This is basically a one year progression of a Ficus Retusa var. Microcarpa I purchased at Wal-Mart last year when I first got into bonsai. They grow really fast and despite setbacks and my beginner maintenance, it has thrived.
Ficus Retusa Bonsai
I spoke about this last year, but after leaving it outside for a few months, birds (or something) stripped all the branches off. There wasn’t a leaf left on the tree and most branches were broken. About a week or two later, this is what it looked like.
Ficus Retusa Bonsai
And after repotting this spring. As you can see, the branches are really starting to develop, and in my humble opinion, this is going to be a nice bonsai. It does need some wiring which I haven’t done on this tree at all. The branches are very flexible though. It gets a lot of good compliments from the people that visit me. People tend to love the S-curve, even though bonsaists hate it. I don’t know if I’m here for the experts though.
Ficus Retusa Bonsai
Brent Walston’s site has been very helpful to me over the past few months of learning about bonsai from any source that I could get to. He is an experienced grower with a variety of trees in his bonsai nursery. He has lots of articles that describe in detail the information he has gathered and learned over the years. I highly recommend checking it out. I really wanted to buy some bonsai trees from his nursery for a couple of reasons. One, he has a good variety and I could get trees that aren’t available in my area. 2. With his contributions to bonsai, I wanted to support his business. Here’s what I purchased.
Cedrus atlantica (Atlas Cedar) -10° Pale blue green foliage in tufts, much used for formal upright bonsai. Native to the Atlas mountains of North Africa.
Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’ (Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar) Similar to above in needle length and color, but this cultivar is perfectly prostrate and must be staked or trained. It can be worked into any shape but continues to grow and develop a large caliper just like its tree counterpart.
Juniperus chinensis ‘Shimpaku’ (Shimpaku Juniper) The classic Japanese bonsai species. Deep green soft scaly foliage to about 3 feet x 6 feet makes a very dense flat mound. Pinching the tips keeps it very compact. Excellent rock garden plant.
I’m really excited about the trees that he sent and are hoping they have a good future. It’ll take a few years before I even think about pruning them, but I’ll have species that aren’t very common in this area as bonsai.
I have a couple of ficus microcarpa trees that were a part of the first pre-bonsai trees that I bought. This one in particular is my favorite. Ficus trees are really easy to take care of, grow profusely, and can survive many beginner mistakes. They are tropical, so you have to keep them indoors in the winter. Under a good florescent light, they will continue to grow nicely. Here’s a progression of one tree over the past few months.
The above picture is right after it was freshly repotted in late February. I potted it in orchid mix, which at the time was the best soil I could find that would be fast draining and help the roots to flourish.
After a lot of growth, I started having problems with fungus gnats in the soil. So, I repotted in a mixture of 50/50 turface and pine bark mulch. I also did an extensive branch prune due to many branches coming out of the same spot on the trunk, causing bulbous pertrusions.
Unfortunately, between nature and I, this tree has seen a break. Birds snapped some of the branches, then proceeded to defoliate the rest of the tree. It has really proven to be a good thing in this specific case. The branches that are sprouting are in much better places and will provide better balance for the informal upright style that I was shooting for. I continue to hope this will be one the best bonsai trees in my collection one day. It’s one of the first trees that people notice when looking at the different varieties on my deck.