Repotting my final Ficus for the year. What a way to end off the year with my roots up in the air...

in #bonsai4 years ago

As you can see I finished all the work I put aside for this week in two days! Once you get started there is no stopping. The first few Ficus trees I worked on went quickly as I just needed to prune them. I have a few before and after photos below to show you how much I pruned them. After that I saw that some of the trees did not just need prunning but they needed to be repotted as well. Their roots where growing over the pots and containers. Not just that but the soil mixture in some of the containers were so dense you could not get a toothpick in the soil.

Just a quick run down of the trees I pruned. These trees were all started from cuttings through out the past few years. They are all at different stages in their growing cycle and development but they all needed a prune. I cut them back hard, as I am currently just interested in the trunk and creating movement in it. Most of these before and after photos look cruel but they will grow back some of their foliage in no time. Just think of it like this, the more you cut back the top the more excess growth you have. This means that you have more roots then foliage. The tree will always try to balance out the canopy and the roots. If you have more roots than foliage the tree will put out more leaves in a short period. On the other hand if you have more foliage than roots the tree will throw off leave to bring itself back in balance. Amazing how nature works. Enough said here are the before and after photos.
IMG_6298.jpg IMG_6300.jpg The two photos above is a raft style that I have been busy with for two years now. It does not have much potential but I still keep on working on the tree. Might as well try out different techniques on the tree while I'm at it...
This tree above I like a lot as it has aerial roots running down the side of the trunk. It always looks great when you have aerial roots that found there way to the soil and they start to thicken up. Makes me think of a tropical forest.
IMG_6317.jpg IMG_6319.jpgIMG_6322.jpgThis tree I left to grow as I removed a huge part of it last year and it is now starting to heal over the area where I made the cut so it is now time for the next cut. The cut and grow technique also know as the clip and grow technique is a very time consuming technique but some how I prefer to use it on Ficus trees. I use it as wiring leaves scares on the trees that may take a few years to go away on Ficus trees. Scares are almost inevitable when using wires. Why you might ask? Well Ficus trees grow very fast in my region and the wire cuts in before the branch is set. So it you remove the wire because it has cut into the bark. The branch will simply bounce back to its original position. So you have to kind of play about with the timing. Some times you manage to get it right other times you take it off too soon than you have to wait a few months and try again.
The trees in the photo above is the trees that I repotted. Here is a few of the photos I took while working on them.
The trees in the photos above are all trees that I took as cuttings from the same tree. I like the "mother tree" so much as she showed great results in a small amount of time. So I just had to try and get smaller trees of that tree as cuttings have the same characteristics as the "mother tree". Now a few years later I left the trees in the same container for too long and I can not get them apart. I decided that I will be attempting a Clump style with these trees as they have fused against each other. I planted them in a bigger container to speed up the process even more. As you can see in the photos there were hardly any soil left in the container. It was all roots baby...
These two photos are the last ones on the smaller pre-bonsai trees that I repotted.

Now for the more advanced tree... My favorite Ficus of all time. It's not a big tree is stands about 25 cm high with a canopy that's roughly 20cm wide. This tree has been struggling to grow the past few months. IMG_6334.jpg IMG_6335.jpgIMG_6340.jpg If you take a close look at the soil you will see that the soil mixture has become very dense. I tried airing the soil mixture every two weeks by using my tweezers to loosen up the soil and allow fresh air to enter the soil. This did help but the soil mixture has become too dense for the tree to grow and live healthy. The soil mixture does lose its nutrients over time. It also decays over time thus becoming dense as the air in the soil gets used up and filled with roots. Here is a photo of this root system!IMG_6342.jpgIMG_6343.jpgIMG_6345.jpg
This is what two years in a pot looks like. This is not so bad as you can see that there is a lot of small feeder roots and the tree is still in good shape. Once those feeder roots start to thicken up and circle the pot, well that it a topic for another day. I then started to rake out the old soil mixture from the roots and soaked the roots in clean water.
IMG_6356.jpgIMG_6357.jpgIMG_6359.jpg In the photos above you can see that I really cleaned up these roots. I removed some of the roots that were growing straight down and trimmed back the longer roots. After that I started to prepare the pot. IMG_6346.jpg I washed the pot with clean water and added in new mesh to cover up the drainage holes. IMG_6349.jpgIMG_6350.jpg I then added a layer of soil mixture to the bottom of the pot to place the tree on.
The tree replanted with a fresh batch of soil mixture. Can you see that the soil looks much more free draining and less compact than it did before the tree was repotted. Here are the two close up shoots of the two soil mixtures. Th first one is the dense soil. Second one is the fresh new soil.

That is the last of my Ficus trees done and dusted. Next on my list will be cleaning up my other trees and trimming back where it is needed.

Hope you enjoyed the blog. Please feel free to leave your comments in the section provided below.


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Nice work showing the root systems of so many different version of this tree at various stages of growth. Some of those photos were surprising. The tray of trees that got filled with roots from the cuttings goes to show how aggressive the roots will spread and divide if given a good soil content and pot shape. The last tree, I was surprised actually how few roots remained after the soil was removed. Some of the thicker root ends look like they don't want to divide anymore, like they are tired. I wonder if they are dead/spent, or just dormant. Really inspired by the photo of all the aerial roots forming. That tree is loaded with growth energy!

One of these days I am going to have the cuts guts to start trimming and shaping my new ficus. I just can't decide on a style to aim for that will work with it. All of my branches are in a ring fanning upward from the same height where the trunk was cut. The first branch selection can make a big difference for the future shape of the tree. I'm leaning towards forming one branch into a gentle curving trunk, but maybe that's unoriginal.

Thank you very much for your comments. Much appreciated. Ficus trees grow very quickly and can take a beating.

When working on Ficus don’t take to long as their thick branches don’t bend easily. They naturally grow up, so bending them down does not work well. Unless you cut a gap in the branch where it enters the trunk. Then the gap fulls the branch will stay in place

Really like how that last tree is developing. Id love to see a profile shot of it taken from mid trunk height or a little lower...

Nice work! really making me want to go find a good ficus starter...

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