This past weekend I purchased a Ficus tree that will be used in a demonstration in August. It is old stock Ficus Benjamina that has been growing in a box for many years. The trunk has some great natural movement in it and the branches are mostly thin and leggy but excellent material to work with here. In northern California, I have not seen many serious ficus bonsai. On the east coast we used this type of tree a great deal and were able to continue growing them in doors during the colder months. Here in San Jose, this tree has mainly stayed outside even in the winter and used to our climate. Its previous owner indicates that it was sheltered in a hot house with a light bulb when temperature stayed below freezing for extended periods.
My first task with this tree was to cut it back considerably before the main grow season begins. This will allow the creation of new branches, foliage closer to the trunk, and smaller leaves. In the past I have been able to reduce leaf size by more than half with these trees. The first picture shows the tree before trimming. An example of current leave size, measuring nearly 3″, is take for reference. The second picture shows the tree after basic trimming.
I will allow the tree to grow steady through the Spring push and will cut back again before summer. This will allow a fully healthy and well developed tree for the August Demo with SBBK in San Mateo. I will keep you posted on the development of the tree.
In March 2013 I did my first cut on this demo tree. It was full of large leaves and poor ramification. Today, Jun 1, 2013 the tree needed cut again. The Spring growth period went along well and the tree put out vigorous growth. I waited until all the branches had several pair of leaves and I noticed to day that some inter-nodes were getting too long. Needing ramification means that I must cut back the branches to one leave of new growth this Spring but I did not want to rob the demonstration planned in August so I cut back carefully decreasing inter-nodes to a couple pair of leaves on each branch. The growth was so aggressive that many new branches were beginning to form and some in place not too desirable. Some of the new branches were removed to clean up the tree. Below you will see the condition of the tree prior to cutting and after. What the pictures do not reveal well is the size of the trunk. With considerable humidity and heat the trunk has begin to expand considerably.