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TOPIC: Plans for developing my ficus retusa bonsai

Plans for developing my ficus retusa bonsai 6 months 1 week ago #36283

I picked up a ficus retusa (tiger bark ficus) bonsai this fall so I'd have an indoor tree to look at in the winter while my other trees are covered in snow. Here are some pictures of the tree as it is now as well as an annotated picture of the front of the tree so I can describe my plan.

Right now, there isn't much taper to the trunk. It's about the same thickness along most of the length except it gets a little wider at the very bottom. I'd like to thicken the trunk in the region circled in yellow. I also feel like the tree would have more of the appearance of an aged, adult tree if it was made to be shorter to change the relative proportions of the trunk and canopy height.

Here's what I'm thinking of doing:
Wait until spring (so I have a pretty tree to look at this winter), then chop the trunk at the red line and put the tree outside to boost photosynthesis. I'd like to plant the part above the red line as a cutting. There are a couple of aerial roots that attach to the trunk in the region of the light blue circle, so the cutting would have some roots. However, I'm uncertain if the aerial roots are enough to sustain it until it grows more. Do you think it is necessary to do an air layer above the red line or will the two aerial roots keep it alive?

Along with the trunk chop, I want the new trunk line to go along the curve shown in magenta. The branch on the left won't really match up with the directionality of the restyled tree, so I would either chop it as shown in green or else wire it into the position shown in dark blue. If I chop it, would the tree still have enough foliage to remain healthy or would that cut need to be done at a later date to avoid hurting the vigor of the tree too much? What would you do? Would you chop that branch or just move it with wire? I am hoping that by chopping the trunk, back budding would be stimulated and I could get a new branch down low by the yellow circle that I could then grow out long to fatten up that portion of the trunk. Would you expect that back budding to happen if I execute this plan? Anything you would do differently?

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  • Lorax7
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Plans for developing my ficus retusa bonsai 6 months 1 week ago #36289

Unless you live in a tropical area, don't expect too much growth from your ficus.
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  • Madartej21
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Plans for developing my ficus retusa bonsai 6 months 1 week ago #36290

Hi there.

Backbudding on lower trunk is quite unlikely.

I hoped to get some on the tree on the left side:



Ater chopping it lower and lower, the buds always appeared only on top.
Then after 2 chops some 5 sprouted from very low on trunk where they were useless.
After I removed them, the tree died.
But at that stage I had over 20 rooted cuttings and air layers from it.
Here it is replaced with it´ sown cutting, they grow pretty fast:



I expect it to be as thick as mother tree in some 2 years, and have tho low branches under control from the very start.

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Plans for developing my ficus retusa bonsai 6 months 1 week ago #36299

I have no vision for this plant. But, I would recommend doing this sort of work in early summer. The tree is at its strongest; Effectively, most tropicals you work in summer, as in winter they struggle in the non-tropics.
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