arboricola
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Location: Minnesota zone 4

Schefflera (The instant bonsai)

Not really. Most bonsai will take many years to develop, but with the Schefflera you can have a potential bonsai in less than a year. Here's one that I've been working with for the past six months.

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Cobura-1.jpg[/img]

A six inch single stem cutting was taken on May 1st. The cutting was rooted directly in an 8 inch unglazed pot using a 50/50 organic/ inorganic soil mix.

Around the first of June the plant produced a new leaf at the apex. This is a good indication that the cutting has rooted.

After 2 weeks of growth the plant was started on fertilizer. Dyna-Gro (7-9-5) full strengh was used. The tree was fertilized every other watering or about once a week.

Around the 15th of July the plant had grown enough so that I could pull the trunk back over itself and tie it down. I used silicone tubing and florist wire for the tiedown.

I was looking for something other than a straight or slanted trunk.

After another month of growth the plant was at the height I wanted (about 8 inches). At this time I removed the growth bud at the apex and any new buds as they appeared.

The first week in Sept. the plant threw me a curve and broke a bud low on the trunk.I didn't really want a branch at that position, but decided to leave it to deal with later.

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Cobura-2.jpg[/img]

This was taken 10 Oct.. The tie down has been removed and the new branch is doing well.

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Cobura-3.jpg[/img]

Same date. A leaf was cut just above the bend leaving the axil and ½ inch of stem. This will encourage a new bud in this area.

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Cobura-4.jpg[/img]

25 Oct. The new bud broke, but not where I wanted it. Oh well.

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Cobura-5.jpg[/img]

As of this date it has been 6 months since the cutting was taken. The new bud is doing well. Another 3-4 months and the plant should start showing some potential.

Updates on this tree will follow.

Comments, questions and ideas are always welcome.

Phil...

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Gnome
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Phil,

Thanks for the pictures, I look forward to seeing how it progresses. I'm surprised that your cutting was rooted well enough so soon that you could begin to train it with guy wires. As I mentioned earlier I have started with them earlier this year. Unfortunately I have not had as much success as you.

In looking at Jerry's site I see that the full sized version is actually a different species, Brassaia actinophylla. Somehow I have overlooked this until recently. The dwarf variety is the actual Schefflera arboricola. Which variety are you growing? The leaves look considerably larger than the one I have.

Do you know if there is a difference in vigor between the two species? Several months ago I purchased a small pot with three individuals. When I separated them I found that they were not even really rooted. Two did not survive and the one that did is not exactly setting the world on fire, though I think it is 'out of the woods'. I have been a little lax in my fertilization schedule, so I suppose that may have something to do with it.

Norm

arboricola
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Norm;

I grow two varieties of S. Arboricola. The one in the photos is the standard green variety. It's leaves are no more than two inches long. In the closeups they do look huge.The varigated variety I have has smaller leaves.

I don't grow B. Actinophylla so can't tell you much about them. I know they have much larger leaves and require a wet / dry watering schedule. Jerry would be the one to ask. I believe he grows both species.

Phil...

arboricola
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Update: 9 Nov. 08


[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Cobura-6.jpg[/img]

The lower branch was pulled down and tied off. This opened the plant up a little to allow more light to the upper branch. It should start taking an upward swing in the next two weeks.Some soil was pulled back from the base of the trunk to see what the roots were doing. Nothing great, but they are harding up as is the main trunk.

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Cobura-7.jpg[/img]

The new branch at mid trunk is doing well. Three leaves and another on the way. It will be allowed to grow vertical for now.

I was thinking of putting a branch on the outside of the bend in the trunk. Not sure if this would be a good fit. At any rate I'll have to wait til the other branches grow a bit. Any ideas on this are welcome.

Phil...

arboricola
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Update: 30 Nov 08

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Cobura-8.jpg[/img]

Tiedown has been removed and lower branch is set. Mid trunk branch is growing well, but not long enough to do anything with yet. Plan is to pull the branch down and to the left. This will help balance the plant. Still undecided on putting a branch at the bend in the trunk.

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Cobura-9.jpg[/img]

Heres a shot of the rootage. The white you see is mycorrhizal fungi. I mix the spores with the soil before starting a cutting. The fungi helps the roots take up water and nutrients and acts as a extention of the root system. This allows the plant to put more energy into top growth instead of the root system.

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Small-1.jpg[/img]

This is a small verigated cutting I started a couple of weeks ago. It's about 2 inches tall without the leaves. A 5 inch unglazed pot was used with a 50/50 soil mix.

We'll see how this one works out..

Phil...

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Phil,

Thanks for the update. You really seem to have the knack for growing these. Do you inoculate all of your scheffs? I don't think I ever heard of anyone using mycorrhiza on tropicals before. Do you use a specific variety/species? This is one subject I have never really experimented with.

Norm

arboricola
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Norm;

This is the first time I've used Myco with Scheffs. I've used it with container grown tomato and hot peppers for a number of years so thought I would give it a try with this Scheff cutting. Tomatoes and peppers are tropicals so why not give it a shot. I use the shotgun method since Myco can be plant specific. The product I use contains 13 species of Myco and it seems the Scheff has developed a relationship with one of them.

I don't recommend it's use since an association with the "wrong" fungus may decease the vigor of the plant.

Conifers will benefit from it. In fact some conifers will not do well unless this symbiotic relationship is established.

Phil...

arboricola
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Update 5 Jan 09

Not a whole lot to update..

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Cobura-10.jpg[/img]

The mid branch was pulled down and to the left..

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Cobura-11.jpg[/img]

After weeks of nipping new growth a bud broke below the apex in the right place..

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Cobura-12.jpg[/img]

The apex was cut back to the bud leaving the scar to the back of the plant.
The fertilizer was changed to Dyna-Gro 3-12-6. Less nitrogen, more phosphorus. This should give the roots a little boost over the next couple of months.

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Cobura-14.jpg[/img]

As it looks today. The mid branch will have to be pulled down a little more to get it where it should be..

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Small-2.jpg[/img]

Here's the little guy. Time to start training..

Phil..

arboricola
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Location: Minnesota zone 4

Update 8 Feb 09

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Cobura-15.jpg[/img]

The mid branch was pulled down and forward again. Another month will tell if it's in the right place.



[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Cobura-16-1.jpg[/img]

A couple of lower leaves were removed.


Here's the little guy in training.

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Small-3.jpg[/img]

6 Jan 09

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Small-4.jpg[/img]

8 Feb 09

The plan is to let the plant grow 4-5 inches upright then remove the lower leaves and plant it in a deep pot over a rock.

Phil...

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Phil,

I'm a little unsure of your intentions here. Are you going to grow it horizontally on the rock?

Norm

arboricola
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Norm;

That is what I had in mind, if I can get it to work.

Phil...

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uzeyr
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im really impressed with what u r doing u look like u have had experience with the bending and shaping of the trees keep up the good work :D

can someone please tell me more about the last picture the one where the stem is bent but not with wires but that green tube and the really thin wire what do u call that and hw would i do it i wanted to really try it

arboricola
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Uzeyr and Kit;

Thank you for your comments and question.

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Wire.jpg[/img]

This is the tie down or pull down method. You will need florist wire or picture hanging wire, silicone air line (get at the pet shop), and bamboo skewers(many uses for these).

Thread a piece of tubing over the wire. Wrap the tubing around the branch or stem, bend and tie down. Thw silicone tubing prevents scaring from the wire and allows the plant to grow freely.

With the little guy, a bamboo skewer was wired tight against the upright stem, then the stem was bent into position and tied down.

This method works well with young plants, but be careful with older wood and don't bend too much at once.

Questions, comments, and photos of your project are always welcome...

Phil...

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uzeyr
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much appreciated phil i was considering something but will give it though before i do anything thanks alot

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Big Vine
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Phil,

This thread of yours is very helpful for me.
Matter of fact, (and as I just mentioned in my intro. thread) it was my inspiration for joining the forum!

The photos and descriptions (of both the plants and the training materials you've used) have been very informative---exactly what I've been searching for as I begin my journey into arboricola bonsai.

I'd love to see some updates. :D
BV
Sean
Indoor Grower
Schefflera arboricola
Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'
Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
Portulacaria afra
Pachira aquatica

arboricola
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Not to much to uodate.

On May 1st the plant was one year old.

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Cobura-17.jpg[/img]

The plant is growing well. Lower leaves have been removed and I'll see if I can't get it to bud low on the lowest branch. Fertilizer will remain 3-12-6 every time it's watered. I'll repot sometime this month into a 10 inch shallow oval.

Here's the little guy with his growing buddy. The Ficus was taken as a cutting in Jan. before airlayering the mother plant to reduce the trunk. The Ficus took about 10 weeks to root and is about 8 inches tall. It's in a 4 inch pot and needs to be repoted soon.

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Small-5.jpg[/img]

I'll give the little guy til july then put it in a deep pot over a rock and see what happens.

Phil...

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Big Vine
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Thanks for the update, Phil.
Now I know what you mean when you say there wasn't much to update---sorry if I've 'rushed' you into this latest update. :oops:

I just hope you'll understand that as a beginner in all this, I'm basically finding myself staring at the plants as my mind desperately struggles to get them growing via telekinesis or something...almost worse than watching paint dry, lol. In other words, you'll have to excuse my 'impatience'...:wink:
arboricola wrote:I'll give the little guy til july then put it in a deep pot over a rock and see what happens.
I'd be very interested in seeing photos of the process used here (much like the step-by-step photo narrative you've provided with regards to the training undertaken with the older plant).

Speaking of the older plant...definitely looks like you've got some more fullness to that top growth---leaf stems appear to be relatively close together on those green branches. Is that about typical for what you'd expect at this point?
BV
Sean
Indoor Grower
Schefflera arboricola
Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'
Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
Portulacaria afra
Pachira aquatica

arboricola
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Location: Minnesota zone 4

6 Aug. 09 update.

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Cobura-18.jpg[/img]

Repotted mid July.
Tree: Ht: 11" Span: 15"

Pot: 10" unglazed Tokoname Ht" 2¼" Pot size was determined using the span of the tree rather than the height.

Soil: 50/50 organic/sharp sand.

Fertilizer: Dyna-Gro 3-12-6 applied at ½ tsp. per gallon of water at each watering.

Water: Distilled water applied every 2-3 days depending on condition of soil.


[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Cobura-19.jpg[/img]

Plant was not mounted, but raised ½" in the new pot to expose the roots.

[img]https://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e188/coloradus/Small-6.jpg[/img]

Here's the little guy.
It was repooted in an 8" pot over a rock. The pot was filled with soil, the rock set on top, and the roots of the tree planted in the soil. A few leaves were removed and the rest of the plant draped over the rock. A band of tin foil was put around the rock and filled with soil to cover. I'll give it 3-4 months before removing the soil over the rock. This will be done at ¼' per week. There's a 50/50 chance it might grow some roots over the rock.

Questions and comments always welcome.

Phil...

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Big Vine
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Looking good, Phil.
I'm especially interested in seeing how the 'little guy' develops in its new root-over-rock potting arrangement.
BV
Sean
Indoor Grower
Schefflera arboricola
Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'
Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
Portulacaria afra
Pachira aquatica

arboricola
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Location: Minnesota zone 4

BV;

Good news and bad news.

The instant bonsai was boxed up and sent to a plant loving friend in Missouri. She really liked the plant and I hope to get a photo to post in the future.

The little guy didn't make it. It was my second attempt at a ROR using a variegated variety of schefflera. They just don't seem as hardy as the standard green. I'll give it another try when I can get a cutting from the big guy.

Phil...

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Phil,
It was my second attempt at a ROR using a variegated variety of schefflera. They just don't seem as hardy as the standard green.
I noticed a similar situation with a variegated Portulacaria I used to own. It was a much slower grower than the typical green variety. I have pretty much abandoned variegated varieties for this reason.

These plants would likely be OK if you are lucky enough to acquire a larger specimen but growing them out seems to be an exceedingly slow process. For younger material I suspect it is better to stay with the 'green' varieties.

Norm

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Big Vine
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Too bad about the loss, Phil.
I've recently set up a root-over-rock planting using a variegated variety, and so far it seems to have somewhat established itself on the rock. It isn't thriving, but it isn't dying either. Will post updates in the future.

Better luck with your next attempt!
BV
Sean
Indoor Grower
Schefflera arboricola
Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'
Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
Portulacaria afra
Pachira aquatica

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ZacchaeusCrawford
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Wow!

Wow your plant is beautiful!
Zakkatack!

Sunnydaze
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Hi there!

I just wanted to say that I've been following this thread for a while and I love how specific you are with the descriptions of what you're doing - it's extremely helpful for us beginners, and it's inspired me to give it a go with my own scheff =) Thank you for offering such a wonderful tutorial!

joedes3
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Great info.

I have to add my thanks for this info. It has inspired me to work almost exclusively with schefflera. I live in the Boston area and have my plants growing out doors. Keep the info coming. Thanks again. Joe De
Joe DeSisto

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