This Green island ficus, Ficus microcarpa, is not a particularly impressive specimen. The reason I’ve created this progression series is because it represents for me a serious foray into growing tropical bonsai. I avoided tropicals for most of my bonsai career because of the additional challenges associated with winter protection. No way to avoid erecting greenhouses, so that the handful of freezes we get down here in South Louisiana don’t kill off all the hard work. It just seemed like a lot of effort and expense without much return.
Each summer, our local bonsai club does one or two programs on tropicals. One of our members has been growing a Green island ficus for many years, and it’s an impressive mature specimen. As you might imagine, some of the other club members have grown their own specimens off of cuttings from this tree. Last summer, I became one of them (for the second time, but that’s another story). I struck the cutting in this bonsai pot, a neat Chuck Iker round, planning to grow it completely this way. Here it is, in October of 2016.
After overwintering my new prize on my desk, where incidentally it continued growing (though slowly), here it is in May of 2017. The trunk is starting to build some size, and the leader and some of the shoots are extending nicely.
I also felt the trunk needed some movement, otherwise it was going to be straight as can be. So I wired the trunk and gave it a gentle bend.
It’s time for this specimen to come inside once again; we just got our first taste of cold weather for the season, flirting with the freezing mark. I do have a greenhouse up now, but wasn’t willing to test the effectiveness of my heater by risking this one. I don’t think I’ll be able to keep it on my desk this winter, but it’ll be close by so I can enjoy it.
Compare the photo above with this one. The trunk is really gaining heft. The lowest right branch is likely to end up as a sacrifice branch – but it’ll stay for now to continue fattening up the trunk base. Which measures 1/2″ now, by the way. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but the cutting was not more than 1/8″ when I struck it a little over a year ago. And the growth is all in a bonsai pot.
That lowest left branch is actually a secondary trunk. My plan at this point is to keep it and see whether or not it has a part to play in the ultimate design.
My daughter gave me this kintsugi bonsai pot for my birthday. It struck me that it was the perfect container in which to continue developing this ficus. I think it makes for a lovely composition.