Things are going well with this one. I’ve take quite a few cuttings over the winter months from it, so it’s not as large as it would otherwise be. [By the way, I’ve read on some forums that it’s best to take cuttings in warmer months, and my low root strike rate backs that up.]
Now that things are warming up nicely in Southern California it’s growing quickly and there’s been no die off. These pictures don’t capture much fusing; there’s at least one area where it’s happening. Since I didn’t have enough stock to line the cuttings tightly against each other I didn’t expect there to be much fusion … yet.
I will let it continue to grow over the summer and will try to root more cuttings along the way. Once I have enough–and supposing the weather is still warm–I will: 1) begin to chop some of the individual plants in order to preserve taper in the trunk, 2) remove much of the lower leaf mass from the remaining plants so I can get the the trunk ready for more rooted cuttings, 3) remove the tree from its pot and attach more cuttings (hopefully for the last time), & 4) rearrange the roots so they are as radial as possible.
It’s been a few weeks, and the wood base microcarpa seems to be thriving. All of the rooted cuttings seem well despite being nailed to the wooden base and whatever trauma that might have caused.
I’m propagating some more cuttings (from the same donor tree) in order to fill the gaps. I am also planning on a couple more “trees” using this method, but with ficus burtt-davyi and ficus salicifolia. I’ve taken cuttings of those as well as seen below.
I finally had some time–and enough rooted cuttings–to get my latest “tree” underway.
As described in my December 21, 2013 post, I am using a new method this time. Instead of a wire frame and twist ties, I chose to use a wooden cone and nails. This should result in less scarring. All individual plants are cuttings from the same tree, so they are genetically identical. I attached the cone to a tile in order to develop flat roots.
I have to say–assembly was much easier and faster with this method. I used a small bit to drill pilot holes through the trunks and into the wooden cone. Nailing to the cone was then super easy. As you can see I will need more rooted cuttings to fill gaps, but it should be a breeze to add them along the way. Notice the roots have been arranged radially on the tile, so as they develop it should give pleasing nebari. I used organic soil for moisture retention, and also because it will be easier to wash away when I add more cuttings than if I had used the inorganic bonsai soil that I have on hand.
Placing this guy in the shade for a couple weeks, then it’s sun, water, and fertilizer time.
I will be trying a new (for me) method in the new year as soon as I can propagate enough ficus via cuttings.
From now on I’m going to make a point to only use identical genetic material in each fusion project. I’ll probably use a seed warming mat and try to root microcarpa cuttings in water as I’ve done before.
Anyhow, I searched for a while to find a cone-shaped, solid wood base to serve as the shape of a future tree. You’d never think such a thing would be so difficult to find. I plan to use small finish nails this time as another enthusiast demonstrates in his blog.
I’m also going to screw the cone to a tile from underneath. I should be able to develop an awesome nebari from the very start this way.
Excited for the project. Stay tuned ….