Tiger Bark Ficus - Branch Question

edro

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I recently acquired this ficus and it has since been repotted and all of the surface roots removed and reworked.

I do not know what to do with this lower left branch.
I do not currently like the way it follows the trunk line.

Here are my proposed ideas:
1. Remove it.
2. Bind it to the main trunk with a loop (Red) and pull the branch downward with a guywire (Blue).
3. Try to put movement into it with large gauge wire.

Any suggestions?
 

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Bill S

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I think removal is a good option, which will probably get you a new bud or two at the base or lower section which could be trained properly , but it could do without. It looks like a similar issue with a small one in front of the right branch following it upright?

I don't think you'll pull the base of that left one enough to fuse it to the trunk so it will stand out.

You can bend it but take it a little at a time, it's easy to separate them at the branch collar, if you do dab on some elmers glue, although the latex will probably do it for you.

Bottom line is you need to like what you are looking at, not too bad a tree though, good potential.
 

rockm

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I would also be a bit concerned about the roots because the soil looks pretty bad...

Now is the time to repot ficus, when it's good and hot. They bounce back quickly when root pruned and left outside in the heat and humidity.
 

Attila Soos

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The first question is, what kind of tree are you envisioning as your final image. If you don't answer this question, you can waste a decade of work, with nothing to show for.

So, the question is, are you trying to create A) a young-looking, easily achievable, low quality bonsai (some call that a mallsai), or B) a high quality bonsai that creates the impression of great age and power?

This question is not a rhetorical one, and my intention is by no means to criticize the owner's taste or intentions. It has specific practical implications, and depending on your answer, it requires a completely different course of action. There is no right or wrong choice, it depends on what are you aiming for, and how much time do you want to devote to it.

If your intention is to go with plan A, then you just re-pot the tree into a good quality soil, clean up the nebari (which you did), and start working with the branches, by pruning and wiring them (a quick look at your tree reveals that the lower trunk displays the morphology of the tuberous roots, a standard feature of this species. It makes the tree look juvenile).

If, however, you want to pursue plan B, then you need to forget about the bonsai pot, and forget about any shaping or styling of the branches. In that case, the only things you need to work on, for the next 5 - 7 years, is the nebari and the trunk line. Everything else is irrelevant.

There are simple techniques to build powerful nebari, but there is no point in going into details, since you may not want to go that route. Remember, that with broadleaf trees, you either build nebari and trunk, or you build branches. You cannot do both in the same time. With conifers, you need to do both at the same time, due to the fact that they don't bud from old wood.

Also, remember, that as we learn more and more about bonsai, our taste and goals will drastically change with time. At first, we are easily impressed by a half-decent mallsai. Later, this all changes. If possible, we want to avoid the scenario where we aim for something that later will mean nothing to us. But I am not sure that this can be avoided at all. It may be that some mistakes are absolutely necessary to be made since that is part of learning.
 
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treebeard55

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Hi, Edro,

I would take the left-most branch off. But I see another issue too: that straight section in the next major branch, bracketed by the blue arrows in my first picture.

I would suggest taking that off too. (OK, take a moment and get your breath back.) You can root it as a cutting and be on your way to another tree. And then you can grow the original out to something more or less like my second picture.

But Attila makes a good point. I would take branch development and nebari development one at a time. And this tree, no offense, does need some nebari development.
 

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edro

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I repotted last year and just did a complete chop a few days ago.
Looking to rebuild the entire top.
 

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Redwood Ryan

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Personally I would put it in a little bit bigger of a pot to allow it to really grow and take off. You won't get as good of results in that little pot as you would a bigger one. Maybe that's just me though...

Either way, I like it.
 

treebeard55

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The die has been cast! <drum roll> :):)

Ryan makes a good point: you'll get much faster development in a roomier pot. Unless you want to display it this summer or fall, that's worth doing once the tree recovers from the chop.
 

Bill S

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