Sunday, 12 April 2020

Ficus Pumila Bonsai Failure

I was really proud when I created a mame bonsai from a Ficus Pumila cutting a few years ago. So much so that I even put it on show once. At the time it looked something like this:

November 2015 (with apple to show the size)

Growth was a little sparse, but I hoped for improvement in the years to come.

Unfortunately it's been all downhill since then. By April 2018 the leader had died and it had deteriorated to this:

April 2018 - after some damaged branches had been removed

With too many trees to care for I never got around to trying any of the options I referred to in my April 2018 update.

Instead it's largely been left to do its only thing. When I checked up on it a few days ago, it was seriously overgrown, with long branches which had rooted themselves into the pots of the Bougainvillea and succulent standing beside it.

After separation the Bougainvillea has two new Ficus Pumila plants growing in its pot.

The one of the right has grown up the trunk of the Bougainvillea and the two appear to have fused together.

As it's autumn in South Africa I don't want to do any repotting now, so I'll have to sort this mess out in spring.

And then there's the overgrown Ficus Pumila (no longer worthy of the name bonsai).

After shortening the long branches, a problem becomes visible.

The extent of the problem is much more obvious from the back.

The twisty trunk I worked so hard to create is dead. All the growth is coming from the first inch of the trunk.

Again I'll wait until spring before making any final decisions, but I think that this is a lost cause as bonsai. I'll probably give the plant away and keep the pot.

I still have to work out whether I can do anything with the two larger Ficus Pumila plants that appeared in the April 2018 update.

Fortunately the tiny Ficus Burtt-Davyi that appeared in that post is showing a lot more promise.

Friday, 10 April 2020

Mango Tree - an Update

In August 2017 I wrote a post about unsuitable material for bonsai. Most of the trees I discussed in that post were trees I'd grown from seed, in some cases hoping to turn them into bonsai. As I said at the time, however, I had no delusions that I could ever bonsai a mango tree, but I couldn't resist the temptation to grow my own mangoes.

By the time I wrote that post my mango tree was seven years old and was flowering for the first time.

Mango flower buds - August 2017 

I was thrilled, but also a little bit disappointed when I read that it was best for the health of the tree to remove the first season's flowers. I really didn't want to do it.

In the end the decision was taken out of my hands as a really heavy hail storm did the job for me.

My tree grew very little for the rest of that summer and in spring of 2018 there wasn't a trace of a flower anywhere.

Finally in spring of 2019 it started flowering again so I moved it into my greenhouse - near the door, so that it had decent exposure to sun and wind, but was protected from hail.

It worked. Over the last few months it's had three green mangoes dangling from its branches.

I'd pretty much given up hope of them ripening though as the stems they were dangling from looked like they were dying, but a couple of weeks ago they started turning orange.

Tree with 3 mangoes - April 2020

I'm not convinced they'll be edible, but when they look ready I'm planning to cut them open just in case.

Update: The day after I published this post one of the smaller mangoes fell off the tree. Although it was probably the smallest mango I've ever had, the inside was no worse than the mangoes I buy from stores. It tasted fine.

Perhaps the fruit would have grown better in a bigger pot. If I can find a suitable pot at home, maybe I'll slip it into a bigger pot once the rest of the fruit comes off.