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Gnome
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Schefflera - Root Over Rock

Since we have a lot of indoor growers on the forum I though it was time that I branched out a bit. In late summer 2008 I purchased a small pot of three Scheffleras. Of course my first step was to separate and re-pot them. Unfortunately I found that they had hardly any roots and, despite their reputation for being easy, I managed to kill two of the three.

After several months of growing I decided to pursue the root over rock style with the survivor. In preparation it was re-potted and placed over a small inverted pot inside of a larger one. The idea behind this was to encourage the roots to get some length and begin to assume the proper arrangement.

Image

Here you can see the finished arrangement beside the pot the small plant came out of.

Image

The plant was now allowed unrestricted growth over the winter and spring until late May 2009.

Norm
Last edited by Gnome on Sat Sep 05, 2009 5:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

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By late May 2009 I decided to take the next step in the process. With what I hope turns out to be suitable stone and a rather large plastic bonsai pot I continued. Make sure to choose a rock that is large enough to accommodate the anticipated size of the plant.

Image

Here you can see two views of the Schefflera before I removed the medium. Note the root development.

Image

Image

Next, trying to find the best orientation of the rock I tried several possibilities, here is one. Note the length of the roots.

Image

And finally, the completed arrangement with a thin plastic cylinder around the rock and roots. The plastic is a one gallon milk jug with both the top and bottom removed. The cylinder is not much larger than the rock which hopefully will encourage the roots to stay close to the rock on their way into the medium below. When I decide enough time has passed I will trim the cylinder a little and, by watering, gradually erode the medium exposing the roots.

Image

Norm
Last edited by Gnome on Sat Feb 20, 2010 10:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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majed
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best wishes for root over rock.i have tried it on ficus but the roots are not gripping the rock..now what to do ?

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Gnome
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majed,

I think you just have to allow some time to pass and the roots to thicken up. Eventually they should grip the rock better. This is only my second attempt at this. The first time was with a Portulacaria and the roots never did lignify, eventually I gave up on it. So this is a learning experience for me as well.

Norm

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Big Vine
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Norm...I love it!
Not long ago I set up something very similar with a Schefflera arboricola as well. I'll have to share it sometime too.

In the meantime, I look forward to regular updates on how yours is doing!

Gnome wrote:The cylinder is not much larger than the rock which hopefully will encourage the roots to stay close to the rock on their way into the medium below. When I decide enough time has passed I will trim the cylinder a little and, by watering, gradually erode the medium exposing the roots.

Deciding when to begin removing the cylinder, how much to remove at a time, and how often to do this---this, to me, will be the tricky part! I suppose just keep a close eye after exposing roots to make sure they aren't shrivelling up and drying out too much. If they appear to dry out excessively, then that means too much was removed too quickly---in which case it's best to cover them back up a bit for a while longer, right?

Does that ^^^ about sum up the plan of action?
BV
Sean
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Schefflera arboricola
Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'
Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
Portulacaria afra
Pachira aquatica

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Gnome
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BV,

Deciding when to begin removing the cylinder, how much to remove at a time, and how often to do this---this, to me, will be the tricky part! I suppose just keep a close eye after exposing roots to make sure they aren't shrivelling up and drying out too much. If they appear to dry out excessively, then that means too much was removed too quickly---in which case it's best to cover them back up a bit for a while longer, right?

Does that ^^^ about sum up the plan of action?
BV
Yeah, that's about it. I'm in no hurry to expose the roots though, the plant will be on the rock from here on out so there is no real benefit from rushing the process. So probably no updates for a while. We'll see how long I can leave it alone. :wink:

Norm

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Warning: this is a non-bonsai person expressing an opinion only.... :wink:

It seems to me that reason roots would hang onto a rock would be to get moisture. I can think of four ways moisture would be available. (1) the rock is porous (2) condensation, (3) water trickling down the face of the rock and (4) capillary action of water seeping into cracks and crevices of non-porous rock.

In nature, condensation would coat the rock every night, especially in a humid envionment, but even in an arid environment as well. I believe they make moisture collectors using this principle in the desert regions (think Dune for you SciFi fans). I imagine that to get the roots to "grip the rock" you need to replicate this condition so that the roots are forced to seek moisture from the surface (and cracks/crevices/pores) of the rock.

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toscgwsndiqz
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I start work on the Scheffleras in early summer as soon as the low temps are above 50F and day temps are reaching 90F. (the end of May here) They grow roots fast and grip the rocks by the end of summer!

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Update:

With winter weighing heavily on me I got the itch to do...something, so the Schefflera came to mind. Nine months have passed since the plant was placed over the rock, so here goes.

The first order of business was to remove some of the medium from the top of the planting and see what I had.
Image

Finding a fair amount of roots I decided to move forward by reducing the height of the plastic collar. I cut about 1 1/2" from the band and began to clean the rock of the medium and numerous root hairs that I deemed unnecessary. By removing the fine new roots I hope to begin to encourage a more mature look to the arrangement. I also removed several of the smaller crossing roots but left two larger ones. I also took the opportunity to move a few of the smaller roots to a slightly better location.
Image

Later, I began to re-think leaving the crossing roots and went back and removed them. Better to 'bite the bullet' now than wish I had later. In a sense this is what I do to seedlings as well. By making some harsh cuts to the roots early on I may slow development but hopefully end up with a better end result. Unfortunately I did not get a picture at this stage.

After the clean up I was able to slide the collar back up about an inch and then back-fill with more medium. This is to ensure that the smaller roots that were retained will not suffer. So the planting looks about the same as it did before but I know what is going on and had an opportunity to improve the arrangement of the roots.

Next, more waiting.

Norm

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Big Vine
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Just to clarify, Norm, that bottom pic you posted shows the exposed roots after you removed the smaller hair roots, but before you removed the crossing roots---is that right?

I might have been tempted to leave those crossing roots and wait until re-potting to 'uncross' them and move them into more desirable positions. Then again, it appears you have a strong rootage 'embracing' or 'grasping' onto the rock even without the crossing ones, so likely no harm done. Either way, going from crossing roots to having them 'uncrossed' (whether by 'uncrossing' or outright removal) seems to be the way to go. :wink:

Thanks for the update.
I find myself in a similar situation with a Scheff of my own, and I look forward to your continued progress...which is great for comparison purposes.
BV
Sean
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Schefflera arboricola
Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'
Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
Portulacaria afra
Pachira aquatica

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Big Vine,

Just to clarify, Norm, that bottom pic you posted shows the exposed roots after you removed the smaller hair roots, but before you removed the crossing roots---is that right?
Yes, I cleaned up a lot of small crossing and superfluous roots before the second picture.

I might have been tempted to leave those crossing roots and wait until re-potting to 'uncross' them and move them into more desirable positions.
I almost did leave them, but I'm not at all sure that I'll be disturbing the lower portion of the planting this year and eventually I made the choice to remove them now. Really only one was substantial enough to give me pause, the other was not of any concern.

Then again, it appears you have a strong rootage 'embracing' or 'grasping' onto the rock even without the crossing ones, so likely no harm done.
I agree, I think once the remaining roots thicken some more it will present a respectable image.

Norm

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Those roots look great Norm. You have such patience, I tend to fiddle with my trees about once a month. If I didn't do so much moving back and forth between school and home I would consider getting a Scheff because they seem to grow so well, but I figure I'll stick with deciduous trees until I get out of college. Keep us updated, I'm anxious to see what it'll look like in the future.

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JTred,

Thanks for the kind words. Yes, bonsai is not for those who crave instant gratification. I've killed more stuff than I would care to admit by being impatient or not doing my research first. It's very easy to rush into something and later regret it. I'll post more when there is anything new to show. It'll be a while.:roll:

Norm

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You've certainly inspired me here, but my scheff is growing so slowly, i've decided to wait until spring and put her into a PROPER growing medium (I got this one to fill a large pot of old soil my hubby brought home - i just can't walk past the $2 tropicals at home depot, but obviously i never put thought into bonsaiing it before). I have a rock I want to use, but it seems a bit too small, maybe I'll put it under one of my ficuses, once they root.

I'll post pics once I am actually dong something with it :)
;)

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Re: Schefflera - Root Over Rock

Here is an update on this project. I intend to prune hard and defoliate this summer.

Norm
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Scheff-01.JPG
Scheff-01.JPG (41.4 KiB) Viewed 1996 times
Scheff-02.JPG

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Re: Schefflera - Root Over Rock

Wow, beautiful! Those roots really thickened up nicely. Thanks for the update.
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Re: Schefflera - Root Over Rock

Don't take it as rejection if it takes some years before the 'rock' in this root-over-rock example becomes tightly gripped by your tree.

After the first year I would lash with compostable twine the root to the rock. The more wiggle the tree has on its rock the longer it'll take to wed them together.
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Re: Schefflera - Root Over Rock

nice job norm, im amazed how much rootgrowth there has been in a year and a half.
someday i have to get a scheff. need more windows first :lol:

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Re: Schefflera - Root Over Rock

Thanks folks,

I'm pleased with the progress this has made. I'll try to be more diligent with the updates this year.

Norm

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Re: Schefflera - Root Over Rock

good job
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Re: Schefflera - Root Over Rock

Here's the update of this years work. Pictures taken June, 08.
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Before this years pruning.
Before this years pruning.
The leftovers.
The leftovers.
The result.
The result.

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Re: Schefflera - Root Over Rock

Approximately five weeks later. Pictures taken July, 14.

As the new foliage came in I found that I was fortunate enough to have good back-budding and was therefore able to shorten several branches and do some thinning.
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Leafed out.
Leafed out.
After thinning.
After thinning.
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Re: Schefflera - Root Over Rock

Very nice Gnome. It looks awesome! Thanks for posting pics.

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