Hollow trunks on Ficus

Mortalis

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I am considering a hollow trunk on a ficus would that be ok for the tree health wise? I know the wood rots easily is there any harm in the trunk hollow continuing to rot out over time.
 

irene_b

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I am considering a hollow trunk on a ficus would that be ok for the tree health wise? I know the wood rots easily is there any harm in the trunk hollow continuing to rot out over time.

Over time? Define that..
There is also Marine epoxy that can be used to seal once it gets punky...
Irene
 

Mortalis

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I mean if it rots out completely where there would be no wood left. Totally hollow.
 

treebeard55

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I think that if all the wood rotted on any tree, it might collapse under its own weight, depending on its size.

You style your tree however you like, but let me offer a thought. I lived a number of years as a boy in the rain forest in Ecuador, and there were very few hollow-trunk trees in the landscape. In that humidity, a dead tree rotted away pretty quickly. So to me, a tropical-looking tree with a hollow trunk looks anomalous, and I don't style tropicals with hollow trunks. But that's me. You do as you like with your tree.
 
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Mortalis

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Hmm.. had not thought of that actually. I am from Texas. It takes quite a long time for any tree to rot away here.
 

rockm

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Don't know where you live in Texas, but in East Texas things rot pretty quickly...

A hollow trunk can be used on most any tree, but like anything there's a downside--with a hollow trunk design, you risk mechanical collapse of the tree itself; a substantial hidden surface area that will have to be treated regularly with some kind of disinfectant and preservative (lime sulphur); possible limited options when it comes to branch placement and manipulation (you can't reposition limbs without considering the stress it would place on the trunk that has no supporting inner core); repotting a hollowed out trunk has to be done very carefully--simply leaning the tree on something could mean irreparable damage to it.

Since ficus wood is somewhat "punky" to begin with and isn't all that strong, I'd avoid such a design with the species. Too much of a hassle.
 

greerhw

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If you want to hollow the trunk don't use lime sulphur, all it does is turn the wood white, it has no effect on hardening. Minwax however does make a product that will. I have used it on wood that would crumble in you fingers and its now hard enough to carve on. I treat all the shari on my junipers that come in contact with my soil and it makes it hard as a rock. use a brush to apply it and wipe the surface with a rag before it drys, otherwise it will have a little shine to it and in some cases it will make the rotting wood a little darker that seems to go away in time.You can put on more that one coat. caveat: I have never used it on a hollow trunk before, so I don't know if it will hurt the cambium layer of not.

keep it green,
Harry

http://www.minwax.com/products/wood_maintenance_and_repair/high_performance_wood_hardener.html
 
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rockm

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"If you want to hollow the trunk don't use lime sulphur, all it does is turn the wood white,"

Not true. It is a disinfectant and anti fungal treatment that can slow rot significantly. Minwax Wood Hardener is not a substitute for LS. wood hardener does not stop rot--in fact it may accelerate it, since it only penetrates half an inch or less into the wood--depending on the wood's density and consistency. If you don't completely remove rot before applying it, you're in for problems. I've had trees rot from underneath wood hardener which forms a "shell" over rotting woods, preventing penetration of antifungal treatments. I would not recommend using it inside a hollow trunk.
 

rockm

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I''m not talking about lime sulphur hardening anything. I saying wood hardener and lime sulphur are not interchangeable and LS does alot more than simply turn wood white.
 

greerhw

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"If you want to hollow the trunk don't use lime sulphur, all it does is turn the wood white,"

Not true. It is a disinfectant and anti fungal treatment that can slow rot significantly. Minwax Wood Hardener is not a substitute for LS. wood hardener does not stop rot--in fact it may accelerate it, since it only penetrates half an inch or less into the wood--depending on the wood's density and consistency. If you don't completely remove rot before applying it, you're in for problems. I've had trees rot from underneath wood hardener which forms a "shell" over rotting woods, preventing penetration of antifungal treatments. I would not recommend using it inside a hollow trunk.

Wrong, LS only penitrates about a very small amount, you can treat with LS and remove it with steel wool, I've never seen a case where it hardened anything. I said I never used it in a hollow truck, so I don't have any idea if it will harm the tree.

As far as the penetration goes you say it only penetrates a half an inch or so, then you say it forms a shell over rotting wood, which I'm guessing keeps water from rotting it any futher. If I coat jin or shari and prevent water from getting in, just how does it keep rotting.

keep it green,
Harry
 

greerhw

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I''m not talking about lime sulphur hardening anything. I saying wood hardener and lime sulphur are not interchangeable and LS does alot more than simply turn wood white.


I'm sorry I thought we were talking about stablizing rotting wood, or preventing it in the first place.

keep it green,
Harry
 

rockm

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"As far as the penetration goes you say it only penetrates a half an inch or so, then you say it forms a shell over rotting wood, which I'm guessing keeps water from rotting it any futher. If I coat jin or shari and prevent water from getting in, just how does it keep rotting."

This is a very dangerous assumption. You simply CAN'T keep water from getting underneath an area coated in wood hardener, unless you're extremely thorough in carving out rotted or rotting wood and sealing off the remaining wood from moisture for a long period. This is especially true if the deadwood area extends to the soil line. Water will almost always find a way in. A Minwax "shell" over rotting wood can accelerate the process if it's not tended to regularly.

My experience was with a couple of trees--one a very old rose bush with a 10" trunk and an old amur maple--with a hollow core. The rose had extremely soft wood to begin with. It rotted easily at hard pruning points which it was slow to close. I used Wood hardener repeatedly to "preserve" stabilize the wood, which extended into the soil in some areas. It worked, or so it appeared, forming a hard "shell" of stable wood, until one day that shell --which covered a substantial portion of the trunk, simply cracked and imploded. The wood underneath had turned to mush.

Same held true with the amur, but it took longer and I used a combination of LS and hardener. I used straight LS inside the hollow trunk to keep fungus down --Worked for a while, but since I couldn't control moisture entering behind the treated wood from soil level, it eventually rotted out...
 

greerhw

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This is a very dangerous assumption. You simply CAN'T keep water from getting underneath an area coated in wood hardener, unless you're extremely thorough in carving out rotted or rotting wood and sealing off the remaining wood from moisture for a long period.


Believe me if you spend a couple of thousand dollars on a tree, you can afford to be extremely careful in taking care of it, it depends on how important the tree is to your collection, Wood hardner will work, but like anything else related to this hobby, you have to keep after it.

keep it green,
Harry
 

rockm

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Exactly. It's the "keeping after" stuff that can be difficult, especially if the tree is not a conifer. Deciduous woods tend to rot more readily than "softwood" as pines and other conifer woods contain more resins that slow their decomposition.
 

greerhw

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I can't argue that point with you, I don't own anything but conifers and true, their wood is harder....peace

keep it green,
Harry
 

BonsaiWes

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I am considering a hollow trunk on a ficus would that be ok for the tree health wise? I know the wood rots easily is there any harm in the trunk hollow continuing to rot out over time.


I very deeply hollowed out a (Taiwan Ficus) Ficus Benjimans a year or maybe it was two ago and both the tree and the hole are doing just fine. The ficus wood is light enough in colour I didn't bother with the LS but used a little ink to grey/dirty it up a bit so it would look more natural right away and havent had to jack with it since. Keep your plant healthy and the carving will stay healthy as well.
 

head_cutter

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Hey Mort, I'll let you know in about a year. I didn't completly hollow it but just finished creating some huge areas of shari on a big Water Jasmine. Jerry Milsick and I chatted about it for a while because I can't get any lime sulphur here and they are about as soft as a FR. I have a problem with heat and humidity of around off the scale for most of the year.

I wanted these areas to be a little dark rather than light to keep with what I see in these big old trees here. Went with used motor oil cut with baby oil to get the color. So far no problem tree is growing like crazy. I'll continue over time to get the right color and texture, it beads water well but I also carved everything so there is no place for water to lay. Just saying what I did and that it seems to be working.

Bob
 

Mortalis

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I wanted these areas to be a little dark rather than light to keep with what I see in these big old trees here.
Bob

Thats really what I am thinking about myself. Its not natural for ficus in the wild but then you dont see boxwood that is 50ft tall. Well we represent other trees that are 50ft tall with boxwood. Why not represent a tree that can survive in its location with a hollow with ficus.
 

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