Air Layer This Ficus?

Redwood Ryan

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Hey all! I posted this on another site and I will post it on this one as well to see what advice I get. I went to my local nursery that has lots of Bonsai material(s) and found this guy, a Willow Leaf Ficus. It is about 1.5 feet tall and has a decent trunk. It wasn't too expensive either. I like it. Anyway, I've thought about air layering the big bare trunk of the tree. Does this species even back-bud well? Or do they (Ficus in general) all back-bud well? I was thinking about doing it between the red lines. Could I go lower? Or should I even air layer this thing at all? It is horribley root bound and the soil it is in is so bad that there are clovers growing in. I'm potting it into some good bonsai soil later. Any help is appreciated! Thanks!







P.S. I just slip potted it into some nice bonsai soil.

Ryan
 

Bonsai Nut

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First ask yourself the question: "what do I want this tree to look like when I am done". Then work towards that goal.

Yes, you can airlayer ficuses very easily. Yes, they backbud well. Before you do anything drastic, I would recommend getting the tree as healthy and robust as possible - including getting it into a wide, shallow growth flat. It is probably late in the season to do this in WV; it would be best to wait until the spring.
 

Redwood Ryan

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First ask yourself the question: "what do I want this tree to look like when I am done". Then work towards that goal.

Yes, you can airlayer ficuses very easily. Yes, they backbud well. Before you do anything drastic, I would recommend getting the tree as healthy and robust as possible - including getting it into a wide, shallow growth flat. It is probably late in the season to do this in WV; it would be best to wait until the spring.

Thank you, but I knew they air layer easily. What I meant was should I air layer it? I guess not quite yet. I was told on another forum that I should try getting low branches before doing anything to grow out the trunk. Should I do that?

Thank you!

Ryan

P.S. I live in regular Virginia :)
 

jjbacoomba

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Nice find Ryan. I quess I would try to get lower branches on it. With that trunk and nebari , it would turn out reaaly nice. Airlayering would be cool too at the point you drew. LOL @ regular Virginia. Just imagining George Bush saying "reglar" LOL!! Keep us posted on the tree. Looking forward to seeing the progress pics. Rock On!! Joe
 

Redwing

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Nice find Ryan. I quess I would try to get lower branches on it. With that trunk and nebari , it would turn out reaaly nice. Airlayering would be cool too at the point you drew. LOL @ regular Virginia. Just imagining George Bush saying "reglar" LOL!! Keep us posted on the tree. Looking forward to seeing the progress pics. Rock On!! Joe


Sorry, Joe, but I just don't see it. The trunk is small, straight, and with no taper. The nebari is an uneven mess of roots coming out at different levels. Not to pour cold water on the thread, but I wish a few more people had given me the straight truth when I got going. Would have saved me a lot of time.

-rw
 

jjbacoomba

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Good thing about airlayering is you will end up with 2 nice looking trees. The roots can be worked on later to your liking. I see lots of potential there. Good luck. Keep us posted.
 

rockm

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The upper portion has no real interest. It's not really worth air layering, IMO. You will wind up with another rather "middlin" trunk and a lower root mass that still will require extensive rehabilitation. Essentially, if you air layer, you delay work on the lower portion (which needs it BADLY) and wind up with a rather vanilla tree in the process...

You don't really need to wait for lower branching on the lower part to proceed--but you should probably wait until the weather heats up this summer. Winter/fall is an extremely bad time to do anything like this with a tropical ficus...
 

Redwood Ryan

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Thanks everyone. Still unsure of where to go though. Was it a good find or a bad one? I am getting mixed reviews.


Ryan
 

jjbacoomba

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Know how ya feel. I'll just add. "its what you make it"! No matter what at least you tried.
 

Redwood Ryan

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Thanks, this guy will be my experimental tree. We'll see what happens.
 

Bill S

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I just see little boxes with x's in them, right click to show pictures and nothing, anyone else not see the photos. I did see them when the thread started.
 

Redwood Ryan

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That's really strange as I can still see them...
 

Redwood Ryan

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Despite all the negatives of air layering it, I think I am going to do that. It is just an experiment, after all. The tree is pretty sickly looking, so I am not sure if it will even make it to spring. Can I air layer it now as a last ditch effort to save one part of it? Thanks!
 

Bill S

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Working on a sick tree isn't the best idea, get it healthy then wack it. When you chop it back it will throw out buds all over the place, then start anew picking branches to keep and grow out.

Even in Fla, it's not the best time for this.
 

Rick Moquin

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First ask yourself the question: "what do I want this tree to look like when I am done". Then work towards that goal.

Yes, you can airlayer ficuses very easily. Yes, they backbud well. Before you do anything drastic, I would recommend getting the tree as healthy and robust as possible - including getting it into a wide, shallow growth flat. It is probably late in the season to do this in WV; it would be best to wait until the spring.
Ryan,

The first response to your question was answered here by BNut (above) then the following discussion ensued.

It is not should I air layer or not, it is where do I air layer it if at all. The answer is yes because the tree as is, does not ahve a future. Going only on the photographed provided, I would air layer between the blue lines and use the right branch as the new leader. Unfortunately that left trunk is loss, it is no great loss anyway. There is nothing there. The next layer could be where you indicated. Once severed from the mother tree, plant it out and once the layer is established prune to green line as that is your new leader. The parent tree will back bud and you then choose the bud where you want to go with that one.

As your layers grow unimpeded, strike cuttings for future use to develop the mother tree nebari through approach grafting of thread grafting. As you know that base is useless as is.

What have you accomplished if you have the patience to see this all the way through: You have 3 trees that are being developed for bonsai vice a Ficus Nerofilia; you have learned to air layer; and you have learned how to repair poor nebari.

5-10 years from now you can have some decent looking trees from this poor choice of material.

Edit: photo attachment and of course you would chop the top off, of the first layer just above the right branch
 

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Red Truck

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Poor choice of material? You got better hot wind?
 

Redwood Ryan

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Thanks so much Rick!

And thank you Bill! But I don't live in Florida! I live in Gainesville, Va.
 
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