vdotson
Full Member
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2006 7:23 pm
Location: Wisconsin

Defoilating Ficus Microcarpa

In one of my bonsai books, defoliation of Ficus microcarpa is recommended in late spring. The goal is to increase branching, reduce leaf size, and speed up growth. Half the leaves are removed, then two weeks later, the other half.

Another website suggests defoliation in mid-summer, removing 60%-90% of the leaves

What is your opinion?

ynot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1219
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:49 pm
Location: USDA Z:5a Sunset Z. 41 IL

Re: Defoilating Ficus Microcarpa

vdotson wrote:In one of my bonsai books, defoliation of Ficus microcarpa is recommended in late spring. The goal is to increase branching, reduce leaf size, and speed up growth. Half the leaves are removed, then two weeks later, the other half.

Another website suggests defoliation in mid-summer, removing 60%-90% of the leaves

What is your opinion?
Personally, I have defoliated [Or hard pruned] healthy ficus at any time of the year with no ill effects [If not outside they were indoors under good lighting. These were not even Retusas by the way.]

A healthy F. Retusa Microcarpa can take a hard pruning or defoliation.

[url=https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/leafsize.htm]Defoliation[/url]is used in the final stages of training, Are you there? [Post some pictures of it in this thread please 8)]

It's primary use is to increase ramification [twiggyness]. Leaf reduction can result also under proper conditions [Excellent light conditions]

If you are at that point, Either way you have stated is fine. Do you have supplemental lighting? If so, Go ahead.

If not, Being in Wisconsin I imagine it is still a bit too cold for this tree to be outside full time. So you might want to wait until the temps are suitable for it to live outside and soak up as much sunlight as possible during recovery.


ynot

vdotson
Full Member
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2006 7:23 pm
Location: Wisconsin

Thank you for your quick reply!

I have 2 Ficus microcarpa. One is 7 years old. The other is 2 years old. I will send pictures later on this week.

I do have supplemental lighting. I will be turning it off later this month.

You are right, it is much too cold for the Ficus to be outside right now. As a general rule of thumb, I do not take them out until Memorial Day, which is when I had planned to do my defoliation. It looks we are thinking alike on this.

BTW, thank you for clarifying another issue. I was unsure whether hard pruning = defoliation. You cleared that up as well.

ynot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1219
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:49 pm
Location: USDA Z:5a Sunset Z. 41 IL

vdotson wrote:Thank you for your quick reply!

BTW, thank you for clarifying another issue. I was unsure whether hard pruning = defoliation. You cleared that up as well.
Your welcome,

I am not sure how I have cleared up the second part of the quote above, Nor am I certain by the statement above if you feel hard pruning equates to defoliation or not.

Just to clarify: They are not the same thing at all.

I look forward to the pictures 8).

ynot

vdotson
Full Member
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2006 7:23 pm
Location: Wisconsin

ynot wrote:
Your welcome,

I am not sure how I have cleared up the second part of the quote above, Nor am I certain by the statement above if you feel hard pruning equates to defoliation or not.

Just to clarify: They are not the same thing at all.

ynot
Oh my! I obviously misunderstood you.

Please explain what hard pruning is and how it differs from defoliation, if you would. Or point me in the direction where I can read up on it.

Thank you in advance.

User avatar
Gnome
Mod
Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

vdotson,
Please explain what hard pruning is and how it differs from defoliation, if you would. Or point me in the direction where I can read up on it.
Hi, pruning is pretty self explanatory, hard pruning would, at least to my mind, be pretty aggressive pruning. More than say just pinching shoots.

Defoliation is the removal of leaves in order to promote ramification or branching. Another, albeit temporary, effect of defoliation is to reduce the size of the leaves.

[url]https://bonsaihunk.8m.com/Defoliatingfigs.html[/url]

Norm

ynot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1219
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:49 pm
Location: USDA Z:5a Sunset Z. 41 IL

vdotson wrote: Oh my! I obviously misunderstood you.
Yes- Sorry, I did not intend for this quote below to make these sound synonymous:
Personally, I have defoliated [Or hard pruned] healthy ficus...
I meant them as examples of two different processes that can be carried out at practically any time on healthy ficus.
Please explain what hard pruning is and how it differs from defoliation, if you would. Or point me in the direction where I can read up on it.

Thank you in advance.
Ok,
[url=https://www.bonsai4me.com/AdvTech/ATdefoliating.htm]Defoliation[/url] is exactly that: Removing the foliage.

Hard-Pruning on the other hand [Granted 'Hard' is subjective] refers to pruning [with various degrees of severity] back [One or more] branches.

These do not address only hard pruning and are most likely more than you ever wanted to know about pruning, You were warned. ;):
https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/pruning.htm
https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/pruning2.htm
https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/growprin.htm
https://www.forestry.uga.edu/warnell/service/library/index.php3?docID=146&docHistory[]=2

I sometimes think of 'Hard pruning' as 'cutting back into the {hard}wood' This is not an entirely accurate view of it really, But it is more than just a trim.

One example of hard pruning would be when you let the tree [Or single branches] 'bush out' far past the intended shape [As the unrestricted growth and additional foliage are what increases the girth of the trunk & branches].
After the branches have reached their desired thickness, You then [Hard prune] cut the branches to a point far inside the eventual silhouette of the trees future design as this leaves room for growth with which you can ramify and refine the secondary and tertiary branches.

LOL, I fit a design tip in there too...;) 8).

IE: From this [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3524]this[/url]thread where I pruned this tree back hard.
Before:

[img]https://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y291/novusordo1/Ficus/Fused%20Trunk%20Ficus/fusedficus1021060001mo6.jpg[/img]

After a hard pruning of the top:

[img]https://img227.imageshack.us/img227/1223/fusedficus102106retaped0009ok0.jpg[/img]

I only pruned the top hard as I am continuing to let the bottom grow out, I continue to fight apical dominance and shade wrt getting the bottom branches to fatten up...To be continued...

Just like trunk chops, You can see examples of this [Or the results of this] everywhere in bonsai.

I hoped this helped, It doesn't feel like much of an explanation really...lol

ynot

vdotson
Full Member
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2006 7:23 pm
Location: Wisconsin

Here are my pictures.
[img]https://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/v_dotson@sbcglobal.net/detail?.dir=/598bscd&.dnm=fa64scd.jpg&.src=ph[/img]

[img]https://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/v_dotson@sbcglobal.net/detail?.dir=/598bscd&.dnm=e487scd.jpg&.src=ph[/img]

vdotson
Full Member
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2006 7:23 pm
Location: Wisconsin

Let's try this again. This is my 2 year old ficus.
[url=https://img406.imageshack.us/my.php?image=2yearoldficusjv7.jpg][img]https://img406.imageshack.us/img406/1795/2yearoldficusjv7.th.jpg[/img][/url]

This is my 7 year old ficus
[url=https://img513.imageshack.us/my.php?image=7yearoldficusxy4.jpg][img]https://img513.imageshack.us/img513/60/7yearoldficusxy4.th.jpg[/img][/url]

ynot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1219
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:49 pm
Location: USDA Z:5a Sunset Z. 41 IL

Vdotson,

Ok,

What did you have in mind?

ynot

vdotson
Full Member
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2006 7:23 pm
Location: Wisconsin

Looking to defoliate both.

I'm sure they are in need of other "care" and will happily take any suggestions.

I know the trees are reflective of my novice or below novice skill and ability. They are not exactly "pretty", :oops: but I console myself with the fact that they are both still alive :lol:

ynot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1219
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:49 pm
Location: USDA Z:5a Sunset Z. 41 IL

vdotson wrote:Looking to defoliate both.

I'm sure they are in need of other "care" and will happily take any suggestions.
Um, Defoliation is usually done during the final stages of refinement during training.

You mention that you have other issues to address, What would these be?
Do you mean styling issues? If so, Where do you want to take it? Having a destination is the first step to forming a plan. 8).

[It's best to take care of those first as defoliation would much nearer the end of the process.]
I know the trees are reflective of my novice or below novice skill and ability. They are not exactly "pretty", :oops: but I console myself with the fact that they are both still alive :lol:
No worries on that. :)

ynot

vdotson
Full Member
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2006 7:23 pm
Location: Wisconsin

Um, Defoliation is usually done during the final stages of refinement during training.
Hmmm. In the link you provided https://bonsaihunk.8m.com/Defoliatingfigs.html, I received the impression that defoliation was, say routine, or regular :?

To me it appears that the destination of the 7 year old was set the day I purchased it. So all it appearsI need to do is maintain it, encouraging more branching.

I was hoping to do a ball or globe shape. It seemed to be the simplest shape.

Your comments?

vdotson
Full Member
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2006 7:23 pm
Location: Wisconsin

I'm sorry, I was hoping to do a ball or globe shape on the 2 year old.

ynot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1219
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:49 pm
Location: USDA Z:5a Sunset Z. 41 IL

vdotson wrote:
Hmmm. In the link you provided https://bonsaihunk.8m.com/Defoliatingfigs.html, I received the impression that defoliation was, say routine, or regular :?

:?
This is from that page: [Your link does not work btw]
How often to defoliate

Under typical indoor cultivation I would not recommend defoliation be used except every two years.
Personally, I wouldn't really call that 'routine or regular'.

Defoliation is stressful on trees which is why it is not done all that often.
To me it appears that the destination of the 7 year old was set the day I purchased it. So all it appearsI need to do is maintain it, encouraging more branching.
I would not say that was true at all [Due to bonsai being a live & growing thing and change is of course inherent in that.], But ok.
I was hoping to do a ball or globe shape. It seemed to be the simplest shape.
Your comments?
I think you would end up with a lollipop [A big circle on a tall thin stick.] Considering the diameter of the trunk I think you would very likely end up with some reverse taper at the top of the trunk where the branches start as the trunk would thicken there.

Broom styles are really more natural to [url=https://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https://www.bonsaiprimer.com/styles/broom/broom.gif&imgrefurl=https://www.bonsaiprimer.com/styles/broom/broom.html&h=326&w=469&sz=23&hl=en&start=1&sig2=njqkGwJg00S5XUUA4xYsug&um=1&tbnid=NRV7TbzxAErx4M:&tbnh=89&tbnw=128&ei=s9VBRpWtO7S4igHYzajjDA&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dbroom%2Bstyle%2B%26svnum%3D10%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26sa%3DN]temperate deciduous trees[/url]as opposed to tropical evergreens.

You just don't really see too many natural broom ficus [Hence, Few bonsai also], Perhaps a few [url=https://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https://www.billmunnsgallery.com/bonbroom.gif&imgrefurl=https://www.billmunnsgallery.com/b3gallery.html&h=80&w=120&sz=9&hl=en&start=35&sig2=8U-l_8o0U2qEB61TC4sXew&um=1&tbnid=lw27DX32YBsy7M:&tbnh=59&tbnw=88&ei=btZBRr-_I4mYiQGv0L3cDA&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dbroom%2Bstyle%2B%26start%3D20%26ndsp%3D20%26svnum%3D10%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26sa%3DN]'African savanna-esque'[/url] flat topped neriifolias or conversely very broad [url=https://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https://www.bonsaihunk.us/pic/Caesapinapics/C4.jpg&imgrefurl=https://www.bonsaihunk.us/info/CaesalpinaFerrea.html&h=307&w=375&sz=11&hl=en&start=17&sig2=VKd1x6I1DRet3onjuxwt-w&um=1&tbnid=VVTPzo_EA-AVvM:&tbnh=100&tbnw=122&ei=vtZBRu2DNo-0iQGF9pzeDA&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dbroom%2Bstyle%2B%26ndsp%3D20%26svnum%3D10%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26sa%3DN]spreading versions[/url], But few 'round' ones. - The round ones tend to look like topiaries to my eye.
If it were mine I would either grow it out for a while and then chop it to impart some trunk movement and taper with an informal upright would be it's [Possible] ultimate destination...

I notice the picture is from the side of the two year old [And possibly the 7yo as well], Are you planning on changing the front?

More photos would be needed before any styling advice could be considered, Is there any nebari to speak of?

No matter what plans you have for this [2YO] IMO a bigger pot would help it out considerably if more growth is involved.

ynot

vdotson
Full Member
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2006 7:23 pm
Location: Wisconsin

First let me thank you for taking the time to assist me. It's greatly appreciated.

I read (actually studied) the information at the sites your directed me to more thoroughly and they answered many of my questions... not just the ones I've presented at this forum! Thank you, again!

With regards to the 7 yo, the trunk is in an informal upright shape. I can't see that being changed. What do you see that can be changed?

With regards to the 2 yo, thanks for the perspective on the style. I'll also take your advice and let it grow out for awhile. I was thinking defolitaiton would help the lowest branch and the bud just above it, which you can't see in the photo to grow faster. They are growing at a snail's pace compared to the rest of the branches. But perhaps, some judicious leaf pruning and summer will assist in that regards.

I had not planned on changing the front of either. I suspect by your question you have some thoughts on the matter?

There is no nebari on either.

Regarding the bigger pot: How big? What specific growth are you refering to? Number of branches? leaves? Trunk girth? Branch girth? Nebari? All of the above?

Again, thank you for all your time.

P.S. My reading has not ended with the articles you identified. These sites are a wealth of great information. I will be reading and sutdying for some time. :D

ynot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1219
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:49 pm
Location: USDA Z:5a Sunset Z. 41 IL

vdotson wrote:First let me thank you for taking the time to assist me. It's greatly appreciated.

I read (actually studied) the information at the sites your directed me to more thoroughly and they answered many of my questions... not just the ones I've presented at this forum! Thank you, again!

P.S. My reading has not ended with the articles you identified. These sites are a wealth of great information. I will be reading and sutdying for some time. :D
vdotson,

Your very welcome 8) and I am glad to hear your research continues :D

It is never ending actually.
With regards to the 7 yo, the trunk is in an informal upright shape. I can't see that being changed. What do you see that can be changed?
Given enough time, Anything you want :). As I said before more pictures would be needed to offer any specifics.

Styling obviously is very subjective.

IE: I am not fond of the 90 degree elbow bend that is happening [Plus the reverse taper there] but that is just IMO and anyway it is your tree. :)
With regards to the 2 yo, thanks for the perspective on the style. I'll also take your advice and let it grow out for awhile. I was thinking defolitaiton would help the lowest branch and the bud just above it, which you can't see in the photo to grow faster. They are growing at a snail's pace compared to the rest of the branches. But perhaps, some judicious leaf pruning and summer will assist in that regards.
I agree some fairly hard pruning of the top would help the lower branches out.
Ficus are apically dominant which means that they naturally tend to put their energy into growth towards the top of the tree. Pruning the top [Back to say...Two leaves per branch.] will make the tree will put it's energy into the lower branches.
I had not planned on changing the front of either. I suspect by your question you have some thoughts on the matter?
Is the photo of the 7YO from the side? {Is that pot oval or round? It looks as though it may be oval but the picture is from an odd angle [Usually one of the 'long' sides of the oval is the front.], This is why I asked about the front.}
There is no nebari on either.
Is there and potential nebari buried in the soil?
Regarding the bigger pot: How big? What specific growth are you refering to? Number of branches? leaves? Trunk girth? Branch girth? Nebari? All of the above?
IMO The 7yo is really too spreading for the it's current pot, It just seems to overpower the pot you know. That is an aesthetic consideration is all.

WRT the 2yo, A bigger pot would allow for a larger root system to develop [This of course will provide more resources for growth and allows for a longer period of undisturbed growth before it requires repotting.]

It need not be 'gimungous' by any means. Overpotting has it's [url=https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/overpot.htm]own set of problems.[/url]

[url=https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/growfast.htm]This[/url]is primarily about temperate trees but you will find some of the principles applicable.

Some useful info [url=https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/trunks.htm]Here[/url]about growing/styling a nice trunk and branches for you.

I hope these are helpful :D

ynot

vdotson
Full Member
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2006 7:23 pm
Location: Wisconsin

Apologies!

I sincerely apologize for being away for so long and not responding. Spring finally arrived here in Wisconsin and with it the infamous Spring Cleaning duties and, yes, Home Improvements! It's a race to complete everything before the snow flies once again :lol:

My bonsai have not been neglected, but on the other hand, they did not get the amount of attention I would have liked to give them nor have I completed all the reading I wanted to pursue.

wrt defoliation on the Ficus, I decided to do partial, based on all the articles you referred to me. Beyond that and attending to my 4 other bonsai (my jade was pot bound and needed repotting...it's doing very well, nursing a Chinese Elm, trying to understand my lantana camera's behavior and attempting to modify and watching with pleasure the explosive growth of my boxwood), I have not had much time to pursue the other perspectives you were kind enough to share with me.

Again, my apologies.

Return to “BONSAI FORUM”