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Big Vine
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Dragon - Roots Over Rock (Schefflera arboricola)

Here is a brief picture story tracking the progress of a cutting I took from a garden center plant back in May.

May 4, 2009
[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/Dragon%20-%20Roots%20Over%20Rock/May4.jpg[/img]

It only spent a couple weeks in the glass of water before I decided to plant it into a small pot. (I now skip the glass of water and move straight to a pot for all cuttings)

July 11, 2009
[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/Dragon%20-%20Roots%20Over%20Rock/July11.jpg[/img]

After nearly 2 months in a pot, the plant has grown a sufficient amount of rootage to work with for beginning the root-over-rock phase.

Picture the rock in the photo above as an upside-down mushroom.
My plan was to position the plant onto the lighter brown 'stem' portion of the mushroom. The larger, darker portion would be the 'mushroom top' which, when turned upside-down, would rest flat on the potting surface.

[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/Dragon%20-%20Roots%20Over%20Rock/July111.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/Dragon%20-%20Roots%20Over%20Rock/July113.jpg[/img]

The overhead view in the two photos above shows how I secured the roots to the rock using two segments of picture frame wire. Entire rock was put in a plastic container, and then the base was covered with potting media. I then used an aluminum foil collar to act as a retaining wall for more potting media to cover the upper-most roots.

[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/Dragon%20-%20Roots%20Over%20Rock/July114.jpg[/img]

And as you can see above, I also removed several leaves to help ease the burden on the root system.



November 10, 2009
[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/Dragon%20-%20Roots%20Over%20Rock/November10.jpg[/img]

Finally, this last photo shows the plant in its current state.
I decided to remove all of the old potting media and remove the picture frame wires; the latter of which I feared might be over-constricting and damaging the roots. I was pleased to discover that the plant had secured itself to the rock on its own and no longer needed the wires. I took this opportunity to plant it into a larger pot and replace the media with my current potting mix.

The plant will now be allowed a rather lengthy growing-out period.
Gradual removal of the 'soil' covering the rock will likely begin in the upcoming spring.

BV

P.S. Note about why I included 'Dragon' in the title...
'Hawaiian Dragon' is one of three major stylings (the others being 'Sumo' and 'Roots') pioneered by David Fukumoto at his FukuBonsai nursery in Hawaii. Plants in this styling typically contain sharp bends and coil-like, swirling trunks and/or prominent surface/aerial roots. 'Hawaiian Dragon' is the styling in which I have chosen to train this particular plant.
Sean
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Schefflera arboricola
Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'
Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
Portulacaria afra
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Gnome
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B.V.

What can I say except good job, both with the work and the presentation. I see that you put some thought into the rock which looks interesting and I am happy to read that you re-thought the potting mix you used initially. Although I can't tell too much about the mix you chose, I'm certain it is better than the first.

Can you provide us with an image of a Schefflera in the dragon style? I have been to the website you mentioned but have found it a little difficult to navigate.

Thanks for posting and please give an update when you think it is appropriate.

Norm

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rainbowgardener
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Is this the website you were talking about:

https://www.fukubonsai.com/4a1b.html

There are several images of dragon style Schefflera. I didn't have trouble except you have to scroll down near the bottom of the page.

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Big Vine
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rainbowgardener's link contains the perfect example photos---thanks!

And thanks for the remarks, Norm.
I built my own screens and sifted some suitable, yet inexpensive materials available locally in bulk quantities for the aggregate (inorganic) component. Both the aggregate and organic components in my mix are now a lot coarser and much better-suited to indoor culture than any previous mix I have ever used.

Will definitely provide updates on an as-needed basis.
BV
Sean
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Schefflera arboricola
Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'
Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
Portulacaria afra
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Big Vine
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Nearly 2 months have passed, and the plant has grown an additional 6 leaves...
[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/Dragon%20-%20Roots%20Over%20Rock/Root-Over-Rock-Front-800x600.jpg[/img]

Upon further reflection, I have decided NOT to proceed with the 'Dragon' styling. Instead, I have chosen to opt for a 'simpler' banyan style. My goal is to somehow keep the supporting rock as exposed as possible whilst ending up with a modest canopy which does not detract too much from the rock.

The plant will be allowed another full year of undisturbed growth, at which point a severe trunk-chop/reduction will take place to help introduce taper (sometime early in the spring of 2011).

In the meantime, there is an emerging aerial root which is begging to be guided down toward the rock (will update as this plan springs into action).
[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/Dragon%20-%20Roots%20Over%20Rock/Root-Over-Rock-RootCloseup-800x600.jpg[/img]

BV
Sean
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Schefflera arboricola
Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'
Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
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Big Vine
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Nothing momentous to report, but I wanted to show my efforts at getting the aerial root to extend using the 'straw method' I read about in Jerry Meislik's book on Ficus. The straw was put in place within the past week or so.
[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/Dragon%20-%20Roots%20Over%20Rock/Jan21-800x600.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/Dragon%20-%20Roots%20Over%20Rock/Jan211-800x600.jpg[/img]

Even IF I am successful in getting it to extend, the root is unlikely to remain in the final design, because the trunk-chop will almost certainly take place below it. Still, it can be used as an air-layer for the top of the plant for when it comes time to make the big chop (spring 2011).

I know this is supposed to be a 'bonsai' photo gallery, so I must apologize to those wanting to see 'bonsai' per se. As I said before, this plant is actually a cutting taken less than a year ago, so there are still many years to go before it resembles anything close to 'bonsai.'

Nevertheless, I'm hoping it's okay to keep posting periodic updates on this little fella here...a continuing photo-journal, I suppose.
BV
Sean
Indoor Grower
Schefflera arboricola
Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'
Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
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djlen
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Very nice presentation BV. I'm sure that this will inspire others to be creative with their plants.....especially Schefflera. It's such a versatile plant to work with and the possibilities are endless.
I hope you will update this thread for us so we can watch it's progress. It's off to a great start!!!
Regards,
Len

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a0c8c
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Big Vine wrote:I know this is supposed to be a 'bonsai' photo gallery, so I must apologize to those wanting to see 'bonsai' per se.
I disagree with that, since all bonsai trees started at a point like this. The shear fact that it's wired over a rock already, puts it way ahead of over most bonsai trees it's age.
Home Gardener from Austin, TX; by way of Iowa.

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Big Vine
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Thanks guys, I appreciate it. :)
I will begin gradually exposing the rock once the growing season really gets underway (probably by April or so).

Stay tuned for that...
BV
Sean
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Schefflera arboricola
Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'
Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
Portulacaria afra
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Gnome
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BV,

How's the aerial root coming along? It would be a shame to spend the effort encouraging it only to later cut it away. Maybe by the time further work is necessary another option will present itself. Any recent pictures?

Norm

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Big Vine
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Here is a pic of the plant taken on Feb. 11th...
[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/2010/IMG_6443-583x778.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/2010/IMG_6445-800x600.jpg[/img]
And this one ^^^ was taken on Feb. 15th.

As you can see, the aerial root has only lengthened a slight bit from when I first put the straw in place. The initial straw opening was cut a bit too large; consequently not trapping as much moisture as it could have been. I have since replaced the straw to make for a tighter fit near the top (bottom pic), and I have noticed that this has helped.

Plant genetics also plays a big role in aerial root development.
This is a local garden center plant; likely selected for its foliage and not much else. My other Schefflera arboricola, on the other hand, were from a bonsai nursery specializing in these plants where only those showing strong aerial rooting characteristics were retained over multiple generations (inferior specimens were culled). I have had much more aerial rooting on these plants, and the aerial roots which have emerged lengthened and developed much more quickly.

If you look at the bottom pic, you will notice a bud emerging just above and slightly to the left of the aerial root. I will retain this growth point, and therefore the first trunk chop will be made just beyond its location. It's a little farther from the base than I originally intended to chop, but it still very much fits into the design and will allow for incorporation of the developing aerial root you see in the straw.

Thanks for the questions, Norm.
BV
Sean
Indoor Grower
Schefflera arboricola
Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'
Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
Portulacaria afra
Pachira aquatica

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BV,

I'm glad you'll be able to keep the root. I am surprised at how slowly it is coming along though.
Plant genetics also plays a big role in aerial root development.
This is a local garden center plant; likely selected for its foliage and not much else. My other Schefflera arboricola, on the other hand, were from a bonsai nursery specializing in these plants where only those showing strong aerial rooting characteristics were retained over multiple generations
I had never really given it much thought before but now that you point it out it's obvious. We select for many other characteristics so it really does make sense.

Up here in the North country we don't see a lot of this type of thing and at first aerial roots seemed so foreign to me I could not appreciate them, but I'm coming around. :wink:

Norm

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Big Vine
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Yup, makes a HUGE difference, Norm---check this out!

January 20, 2010
[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/2010/IMG_6388-800x600-arrow.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/2010/IMG_6411-800x600.jpg[/img]
February 5, 2010

That's the difference 2 weeks can make on a Schefflera arboricola with strong genetics for aerial rootage. 8)
BV
Sean
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Schefflera arboricola
Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'
Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
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Big Vine
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The aerial root (in the straw) has begun growing down below the rock over the past few days, and I've also gradually removed the collar to expose everything that was hiding underneath it. Gravel was gradually removed, and you can see in the following 'before' and 'after' photos where I trimmed off a lot of the finer hair roots and other debris obscuring the rock.
[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/2010/IMG_6474.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/2010/IMG_6480.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/2010/IMG_6478.jpg[/img]

If you look closely at the trunk in the first two photos, you can see two growth points which have begun sprouting. If you look REALLY closely, you'll see that there is another emerging at the very base of the tree.

Considering this plant is from a small branch cutting taken less than a year ago, I'm fairly pleased with how things are developing thus far.
BV
Sean
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Schefflera arboricola
Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'
Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
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BigVine, all I can say is wow. Your pictures are really inspiring. I've promised myself to stick to just one indoor tree until I graduate (too much trouble to truck more than one tree to school with me and back during breaks and summer), but your scheff has really got me reconsidering my decision. I'm impressed with how quickly and strongly they grow even during the winter. I may eventually cave and get one just because.

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JTred wrote:I've promised myself to stick to just one indoor tree until I graduate (too much trouble to truck more than one tree to school with me and back during breaks and summer)
Good luck with that :lol:

I remember my dorm room window garden plants kept increasing until by the time I graduated, I had so much stuff (including some that I'd stored at the school over breaks/vacations) that I had to rent a U-haul trailer and STILL had to "donate" almost all except my favorite plants to the senior dorm with a green house. :roll: :wink:
Last edited by applestar on Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Big Vine,

This is coming along nicely. I think you will be glad that you were able to keep the aerial root, it seems to be located in a position that will stabilize the whole arrangement.

Norm

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Big Vine
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JTred...I'm glad the photos are of some inspiration!
Just to give an idea of indoor growth rate, one of the Scheffs I recently measured (the one just to the left of that one in the last pic) had its main stem grow 8 inches over the past 5 months---and these were the coldest/darkest months of the year! I think you'll be happy if you try out Scheffs under decent supplemental lighting. 8)

Norm...thanks for your feedback.
I definitely agree with what you say about that aerial root fitting into the design.

My overall plan is to shift growth to the left so that the plant is more centered over the right side of the rock (i.e. rather than jutting out so far to the right as you see in that last pic). This will require performing a major trunk chop just beyond those new emerging growth points at some point in the near future. But before I do this, I want to make sure that the aerial root is established well enough so that it does not merely languish and wither away when I remove the main portion of the tree that it is supplying...hope that makes sense.
BV
Sean
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Schefflera arboricola
Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'
Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
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a0c8c
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This is my inspiration for doing root over rock with one of my bougainvilleas. I have it in a big pot growing over a clay pot right now, and once it gets another one or two years worth of groth, I'm gonna pick a nice rock and follow suit. I'm not doing it full on bonsai though, I'm gonna find a large rock and do more of a full sized plant over rock. I'm doing this since I'm not entirely certain I have a dwarf bougainvillea or not. I'm gonna keep it relatively small though.
Home Gardener from Austin, TX; by way of Iowa.

maveriiick
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a0c8c wrote:This is my inspiration for doing root over rock with one of my bougainvilleas. I have it in a big pot growing over a clay pot right now, and once it gets another one or two years worth of groth, I'm gonna pick a nice rock and follow suit. I'm not doing it full on bonsai though, I'm gonna find a large rock and do more of a full sized plant over rock. I'm doing this since I'm not entirely certain I have a dwarf bougainvillea or not. I'm gonna keep it relatively small though.
I don't think Bougie would be that good of a tree for this. I have a number of bougainvilleas and based on my experience with them, their root structure is very weak, and Bougie roots are known to be the plants Achilles tendon (weak and fibrous and break very easily and also the reason why roots are needed to dryout between waterings to avoid root rot). Anyways, just my 2 cents.

I am thinking of a root over rock with a Fukien Tea. Tree grows slowly but root structure is usually very attractive and strong.

a0c8c
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Alot of what I've read says they'd work for root over rock, and their twisted roots look good on a rock.
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StickFish
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Oh, wow! I must say, Big Vine, that I've been considering trying a root-over-rock bonsai, but now I have to. I hadn't been sure of the process for doing something like that, but you've posted everything I'd need, pictures included. :D

My only question is, can you do this with a tree that's already grown? Or do you have to start them early?

Thanks for such a great documentary! I'm really looking forward to seeing more! :mrgreen:
"It has a beginning but no end. A bud today becomes a branch tomorrow."
"Bonsai is not the result: that comes after. Your enjoyment is what is important"
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Big Vine
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Thank-you, StickFish. :)
StickFish wrote:My only question is, can you do this with a tree that's already grown? Or do you have to start them early?
The short answer is that I would think that both methods generally work when using suitable material.

Even though I started with a very young plant and 'married' it to the rock at an early age, I am still finding that some of the (now exposed) roots are not quite positioned to my liking. Actually, let me re-phrase that. In general I do like the way the roots are positioned, but I'm not overly pleased with the way they are merely 'draping' over the rock instead of actually 'clasping' onto it.

I have made adjustments with several of the roots in an attempt to begin correcting this, and I will post photos shortly.
BV
Sean
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Schefflera arboricola
Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'
Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
Portulacaria afra
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manIK
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Looking forward to the update.

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Big Vine,
In general I do like the way the roots are positioned, but I'm not overly pleased with the way they are merely 'draping' over the rock instead of actually 'clasping' onto it.
I suspect that eventually, with the passage of time, the roots will take on a more mature feel and the arrangement will begin to become more cohesive. It will be interesting to see where this stands at the end of the season.

Norm

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Big Vine
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BACK (before & after)
[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/2010/IMG_6480.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/2010/IMG_6545.jpg[/img]

Note the root on the far lefthand side (see above) which has been moved to the front of the tree (see below). There is one to the left of it (in the photos below) which I also re-positioned

FRONT (before & after)
[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/2010/IMG_6481.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h109/Big_Vine/Plants/2010/IMG_6546.jpg[/img]

The tree drooped a bit once I moved that root to the front side of the rock, and so I had to wedge that black thingy in there (between tree and rim of pot) for support. There is one other major root I may also decide to move. Either way, I won't be doing much else until the aerial root grows and strengthens and forms a 'support pillar' of sorts (which will allow me to remove the black support thingy you see wedged between the tree and the rim of the pot).
BV
Sean
Indoor Grower
Schefflera arboricola
Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'
Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
Portulacaria afra
Pachira aquatica

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BV, I love how you improvise! Get 'er done!
Angela

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Big Vine
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Thanks Angela. :)
Since that pic was taken I've had to improvise yet again with a different 'support pillar' type object in a slightly different position, but it's basically accomplishing the same thing.

I've also trimmed off a few of the leaves to allow more light to get at the two new branches emerging from the inner/lower portion of the trunk.

Now I just need to wait, let the tree grow, and let that aerial root really thicken up.
BV
Sean
Indoor Grower
Schefflera arboricola
Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'
Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
Portulacaria afra
Pachira aquatica

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Slim Genre
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Great thread, I have a couple schefflera I'm going to root over lava rock and a ficus I want to increase aerial rooting on... the straw method has worked to some extent. You cover both topics well, can't wait to see further developments.

RedKestrel
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:shock: Wow, absolutely amazing! I figured that the root-over-rock must go something like that, but this is excelent! These pictures are deffinitely worth a thousand words, if not a lot more! I can't wait to try this now! :D Thank you for sharing these wonderful pics!

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Big Vine,

what percentage inorganic to organic is your potting medium?

if i had to guess i would say 4 to 1?

i am simply asking because my schefflera doesnt seem to be as vigorous as yours.

thanks
-al

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