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.
As you can read in my February 23, 2012 post, I’ve had good luck rooting ficus microcarpa cuttings in water. I had placed my latest fusing project outside, though, and after a month … no roots. The plants weren’t necessarily dying, but there weren’t really doing anything.
I figured water temperature was an issue since nightly temperatures are still in the 40s F. I brought the bowl inside and placed it on a seedling warming mat. Within about a week I had roots.
From February 23:
Some observations so far, many of which I was aware of but will repeat anyway:
- Smaller, green cuttings end up rotting.
- Woody stems seem to work best. I replaced a couple dead ones with new cuttings, but I need to get more to fill the tile holes.
- Bottom heat=good.
That’s it for now.
Well, spring is definitely here! Lots of leaves out and more on the way.
The trident was repotted a couple weeks ago before the leaves appeared in a wider pot. The roots needed a lot of trimming, and I carefully laid them out in a radial pattern from the trunk. I used cactus mix again for this season.
Amur Maple Seedlings
As you might have read in prior posts, I have a method that has worked very well for germinating maple seeds. These were the ones I collected in Santa Fe, NM. I keep them in the refrigerator, check for sprouting ones weekly, then plant them with the root down and the top of the samara pointed upwards.
Japanese Maple Seedlings
I planted these way late last year, and while some seem to have lost their leaves and gone dormant, others didn’t and are showing some new growth right now. It will be interesting to see how they do over the summer.