collegechic
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Ginger Root Ficus Pruning

So my bonsai tree is about... Four years old perhaps? I got it already started at a local Bonsai shop, it was kind of inexpensive so I'm sure the tree is crappy but I like it. I've had it for about a year now in my care. Plus, I've had one bonsai tree before and the only thing I was good at was killing it. :oops: So I didn't want to get an expensive tree as my "starter" tree.

The man at the shop said this tree was hearty and would withstand living in a Dorm room, where I was at the time. I don't think it much liked the dorm, I did my best to help it along, watched it's water and sunlight as best I could. But it didn't really get new leaves, it just kind of sat there. This was last Fall/Winter. So everyone knows, I repotted the tree from those pots with the glued on rocks and fake moss. I put good soil in it, mixed with a few rocks, a flat rock at the bottom for drainage and replanted the tree.

In the Spring, and now Summer, I've been living in an apartment. And despite some abuse and neglect from move in crazies, and the shift in climate, it's doing quite well! It is constantly growing new leaves and branches and looks much healthier than it ever has.

So here's my question (finally) I know I can be wordy. When should I begin to prune/bind the tree? I can't really think of a Good style for it. I look at all the nice bonsai trees and while I love my tree it looks so small comparison.

The other forum I was on for awhile said to wait until a branch distinguished itself as a "leader" and prune from there. But, I'm shooting in the dark here, and I don't want to just start hacking at my tree, will someone help me out?
My Garden is a container Garden out on my apartment's balcony. I live in Orlando Florida!

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Gnome
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collegechic,

Sounds like you have gotten past the problems most face early on and your tree is doing well. 8) Styling questions are never easy and almost impossible without pictures. If you post a picture perhaps we could offer some useful advice.

We do not host photos here so you need to use a third party hosting service and link them here. [url=http://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3724]Here[/url] are two options along with basic instructions if you need them.

Norm

collegechic
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Location: Orlando

I should have figured pictures would be good/needed :oops:

Here are the links to the hosted pictures. I know on the "how to take pictures of your bonsai" it says take the pictures from the "front." But that's kind of the problem, it doesn't really have a front yet! So I took a picture, turned the pot 90 degrees and took another to give you all a 360.

http://img115.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dsci0325ux2.jpg
http://img114.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dsci0326xl2.jpg
http://img115.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dsci0327bq4.jpg
http://img383.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dsci0328mg9.jpg

I know style is such a personal thing, but I'm so new at this that I don't even know what's a possible and appropriate style for my Bonsai.

I haven't touched it at all with pruning shears or wire or anything, all I've done since I've gotten it is let it grow, which, as of right now it's doing quite well.

Any help or suggestions is greatly appreciated!!
My Garden is a container Garden out on my apartment's balcony. I live in Orlando Florida!

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Gnome
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collegechic,

These Ginseng Ficus always look odd to me, their nature presents styling challenges and I've not seen many that look convincing as bonsai. I don't think you can do much in the way of styling yet. Perhaps a better term would be guiding, guiding it toward a future goal.

If you intend to select a single leader then I think the choice is obvious. The thicker branch that is at 3:00 in your first picture. Unless you want a free-form or some sort of clump style most, if not all, of the others should go. Then it will another period of simply allowing the new leader to grow and thicken more.

I can't see everything that is going on with your tree so please consider carefully and don't take my word, or anyone else's, as gospel. For instance I cant tell how many secondary branches are on the prospective new leader, if it is not healthy then my remarks would not be appropriate.

Before you act use Google to look not only at Ginsengs but other Ficus and even bonsai in general. Have you seen this?
http://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3343

Norm

arboricola
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Location: Minnesota zone 4

Let me suggest this site. http://www.bonsaihunk.us/ Lots of good info for all Ficus lovers...

For ginsing ficus go here. http://www.bonsaihunk.us/info/GinsengFicus.html

Phil...

collegechic
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Location: Orlando

Thank you Gnome and Arboricola for your advice/resources.

I think I'm just very paranoid of the shears simply because it's the first tree I've ever been able to have grow (granted, I've only tried twice) so I think I'm nervous that I'll take the sheers to it and mess something up beyond repair.

I've been looking at the other trees and their branches seem much fuller with leaves than mine is. I've read about defoliation and how it helps the leaves come in smaller, but is obviously a lot of stress on the tree. Should I wait before I have a style before doing something like this?

Also, in looking at the other pictures I feel like one of my big style "problems" is the big roots I have at the bottom of the tree. Will these look less awkard as the tree grows a bit larger do you think? Any sugestion in a particular style that would help deal with those honkers?

Or could it just be the size of the pot relitive to the tree? When should I repot it? Perhaps it'd look better planted on a rock, is it too late for that? (By the way, I've never understood how trees can grow on rocks.)

A lot of the ficus have arial roots, like this one: http://www.stonetreenursery.com/images/ficus_bonsai.jpg
Will my tree develop those with time? Or is that a diffrent species than mine?

Finally, with the wonder of Google I've found a style I like, but I was wondering if someone could tell me if it's 1) possible for my tree, and 2) if it'd be waaaay too difficult to pull off.
http://www.vogliadibonsai.it/assets/img/galleria/bonsaiFicusRetusa.jpg

My bonsai and I thank you for all your advice!
My Garden is a container Garden out on my apartment's balcony. I live in Orlando Florida!

collegechic
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One more thing...

Gnome I checked the "leader" branch you sugested just now. It looks like a pretty strong hearty branch from what I can tell. It has two offshoots, one with a bunch of "baby" branches forming, the other offshoot has thee or four branches on it. So I think it'd be strong enough to be a leader.

If I choose it as a leader I really have to chop everything else off right?
My Garden is a container Garden out on my apartment's balcony. I live in Orlando Florida!

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Gnome
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collegechic,
Also, in looking at the other pictures I feel like one of my big style "problems" is the big roots I have at the bottom of the tree. Will these look less awkard as the tree grows a bit larger do you think? Any sugestion in a particular style that would help deal with those honkers?
That is the nature of this species and I'm afraid your stuck with them. They are what I was alluding to when I mentioned that Ginsengs always look a bit odd to me. If you read the second link that arboricola posted you will see Jerry's take on them.
If I choose it as a leader I really have to chop everything else off right?
I think that is the route I would take. After that you are going to want to get some good strong growth, in your area that should not be a problem.
I've read about defoliation and how it helps the leaves come in smaller, but is obviously a lot of stress on the tree. Should I wait before I have a style before doing something like this?
Defoliation is generally reserved for a finishing technique. I feel that it is too early.
[url]http://www.bonsaihunk.us/Defoliatingfigs.html[/url]
Or could it just be the size of the pot relitive to the tree? When should I repot it? Perhaps it'd look better planted on a rock, is it too late for that? (By the way, I've never understood how trees can grow on rocks.)
Ficus can be potted with less regard to season than temperate trees, most prefer to do it during warm weather though. I'm not sure that this species is appropriate for root over rock, the bulbous roots and all. In this style the roots cling to the rock and still find their way into the soil, so you can see why I am dubious about this species in that particular style.

Norm

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Gnome
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collegechic,
Finally, with the wonder of Google I've found a style I like, but I was wondering if someone could tell me if it's 1) possible for my tree, and 2) if it'd be waaaay too difficult to pull off.
That style is what is referred to as informal upright. The first step would be to grow out your chosen trunk until it approaches the desired thickness. After which the trunk is chopped to begin to induce taper and movement. After a few of these chops changing direction each time the tree will begin to tak on a more mature appearance. This is obviously a long term project and you still have the bulbous roots to deal with. Other Ficus species don't have this liability/feature.

Often a larger tree is cut down creating a bonsai with a decent trunk in a shorter time frame than it would take to grow one out. Take a look around nurseries or dorms for an unwanted plant that can be reduced. This will really give you a head start.

Norm

collegechic
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Location: Orlando

Thank you for all the help, I'll just nurture my little tree a bit. Even if it's a slightly ugly bonsai it's my tree and so it'll always be pretty in my eyes :D

Looking for a midget bush or what not isn't a bad idea, but I think growing it is half the fun. Besides, I'm in no hurry.
My Garden is a container Garden out on my apartment's balcony. I live in Orlando Florida!

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Gnome
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collegechic,
Thank you for all the help, I'll just nurture my little tree a bit.
You're welcome. Letting it grow out more certainly will not hurt it, you can always make a decision later. One last thing, if you have decided against pruning it then perhaps this year would be a good time to re-pot it into a slightly (in diameter) pot. This will afford the roots more room and should help with accelerating growth. Just don't jump up too much as this causes another set of problems.

Norm

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