Saturday, 26 December 2015

Two Ficuses - Bonsai in Training

Today I present you with two trees that I've been working on for a while. They're one of my favourite species - Ficus Natalensis, a tree indigenous to South Africa.

Two overgrown ficuses - bonsai in training

To the bonsai newbie it may come as a surprise that these "bushes" have already been in training for a few years, but after a quick haircut all will be revealed. Ficus Natalensis is a vigorous grower and most of the excess foliage is this season's growth.

The tree on the left was grown from a cutting - a small branch I removed from one of my older trees several years ago. The one on the right started its life as an unwanted root from the tree I used as the subject of an article I published at HubPages a few years ago. It was propagated when the parent tree first went into a bonsai pot in October 2010.

Both trees were allowed to grow to several times their current height before their training started and once looked similar to this tree which I plan to discuss in a future post:

Another tree in an earlier stage of development

I don't believe in wasting anything that can grow, so the tops of both have since become trees in their own right.

But back to today's trees. First the tree on the left.

Before pruning

Ficus Natalensis has a tendency to put out aerial roots which can sometimes find their way into unexpected places as can be seen in this photo from my post on two other ficuses which I had neglected for some time. A root from one tree grew across the gap into the other tree's pot.

Overgrown roots

In the right place, aerial roots can be desirable, but the one I found on this tree was not.

Unwanted aerial root

It had to go.

Next I got down to shortening branches. I need to be very selective when it comes to pruning this tree as I've been growing it using the clip and grow method, denying myself the option of wiring branches to correct their position. Growing bonsai this way can be quite challenging and, while I try not to do more wiring than necessary on my other trees, I do use some wire on most of them.

With more than half the foliage removed, it looks more like a little tree, though I don't feel it's ready to go into a bonsai pot just yet. I'll let it grow for a few months now, and then I'll repeat the process.

After pruning

On to the second tree.

This one was not quite as simple as I thought it would be. As it was growing too low in its pot to photograph properly, I decided to take it out of the pot while I was working on it. As it turned out, the roots were all at the top and when I lifted it, most of the soil was left behind.

Removed from old pot

Under the circumstances I decided to repot it properly.

That proved to be a wise decision because below the fine rootage there was a big fat root growing in circles. It probably grew like that while it was still in the smaller pot it started its life in. I removed that root and planted it in its own pot to see if it will grow.

As my tree clearly didn't need so much soil, I moved it into a shallower pot.

Repotted and waiting to be pruned

After that all that was required was a rough haircut, with a little caution required because there was a spider lurking between the branches.

Repotted - after being pruned

I'm embarrassed to admit that I potted it at a bad angle, and had to adjust that after this photo was taken, but I guess the photo gives a fair idea of how the tree looks right now. After pruning it is approximately eight inches high, excluding the roots. In time I may reduce the height further.

This one will be spending the next couple of weeks in the shade while it recovers from its root surgery. The other tree is already back in the sunny spot it calls home.


Linking up with Inspire Me Monday.

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