ficus trunk chop advice

Forum for discussion of Evergreen bonsai – Buxus, Cotoneaster, Olive etc.
tombops
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Posts: 19
Joined: September 15th, 2016, 10:00 am
Favorite Species: Japanese maple
Bonsai Age: 2
Location: Newcastle

ficus trunk chop advice

Post by tombops »

scored a good deal on this fig at my local nursery and potted it up straight away without disturbing the roots too much. I'm planning on trunk chopping it, I'm also thinking about possibly air layering the top section. with both of these steps in mind what would be the best timing on both, and would i need to do any root work on it at this stage or is it best to leave it till its in more of a "finished", refinement stage? looking forward to hearing some ideas, cheers.
shibui
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Posts: 6346
Joined: August 22nd, 2009, 8:41 pm
Favorite Species: trident maple
Bonsai Age: 33
Bonsai Club: Albury/Wodonga; BSV; Canberra; VNBC
Location: Yackandandah
Has thanked: 10 times
Been thanked: 508 times
Contact:

Re: ficus trunk chop advice

Post by shibui »

Ficus do not like pruning or root pruning when it is cold. It may be warm enough up there to get away with some winter work but later in spring or summer seems to suit them better.
Figs are tough enough to survive almost anything you can do to them.
Layer will root far quicker in warm weather too so mid spring would probably be a good time.
Trunk chop can be done any time but they will recover faster when they are active in warmer weather.
Roots from layers should be fairly quick if the tree is healthy so you could probably layer in early spring then chop to remove the layer around mid summer.
You have not shown the tree so it is hard to be specific. Ficus root well as cuttings, even quite thick. Maybe you could skip the layer and just chop and try to root the top as a large cutting?
http://shibuibonsai.com.au/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
tombops
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Posts: 19
Joined: September 15th, 2016, 10:00 am
Favorite Species: Japanese maple
Bonsai Age: 2
Location: Newcastle

Re: ficus trunk chop advice

Post by tombops »

hey, thanks for your reply. That's pretty much what i was thinking in regards to the timing. Good idea about doing a cutting rather than a layering, I did read somewhere that you could do large cuttings on a fig I just wasn't sure on how thick. It also has quite a number of branches above where id like to layer it, would this be OK for a cutting? or would it be better off as more of a single trunk? I seem to be having trouble uploading a photo. I don't know if the forum has changed or something but I don't seem to have an option of adding my attachments to my post, as in i can upload them but it's like they disappear as soon as i post. Anyway hopefully you understand without the pictures or i figure this out soon.
tombops
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Posts: 19
Joined: September 15th, 2016, 10:00 am
Favorite Species: Japanese maple
Bonsai Age: 2
Location: Newcastle

Re: ficus trunk chop advice

Post by tombops »

Image
Image
shibui
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Posts: 6346
Joined: August 22nd, 2009, 8:41 pm
Favorite Species: trident maple
Bonsai Age: 33
Bonsai Club: Albury/Wodonga; BSV; Canberra; VNBC
Location: Yackandandah
Has thanked: 10 times
Been thanked: 508 times
Contact:

Re: ficus trunk chop advice

Post by shibui »

You obviously discovered that Ausbonsai has a size limit for files and managed to get them up.

My earlier advice did not take into account ficus species. I assumed F. rubiginosa as it is more commonly used for bonsai here. This looks like F. benjamina - weeping fig. It is often sold for landscape and for potted plants. Unfortunately they are less easy to strike and sometimes do not bud well on bare wood.
Weeping fig is used for bonsai but nowhere near as responsive or fast growing as our local species.

I had also not anticipated the size of this one. Even for a PJ fig that top would probably be a struggle as a cutting. Layering would definitely be recommended for that one.

Good luck with this project.
http://shibuibonsai.com.au/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
User avatar
Raging Bull
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Posts: 685
Joined: January 3rd, 2017, 9:29 am
Favorite Species: Any that survive
Bonsai Age: 3
Bonsai Club: Gold Coast-Tweed
Location: Gold Coast Qld
Has thanked: 37 times
Been thanked: 77 times

Re: ficus trunk chop advice

Post by Raging Bull »

Great nebari on this tree! :tu: Definitely worth a try to get the top off it too. Once you have layered the top I would recommend cutting the trunk down to around 20 cm and then let it ramify from there. As most of us have found crossing your fingers helps. :fc: ;)
Cheers, Frank.
tombops
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Posts: 19
Joined: September 15th, 2016, 10:00 am
Favorite Species: Japanese maple
Bonsai Age: 2
Location: Newcastle

Re: ficus trunk chop advice

Post by tombops »

Yeah really excited by this tree, it's the biggest tree I've been able to find and love working with raw nursery stock. Only cost me 50 bucks for this huge tree. I was told at the nursery that it was a ficus hillii and that it should have no problem budding back on a stump. I'd did have a tiny leaf on the trunk very low down so I'm feeling pretty confident although I haven't done a cut this severe before. Doing a bit of reading about truncheon cuttings and I've seen some huge fig cuttings and would be pretty cool if it would take, but i feel like air layering's probably gunna be a bit safer. I'll keep this updated as i proceed so keep watching haha. And with the photos I didn't change the size but i had to add it to my gallery and link to that, seems like there may be an issue with the attachment options on here.
shibui
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Posts: 6346
Joined: August 22nd, 2009, 8:41 pm
Favorite Species: trident maple
Bonsai Age: 33
Bonsai Club: Albury/Wodonga; BSV; Canberra; VNBC
Location: Yackandandah
Has thanked: 10 times
Been thanked: 508 times
Contact:

Re: ficus trunk chop advice

Post by shibui »

Ficus microcarpa var Hillii is not quite as robust as PJ but much better than F. benjamina so you should be OK for budding on the stump. Given the size I still think that layering would offer more surety than a cutting.

In bonsai larger size is not the be all and end all. Remember we are all about miniature trees. Thick trunks are valued but 'stump' is not a recognized bonsai style - yet.
Taper and ramification are still very important features for bonsai and it can take many years to convert 'fat stump' into good bonsai.
I still look forward to your progress with this one.
http://shibuibonsai.com.au/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
tombops
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Posts: 19
Joined: September 15th, 2016, 10:00 am
Favorite Species: Japanese maple
Bonsai Age: 2
Location: Newcastle

Re: ficus trunk chop advice

Post by tombops »

Yeah thanks, I know it's gunna take awhile. Lucky I've got lots of other smaller trees to be working on in the mean time.
User avatar
Raging Bull
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Posts: 685
Joined: January 3rd, 2017, 9:29 am
Favorite Species: Any that survive
Bonsai Age: 3
Bonsai Club: Gold Coast-Tweed
Location: Gold Coast Qld
Has thanked: 37 times
Been thanked: 77 times

Re: ficus trunk chop advice

Post by Raging Bull »

:lol: :lol: shibui:- "but 'stump' is not a recognized bonsai style - yet." :lol: :lol: :lol:
shibui
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Posts: 6346
Joined: August 22nd, 2009, 8:41 pm
Favorite Species: trident maple
Bonsai Age: 33
Bonsai Club: Albury/Wodonga; BSV; Canberra; VNBC
Location: Yackandandah
Has thanked: 10 times
Been thanked: 508 times
Contact:

Re: ficus trunk chop advice

Post by shibui »

shibui:- "but 'stump' is not a recognized bonsai style - yet."
Sometime I wonder. When you see how many people are collecting or even buying big, fat straight sticks and the chopping down for bonsai.
I know I can grow a trident the same size from seed quicker than most people can grow a new apex and branches on a trident stump and make it look reasonable.
http://shibuibonsai.com.au/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
tombops
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Posts: 19
Joined: September 15th, 2016, 10:00 am
Favorite Species: Japanese maple
Bonsai Age: 2
Location: Newcastle

Re: ficus trunk chop advice

Post by tombops »

shibui wrote: June 28th, 2020, 4:04 pm
shibui:- "but 'stump' is not a recognized bonsai style - yet."
Sometime I wonder. When you see how many people are collecting or even buying big, fat straight sticks and the chopping down for bonsai.
I know I can grow a trident the same size from seed quicker than most people can grow a new apex and branches on a trident stump and make it look reasonable.

Just wondering, how it is that you can get the same size trunk from a seed? Wouldn't it make more sence to buy a tree that already has a base the thickness that you want and cutting back to a new leader or stip if it can back bud with no leaves. I mean isn't that how you create taper? I know I'm still fairly new to bonsai but from the research I've done that seems to be the best way to go. But yeah maybe I'm wrong? Plus this tree only cost me 50 bucks so I thought why not give it a shot.
shibui
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Posts: 6346
Joined: August 22nd, 2009, 8:41 pm
Favorite Species: trident maple
Bonsai Age: 33
Bonsai Club: Albury/Wodonga; BSV; Canberra; VNBC
Location: Yackandandah
Has thanked: 10 times
Been thanked: 508 times
Contact:

Re: ficus trunk chop advice

Post by shibui »

Just wondering, how it is that you can get the same size trunk from a seed? Wouldn't it make more sence to buy a tree that already has a base the thickness that you want and cutting back to a new leader or stip if it can back bud with no leaves. I mean isn't that how you create taper?
You can certainly do that and some great trees are created that way. My point is that it takes much longer than most people imagine.
After the chop you will need to select a new leader and allow it to grow quite tall so that the large chop starts to heal and so that the new leader starts to get thick enough to match the larger trunk below. It depends on the size of the stump and the species. It could be just 1 year for a really fast growing species but more likely 2-3 years.
Then the new leader will need to be chopped and the process repeated to heal the new but smaller chop and match the new leader to the one below - add another year or 2 then chop again a little higher.
Another year to grow another leader then maybe it will be time to start to build the apex and branches.
At any stage in those cycles something may not work out as expected. You may need to start a section over. Occasionally the results will be bad enough to scrap the whole project. (that can happen to all bonsai, all methods)

That means a minimum of 3 years and probably more like 5 or 6 to just grow the new trunk with taper. The bigger the stump the longer this process will take.
I find it difficult to grow good branches while fast growing a new leader. They tend to end up too thick, too straight or have long internodes so won't ramify later so branches probably won't be started until growth slows a bit for the last section.

there are a couple of alternatives:
. grow the new trunk a bit slower - takes longer but the results will be much better when you get there.
. use dead wood and carving to disguise the old stump and give it a reason to be fatter than the new apex. Much quicker - go straight to the final grow apex and branches stage - but it does take experience and skill to do that well.

With fast growing species like trident maple I can start with a seedling, grow it in the ground with similar grow and chop cycles as above and produce a good solid trunk with good taper in 3-5 years. Roots will have been pruned a few times so the nebari will usually be far better than any started from a thick trunk from commercial or wild source. there is still room for errors and things to go wrong but those trunks generally look better than stump grown trunks - better movement, taper and character.

Just my opinion but worth considering.
http://shibuibonsai.com.au/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
tombops
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Posts: 19
Joined: September 15th, 2016, 10:00 am
Favorite Species: Japanese maple
Bonsai Age: 2
Location: Newcastle

Re: ficus trunk chop advice

Post by tombops »

shibui wrote: June 28th, 2020, 7:18 pm
there are a couple of alternatives:
. grow the new trunk a bit slower - takes longer but the results will be much better when you get there.
. use dead wood and carving to disguise the old stump and give it a reason to be fatter than the new apex. Much quicker - go straight to the final grow apex and branches stage - but it does take experience and skill to do that well.

With fast growing species like trident maple I can start with a seedling, grow it in the ground with similar grow and chop cycles as above and produce a good solid trunk with good taper in 3-5 years. Roots will have been pruned a few times so the nebari will usually be far better than any started from a thick trunk from commercial or wild source. there is still room for errors and things to go wrong but those trunks generally look better than stump grown trunks - better movement, taper and character.

Just my opinion but worth considering.
Could you please elaborate a bit on these methods?
1. What do you mean by "grow a trunk slower", what is the purpose of this and how do you do it?
2.with using deadwood wouldn't this take just as long but just make the trunk look more realistic? Or do you mean just chop it once and carve from there, therefore reducing the time taken to produce the tree?
3. With going straight to developing branches and the apex wouldn't this mean there's a lot less taper and make the tree look very young, and when would you start this process? I'm assuming you'd still grow the tree as thick as you want and cut back to your finish height.
4. With growing from seed how is this different from collecting wild/nursery material? Assuming the nursery stock has a good base and nebari wouldn't this save a lot of time?

I know that's a lot of questions I'm just keen to learn as much as I can. Cheers :yes:
tombops
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Aussie Bonsai Fan
Posts: 19
Joined: September 15th, 2016, 10:00 am
Favorite Species: Japanese maple
Bonsai Age: 2
Location: Newcastle

Re: ficus trunk chop advice

Post by tombops »

:bump:
Post Reply

Return to “Evergreen”