Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Tall and Straight with No Low Branches

The saga of my family of Ficus Ingens continues.

In 2012 I bought my first Ficus Ingens - very ordinary nursery stock, approximately 3 foot tall and straight as a pole. I've already discussed the first 2 successful air layers as well as the air layering blunder which, despite my doubts, had a happy ending. I sold that particular tree at my club's annual show, but still have the rest of the family.

The parent tree has made some progress, though I'm still not happy with the branch structure, so I've made a few changes recently. The smallest one is doing well too, though it has a bad case of wire bite after I tried to put some movement into the trunk and, as I so often do, left the wire on far too long.

Unfortunately the tallest tree refuses to cooperate. After the second air layer I was left with a long straight tree with a thin new leader.

January 2017

That was two years ago.

The top has grown vigorously since then, but the tree has stubbornly refused to produce even one low branch. It's bonsai potential that way is nil.

In November I decided that the only option was another air layer.

Air layer, February 2019, just before I removed it

This time I layered the tree just below the clump of branches growing really close together. This, I hoped, would finally stimulate some lower growth. That never happened.

The layer has rooted well though.

Root ball, just before I removed the layer

Last week I decided it was time to separate the top and bottom.

The new tree in it's own pot

As the new tree has so many low branches I decided to remove the long straight section before it gave me another problem tree.

February 2019 - after pruning

Now I'll let it grow for a while before deciding on my next step. There are way too many branches there to keep them all, unless I try to fuse some to the trunk later on. Possibly I'll grow a multi-trunk tree.

I'm pretty happy with my summer's work, but I'm a bit concerned for the future of the base:

Base - February 2019

After it's stubborn refusal to produce any low branches, will this finally shock it into cooperating, or will it kill the tree? I'd hate to lose it.

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