Friday, 25 November 2016

Here’s my Ginseng Ficus

I don’t often talk about my Ginseng Ficus because they’re frowned upon by most serious bonsai artists. That was one of the first things I learnt when I joined my bonsai club, but if anything it just made me feel I’d like to challenge myself by seeing what I could do with one.

Once I’d decided to buy one, my goal was to find a tree with roots that weren’t too bizarre. Not an easy mission! I don’t know how many years it took before I found one that I was happy to give a home. It’s not a spectacular tree (yet??) but it has no peculiar bulges, and all-importantly it has taper.

Of course when I bought it, it also had a horrible straight cut with a thin ‘trunk’ grafted on one side – a problem that only time could solve. I wasn’t even prepared to start work tidying up that cut back then because I was afraid that the graft wouldn’t hold.

Here it is as purchased in June 2013 in a tiny plastic container which wasn’t even worthy of being called a pot.

Ginseng Ficus - June 2013

Naturally the first thing I had to do was get it into a proper pot. The pond basket I chose was huge by comparison to its previous home but now I’m starting to think that it’s time to move it to something bigger.

By July 2014 it had grown enough for me to start work on that horrible cut.

July 2014 - before pruning

Realising that too much pruning would stunt its growth, I limited my other work on it to removing one of the two leaders as well as one small branch low down. I also did a bit of wiring.

July 2014 - after pruning and wiring

Looking at the photos now I’m starting to wonder whether I should have kept both leaders, but what’s done is done.

All is not lost however. Today the second leader is a slender twin trunk tree, about 50cm high, which I hope to train into a “proper” bonsai one day. For now, however, it has a lot of fattening up to do. A bigger pot is a must.

Cutting - November 2016

In the two years since I removed the second leader, my Ginseng Ficus has been left to grow as much as it’s able, its growth restricted only by the size of its pot.

November 2016 - before wiring

This week I decided it was time to do a bit more wiring as the branches I’d wired previously were growing upwards once more. While doing so I removed a couple of insignificant branches that were growing in the same space as the ones I’m trying to develop.

November 2016 - after wiring

No other pruning was done as the trunk and branches still need to fatten up significantly. For now I’m just happy that the trunk is starting to blend into the base and the scar where I tidied up that ugly cut is healing nicely.

Scar at graft site - rear view

This tree still has a long way to go before I can even think of calling it bonsai, but I’m happy with the progress I’ve made thus far.

Updated photos appear here.

2 comments so far. I hope you'll join the discussion.

  1. Just beautiful.Was it accloped?Thank you.

    1. Thanks for the compliment, but I don't know what you mean by 'accloped'.