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PeterSibley
03-09-2011, 12:27 AM
I have just started on my first ,it's a small ficus that I found growing in a roof gutter ,I have had it in a pot for a few years but have finally decided to try to try to grow it as a bonsai .

I have it in an old pot that I've had sitting around .I may fry to find a better one .

Your suggestions as to training are welcome .

http://pic40.picturetrail.com/VOL282/9443996/17245530/395609557.jpg


http://pic40.picturetrail.com/VOL282/9443996/17245530/395609556.jpg


http://pic40.picturetrail.com/VOL282/9443996/17245530/395609554.jpg

I will try to train it to lean as it is shown ,down low to the pot or over the edge .I don't really know how much foliage to maintain .

Old Dryfoot
03-09-2011, 02:08 AM
I have been thinking about starting a thread asking if there were any bonsai gardeners here for the last few days. :)

I have five that I've been growing out in 2 gallon pots for the last 3 years, nothing in a Japanese planter as yet. I would not even think of calling these bonsai at this point, they are really just small potted trees. I have 2 Japanese Maples of unknown cultivars, one a typical red narrow leaved variety and the other is somewhat similar to a Full Moon Maple. The red has a wonderful root system and I think I see the tree in it, I may start training and shaping it this year. I also have 2 Hornbeam, one is a Japanese and the other was purchase as a Korean though I'm not convinced, I think it may be a weeping European variety. I also have a Wisteria that I'm hoping to style into something akin to a bonsai even though they are not very good candidates for that purpose, I just really like Wisteria.

I've only read one book on the subject so far, that was The Bonsai Workshop (http://www.amazon.com/Bonsai-Workshop-Our-Garden-Variety/dp/0806905573) by Herb L Gustafson. I found it very informative and it covered a lot of ground related to training and styling. The bible on the subject is Bonsai Techniques (http://www.amazon.com/Bonsai-Techniques-John-Yoshio-Naka/dp/0930422317) I & II by John Yoshio Naka, I plan on adding these books to my library one day very soon.

I would suggest that you hold off on training and pruning for a little bit until you have had a chance to read through some of the writings on bonsai style, your tree will tell you what it wants to be. Something else to think about is that Ficus as a bonsai do not do well with cold or even cool temps, 15C and below is getting too cool, they are ideally indoor trees.

This is great, I hope this thread takes off and it turns out that lots of people here like little trees. I think my trees are a little too ugly to post pictures of right now but I'll snap some as soon as I can.

Regards
Richard

purri
03-09-2011, 02:12 AM
It's a suicide charge by very dwarflike trees.

PeterSibley
03-09-2011, 02:24 AM
10c is the minimum here ,these trees grow wild in the area .It will do quite well even outside .

As to books , I'll see what my library can offer .

Purri , this on was found in a roofing gutter , very much the way it is ...I could do catch and release but it seems to be on the way to bonzaing itself already .

seanz
03-09-2011, 02:30 AM
It's a suicide charge by very dwarflike trees.

A popular misconception, it's actually a rarely heard dwarven battle-cry used when fighting Ents.

seanz
03-09-2011, 02:31 AM
I also have a Wisteria that I'm hoping to style into something akin to a bonsai even though they are not very good candidates for that purpose, I just really like Wisteria.

Richard, spoken like a true gardener.
:)

PeterSibley
03-09-2011, 03:00 AM
I also have a Wisteria that I'm hoping to style into something akin to a bonsai even though they are not very good candidates for that purpose, I just really like Wisteria.


All my wisteria is wild and huge !!!!

Did I mention beautiful ! |;)

purri
03-09-2011, 03:55 AM
^ Feed it Listeria. It soon won't be.

JayInOz
03-09-2011, 04:30 AM
Peter buy some soft bonsai wire. Try to picture the tree in your mind as a gnarly old full sized specimen- better still if you have big old trees in your neck of the woods, find characteristics you like and try to copy them. Wrap a couple of limbs with wire and then bend them out- the amount you bend depends how flexible they are now. It takes a while for them to grow to the new shape. Landscaping the pot will also make a much nicer picture. Rocks- sparingly- and moss. My best bonsai was a juniper that I had for quite a few years. It dried out and died when I went away for a few days and forgot to move it before I went:(
http://www.coenosium.com/text800/conifers_for_bonsai.htm Scroll to the bottom of this site and click bonsai- some absolutely wonderful stuff in there JayInOz

McMike
03-09-2011, 04:43 AM
I've killed every one I've tried to grow. My thumb is black.

PeterSibley
03-09-2011, 05:12 AM
Peter buy some soft bonsai wire. Try to picture the tree in your mind as a gnarly old full sized specimen- better still if you have big old trees in your neck of the woods, find characteristics you like and try to copy them. Wrap a couple of limbs with wire and then bend them out- the amount you bend depends how flexible they are now. It takes a while for them to grow to the new shape. Lanscaping the pot will also make a much nicer picture. Rocks- sparingly- and moss. My best bonsai was a juniper that I had for quite a few years. It dried out and died when I went away for a few days and forgot to move it before I went:(
http://www.coenosium.com/text800/conifers_for_bonsai.htm Scroll to the bottom of this site and click bonsai- some absolutely wonderful stuff in there JayInOz

I thought I'd try to use soft electrical cabling Jay ,with the plastic cover on .I will landscape the surrounds but it is very new and right now I'm more interested in the density of the foliage .It has been growing rapidly lately in the warm weather and now that I've repotted it into this larger flat pot I expect it will get quite enthusiastic .I have some nice moss here ..I have an idea of how I would like it to be shaped but the specifics are a bit fuzzy so far .


A good link too ...thanks !

Tristan
03-09-2011, 07:57 AM
Vrey nice! I love looking at Bonsai but have a brown thumb. I do have a natural bonsai growing up out of a limestone rock that sits in front of a small statue of Hoti (the laughing Buddha) who overlooks a tiny pond I built years ago. This is a Gumbo-limbo tree which stands about 2 1/2 feet high. It loses it's leaves every winter and puts out new ones each rainy season. It's been there about 15 years and remains stunted as its roots are in porous rock rather than soil. Good luck.

Gerarddm
03-09-2011, 09:37 AM
Ficus is not a leaning style kind of tree...

I was into bonsai several years ago, but my plants have dwindled down to just one.

Dutch
03-09-2011, 09:41 AM
ive always thought bonsai as akin to animal cruelty - performed on plants

BrianY
03-09-2011, 09:54 AM
The first thing you should do is to get a good book on the subject. Fortunately there are many good books out there. Ficus are usually classified as "indoor bonsai" in books (even though you can keep yours outside) so you might want to look for one that focuses on indoor bonsai such as 'Indoor Bonsai for beginner: Selection-care-Training" by Werner Busch. Most bonsai books focus on pines, junipers, maples and other northern temperate species, so while the general concepts apply to your ficus, having a book that deals specifically with indoor or tropical bonsai will be better for you.

Another good one is Indoor Bonsai (http://www.amazon.com/Indoor-Bonsai-Paul-Lesniewicz/dp/184403349X/ref=sr_1_49?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1299680763&sr=1-49) by Paul Lesniewicz (http://www.amazon.com/Paul-Lesniewicz/e/B001HD06PS/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_49?qid=1299680763&sr=1-49)

Here's a good website devoted to tropical bonsai: http://www.bonsaimary.com/index.html (http://www.bonsaimary.com/index.html)

The website's author, Mary Miller, also wrote a book specifically about tropical bonsai called Bonsai with Tropicals: Some Things I Learned Along the Way that is recommended. It is, however, not a complete, comprehensive work so you'll need something else to cover the subject completely.


A good general guide to the subject is Bonsai Survival Manual: Tree-by-Tree Guide to Buying, Maintaining, and Problem Solving (http://www.amazon.com/Bonsai-Survival-Manual-Tree---Tree/dp/0882668536/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1299679445&sr=1-5) by Colin Lewis (http://www.amazon.com/Colin-Lewis/e/B001K84D4U/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_5?qid=1299679445&sr=1-5)

Once you've got a general understanding of bonsai and basic growing techniques, Deborah Koreshoff's "Bonsai - Its Art, Science, History and Philosophy" is a great book to take you into the aesthetics and advanced techniques of bonsai.

The most important thing to know about bonsai is the importance of watering. The soil must be kept moist but not waterlogged. Bonsai growers use a soil mix that drains quickly so the tree won't become waterlogged. Too much water will kill the tree as surely as too little. I don't know what kind of soil you have in your pot, but if it's dense, clay -ey stuff, you're going to have problems. The books will give you recommendations on soil mixes, but a starting point would be an equal mix of sharp sand, humus or good garden soil and either peat moss, finely shredded bark or finely shredded dry leaves. You can also buy pre-made soil mixes on line.

If you have access to fine lava rock (sometime found in stores that sell plants and pots) or fine crushed rock (i.e. 3/32" or 2.3 -2.5 mm), you can mix that in with the other mix so that it makes up about 50% of the total volume. Vermiculite can also be used but it doesn't look good.

Note that this mix will hold water...but not for long so you will have to water your tree frequently - every day or sometimes twice a day depending on your local conditions. When you water, be sure to completely soak the pot so that water drains out the bootom. Don't just dribble water onto the surface.

Put a couple of pieces of window screen or other mesh material over the holes in the bottom of the pot (the pot MUST have drainage holes), pour in a thin layer of the soil mix, remove most of the soil around the roots of the tree, put it in the pot and work your soil mix around the roots of the tree using a chop stick or other small diameter dowel. Pack the soil firmly so that the tree is really planted in the pot and not just sitting in it. Protect the tree from wind so that it doesn't get blown over.

Re: Wire - bonsai wire is aluminum. It bends easily and doesn't "work harden" from repeated bending like copper wire. If you’re going to use copper wore, strip off the insulation and anneal it by heating it up until it's red then let it cool off. This will make it bend easier, but the more you bend it, the stiffer it will become. Be careful not to wrap the branched so tightly that the wire cuts into the bark. Also watch the wired places for signs that the bark is growing over or around the wire. Wire can scar a tree that way and it takes a long time for the scars to heal.

Old Dryfoot
03-09-2011, 01:21 PM
Excellent post BrianY, and very good points about the watering and soil, normal potting soil should be avoided and perlite or vermiculite in any soil mix is a real eye sore IMO.

Peter I have a few links for you that might be helpful and get you the info you need without money out of pocket.

Bonsai 4 Me (http://www.bonsai4me.com/index.htm) - A really informative site, a little dated style wise but lots of information, a species guide, a gallery with lots of photos, although they are small, and good sections on basic and advanced techniques including quite a few videos.
Bonsai Tree Forums (http://www.bonsaitreeforums.com/forums/) - Like most things there is a forum dedicated to bonsai, it's been a while since I've used this site but it does seem to be fairly active.
The Art of Bonsai Project (http://www.artofbonsai.org/index.php) - A really nice site with lots of inspirational photos that show just how much bonsai is more art than gardening.

And here are a few pictures just because I love to look at bonsai.

Ficus Riligiosa - The Bo Fig, or for the Buddhists in the crowd The Bohdi Tree
http://www.flowerpictures.net/bonsai/images/bonsai-1.jpg

Here is a beautiful group planting of a tree I can not identify.
http://taraburner.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/bonsai.jpg

And one more showing some wonderful trunk and root structure.
http://home-and-gardening.info/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/the-best-bonsai-caring-ways.jpg

Go slow and remember, Bonsai is art as much as it is gardening.

Old Dryfoot
03-09-2011, 01:36 PM
Richard, spoken like a true gardener.
:)

A gardener with a brown thumb. ;)


All my wisteria is wild and huge !!!!

Did I mention beautiful ! |;)

I have a large pergola on my patio that has a very large wisteria canopy which I just love, until it starts dropping blossoms everywhere. :D

purri
03-09-2011, 05:24 PM
^ You should come here when wisteria, jacaranda and bougainevillea flower simultaneously. Whole suburbs are ablaze. A great aerial view while coming in to land.

PeterSibley
03-09-2011, 10:03 PM
I just posted a long answer but my connection to the WBF is shocking today .I'll try again tomorrow .

Old Dryfoot
03-09-2011, 11:28 PM
^ You should come here when wisteria, jacaranda and bougainevillea flower simultaneously. Whole suburbs are ablaze. A great aerial view while coming in to land.

Hopefully one day.


I just posted a long answer but my connection to the WBF is shocking today .I'll try again tomorrow .

I'm getting the same thing here.

PeterSibley
03-10-2011, 02:13 AM
And one more showing some wonderful trunk and root structure.
http://home-and-gardening.info/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/the-best-bonsai-caring-ways.jpg



I had to post that one again Richard , quite wonderful !- Brian , thanks for your very helpful post . I hope I'm able to post this , my connection timed out last time and everything disappeared .

I'm using a potting mix of 50/50 fine sharp sand ( brickies loam we call it ) and sterilised compost .It's what I use for potting up all my trees , it drains well but seems to offer good food value and holds water for a few days . I will have to be careful during our winter , it's quite warm but very dry .This tree is very young , I've had it here for perhaps 8 years ....there is a very long way to go .I will consider the foliage for a while ....I'm not at all sure what to do with it .I understand the training process but not the shape I want .

The tree is a f.benjamina , a weeping fig .It has small leaves ,smooth bark and a naturally weeping habit .I think it might be a good tree for this project .

I found this privet bonsai , it's quite an inspirational process ...it certainly moves the project along ! I'll keep my eyes open for something similar .
http://www.bonsai4me.com/AdvTech/ATLongThinOneProgressionSeries.htm

Old Dryfoot
03-10-2011, 02:33 AM
You should like this one.

F Benjamina
http://www.artofbonsai.org/galleries/images/bestof/contest_Bradley_Barlow_Ficus_benjamina.jpg

PeterSibley
03-10-2011, 02:44 AM
That is beautiful ! have you seen any weeping bonsai of this species ?

BrianY
03-10-2011, 09:17 AM
do a google search on "cascade style ficus bonsai" and you'll find pictures of them online.

Old Dryfoot
03-10-2011, 01:35 PM
Somehow posting a tree this morning seems somewhat poetic in light of the days news.

Here is a Kengai or Cascade style Fig that also shows the Ishisuki or Growing in Rock style.
http://img69.yfrog.com/img69/786/img1788w.jpg

Bonsai styles adhere to rules or criteria that help to determine the shape and form of a tree, below is a set of rules that help to define the Kengai style. It's said the the privilege of breaking the rules was reserved for the masters. After a lifetime of following the rules a wise old master was allowed to establish a personal style, a signature of sorts.


Tips for making Cascade Style Bonsai or Kengai Bonsai: (http://rameshsinhabonsai.blogspot.com/2009/03/cascade-style-tips.html)


Remember, the main trunk does not fall & make bonsai.
It is the first branch, ideally on the left hand side that falls & make cascade.
The trunk tapers & forms a crowns. If required, for balance purpose there can be a second branch on the right hand side & the crown on the top.
The Tip of Trunk Crown & Tip of Branch Crown should be in one straight line.
Ideally tall rectangular pot should be used.
The movement of branch that cascades should be visible
Remember when you look at the cascade branch Reverse formal or informal upright tree should be visible, though it is not mandatory.
It is difficult style & hence draw as may Cascade tree as possible before you wire your plant into Cascade style.
In cascade branch, the individual sub branches should form a crow, facing up toward the sun.
The tip of cascade branch can go even below the bottom of the pot.
Height of the main trunk should be max 25% of length of the branch that cascades.
The first branch on the branch that cascades should be at rim of the pot or below, but never above it
The mouth of the pot should be narrow such that trunk of the tree stands out and the pot should be slender & high to complement the height of the tree
The cascade branch should have 7 branch crown or more

http://www.makebonsai.com/guide/photos/formal_cascade_2.jpg
Here is a Chinese Elm in the Kengai style, this tree is 58 years old at the time this photo was taken.

http://dragongardennursery.com/images/Gallery/gallery012B.jpg

Here is a Juniper also in the Kengai style.

http://www.bonsai-made-easy.com/images/cascadejuniper.jpg

Old Dryfoot
03-10-2011, 01:51 PM
Here is one more, this one is a personal favorite by the author of Bonsai Techniques John Naka.

Chinese Juniper, in training since 1953

http://www.usna.usda.gov/graphics/usna/PhotoGallery/BonsaiGallery/NorthAmerican_201_Juniperus_chinensis_Lg.jpg

PeterSibley
03-10-2011, 04:50 PM
do a google search on "cascade style ficus bonsai" and you'll find pictures of them online.

Yes , of course , dozens !

PeterSibley
03-10-2011, 04:56 PM
Richard , the rules are quite constraining aren't they ....perhaps for the beginner they should be aesthetic guidelines rather than absolutes ? Some of the work i see is amazingly skilled ...there are some progression photographs on here ...http://www.bonsai4me.com/AdvTech/ATL...sionSeries.htm (http://www.bonsai4me.com/AdvTech/ATLongThinOneProgressionSeries.htm) that I mentioned earlier .I think perhaps looking for a tree on a construction site or similar might be good .

We certainly have lots of camphor laurel here that could suit the purpose well .

Old Dryfoot
03-10-2011, 08:00 PM
Think of the rules as more of a set of criteria that define the epitome of the style, in the photos I posted above you can see that even these fine examples do not conform to all of the criteria that define the style. You will notice that the trunk crown and the branch crown on both Elm and the Juniper trees are not in line, with the Fig, it is not growing in a tall rectangular pot, nor is it's crown below that of the trunk.


I think perhaps looking for a tree on a construction site or similar might be good.A good place to look for sure, also look in areas where a tree would survive under stresses that can lead to stunted or interesting contorted growth, cliffs, areas of high wind exposure and so on. Give the Laurel a try by all means, it's the same as me trying to bonsai a wisteria, you'll never know until you try.