I’m keeping a few consistencies with this new project:
-Genetics: keeping identical donor material is a given here since this is one tree (ficus microcarpa rooted cutting). As mentioned before, I no longer plan to use seed-grown material because of genetic variability (manifesting in leaf shape and bark texture differences, for example). This tree will be comprised of one tree fused to itself, essentially;
-Tile method: growing on top of a tile has yielded nice, flat roots in other projects that should benefit the look of this tree later; &
-Wood cone: this method seems to be working well with an earlier project, so I will again use the wood base and small nails to fix the tree to the base.
New ideas being tried:
-Vertical growth: I have several ficus microcarpa “trees” that are growing straight up in very long, single-trunked styles. The occasional branching doesn’t seem to stop that single leader from growing straight up;
-Bendable: these trees are fairly pliable when young, and can be wound around a circular base as used here even when woody;
-Quick fusing: by winding the single trunk around the base–essentially coiling on top of itself–and securing with an occasional nail when there’s enough caliper (and “wood”) to hold it, I expect the trunk will fuse very quickly and completely. These trees also thicken considerably from the bottom-up, so the trunk should have a pleasing triangular silhouette when done;
-New Roots: once the tree trunk has been wound several times around the base and its roots have deepened, I will reorient the tree right-side-up and encourage rooting around the base with some organic soil and rooting hormone. Once I have grown enough roots, I will cut off (layer) the existing trunk and roots and develop the nebari on the tile; &
-Pumice: I’ve only recently starting using this as soil.
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.
Dug up my first Frankenficus yesterday, and was quite pleased about the tile successfully layering the rooted cuttings. It’s a nice spin on the tourniquet method that yields great, flat roots and basal flare. Notice how the tile cracked from the growth? There was also a large amount of root growth under the tile, and I gave them a substantial whack. This ficus went from a pot to one of my raised garden beds (you can see it here, to the right of the trident maple and behind the artichoke) about a year ago. It’s back in a large pot for at least the next year. I wrapped the cuttings with garden tape last summer to attempt fusion, by the way.
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 ….
Not sure why this is the first year that my maple tree(s) are exhibiting fall leaf color, but it’s nice to see reds and other colors instead of brown.
Do you have any hints to bring about more fall color in your maples?
My first Trident fusion “tree” began on January 1, 2011.
I planted it in the ground (raised garden bed) this past spring, and now (December 1, 2013) it’s 8′ tall. I haven’t pruned this tree at all, ever. There has been some good fusion on the front side, but obvious gaps elsewhere due to dead seedlings and lack of light received by the rear branches.
I plan to pull the tree in the late winter/early spring and place in a large RootMaker pot. This should allow better overall growth as I’ll be able to rotate throughout the growing season. I’ll also start some air layers in order to have material to fill the gaps. There are several branches that need to be removed, as they have fused fully and keeping them will only result in bigger scars.
I wrapped up the branches a couple weeks ago to make the tree easier to move in the spring. I was concerned about the branches lignifying and breaking.