Ficus Ginseng (Ficus microcarpa Var. Tigerbark)

Redwood Ryan

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Hey all,

Wanted to challenge myself with a gross looking store bought mallsai. I bought is simply to experiment and try to make a convincing bonsai out of one of these nasty things. Bought this one today at Wal-Mart for $11 (I had a gift card, so it was actually free). I chose this one because it had growth down low on the trunk(s)(tubers). Next summer I plan on chopping down low on this and seeing what kind of back budding I can get from it. I also suppose I could remove some tubers, but I'm not sure which ones I want to remove as of now. But during the winter months, I am going to work on the aerial roots, as there are many growing now. Here is the tree:


Before repotting:
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During repotting:
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After repotting:
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Ryan
 

Klytus

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I know a cutting taken now will survive and grow roots through the winter if kept inside my bay window.

But will an application of moss encourage a profusion of roots from these ugly tubers?
 

Redwood Ryan

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I know a cutting taken now will survive and grow roots through the winter if kept inside my bay window.

But will an application of moss encourage a profusion of roots from these ugly tubers?

Thanks Klytus, see I knew you weren't a troll :)

But I also have it in my bay window, along with my others. I figured it would take, but I wasn't sure if now would be a correct time to take some. These are practically indestructible, so I hear at least.

The tubers themselves are actually pushing quite a few aerial roots, which I think is common. But I'm sure moss could work. I wonder if these tubers are like ficus cuttings where you can take one off and root it....
 

Bill S

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Ryan, I have taken a few root cuttings again this year, probably about 3 weeks ago, nothing yet, and I tried last year as well, NADA. I was told by a knowledgable club member that ficus aren't the greatest for root cutting, which to me is counter what you would think with ficus being so vigorous.

Not sure I like the big tubers on this and also wonder if this is actually a microcarpa, mine do not try to grow fat roots like this is. I would consider a ground layer above those bulbus roots.
 

Redwood Ryan

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Thanks Bill!

I actually contacted Jerry Meislik (King of all things Ficus related) and he told me that doing top work now would be fine, so I went ahead and cut some shoots off.

I thought about doing a ground layer as well, but I'm still considering several options.
 

subnet_rx

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I've read that ground layering or using cuttings won't work and that the bulbous roots will simply grow back. I don't have the patience to try it myself since I have several of the non-bulbous kind, so I can't back up the previous statement with my own experience. I have wondered what these mature into, since all I ever have seen is something like the pictures above. Nothing at the 15 or 20 year stage.
 

Redwood Ryan

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I've read that ground layering or using cuttings won't work and that the bulbous roots will simply grow back. I don't have the patience to try it myself since I have several of the non-bulbous kind, so I can't back up the previous statement with my own experience. I have wondered what these mature into, since all I ever have seen is something like the pictures above. Nothing at the 15 or 20 year stage.

Well I guess I will find out and see what exactly I can do with this horrendous monster. I am really only doing this because a member on another forum said these cannot be made into presentable bonsai. I am here to (hopefully) prove him wrong :)


P.S. Bill, how do you root your ficus cuttings?
 

Bill S

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"I've read that ground layering or using cuttings won't work and that the bulbous roots will simply grow back."

I am assuming you mean that taking cuttings or a G layer would still grow the bulbus roots, I can vouch for cuttings do work for microcarpa, I am still thinking this one of Ryans is a retusa maybe, I haven't latched onto ficus enough to ID the varieties. Kingsman/Tigerbark/microcarpa have a different bark than this does, almost like a birch with darker little bits of stripes going across the bark. Can't tell much from the pix below, it's the one at the rear.
 

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Klytus

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I used a heat mat which added a localised 8 degrees centigrade boost during the dark days.

It keeps the bay window frost free too.

I had to use a timer to keep the temperature from rising too much.
 

Klytus

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At the beginning of August i took one Tigerbark and formed a spagnum cone bound with raffia about it's roots and trunk,bringing it in for the Winter i began peeling back the moss without expecting too much and found a few new roots growing upwards.

Back to the drawing board.
 

Bob O

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Hy Ryan,

I got one of these last spring. It had four tubers, all upright, forming it's base. I took it all apart & grew four new bonsai from it. I think the reason for my sucess with them is that they were upright & not twisted around each other. Here are three of them. The biggest one is just re-leafing after being defoliated a couple of weeks ago.

Bob O
 

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plant_dr

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I always thought that these ginseng ficus were ugly, but I actually like the ones that Bob has done here, especialy the middle one!
 

Bill S

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Ryan when i do cuttings I use a fairly rich organic mix, potting soil works well even, nothing fancy, put in in the pot and keep the soil moist, but not real wet. Keep them out of the sun for a while, mist often. If you can, a plastic tent of some sorts will keep the humidity up, and help keep the soil from drying quickly. Other than that they root eaisly.
 

Redwood Ryan

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Thanks everyone!

I have always rooted my ficus cuttings in water, not the brightest idea, but it always seems to work for me. I do have a greenhouse set up next to my bay window, but I can't keep the dang thing humid!

Bob, how easily did those tubers root? And they actually grew bark? Think they would root in water :D
 

Bob O

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Plant Dr.: Glad you like them! Thanks.

Ryan: I did not have to root them, they each had roots growing from their base as it was in the soil. If you look close at the third one you will see new roots coming off the trunk at the soil line, when these reached the edge of the pot I tucked the tips down into the soil & they continue to grow. Hopefully in a few years they will make a nice radial pattern & thicken up.

Hope this helps,

Bob O
 

Redwood Ryan

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I do see those Bob, and yes I agree that they are beautiful trees (I forgot to say that ;))

How exactly did you go about removing the tubers? And when? Thank you!
 

Bonsaiboy

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Good luck with this and PLEASE keep us updated! Trying to do the same thing you are, and want to see how yours turns out.
 

Redwood Ryan

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Good luck with this and PLEASE keep us updated! Trying to do the same thing you are, and want to see how yours turns out.

Old thread, this one's looong gone. I learned what made good bonsai material and what didn't, and this is the latter.
 

Bonsaiboy

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Old thread, this one's looong gone. I learned what made good bonsai material and what didn't, and this is the latter.
Oh crap, this is from 2010... I thought it was August 2013... Gotta pay attention to the dates, haha. Well thanks for replying at least!
 

amcoffeegirl

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There are a few blogs about this online. Adamaskwhy blog has a good one. I do have one ginseng ficus which had a rotted out root that I carved. I still like mine even though it will never be a true bonsai.
 

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