need periodic wild growth to gather energy and to re-balance parts of the tree that might need more development but then comes the time to bring them back to shape.

 

Wild growth to gather strength

Wild growth to gather strength

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Trimmed back to a normal bonsai appearance

The evolution of a large Ficus microcarpa – Part Two

The first 5 years of progress with a Ficus microcarpa, Chinese Banyan, was outlined in a previous blog see http://www.bonsaihunk.us/public_html/?s=part+l

This  is an update on how this fig has progresse as of April, 2015. It still has some years of refinement to undergo before it can claim its position as a mature bonsai.

Two procedures were accomplished today that are helping bring this bonsai in training a step closer to its end point. One, is to reveal the thickening produced by the second set of fusion grafts of rooted branches that were started 5-6 months ago.

Apex dated as a single sprout of very thin dimension

Apex  as a single sprout of very thin dimension, allowed to grow wildly to thicken it up, 2013

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First set of fusion grafts are successful but not yet thick enough, 2014

Fusions at apex current appearance, 2015

Second set of fusions at apex current appearance, 2015

Roots from fusion in moss conduit leading to plastic container to the bonsai pot

Roots from fusion in moss conduit leading to plastic container to the bonsai pot

Plastic pot of soil leading roots down

Plastic pot of soil leading roots down to the soil in bonsai pot

Roots can be seen already growing into the bonsai pot

Roots can be seen  growing into the bonsai pot

Red arrow shows the path of the roots from the apex fusions to the bonsai pot

Red arrow shows the path of the roots from the apex fusions to the bonsai pot

The second procedure was the approach graft  on the right . Previously 3 approach grafts were tried and all failed for various reasons. A fourth approach graft  was done today to once again try to get a branch established in this position. Since it it is the first branch and lowest branch on the right side of the tree it is crucial to have this set in proper position of good size and of the right shape as it will be key to setting the design of the rest of the bonsai tree.

Bonsai with first branch on right grafted and first set of apex fusions underway at the top of the tree, 2014

Close up of the graft showing already severed from the origin and soon to be knocked of and grown on its own to become the 4th approach graft

Close up of the lowest right graft already established on its own but soon to be accindentally knocked off – planted and grown on its own to become the 4th approach graft

Rooted cutting flipped vertically and graft held to stock with wire

Above cutting, rooted, flipped vertically and graft held to stock with wire

Fusions at apex current appearance, 2015

Approach graft’s root are led into the pot of soil, 2015

As of 2015 the process is now 5 years along since started by Jack Pollock and the tree is moving along amazingly well. I am guessing that another 3-5 years will pass by before the tree is an attractive bonsai. In the meanwhile the tree has provided me a lot of reason to continue to learn and grow in  the wonders of the bonsai world.


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

Fig leaves

Ficus or figs are in a large family of plants showing many interesting and varied characteristics.

One of the most interesting aspects of various figs is the leaf. Leaves can be large, smooth or hairy, glossy or dull and have many, many other variations.

The photo below shows some fig leaves and their variation. The size of the leaves varies from 7″ to about 1″ on the right. All can be used for bonsai of various sizes depending on how much the leaves can reduce with proper culture and care.

Fig leaves from the left are benghalensis, ingens, religiosa, microcarpa and salicaria

Fig leaves from the left are benghalensis, ingens, religiosa, microcarpa and salicaria

The evolution of a large Ficus microcarpa – Part One

This Ficus microcarpa, Chinese Banyan, was a gift from bonsai friend, bonsai grower and dealer Bonsai Jack of Florida –  http://www.bonsaijack.com

Jack sent me this tree after initially styling it in 2010. In the first few shots you can see how the top of the tree was totally removed and all the China grafted branches were removed leaving the wild form of Ficus microcarpa to sprout back and provide the new branches for the future structure of the tree.

 

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The imported tree showing the small leaf cultivar grafted-in foliage

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Trunk detail, with a very large and bulky aerial on the left

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Jack removed all the grafts and the native larger leaf foliage has re-sprouted

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The tree in my plant room showing robust growth of foliage

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An approach graft was done on the right to create the first low right side branch

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Overview showing the right sided graft and the apex undergoing fusion grafts to thicken it up

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The first set of fusions to bulk up the apex

The apex was so thin and not believable that I brought up two or three additional branches from the trunk and used electrical ties to force fusion and thickening of the apex. This worked very well and by October of 2014 I felt that even more thickening would be needed

The apex fusions did very well and were completely fused but the apex was still too thin to be believable as a good transition of the topped trunk so about 6 rooted cuttings previously taken of this same tree were attached with electrical ties to the apex and their roots inserted into a plastic baggie of soil also attached to the top of the trunk.

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Close up view of the second set of fusions to bulk up the apex, 2015

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The baggie contains soil to allow the roots of the rooted cuttings to survive and fuse with the apex

In the process of doing this second fusion set to the apex my assistant accidentally bumped the previously grafted right main branch and it was broken off.

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Close up of the right sided graft on its own

 

To replace this another previously rooted cutting was inserted into a hole drilled into the trunk. The root was draped out of the drill hole and into its own pot of soil and covered with sphagnum moss.

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Hole being drilled to accept rooted cutting to become right lowest branch

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Close up of the rooted cutting in place

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Roots mossed and led into a container of soil

The new right sided branch graft soon failed and I made a third attemp to get a right sided branch by doing an approach graft from the thin back branch brought forward and inserted into a fresh groove in the trunk. The graft was secured with staples as you can see below.

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This is the 3rd attempt to get a right sided branch – approach graft from the back

Time will tell how this all will turn out. So far I am quite happy with about 2.5 years of work and progress on this huge fig. Bonsai is a never ending process of refinement and change necessitated by how the plant grows.