That is a lot of roots!

John, one of my clients, called. He stated that his trees require some attention. I hadn’t heard from him in at least three years what with the lost pandemic year and all, and him being a busy businessman. There’s a word connection here. Business, business, business. I’ll have to look up the etymology because it bothers me, much like entomology does. It should irritate you as well.

With all of my recent travel, I told him when I’d be home and he said, “I’ll be there by Thursday!” I had no idea how much work his trees required.

This is just one example of a Ficus microcarpa:

What happened to my machete? The tree began as one of those retail “ginseng” style ficusses found in big box stores, but it’s grown quite a bit. It simply takes time to mature. And for those who think this is just a Florida thing, this article includes a “ginseng” from Indiana.

In a normal bonsai working day, I’d prune out the branches I don’t need first, and then work outward, defoliating as I go, but for the purposes of this article, I tend to defoliate first, or as the cool kids might say, denude, because, just like it’s “inverse” taper instead of “reverse” taper, or “substrate” instead of soil, them cool kids have to create jargon or use big words to make the process and themselves sound more scientific.

Let me then begin to denude the specimen in order to elucidate the methodology for optimal visualization.

As always, the old and damaged leaves come off.

They do nothing for the tree and, in fact, take energy from it, while the tree keeps them alive by providing energy. Then, for the same reason, remove the shaded ones.

But I am repeating myself, I’ve written extensively on the concept of defoliation. Read this article for some clarification while I get to work.

Done, that’s about all I’ll take off for now. It looks like a lot….

…..but there’s still a lot of foliage left.

Most of the branches with leaves will be pruned off or shortened as I continue the styling process.

Sometimes (many times) a tree can benefit from some neglect and overgrowth. This one has, and I have a lot to work with.

Next, I’ll clean up some of those aerial roots and remove some glaringly in-opportune branches

Here we go, I can work with this now.

I’ll get some wire on the branches I have left, then repot.

Some wire…..

Out of the pot…..

Whoops, seems like we’ve lost the sun and its night. Don’t worry about continuity, nothing is real on the internet anyway.

The roots aren’t as bad as I thought they might have been.

Get in the pot!

Don’t worry, I’ll get some pics tomorrow morning with some better light. Now it’s time to finish my adult beverage and get some dinner. See you in the morning….

Good morning! After feeding the tortoises (who are still sleeping I might add)…..

…..Let’s take a look at the tree….

….OOPS, where’s the tree? I guess I moved it over to the photo booth last night. You’ll notice I’ve switched to coffee this morning. Today just happens to be National Coffee Day in the US, but I’d be drinking it already. Maybe I’ll indulge in a second cup (Like I need a reason for that!).

I believe that John will be happy with the development, especially going from this.

To this…

It’s well on its way to becoming a specimen, banyan-style ficus worthy of display. Next year, I’ll suggest a wider, shallower pot to highlight the trunk and wide canopy.

Let’s not wait another three years, John.


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