This is my second bonsai blog post and my second owned bonsai. This little fella is one of those Ginseng figs that can be seen at most garden stores, either sold as a bonsai or in a nursery container. This one came in a nursery container so it was only about $5 and all I had to do was re-pot it higher up in a bonsai pot and walla! The bonsai worlds most annoying commercialized non-bonsai bonsai. I’m only saying this because most other bonsai blogs rip on ginseng ficus or otherwise more correctly known as either ficus microcarpa or could be variations of tiger bark fig. Yea so I wanted to fit in. But really I like this tree because I like all trees, and this is a fig, so they can become very nice aesthetically with proper care. This guy, though at the moment in his state as was in 2014 is not a aesthetically good looking fig. It needs some work.
First off, I will criticize all of the mistakes I made that I am now currently aware of, so that you may be able to not do the same.
One big no no, or atleast if you want your tree to look like a real bonsai anytime soon is potting into a bonsai pot before the tree has grown properly. The specimen above doesn’t even have any main branches or a leader. In a bonsai pot the tree will grow alot slower and therefore in the long run it takes alot longer to get the look you’re after.
Also, no pebbles. They make it hard to identify whether the soil is moist or not and can also stop surface roots from forming a nice nebari. If you are really set on having some presentation other than a soil base then find some moss. It’s better.
I have left the legs on this ficus, these legs are why the ginseng ficus gets its reputation. Often they are chunky and spread, sometimes with inverse taper at the bottom. Nothing like a real tree in the ground.
February 2016. Okay a long time has passed since photos were taken but pretty much I fixed a few of the initial problems and some main branches were identifies and grown out. No lead, but I think I was going for a round canopy style? That seems to fit the bill for figs anyway. It has been repotted into a slightly larger pot and fertiliser added to stimulate growth.
Same day defoliation! Great, I actually took some before and after shots for this work. I had completely defoliated the tree in order to stimulate more growth at all of the terminal buds on these selected branches. I also applied some wire in an attempt to shape the canopy a bit as it was too close and crowded. I used the branch to branch method as the trunk on this tree is too thick to use as a anchor.
BAM! I decide that the trunk just has to be reshaped. After reading all the complaints about this type of tree online I fell for peer pressure and chopped it. You can see here that I made a straight cut with a garden saw at about the level the trunk is widest. This was so the tree would have better taper, and in the future a good nebari. With figs it can be good practice to trim top and bottom of the plant in order to maintain balance. With this kind of tree they grow back really well from the trunk as this is where they store all of their energy. This fig will now be placed DEEP into a pot to stimulate root growth around the cut area.
BE WARNED, this kind of practice should only be done in summer when figs are thriving and only on healthy trees. Works best on figs but can also be done on some maples if your lucky 😉
Deep in its pot. This time with a new soil mix I am trying. This mix is 1/3 coco husk, 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 “nursery bonsai mix”. The mix seems to retain moisture and is airy enough to stimulate lots of root growth.
Just a week later and the tree is looking healthy. I would put it down to those huge energy stores in the roots/trunks of these things.
Unfortunately I was not yet into the habit of taking lots of photos. So here it is just a month later, lifted up a bit in its pot. I guess I got impatient and wanted to re-pot ASAP to get the tree looking okay. The roots had grown alot! I don’t think the change will effect overall root growth because no roots were cut in the process.
I took the wire off and the branch bends straight back!
More wire this time. There are longer branches in the canopy so I have taken the chance to shape them up. I also made sure the lower branches were bent alot lower in case they choose to bounce back again.
More to come with this guy. In the meantime it will be making the bathroom look somewhat more, decorative?