How did this happen to my Ficus???

bsmith717(6)March 4, 2013

I purchased this Ficus about 4 years ago when my wife and I were selling our first house. Since then Its been with me in my office looking great. I only noticed that the trunk had grown like this about a year ago during a re-pot since it had been in this pot ever since I aquired it.

The trunk was buried up past this very interesting knot/split/whatever its called. So when I re-potted it and found it was there I potted it much lower so the interesting portions could be shown off.

How does this happen, or should I say how does the trunk in a ficus get to be split like this?

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Are you familiar with how to make cuttings from trees?

You know, you cut off a branch, put some rooting hormone on it, put it in some moist soil, and cross your fingers that it will root and become a new plant?

Its the same thing that happened here, only without cutting anything off first. It looks like the main trunk there set off a side shoot (the tall skinny one), and the soil around it was moist enough long enough for it to send out roots from that node. The roots then grew down and thickened up, leaving you with what you see now.

In fact, from that last picture, I believe I see more root nodes that didn't get a chance to grow yet. See the little cone shaped bumps there near the split, on the bottom of the large trunk? Thats where it started to grow roots from there as well, only it got uncovered before they could take off.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 10:44PM
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That's kind of what I was thinking too.

But is there any way to purposely make a plant do that in order to give it more character?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 10:53PM
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Here are some closer pics of the rootage/trunkage! ;)

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 10:58PM
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It is quite unusual for ficus bonsai, however this is not to worried as this bonsai still looks great.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 3:08AM
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To encourage the plant to set roots where you want it to, you pretty much do the same thing to it you would to a cutting to get it to root. Score the bark to expose some of the cambium, put on some rooting hormone, and then cover it with moist soil for a month or two.

If you don't want to bury the entire plant up to where you score it, you can make a little sling out of black plastic (cut a strip out of a garbage bag) to hold a little dirt in and tie it to the tree to hold it in place. Let it go for about a month, then take it off and see if anything happened. Its not guaranteed any more than it is guaranteed that any given cutting will root, but it can work.

Once you do get a root where you want it, the actual hard part is slowly growing it out and down. Basically involves very slowly moving the dirt farther and farther down so the root has to keep stretching to reach it.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 5:07PM
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nelsoncastro- Thank you for the kind comments. This guy has seen many different aesthetic forms from looking like a normal ficus in a pot with a "normal/regular single trunk when the trunk portions in question were still buried, a leafless desolate stick when I first brought it into my prior office with no source of decent sunlight, to it's current station.

edymnion-- Great info! Your suggestions make perfect sense and your means to get them will likely spare me many failed attempts to create this more interesting trunk layout.

I will probably not try creating more "trunkletts" on this specific Ficus but I will most certainly be employing these methods on one/many of the saplings I have propagated through cuttings (I seem to have great luck with just taking branches from normal trimming and removing all but the top 2-4 leaves and simply putting them in a cup of water and placing it near a window!).

Right before I posted this question I took the bottom branch (still all green) of a recently potted sapling, removed every leaf, cut the tip of the branch off and just bent it till I could stick it in the moist soil. I wonder what will happen?

A few supplemental questions...

After even more reading on the subject at hand I now realize my current potting soil (miracle grow potting mix) is simply just not good enough/not the best fit for Ficus'. So i plan on taking this plant out of its current pot and removing/cleaning the MG soil from it and the roots and re-potting it in the same pot with a more suitable mix. My question is should I reduce the root ball/mass/system at that time?

Because of the MG potting mix liking to soak up and retain water I have found that this (at first look seemingly positive) trait also makes the soil shrink considerably when left to dry out more than it should. It pulls away from the pot and really looks ugly when it does this. After it has really dried out, it appears only certain portions of the soil (probably the ones that still retain a bit of moisture) are able to re-moisten when watered. What I'm trying to say is that because of this when you re-water after significant drying of the MG mix, you can get a false sense of complete hydration as only a small portion of the soil will actually be wet before water will run out of the drain hole for the pot. Really hope this makes sense, been a long day on little sleep! :)

I found that soaking the entire potted plant in a bucket/sink for an hour allows the entire volume of soil to be moistened. Is this a bad practice or is it okay? It allows me to "soak" every 7-10 days where if I water normally I have to do it every third day or so.

Lastly, what fertilizers are best for these trees? I have fish tanks so I use water from these every other watering. I also have had good luck/results with MG slow release fertilizer balls (about 1/2-1/4 the size of a black peppercorn, green little balls). I sprinkle a pinch on top of my many different plants whenever I cant see them in the substrate during growing season.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 12:43AM
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I want this tree it looks great!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 3:56PM
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That is a cool looking ficus bonsai.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 4:39PM
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Thank you both for the kind words. I just now realized there's no picture of the entire plant! Nothing much else to see but atleast it will be viewable.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 8:42PM
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