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I've been working on reducing this guy for some time. My main task so far has only been chasing foliage back closer to the trunk. It's got a lot of problems but it is nice to work with something that isn't still busy thickening up. Not sure yet what exactly I'm going to do with that big branch or the area underneath the branch which is slimmer than above. I'm thinking of packing underneath the branch with sphagnum moss and trying to encourage some aerial roots to bolster the taper at the base. I'm keeping the foliage on that branch pinched to very minimal amounts hoping to slow any more thickening. Also unsure about what to do with the stubs from older branches that were removed. Probably trim back close to flush with the trunk and seal. I've got a couple different ideas on where to take this, some with the branch remaining, some with it removed. Anything interesting jump out at you for possibilities?


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Couple more bad pics. I'll definitely try for better quality pics in the future.


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It is a nice thick trunk, but I'd leave it alone for a couple of seasons to regain the foliage. I don't know about the ariel roots. I've never tried to develop them.
Hey Iowa!
Did I tell you what Iowa stands for?
Seriously, I like this trunk but think you have chased the foliage a little too far back. Let it grow some. But first cut off the swelling from that branch. You certainly don't need that.

I think you have it planted a little deep, but no worries. How does the nebari and rootage look? Plus, what IS that soil you have it in? Looks like almost pure lava. This will require a LOT of watering.

However, there is one aspect to these photos for which you must be commended. You, sir, are a bonsai prodigy. This one aspect alone sets you among the celestial sphere. I will not reveal it until some others have guessed it.

Nice tree. Great possibilities. Let it recover.

However, there is one aspect to these photos for which you must be commended. You, sir, are a bonsai prodigy. This one aspect alone sets you among the celestial sphere. I will not reveal it until some others have guessed it.

Could it be the all important cigarette pack? The mark of the consummate professional.

Yeah yeah I've heard what Iowa stands for :rolleyes:
Among the celestial sphere eh? I remember being among somewhere nearby there but I quit smoking that stuff quite a while ago!

I'd just chopped quite a bit of foliage further back, it's the third major reduction I've done to it since last June. It has come back with a bang each time. It's in mostly lava with a bit of oil-dri due to where it's at. It's in a part of the greenhouse where some other people here at work are tasked with the watering and they overdo it big time. Hopefully I'll be able to get it and a couple others back in a section no one other than myself messes with but that hasn't happened yet.

The tree was growing in sand when I found it so needless to say the nebari has issues. I got rid of all the crossing or funky looking roots and ended up with a pretty big bare section of about 1/4 the total size of the base. This was done when first repotted. On it's last major operation in November there was some definite improvement with a good number of feeder roots coming out. I've been reading quite a bit about grafting in seedlings to improve nebari and will probably end up needing to do that at some point when everything else is heading in a better direction.

I'm still not quite sure what to do with that big branch on the side. If I just cut it off it's looking like there will be some pretty serious reverse taper. If I keep it the reverse taper is going to continue to get worse. Carving is something I haven't even touched yet and from what I've read ficus don't take to it very well anyways. Maybe if I cut the branch back to try and get some taper to it.....
"among somewhere nearby there"

Wow.. someone needs to look over his post before submitting it :o
I had a granola bar set aside to use for size comparison but a bike rider passing by rode off with it :mad:
Mr. Chris mentioned that I should cut off the swelling from the big branch. I'm wondering if I should take the branch off now or let it recover more. It's already come back with quite a few new shoots.

If I do take it off should I take it back flush with the trunk using cutpaste or leave room for dieback? I've heard both methods mentioned by experienced people. Thanks!
Do you have any shoots closer to the trunk? If you do, cut off all the growth at the KnoB and take the bark off the end to cause it to dry out. If not, study up on grafting and give that a go. DO NOT cut it flush with the trunk! Always leave room for dieback on a ficus! Allow the plant to compartmentalize a cut on these trees. This "rule" does not apply to all trees, but it is almost always the case with ficus (pines too, but that's another story). DO NOT make the rank beginner mistake of thinking the general rule applies to all trees regardless of their normal growth habit, growing area, etc.

I definitely suggest you make contact with Jerry Meislik, a well-known expert in ficus.
Once again thanks for the advice. It is popping new shoots like mad, some finally a little lower on the trunk where I was wanting them. I'm going to get something to use as a solid background and try and get a more useful pic up.
Newer pics but not new.. from Mar 27. The substrate looks like pure large chunks of lava from the pics but I assure you it's not. It's an Oil-dri/pine bark mix for the most part with some lava rocks on top to keep the substrate underneath from getting blown off when it gets watered. Benjamina aren't the best or even one of the desirable ficus species to work with but I enjoy this guy.


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Yes, that is a litter box :cool:


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For the record I noticed a definite change in a short amount of time with the addition of the bark. I had it in an extremely lean mix before of lava and oil-dri. I pulled everything, mixed equal parts oil-dri with pine bark, and have seen some rampant new growth. Granted it is spring :p However I'm fairly certain the substrate change made a significant impact on the latest flush of growth.
Hadn't been doing much the last couple year other than keeping the wild growth under marginal control. Took this to a nearby gentleman who has been providing quite a bit of insight and we went to town on it. Ordering a brown oval mica for it on Friday, it'll get rotated about 15 degrees to the right.

The lower right branch is just there for any reverse taper it may help correct. Long ways to go still but it looks like we found a tree in there.


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