Marsman
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Defoliating a Ficus

I was reading Len's comments on [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=21839]this thread[/url] when it struck me that my ficus has HUGE leaves.
I'd been letting it go since I re-potted it and it is thriving. So, I think it's time to start reducing it a bit.

[url=https://s956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/?action=view&current=44f93b98.jpg][img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/th_44f93b98.jpg[/img][/url]

I have some quick questions. Would it be best to do it one-half at a time or all at once? When pruning the leaves off, do I cut them at the mid-petiole like I would a maple?

[url=https://s956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/?action=view&current=PartsofaLeaf.jpg][img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/th_PartsofaLeaf.jpg[/img][/url]

And, lastly, what should I do with those butt-ugly air roots? Chop them off or let them linger? :?

maveriiick
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Re: Defoliating a Ficus

Marsman wrote:I was reading Len's comments on [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=21839]this thread[/url] when it struck me that my ficus has HUGE leaves.
I'd been letting it go since I re-potted it and it is thriving. So, I think it's time to start reducing it a bit.

[url=https://s956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/?action=view&current=44f93b98.jpg][img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/th_44f93b98.jpg[/img][/url]

I have some quick questions. Would it be best to do it one-half at a time or all at once? When pruning the leaves off, do I cut them at the mid-petiole like I would a maple?

[url=https://s956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/?action=view&current=PartsofaLeaf.jpg][img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/th_PartsofaLeaf.jpg[/img][/url]

And, lastly, what should I do with those butt-ugly air roots? Chop them off or let them linger? :?
I defoliated my Ficus retusa not too long ago and all the leaves came back smaller. I was told by an experienced bonsai enthusiast to cut them mid petiole to ensure smaller leaves. If your hesitant to defoliate the whole tree you can do a partial defoliation, leaving leaves on branches you wish to thicken. As for the roots, that is completely your choice alone to make. The fact that you say they are "butt-ugly" suggests you want to cut them off, so do it!

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djlen
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Re: Defoliating a Ficus

I agree with Maveriiick. Cut them all off for a nicer overall and more in scale appearance. And mid-petiole is the place.
[url=https://www.bonsaihunk.us/ficusforum/Defoliatingfigs.html]CHECK THIS ARTICLE!![/url]
And, lastly, what should I do with those butt-ugly air roots? Chop them off or let them linger? :?

You know, people actually try to get those things to grow on their trees. I don't understand it at all and agree with your assessment of them. :)
If it were mine I'd just cut them off at the trunk like removing an unwanted limb, but since it's not mine I won't recommend that because I'm not 100% positive that it's the right way to go about it.....lol.
Hopefully someone with more experience will be able to advise you better on that one. You might search Jerry Meislik's ficus forum further for more help with this question.
Regards,
Len

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Marsman
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Re: Defoliating a Ficus

Thanks for the input, Maveriiick.
djlen wrote:[url=https://www.bonsaihunk.us/ficusforum/Defoliatingfigs.html]CHECK THIS ARTICLE!![/url]

You might search Jerry Meislik's ficus forum further for more help with this question.
Great link, Len. Thanks! And I'll check out Jerry's forum.

Marsman
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Guess what I did at lunch today? :)

Before and After:

[url=https://s956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/?action=view&current=44f93b98.jpg][img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/th_44f93b98.jpg[/img][/url][url=https://s956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/?action=view&current=7274a4a8.jpg][img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/th_7274a4a8.jpg[/img][/url]

Cleaned up the air roots by removing the fuzzies and dried out spurs. Anything that was in the ground already stays, for now. I may reposition a few of them. A friend showed me how he cut them from one location, drilled a hole where he wanted them, carved the end a bit, and stuck them in the new hole.

[url=https://s956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Open%20House%207-19-09/?action=view&current=DSC_0039.jpg][img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Open%20House%207-19-09/th_DSC_0039.jpg[/img][/url][url=https://s956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Open%20House%207-19-09/?action=view&current=DSC_0035.jpg][img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Open%20House%207-19-09/th_DSC_0035.jpg[/img][/url]

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Gnome
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Marsman,

I thought I would mention that now might be a good time to do a little structural work as well. For instance, take the long straight vertical shoot on the left of your picture, it could be shortened by at least half. I don't know what your plans are for this tree but if you are considering any such work why not do it now thereby concentrating new growth to the areas you wish?

Norm

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Norm,

Good idea. This ficus is at my desk at work and I don't have any of my heavy pruning gear her with me today. I'll bring it in tomorrow.

Is this what you're thinking?
[url=https://s956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/?action=view&current=Prune-1.jpg][img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/th_Prune-1.jpg[/img][/url]

Here it is shopped: (I haven't pruned it yet.)
[url=https://s956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/?action=view&current=Prune-1-Shopped.jpg][img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/th_Prune-1-Shopped.jpg[/img][/url]

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Marsman,

Honestly, my first thoughts were not that drastic. I hesitate to suggest major butchery to someone else's tree. See Option 1:
[url=https://img62.imageshack.us/i/option1.jpg/][img]https://img62.imageshack.us/img62/4528/option1.th.jpg[/img][/url]

Since you seem to be at least considering more drastic measures, here is option 2:
[url=https://img535.imageshack.us/i/option2.jpg/][img]https://img535.imageshack.us/img535/8494/option2.th.jpg[/img][/url]

Notice that I chose a different location to prune the branch that you 'shopped' out. Generally it is better to prune to an outside branch rather than one that leans to the center of the tree. Please, please consider this as only a possibility, ideas to get you thinking. Remember, you are the one with the cutters in hand and you are in a much better position to evaluate which direction each shoot might take. You need not go so drastic if it worries you. Also, I do leave stubs at first so don't take my image too literally.

Just so you know, yes I have made such cuts on several F.benjamina 'Mini Lucie' with good results. Oh and one more thing you probably are aware of; such defoliation is usually done during summer when the tree is vigorous. I don't really expect you to have a problem though as long as it was in good health prior to the defoliation. Again, I have done this 'out of season' as well.

Norm

EDIT:

Another version, largely the same as #2 but being a little more conservative with the left hand branch. By pruning a little farther out the cut won't be as big and you perhaps get a nicer transition.
[url=https://img28.imageshack.us/i/option3c.jpg/][img]https://img28.imageshack.us/img28/1246/option3c.th.jpg[/img][/url]
Last edited by Gnome on Tue Feb 16, 2010 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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djlen
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That isn't where I would cut it but I'm not the artist here. :)
I'd take that little branch off that you've left on. And also the big thick one that's growing in the same direction, leaving the one growing out to the left on to open up the tree. I wouldn't want those others growing back into the middle of the tree. Just my opinion.
Wish I had a clue on how to make those lines appear and I could show you what I mean. :?
Regards,
Len

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djlen
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Gnome wrote:Marsman,

Honestly, my first thoughts were not that drastic. I hesitate to suggest major butchery to someone else's tree. See Option 1:
[url=https://img62.imageshack.us/i/option1.jpg/][img]https://img62.imageshack.us/img62/4528/option1.th.jpg[/img][/url]

Since you seem to be at least considering more drastic measures, here is option 2:
[url=https://img535.imageshack.us/i/option2.jpg/][img]https://img535.imageshack.us/img535/8494/option2.th.jpg[/img][/url]

Notice that I chose a different location to prune the branch that you 'shopped' out. Generally it is better to prune to an outside branch rather than one that leans to the center of the tree. Please, please consider this as only a possibility, ideas to get you thinking. Remember, you are the one with the cutters in hand and you are in a much better position to evaluate which direction each shoot might take. You need not go so drastic if it worries you. Also, I do leave stubs at first so don't take my image too literally.

Just so you know, yes I have made such cuts on several F.benjamina 'Mini Lucie' with good results. Oh and one more thing you probably are aware of; such defoliation is usually done during summer when the tree is vigorous. I don't really expect you to have a problem though as long as it was in good health prior to the defoliation. Again, I have done this 'out of season' as well.

Norm
Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Like the bottom one Norm's drawn!!!
Regards,
Len

"As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines"
- Virgil
"I rarely agree with most of what I say........." -
- Len
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Marsman
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I have no fear of chopping trees. I do know some in my club who are so hesitant to prune that I wonder how they ever got a tree into correct form.

Norm, I like your second cut. Tools are coming in to work with me tomorrow. Will post more pictures then.

Thanks for the input everyone. It was exactly what I was looking for.

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Marsman,
I have no fear of chopping trees.
I've been reckless at times and I've also killed trees. :roll: Here is a picture of one of my Ficus showing a similar cut. Note that I removed a vertical element in favor of a more horizontal, outward facing one.
[url=https://img42.imageshack.us/i/ficusprune.jpg/][img]https://img42.imageshack.us/img42/9159/ficusprune.th.jpg[/img][/url]
Tools are coming in to work with me tomorrow. Will post more pictures then.
We'll be waiting.

Norm

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djlen wrote:Wish I had a clue on how to make those lines appear and I could show you what I mean. :?
Len,

I'm using 'Photo Shop' but 'Paint' will work too and it's free.

Open up your 'Paint' program that came with Windows, (Start-All Programs-Accessories-Paint) Then open your picture, just as you might open a text file in a word processor. Then choose the 'Brush Tool' and just start playing around. There are several thicknesses of brushstrokes available. You can also choose a color at the bottom. If you draw an errant line choose (Edit-Undo) from the drop down menus.

Once you are happy with your work make sure to save it. Choose a new name ( File-Save As) or you will overwrite the original.

Norm

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djlen
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Thanks Norm,
I have about 3 or 4 programs that will probably do that stuff but I'm too impatient to learn how to use them. :oops:

I will study up.
Regards,
Len

"As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines"
- Virgil
"I rarely agree with most of what I say........." -
- Len
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Marsman
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I use Photoshop Elements. You can see some of my work [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=20336&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0]here[/url]. 8)

arborrelli
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Marsman wrote:I use Photoshop Elements. You can see some of my work [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=20336&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0]here[/url]. 8)
Eh, Photoshop is [url=https://fc00.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2010/025/f/e/Left_4_Dead__Francis_by_arborrelli.jpg]okay[/url].

Marsman
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Nice work.

Marsman
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Here is the pruning, done this morning. (2/17/10)

[img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/dd28353e.jpg[/img]

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Gnome
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Marsman,

That certainly is quite a difference. Make sure to keep us posted. If you can manage to find something clear to enclose your Ficus in it will help to keep the humidity up until the new leaves emerge.

Norm

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It is looking good, Marsman. :) Keep us up to date.

It makes me even more excited about trimming my Willow Leaf way back at a workshop later this month. hehe
Rosaelyn @}>---'---,---

If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees. ~ Hal Borland

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Looking good! 8)
BV
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Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
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djlen
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I agree with all the others. This is 100% better and I'll be very interested to see how it looks when it leaf's out.
Regards,
Len

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SHS
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Great thread...I was searching for advice on how to trim my Ficus Retusa and this thread has been very helpful.

I am thinking of starting by leaf trimming some of the larger leaves to start with. Then I am going to keep and cultivate more aerial roots 8)
because I like them and I don't think they are ugly. :wink: It reminds me of some of the Banyan I see every day around here. There are some spectacular examples of roots that keep the tree spreading for large areas.

Marsman
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UPDATE: 3/24/2010

So, the little tree is budding back quite nicely. Leaves are strong and green.

[url=https://s956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/?action=view&current=d21e9976.jpg][img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/th_d21e9976.jpg[/img][/url]

[url=https://s956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/?action=view&current=9658299b.jpg][img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/th_9658299b.jpg[/img][/url]

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SHS wrote:Great thread...I was searching for advice on how to trim my Ficus Retusa and this thread has been very helpful.

I am thinking of starting by leaf trimming some of the larger leaves to start with. Then I am going to keep and cultivate more aerial roots 8)
because I like them and I don't think they are ugly. :wink: It reminds me of some of the Banyan I see every day around here. There are some spectacular examples of roots that keep the tree spreading for large areas.
Keep in mind, aerial roots will create reverse taper. That would come in useful for the first branch if you wanted to thicken it but they can ruin a great trunk by thickening it too much too high up.
Angela

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Marsman wrote:UPDATE: 3/24/2010

So, the little tree is budding back quite nicely. Leaves are strong and green.

[url=https://s956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/?action=view&current=d21e9976.jpg][img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/th_d21e9976.jpg[/img][/url]

[url=https://s956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/?action=view&current=9658299b.jpg][img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Double%20Ficus/th_9658299b.jpg[/img][/url]
Thank you for the update Marsman. I am amazed at how quickly & strongly the leaves came back on your tree.

I am getting ready to fuse five (5) ficus retusas into one (1) trunk. The largest tree I am fusing has enormous leaves. Although I am not going to do something this ambitious right before or after repotting and fusing (in early to mid-May), I plan on defoliating at a later date (maybe late in the summer or next year) to reduce leaf size.

Great post/thread and good luck with your ficus!

Marsman
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Hint on the huge leaves, give it lots of sun. Ficus grow large leaves in low-light conditions.

The Rookie
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Marsman wrote:Hint on the huge leaves, give it lots of sun. Ficus grow large leaves in low-light conditions.
Hi Marsman-

Only one of my ficus has large leaves. I just bought the ficus with the huge leaves from a nursery last week. I needed one more tree to complete my trunk-fusion project.

Thank you for the advice and this thread. I am going to refer to this thread later this summer or next year when I begin working on the leaf size. I may only need to defoliate the new tree (it will be 1 of 5 in the fusion).

I'm thinking I should wait until next summer to begin the defoliation process on it though . . . . I know ficus are tough, but I don't want to put to much stress on the tree in the same year I repot it.

Talk to you soon.

Jason

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