Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Two Neglected Ficuses

One of the problems with having too many trees is that I don't have time to give all of them the attention they need. As a result some of my trees are developing nicely while others are left to grow wild, and all they usually get from me is water and a little fertilizer. Grown in optimal conditions this allows them to develop fatter trunks so that, when I finally find time to work on them, they will make better bonsai than they would have if I'd started styling them too soon.

Unfortunately these two trees - two young Ficus Natalensis which I grew from cuttings - have never been given optimal conditions.

Two neglected ficuses - before

They've been living tucked away at the back of my greenhouse behind other trees and have been deprived of adequate light. As a result, when I pulled them out of the greenhouse I found a few dead branches. I'm not too concerned about those though as I've still got plenty of branches to work with, and after a heavy pruning they're sure to give me more.

A bigger concern is that they've been in their pots for far too long and have masses of thick roots growing in circles around the edge of their pots.

Overgrown roots

These roots are invasive too and, aided by the humid environment of my greenhouse, the larger tree sent its roots looking for more space. One root was tightly lodged inside the other tree's pot and I was forced to cut it before I could start work on repotting them. Another had invaded a pot occupied by a less vigorous tree, but that one came out without much effort.

Due to time constraints I've only been able to work on the smaller tree so far. I removed the heavy roots growing above the soil and reduced the root mass inside the pot, cutting back the long thick roots and keeping the finer ones, before repotting it into a wider but shallower pot.

Repotted and tidied up

As the top section was far too long and straight, I cut back to a suitable bend which makes it look in better proportion.

After pruning

For now it will be allowed to grow wild to see what new options it offers me. At a later stage I might reduce the height further. I'd also like some lower branches to fatten up the base of the trunk and give me better taper. Hopefully my tree will cooperate.

Note: I don't usually keep my trees in saucers, but use them when I bring the trees inside to photograph as I don't want them wetting the furniture. Drainage is important and saucers full of water will quickly lead to root rot.

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