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Ficus forest spring pruning

Ficus forest spring pruning

This post is actually a progression of my forest projects that I started to present last year here: Ficus forest project – progression

As day light already lasts for at last 15-16 hours I considered it’s time to prune my ficus benjamina forests to promote back budding. For this process, I had a proactive approach as from last fall till now I continuously fertilized these trees to increase their strength – and in the same time preparing them for the heavy prune that I will show in this post. Simultaneos, I needed to clean the soil surface because as ficus trees grow, they drop the covers of the new leaves and these rot on the soil surface. In time, it creates an ugly black layer of dead material that, if kept indoors, it will mold, smell ugly and promote fungal issues.

Comparing to the pictures from the post I indicated in the begining you can see that there is quite some growth at this time.

Here is a closeup of the surface soil that is quite ugly and full of dirt and dead material from one season of growth.

Here is the second forest that I created last year. If you concentrate on the soil surface, you can see that here the black material is more aggressive and obvious. This tree as well had a very serious and vigorous growth for one season.

However, both forests are too large already and their branches overlap creating a barrier for the light reaching the lower branches. For this reason, as seen in the pictures, the development of the top of the canopy is more aggressive than of the bottom’s. This must be corrected by pruning now, on one hand, and by future back pruning of the top branches to encourage lower one’s development. Also, the height that the trees reached is over the one that I have envisioned so they will need to be reduced.

Hard pruning combined with partial defoliation was the approach that I did for these trees. For ficus trees, it is important to prune back in this case to 2 or 3 leaves to encourage ramification. A very important issue to consider is that not all the leaves will back bud, there are some that never back bud. A strategy to make sure you cut back to leaves that bud out is to let them start budding. I achieved this by fertilizing them as I already mentioned and letting the branches grow out. On any species of trees, a rule of thumb to promote back bud is to leave it grow long. If you do so, you can see when and where you have to prune, as back to the trunk as possible but always to an already existing bud that will ramify your tree. I cleaned the soil surface back to the clear clay particles that the trees are planted in. Now it remains to continue fertilizing, watering and keeping the trees in sunny condition.

If until now I left the trees to grow wild just to gather strength, from now on I will be more careful about ensuring its growth on the bottom branches and slower growth on the upper ones. This does not mean that I will prune back as soon as new branches appear on the top of the canopy, but I will decrease their growing power by cutting of leaves on these branches. This method ensures the energy distribution of the branches that have more leaves that those with fewer ones.

Hope this helps you and thanks for the visit!

Yamadori – collected in Spring 2018 – Part III

Yamadori – collected in Spring 2018 – Part III

In order to continue presenting the newly collected material in Spring 2018, I will add new photos of several species of trees that I found suitable for bonsai and I found them with quite nice potential. Some of them have already a nice structure, others are only trunk lines that will developed to canopy in the following years. Because I considered that I do not have trees that flower or develop fruits, I have collected species that will do, as soon as they will get established in their new environment.

Some Prunus avium or wild cherry tree. I have collected several cherry tree trunks and they all leafed out by now, vigorously and very healthy.

Two Cotoneasters that were full of fruits during summer of 2017.

A Fagus, very nice ramification and trunk movement.

Some Gleditschia triacanthos with old looking bark on the trunk and nice branching.

A wild apple tree that just started pushing buds from old leaves.

A Pyracantha that was kept in a big flower pot and last year was full of fruits. By now the thick branch also pushed buds that are opening.

A Pyrus Pyraster, or wild pear. In fall, its leaves color turns to red right before dropping them. It gives a quite nice color spectacle as a bonsai.

A Linden that was wired into a feminine movement and seems like “she” is doing just perfect.

I have other several trees that were collected just this year but those need a bit more work to start their branching. Future progression based posts will include pictures about those as well.

Hope you find nice my new collection and thanks for the visit.

Yamadori – collected in Spring 2018 – Part II

Yamadori – collected in Spring 2018 – Part II

So, as promised in my previous post I will follow-up with the new collected material in fall of 2017 and spring of 2018 as well. All these pictures were taken in early April 2018 and by now all their buds are swelling and many of these trees are already leafed out. I will present in a future post their progression as detailed as possible, but it takes me quite some time to shoot pictures of so many trees to follow their growth.

A Carpinus with elegant trunk movement.

A Carpinus in cascade style. It has a too long trunk for cascade style but it has an extremely well formed canopy for this. The trunk issue will be solved in 2019. If the tree will be vigorous through this year, in May 2019 I will airlayer it in order to obtain a shorter trunk with some possible nebari to get it ready for repotting in 2020 into a tall cascade dedicated ceramic pot.

One of my favorite from the collected material of 2018 is a raft Carpinus with aerial roots as well. It is an awesome tree and it needed a custom made wood container. It is about 1m long. It seems to be doing just good as at the moment of writing this post it is already in leaf.

Another semi-raft Crapinus that is by this time full of leafs and proving to be quite vigorous.

Still in the Carpinus selections, one with aerial roots.

Probably the last Carpinus that I will mention in this post, is one with very dense ramification and the size of the branching from thick to medium to thin being very fast in narrow distances from the trunk. I think that in order to obtain such ramification on demand it takes a lot of skills and maybe some luck as well.

As you probably observed, I collected quite some Carpinus yamadori. I am fascinated by the diversity of styles and changes that I found in yamadori style Carpinus. In my opinion, with this species you can either find or create in time any stile you want from the wide perspective of bonsai styles. Even now, as you can observe in my pictures, it is able to grow aerial roots that usually is common for ficus trees. Of course these so called aerial roots were under ground when the trees were collected, however their feeder roots are now under soil level while their wooden part was exposed to create the perspective of tropical aerial roots.

In future posts I will present other species as well, but I felt like dedicating Yamadori – collected in Spring 2018 – Part I and II only to Carpinus species.

Thanks for the visit,