Ficus Bonsai Guide

Styling a Ficus – Bonsai Empire

In Might of 2004 I visited David Fukumoto at his Kurtistown, Hawaii, nursery, Fuku-Bonsai. David is a long-time pal and Bonsai artist and understanding of my curiosity in Ficus offered me with a Ficus natalensis, grown from materials that he obtained a few years earlier than whereas concerned in a analysis mission with the Lyon Arboretum.

For some years David had the tree rising in an extremely deep container to assist it develop giant and lengthy roots which hopefully would turn into the main target for the tree’s design. David has a superb specimen from this similar materials within the Nationwide Bonsai and Penjing assortment in Washington DC. David and I regard this materials as one of many high Bonsai ficus varieties to make use of for Bonsai attributable to its vigor and extremely highly effective and aggressive root improvement. The precise title of this species of Ficus is in query at the moment.


Ficus Bonsai Guide


Ficus in a bucket

Developing long roots

Left: JM with Ficus in rising container, 2004.

Proper: Tree in an additional deep container to develop lengthy, giant roots, 2004


Whereas on the nursery David, Mike Imaino (senior plant supervisor and President of the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Affiliation) and I eliminated the tree from its container, bare-rooted it and sawed aside the one tree to turn into three separate vegetation every with its personal root system. After we had been achieved there have been actually no leaves or vital branches remaining. The aggressive nature of this fig and its vigorous root system allowed this to be achieved in a single stage. With weaker supplies such drastic steps would must be completed over a number of years and require a number of repottings.


Pruning the ficus

Splitting the ficus

Left: Mike Imaino and JM sawing the tree into items, 2004

Proper: Mike holding up plant two on the left and I’m holding plant one on the precise, 2004


The bare-rooted vegetation had been shipped on to my residence in Montana and upon arrival they had been instantly potted into deep containers with the pot depth elevated with aluminum foil collars. Contained in the foil, a really coarse soil and sphagnum moss had been added to encourage vigorous rooting and allowed unrestrained development.


Ficus material

Crops in my residence in Montana planted into deep containers, 2004


In a short time the bushes started rising new leaves and tailored simply to my rising room and the metallic halide synthetic lights. All my tropical vegetation are grown in a plant room below synthetic gentle and infrequently spend time outdoor within the pure daylight. Whereas the preliminary work in Hawaii separated the tree into three giant vegetation a fourth plant was faraway from the highest of plant 1 a couple of yr later, whereas the fifth plant was developed from a root slicing.

All of the vegetation had been allowed rampant high development for a yr or two with no slicing again or trimming. Retaining all the expansion allowed the bushes to realize vigor, and to supply a large number of branches from which to pick the ultimate design. Extra root elongation and bulking up was additionally stimulated by the robust high development.

After the preliminary few wild development years the vegetation had been periodically in the reduction of; maintaining branches that is perhaps helpful within the remaining design whereas ruthlessly eradicating branches that didn’t work. After the designs started to take form and the first branches had been chosen the vegetation had been potted into smaller containers. Wiring was used as wanted to form the branches however a lot of the shaping was carried out by clip and develop methods ( Clip and develop entails trimming again branches and sub-branches maintaining solely those who develop within the correct path).

Because the design course of got here additional alongside defoliation was periodically carried out to pressure extra dense branching. Defoliation utilized within the earlier developmental steps is usually not useful because it restrains development and weakens the tree. Defoliation is extra helpful within the remaining levels when smaller leaves present the bushes in a extra appropriate scale in addition to creating extra ramification and finer branches.

Learn extra on particular pointers for Ficus Bonsai care.



Subsequent I present 5 progressions from the Ficus bushes:


Development 1 (Ficus with air roots)


Split ficus

Ficus air roots

Left: Tree 1 and Tree Four on the high , 2004

Proper: Tree 1 allowed rampant development 2005


Air roots on ficus

Tree 1, severely decreased, 2006


Aerial roots on ficus bonsai

Tree 1 simply previous to exhibit within the 2nd Nationwide US Bonsai Exhibition, 2009


This Bonsai plant developed the quickest of all of the sections, in all probability due its being the biggest piece firstly. Its very vital rootage was put to make use of within the creation of an uncovered root or epiphytic, rotted-out trunk model. This plant was far sufficient alongside in its improvement to be invited and displayed within the second annual US Nationwide Bonsai Exhibition in 2010 at Rochester New York. Since then I turned thinking about shortening the highest of the tree to make it extra compact. The complete high of the tree was eliminated in February of 2011. Leaving one small department to turn into the brand new apex. This was allowed wild development and trimmed again a number of occasions to create taper. The heavy proper lowest department was shortened again as properly late in 2012.


Ficus Bonsai

Apex of the tree and the unique proper aspect department eliminated, 2011



Digital depicting the Ficus’ future development



Development 2 (Ficus in Semi cascade and with air roots)

The second largest piece of the unique tree had actually beautiful curves and distinguished roots.


Ficus 2

Ficus 2

Left: Tree 2 in rampant development section, 2006

Proper: Tree 2 decreased again to primary construction, 2006 (exhibiting the again of the tree)


Ficus bonsai

Tree 2, defoliated and exhibiting department construction creating and a protracted main department, 2010

The tree was tipped over with every repotting to emphasise the motion and developed right into a dramatic semi-cascade model. In improvement the principle department was shortened from a focus so as to carry the emphasis again to the superior roots and never a lot to the semi-cascade kind motion. It’s progressing alongside fairly properly and could possibly be exhibited someday within the close to future.


Ficus bonsai tree

Later in 2010, tree tipped clockwise with lengthy department trimmed again



Development 3 (Ficus on rock)

ficus prebonsai

Pruned significantly

Left: Tree in free development section, 2005

Proper: Tree 3, decreased and secured to a stone, 2005


Ficus on rock

Rock positioned horizontally, 2010


Ficus bonsai on rock

Rock tipped vertically for added dramatic impact, 2013

This piece was developed from a chunky, blunt piece of the unique plant. Frankly it was fairly ugly and it was practically discarded firstly. Utilizing some inspiration and quite a lot of desperation the piece was affixed to some fantastic textured rock and allowed to develop strongly to encourage the roots to know the stone. Initially the stone was stored flat on the soil however extra just lately lifted as much as kind a extra vertical and dramatic presentation. Remaining department choice nonetheless must be achieved. A further rock was added to the bottom in 2013. This root-over-rock design has a protracted method to go to its remaining evolution.



Development 4 (Semi-cascade model with aerial roots)

This phase began as a leafless, branchless upright part with one or two aerial roots that was faraway from the highest of Plant 1(see above). It’s now on the way in which to changing into a semi-cascade model replete with aerial roots.


Tree 4, semi-cascade, 2012

Now that the essential form has been set further secondary branching is being developed by repeated pinching out of the rising ideas and twice yearly defoliation.



Development 5 (Ficus in Cascade model)

This plant was a chunk of aerial root faraway from the unique plant. Its root finish was planted into soil whereas the reduce finish sprouted leaves. The plant is now on the way in which to changing into a singular cascade model. Whereas not all Ficus will sprout from root cuttings this species is one which sprouts simply from bigger items of root or department cuttings.


Tree 5, root slicing, 2009


Advanced Bonsai Course



The vigorous nature of this Ficus Bonsai allowed for an preliminary aggressive splitting of 1 tree into three smaller vegetation. Two further bushes had been developed; one, from an aerial root and a second from a big root slicing.

An preliminary interval of rampant re-growth was allowed, adopted by main department choice and removing of un-needed branches. Over time these retained branches had been repetitively grown lengthy after which decreased to finer sub-branches to supply taper and secondary branching. In later levels defoliation was carried out a couple of times yearly to develop finer branches and finally smaller leaves.

Tree 1 has matured into a sublime superior stage epiphytic design.

Tree 2 is a good-looking semi-cascade tree that’s near completion.

Tree 3, the root-over-rock styled plant, will take extra time to finish its department development and styling. I’m nonetheless unsure that it’ll make a very good Bonsai.

Tree Four is a properly formed and engaging semi-cascade Bonsai.

Tree 5 is almost achieved and able to be admired. Some extra refinement will make it much more engaging.

By splitting aside the beginning materials, permitting aggressive development after which making use of sound horticultural and Bonsai methods 5 fairly distinctive Bonsai are being developed from one tree.


Written by: Jerry Meislik (copyright of the textual content and all pictures belongs to Jerry Meislik). “My curiosity in Bonsai started as a young person once I visited the Bonsai exhibit on the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. In 1977 whereas residing in Florida my curiosity was re-kindled after seeing some Ficus Bonsai. Since then I’ve been actively finding out bushes and methods to develop them in containers and creating Bonsai.”. Please go to his web site for extra data or test his Bonsai artist profile; Jerry Meislik!

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