Ficus seedlings ready for trunk chop yet?

jmobonsai

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Hi,
I'm new to bonsai.
Will 1-year ficus seedlings survive a trunk chop?
Planted 5 different species of ficus from seed last year, 12 of the sprouted seeds have survived, some died from newbie mistakes, 5 is from Microcarpa cuttings. They're now about 10-15cm tall, slender, and no branches yet. I now wonder if this spring is the right time, to chop the trunk, and get some branches going? They're all going to be mame-sized trees.
Do they have enough vigor yet, or should i wait another year?

If they're ready for a chop, where should i put the cut, above growth to leave a few leaves, or is it okay to chop it down to a stump?

The species:
5 x F. Microcarpa (cuttings)
5 x F. Salicifolia
5 x F. Cordata
1 x F. Religiosa
1 x F. Carica

Thanks.
 

eryk2kartman

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Welcome to crazy!

I think you answered your own question - if there is not enough vigor - don't do it. Let them grow for another year, get good root system established and think about the chops later. They are growing from seeds, let them grow its their only first year, no chops fort another 3 years at least.
Photos would also help, hard to help by looking at nothing :)
 

eryk2kartman

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Welcome to crazy!

I think you answered your own question - if there is not enough vigor - don't do it. Let them grow for another year, get good root system established and think about the chops later. They are growing from seeds, let them grow its their only first year, no chops for another 3 years at least.
Photos would also help, hard to help by looking at nothing :)
 

amcoffeegirl

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The rule I always heard was to let the trunk get as fat as you want it to be- then chop. I personally could never wait that long. It is a good rule though. I have had to force myself through the years to stop cutting and let it grow. That is what you should do- let it grow for now.
 

jmobonsai

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@eryk2kartman I think you're right about that :) Maybe i should wait another year, although it is tempting.. However some of the most vigorous of the trees (the carica and religiosa or tall microcarpa, seems like they would survive). But ehh, better safe than sorry. The last photo is my sprouting setup, currently sprouting these species:

F. Benjamina (Weeping fig, Græde-figen)
F. Obliqua (Small-leaved fig, Småbladet-figen)
F. Capensis (Cape fig, Sydafrikansk kap-figen)
F. Elastica (Rubber fig, Gummi-figen)
F. Natalensis (Natal fig, Mutuba-figen)
U. Chinensis (Chinese elm, Kinesisk elm)

The one on top is:
F. Benghalensis (Indian Banyan fig, Bengalsk Kvæler-figen)

This spring, im also sprouting:
F. Sycomorus (Sycamore fig, Sycamore-figen)
F. Racemosa (Indian fig, Indisk-figen)
F. Rubiginosa (Rusty fig, Rust-figen)
F. Coronata (Sandpaper fig, Sandpapir-figen)
S. Arboricola (Umbrella tree, Paraply-træ)

Here's some pics:
 

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eryk2kartman

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@jmobonsai - they are really small to be honest, i wouldnt touch them for another year or 2, but at the same time, next year i would dig them up and look at the root system, trim the tap root and get it good start to nice nebari, the year after or so you can think about chopping.

You will get mixed opinions on chops, chops generally slows down the development a bit, some people would wait for desire trunk size and chop it at that stage leaving huge cut mark to heal, and it would take years to have it fully recovered.

I prefer couple of chops earlier on in development, so there is time to heal the scars etc, it might take slightly longer to get a nice tree but the quality will be much better. I would chop when trunk gets close to finger size thick.(probably 3-5 years old seedlings) really depends on the specious.

If yopu want to so some work on them, as it was suggested before, you can wire them and add some curves but you still will be able to do the same next year so no panic.
 

jmobonsai

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@eryk2kartman Good points, that would indeed be the safest, don't want to loose the little fellas :) Since i grow in a window sill, i wont ever get a thick and dense tree, thats why im trying to grow them in mame size, both to get close to the resemblance of a tree in a few years and thin trunks will look thicker when you're down in the 10-15cm sizes. Im considering to practice the literati style only (except the salicifolia clumpstyle experiment). The literati style emphasizes on the elongated/slender shape with sparse growth on top. I think i could pull this off, i am limited to ficus species as im in an apartment. Ive enjoyed the process and seeing them grow so far, so i have faith that some day they will at least look like small little bonsai trees :) Thank you for giving me your take on it, really helps to get more experienced folks to chime in. I know most bonsai-enthusiasts, say that what im doing is completely wrong, and probably wont lead to world-class trees, but like i said, im very limited in this sense that i only have a north-facing windowsill to grow in. (the worse pointing window). But in growing season i have 16 hours of indirect light, while the last two and a half hours are direct soft sunlight from the setting sun. Since they're ficus trees, they dont like direct sunlight anyways, as most ficus species grow beneath the canopy of other trees. So i have good faith in this little project :) Think i will go buy some plant wires now, and tinker a little with the literati-potential.
 
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sorce

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Where you at growing fici seed?

Nice!

WTC!

Sorce
 

StoneCloud

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Nice job!

Grow them out! let them get thick!!!! Chop the trunk many years later

Ficus one of my favorite!
 

jmobonsai

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@sorce Thanks! Im in Denmark.

@StoneCloud I've decided to just let them grow, and maybe make the decision to chop at a later point in time. Thank you, if i succeed in germinating everything im planning on this spring, i will have multiple specimens of 15 different species of ficus. I like the figs aswell, not a bad tree to be stuck with :)
 

jmobonsai

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UPDATE ON THE STYLING PROCESS

Decided to re-pot all my trees into the shallow pots. I got creative and gave them some style.

Before and after of two of my trees so far:

1) My religiosa: tilted it at another angle to expose aerial root. It sprouted into this funny bending angle by itself, while germinating.
2) Two seperate cordata trees, grown in the same pot. I have now spun them together, to create an interesting twisting movement. They will eventually fuse together if one of them will not choke or strangle the other. Either way, they will be forever fused together.

That's what i got so far. Not bad for 1-year seedlings.
 

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Leo in N E Illinois

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You should put some bends in your cordata now that they are wired.

The cordata will fuse. It will take several years, but they will fuse.

I must complement you, not many are able to raise Ficus seedlings so nicely in a strictly windowsill set up, such as yours. Well done.

Most bonsai - even mame bonsai spend a good period of time, often 5 to 10 years in their early pre-bonsai phase growing out to considerably larger sizes. I have a Amur maple in the back yard that currently is over 6 feet tall (roughly 2 meters) I intend for it to finish as shohin, about 20 cm tall. It will not be reduced to shohin size until the trunk diameter is where I want it.

But trunk diameter increases at a rate proportionate to the surface area of the leaves that the trunk supports. You can grow a tall tree with few leaves, or a short, multiple branches tree, with many leaves, totalling more surface area. So as @eryk2kartman said, there are 2 approaches to bulking up trunks. The common theme between the two approaches is the total leaf surface area supported by the trunk. More leaf surface, the more rapid the thickening of the trunk.

What is the ideal trunk size you should achieve for your intended trees? While there are not hard and fast rules, looking at which trees get awarded at shows, the ratio of trunk diameter to height tend to be 1:5 to 1:4. In other words, for a 10 cm tall tree, the trunk should be 2.5 cm to 2.5 cm in diameter. But the range can vary, from as little as 10:1 for tall forest image, through 1:1 for fat sumo types. So don't be afraid to let your seedling grow out for a while before cutting back.

But you have done a nice job of bringing these seedlings up to this size, good consistent care.
 

Brad in GR

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Nice work, look forward to seeing progress. Let em grow for a bit! Always have options with ficus and resilient.
 

jmobonsai

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@Leo in N E Illinois
Do you mean those that ive twisted together, or the other ones?

I hope that they will fuse some day, would look pretty awesome :)

Thank you very much for the nice words! I must add that ive asked for advice on reddit and have been met with an army of people who say that what i want to do cannot be done. What a load of turtles**t. And the best part is that i havent even used fertilizer throughout their short life. im just glad that it worked out so well. I don't know what ive done differently, maybe my own soil mixture has something to say, i get supreme compost from our local "trash-dump", although we now call it "recycle centres", they make huge piles of peoples organic trash into compost, which you can just come and take for free, 300kgs per citizen. Maybe this, or that ive tried an old aquarium-gravel trick, to use natural red clay with high iron content - i insert small deposits of clay chunks at different levels in the soil, so the trees wont be missing iron any time soon.

Here's my own soil mixture, if anyone wants to know:

60% Organic soil (for nutrients and organic material) [fine-sifted-compost(80%), quartz/sillica sand(10%), fine-sifted-sphaugnum(10%)]
40% Course 1-2mm grit (for drainage and encouraging fine root development)
1 x Scoop of larger gravel stones 3-4mm, for extra drainage, and air pockets.
2 x Scoops of fine sifted pine bark particles. Encourages beneficial bacteria, mycelium growth, and provides aluminum minerals.

As supplement:
High iron-content red clay (insert small deposits at different levels in the soil, promotes enzymes and gives unlimited iron to t trees)

Or its just like you said, good consistent care.
 
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