Today I worked on my Ficus that is styled in the root over rock style. I like this tree as it is one of my first root over rock experiments that actually worked. I trimmed the branches on the tree as they were growing wild since January 2020. I had not worked on this tree for almost tree months now. I defoliated the tree in November 2019 and repotted it in January 2020 so I needed to give the tree time to recover from all the work that I have done on the tree.
This was the tree before I started any work on it today. As you can see I just let the tree go wild. I did not want to remove the weeds during the recovery time as I would have damaged the young tender new roots. The first thing I did was to remove all the weeds. I took my time to do this. I used a piece of let over 4mm wire to loosen the soil mixture around the weeds so that I did not make huge holes where the weeds came out. I also used this time to loosen up the soil in the rest of the growing container to allow fresh new air to go into the soil mixture.
This is just a close up so that you can see how the soil mixture looks after all the weeds have been removed.
Next I moved on to the trimming of the branches. Because the tree has grown untamed for so long the new shoots were just coming out where they wanted. With Ficus trees you have to regularly trim back the new shoot and remove any unwanted growth before it gets to big. If you leave the new shoots on the tree too long you will have big scars when you remove then eventually. Ficus trees are forgiving in that sense as the grow over big cuts very easy. The only down fall might be that the tree may bulge up at these scars and your tree might end up with knobs all over.
These images above is just to give you an indication of how nice and thick the foliage on the branches were. If you look at the tree you might think that you could just trim the tree lightly and the tree would be fine. That is true you can trim back the shoots on the outside of the visual line of your trees design but that would form the tree into a round hedge in the long run. What you want to do is to go in with the scissors and take out any branch growing in the wrong place. You also want to remove any access of growth at a point were new shoots stems from the branch or the trunk. This is done by not allowing more than one branch at a single point in the trunk. The other thing to keep in mind is that you do not want the tips of branches splitting into more than two new branches. If there is a third or a fourth remove them till you are left with two branches.
This is the top and side view of the primary branch on the tree. As you can see there was a lot of foliage removed from the branch. If you look carefully at the two images you will see the cuts from the previous trimming. I used these as a guideline to help me see where the next cut needs to be. If the next cut is to close to the previous one or the direction of the new shoot will be in a direction that is not desired I will move to the next node in the branch. This method is also called directional pruning. This allows you to shape the movement in the tree by cutting it instead of wire the tree.
This is a top and a front view of the tree after I trimmed it back. You can now see more of the branch structure of the tree. By removing the foliage and opening up the branch structure you allow the sun to get to all the branches and activate growth in areas that use to be shaded out. The tree still has a long journey ahead but the small steps we take now just builds on the development of this tree into a bonsai tree.
It might seem like a lot of foliage was removed but I can assure you this tree will survive and this is what is needed in the early stage of development to avoid problems later in the trees life.
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