Recently I had a call from a client of mine since she needed to repot and style a ficus ginseng. When I saw the bonsai, I noticed that repotting was not necessary at this moment, it was not root bound and although the soil was just compost, I decided to leave the repotting for next February. But by having a good look at the Ficus Ginseng, I noticed that the bonsai needs more than just a repotting.
About Ficus Ginseng
The ficus Ginseng bonsai tree is not done by nature but by mankind. The trunk of this bonsai are actually thick roots, in the shape of a lower male or female body or an animal. Two cuttings from the ficus macrocarpa species are grafted onto the thick roots. This bonsai is ideal for newcomers due to its interesting shape and for the fact that the ficus species can survive for the newcomer’s mistakes.
Signs were grafting takes place. The roots has a sharp straight cut while the two cuttings were placed on each side.
I have not yet spoken to my client about the location of this bonsai, but is seems that it was not placed in an appropriate location. The branches were long, and with foliage growing just at the tip. Normally a Ficus Ginseng bonsai has a different style than other styles in bonsai, all it’s foliage is form as a one round crown, and this crown forms both the apex and body of the bonsai. This is one easy shortcut that makes this bonsai tree ideal for beginners. The ficus ginseng does not have a complicated style. To maintain it’s shape, one just need to trim those branches that goes out of shape, out of the imaginary round crown.
The back side of the Ficus Ginseng
The first thing this tree needed is to encourage back budding, that means, foliage along the branches and closer to the trunk. This way the foliage will have a more impact look. Since this bonsai was not attended for quite some time, we need to solve this problem. To do so, I removed the bud at the tip of each branch. This way, since the tree will not push energy to the tip of the branch, it will now encourage new buds along the branches. I will wait for the tree to push new buds, then I will trim each long branch by at least two leaves. This will strengthen each branch and compact the foliage crown. The first thing I did was to select the front of the tree. This will guide me when shaping the foliage. To help me choose the front, I considered the roots that shaped the trunk. It was not just a matter of taste, but the shape of the roots.
The front side of the Ficus Ginseng
To start shaping this bonsai, I wired and positioned the branches, this way, the tree will have a interesting look. I did not wire all the branches but those that needed to be positioned in place, this way I will not stress the tree too much, and it will use all it’s energy to back bud as quickly as possible. I will do my best to as my client to supply me with images to check how the tree is reacting and to keep refining the shape.
The look after my first intervention on the Ficus Ginseng Bonsai
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