Bonsai’able?

Share your success stories about defoliation, bare rooting and anything else relating to maintaining healthy bonsai.
Mupp-dawg
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Bonsai’able?

Post by Mupp-dawg »

Hey everyone,

Got a quick question for anyone that’s around!

I would like to know if I can “bonsai” this tree? I believe (correct me if I’m wrong ) that it is some sort of ficus tree.

I have attached a picture and a red line where I ‘think’ I’ll cut it.

Will it die if I do? I am a beginner when it comes to altering pre existing trees so Any advice here would be awesome!

Thanks!
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Re: Bonsai’able?

Post by Redsonic »

If it is a fig, it's a very sick one, as the vast majority of figs are evergreen.
This looks like a deciduous (or dead?) plant.
Before we can tell you about trunk chopping forumites would need to ID the plant species.
Having said that the plant seems to have girth and taper, which is a good start.
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Re: Bonsai’able?

Post by shibui »

If it were a fig and if it were alive that cut would probably not be a problem.
The trunk looks like a fig but I think the branch structure has too many small twigs. Maybe it is something else?
Try breaking a few of the smaller twigs to see if they are still green inside.
Can you take a photo so we can see the tips of some of the branches please.
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Re: Bonsai’able?

Post by robb63 »

Hi Mupp and welcome
That does resemble a ficus trunk but figs generally are not deciduous apart from ficus virens .
If it is a virens then my guess will be its been stressed. Maybe badly root bound or not watered enough.
Going on the picture it looks like it may have been in that pot for some time and in need of fresh soil mix.
The cut points you indicate should not be a problem being a fig they are very forgiving.
Even cutting now and repotting it in spring is OK. About October for you is a good time to repot
Assuming its a deciduous fig :fc: and not a sick or dead tree it should bounce back well
There are loads of posts to look through here about figs, try [evergreens] or type in search window, top right of screen
Figs are possibly the best trees to start bonsai with IMO and the only species I didn't kill when I started
Good luck and hope you enjoy bonsai
Rob
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Re: Bonsai’able?

Post by Mupp-dawg »

Thanks guys!

So on closer inspection it may be sick. I’ve attached some photos of some tips and the inside of a broken off twig.
Some sections of the tree feel like I can peel off some of the outer layer like bark (but doesn’t have bark) it is however slightly green under that.

I have also attached a pic of the leaf it would have.

What do you think? Dead? Sick? Savable?
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Re: Bonsai’able?

Post by Mupp-dawg »

Sorry, still working out the uploading.
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Last edited by Mupp-dawg on August 12th, 2018, 8:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bonsai’able?

Post by robb63 »

My money is still on it being a ficus viren but a very sick one
I have seen one as sick before and the outer branches dry out looking like deciduous tree twigs.
You got nothing to loose by trying to revive it.
I would cut as intended and slip pot or give it some fresh soil now depending what you find in pot.
If you find dying, smelly roots then cut them now. Up to live root tissue if any and then repot into bonsai soil
When taken out of pot if the roots look OK just slip pot now or add fresh mix at least then spring/early summer repot.
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Re: Bonsai’able?

Post by Mupp-dawg »

Great! I will give it a go and post back.

Cheers!
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Re: Bonsai’able?

Post by dansai »

Trunk definitely looks like a fig and so does the leaf, even the branch structure looks a bit off.

From the leaf I would also suggest Ficus benjamina. They tend to drop leaves when stressed. I've seen them do it when a large one dropped all its leaves after being moved from a shade house to inside and more recently I moved one from a shady spot to full sun. All the leaves exposed to the sun have dropped, some burnt. New buds were all over the tree and have started to open so it won't be long and it will be all green again.

To your tree, if it is Ficus benjamina then it may have dropped its leaves after being stressed. Your branch tips look dead and shrivelled so most probably from drying out. The piece of bark you peeled off doesn't look like a good sign either. The lower trunk may still be alive. You should be able to scratch the bark easily with fingernail, and if it bright green it is still alive. If so do the trunk chop where you indicated and :fc:

If it is F. virens it will shoot back in the next few weeks and you can repot around October. If it's F. benjamina then :fc: Sometimes they shoot easily and well after a big chop. Sometimes they just sit there and do nothing. They can also die back a fair way after shooting well back from the cut, or only shoot very close to the cut. Look for a point about where you want to chop where there is signs of an old branch. These are the most likely place you will see new shoots, usually in big clusters on a benji. Cut a few cms above these. Then you can cut off the stub later when the new growth is strong.
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Re: Bonsai’able?

Post by dansai »

Also, If it is a benji then you might want to consider cutting lower than you indicated. As I mentioned above, I have experienced F. benjamina only shooting profusely from 1 or 2 nodes very close to the cut, unlike other figs that will also shoot well back when cut hard. If this tree does that you will only have branches very high up on the tree. If you cut back to below the fork you should get more options for lower branches as there seems to be plenty of old branch nodes on the trunk. It will leave a very big scar though, that could take a long time to close over.
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Re: Bonsai’able?

Post by Keep Calm and Ramify »

Welcome Mupp-dawg,
Time for some pics I reckon (….I love pics) - Below shows a salvaged Benji that was in a very similar state to yours only about 12 months ago. Some people try to grow these under eaves or verandah awnings where they may look pretty, but don't survive for long without receiving much of the natural elements - due to overhead cover.

The tree below had all its branches sawn off by the owner in an attempt to get it to re-shoot - it didn't. I suspect the location of the tree was kept in the same spot. Eventually it was thrown out. Upon finding I cut off around 70% of the root ball & re-cut some of the branching back slightly further. Re-potted in fresh potting mix & moved to open sunny position - it is now thriving.
bf1.JPG

dansai wrote: If it's F. benjamina then :fc: Sometimes they shoot easily and well after a big chop. Look for a point about where you want to chop where there is signs of an old branch. These are the most likely place you will see new shoots, usually in big clusters on a benji. Cut a few cms above these. Then you can cut off the stub later when the new growth is strong.
I agree with dansai here, below pic may help illustrate where new shoots are likely to strike.
bf2.JPG
new shoots can also happen lower on the trunks - some shoots have been stimulated by damage, upon me handling at time of sawing & repotting. Important to note that if you want to display the characteristic 'weeping" effect, then retain some height.
bf3.JPG
Hope this is of some help & encouragement to you.
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Mupp-dawg
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Re: Bonsai’able?

Post by Mupp-dawg »

Wow! Thanks guys! Pics are awesome!

Ok, so I gave it a big chop and put it in some new soil and cut the top :fc: I did ok! Time will tell.

Do you think I should cut the trunk lower? And should I wait for a little bit before I do?
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Re: Bonsai’able?

Post by Jarad »

Hey mate!

I'd leave it for now, see how much growth it puts out over the next few months.
-Jarad

I don't trust Bonsai, they are a little shady.
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Re: Bonsai’able?

Post by Mupp-dawg »

Hey guys, so here’s an update on this tree. After thinking it was a hammer for so long!! We have life!!!
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Re: Bonsai’able?

Post by KIRKY »

Good to see it’s alive. You should be really pumping the food and water at it now. Best growth on figs is during summer.
Cheers
Kirky
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