DEVELOPING FIGS-TRUNKS AND BASES

Share your success stories about defoliation, bare rooting and anything else relating to maintaining healthy bonsai.
Dave54
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DEVELOPING FIGS-TRUNKS AND BASES

Post by Dave54 »

Hi everyone,
I have read some postings from beginners who are buying some ordinary stock and appear to need some guidance. I hope this article helps slightly in the development of a Fig.
cheers
Dave

Growing quality bonsai from seedlings is a slow process and I, being rather impatient, tend to be at
odds with a lot of other enthusiasts, in advocating the purchase of better quality raw material that has
been purpose grown for Bonsai culture.
Having said that, if you are a dedicated “seedling” person, I will share some growing techniques that I
use to develop “taper” and “trunkline movement”, two essentials in the production of a bonsai with
that “wow factor”. Just planting a seedling into a tiny bonsai pot will probably never amount to
anything of quality.
Most enthusiasts should be able to keep a bonsai in good health and develop either “structured”
branches ( left, right, rear ) or a “canopy” design, so the distinguishing feature that separate trees on the
show bench, is the character of the trunk.
Over the years I have purchased some very large old Figs that I subsequently restyled and this has saved
me many years work, however, in this article I will outline my methods employed to grow quality stock
from starter plants.
Firstly, all seedlings are Not the same. Select the one that has some natural taper, an even root spread
rather than a tree with a large root on one side or pick one that is different and has “character”. These
attributes will ensure a headstart in the development of your future bonsai.
DEVELOPING TAPER :-
It is obvious that a trunk needs to be thicker than any branches above it, to ensure it is capable
of supporting them. On this basis if we grow a thick and heavy “sacrifice branch”, the trunk
below it will grow bigger to support it. The more “sacrifice branches”, the more thickening of
the trunk below them.
The single most important thing to remember is that the “sacrifice branches” should be as low
on the trunk as possible. Further, the main trunk line should be shortened to ensure that due to
apical dominance, the top of your tree doesn’t become too thick and most of the tree’s energy
is channeled into the sacrifice branches.
Whether your intention is to grow a very large tree or something smaller doesn’t matter, the
principles are the same with the only difference being the size of the growing container. Leaf
size doesn’t matter during this grow on period, in fact the bigger the better. Fertilize regularly
for the best results, using a high nitrogen fertilizer.
If your trunk’s apex becomes too thick, it can also be treated as a sacrifice branch and removed,
utilizing a new shoot on the trunk as a “leader” for the new trunkline.
When the trunk’s taper is acceptable, all other sacrifice branches are removed and with the help
of sealing paste, should heal over in no time. Note that the warmer months are the best time to
work on figs when the sap is flowing.
DEVELOPING TRUNK MOVEMENT:-
Because Figs shoot back on old wood, you should always have an abundant choice for future branching in the later development of the tree. As such there is no need to worry about branch placement at this time, our main priority is to establish an interesting trunk.
In conjunction with the development of “Taper”, we can cut the trunk on an angle just above any bud and use this bud as a new leader.
As can be seen in photos, this cut and grow method certainly changes the direction of the trunk line and creates more interest. The scars heal quickly and soon there is no evidence of the cuts.
Branch development and defoliation techniques will be covered later.
The bottom photo has been grown on, in a bonsai pot only and has had its sacrifice branches removed.(see scars)
I am growing a lot of my figs short and squat to accentuate their wide bases.
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Last edited by Dave54 on February 13th, 2009, 6:47 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: DEVELOPING FIGS-TRUNKS AND BASES

Post by anttal63 »

great post dave thanks for sharing that. they're gonna be some badass figs. :D
Regards Antonio:
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Re: DEVELOPING FIGS-TRUNKS AND BASES

Post by Jon Chown »

Yes it is a great post, thanks Dave. It shows the two main ingredients required to create a good bonsai collection - Patience and a Plan

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Re: DEVELOPING FIGS-TRUNKS AND BASES

Post by EdwardH »

Great advice Dave. Those figs are coming along nicely.
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Re: DEVELOPING FIGS-TRUNKS AND BASES

Post by Macros »

Hey Dave,
Thanks for the tips, I have so much work to do now because of this bloody forum, :D
Now I know how to start those pesky figs I've got. Is there a better time to repot figs? Ive seen in some litriture
that because they are Tropical, its ok any time of year? I don't quite know??

Thanks,
Mac
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Re: DEVELOPING FIGS-TRUNKS AND BASES

Post by Dave54 »

Hi M.
the best advice is to only work on them when the sap is flowing. The hotter the weather the better.
I do however, break that rule myself, often defoliating too late which doesn't give the new leaves time to harden up before the frosts hit.
It's really difficult to kill a Fig so if you're in a frost free area, you can work in all but winter.
good luck
Dave
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Re: DEVELOPING FIGS-TRUNKS AND BASES

Post by Jerry Meislik »

Great article Dave. Looking forward to more of the same!
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Re: DEVELOPING FIGS-TRUNKS AND BASES

Post by Mojo Moyogi »

Hi Dave nice article,

Thought you might like to see some of my juvenile PJs, lapping up the June snow! These trees are earmarked for shohin and are from cuttings taken in Feb 2008, they are going into a griity soil in spring in seed trays and are going to be pumped full of feed throughout the season.

MM
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Re: DEVELOPING FIGS-TRUNKS AND BASES

Post by Matthew »

The only way im gonna see snow up here is to get ice from the fridge and break it up :lol: was 30 today in the middle of winter :o MM these figs look like they all have good potential and are on there way. You dont have any frost issues with burnt leaves? they all look quite happy even with snow on them.
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Re: DEVELOPING FIGS-TRUNKS AND BASES

Post by bonsai4life »

Hi Dave,

I do love figs, excellent info on developing them. I was just wanted to know what you seal the wounds with? Cut paste or something else...
I look forward to learning more from someone that knows what they're doing ;)

Thanks
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Re: DEVELOPING FIGS-TRUNKS AND BASES

Post by Mojo Moyogi »

Noah,
No problems with a bit of snow, it was only down to 2 degrees that night so it wasn't too bad. This will surprise a few people, but the humble Port Jacksons I have here will go below freezing before I cover them up.
I only propagate from the stronger material, the trees in the pics are on the way to being acclimatized even at a young age due to the strength of the parent plant. When I was based in Melbourne my PJs were grown outside fully exposed to the weather, people thought I was nuts. It's likely that the fig I sold you recently will grow year round in the warm Rockhampton sun (lucky thing!)

Cheers
MM
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Re: DEVELOPING FIGS-TRUNKS AND BASES

Post by Dave54 »

Hi guys,
Must say that I am surprized that the snow doesn't burn the leaves of a Fig, however, my Nerifolia Figs used to drop leaves every time the weather changed, until they acclimatized to the frosts in Winter and the 40+ days in Summer.
About the wounds on Figs. Depending on my mood at the time, I will either use the grey sealing paste or nothing at all.
The wounds do tend to heal quicker if using the paste, however, if it is a long term project in the growing on stage, I wouldn't particularly worry.
cheers and glad you enjoyed the article
dave
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Re: DEVELOPING FIGS-TRUNKS AND BASES

Post by bonscythe »

I'm still sticking with honey for sealant of wounds. Not sure of the benefits but it was mentioned on here somewhere, I imagine the physical barrier would aid in stopping the pathogens entry into the plant although I don't know if the honey contains anything that will chemically help the tree heal. Anyone know?
I think I just like honey too much to pass up an opportunity to eat the stuff!
Also, thanks Dave you have cleared up some grey areas I had about growth from seedlings, now if only the gums were as simple as figs..
:roll:
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Re: DEVELOPING FIGS-TRUNKS AND BASES

Post by Steven »

**Bump** Good topic that's worth a read.
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Re: DEVELOPING FIGS-TRUNKS AND BASES

Post by bonscythe »

Great thread indeed! :D
Can't wait for the next part about defoliation and branch structure :ugeek: :)
Thanks again Dave
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