New Year, New Method

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 ….




Trident Maple Fall (Winter?) Color

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?



Trident Update

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.







FrankenFicus; Let There be Roots!

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:

April 8:

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.

Maples in Spring

Well, spring is definitely here! Lots of leaves out and more on the way.

Trident Maple

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.

Amur Maple Seeds Sprouting!

The Amur Maple (acer ginnala) seeds that I collected last September and began stratifying last December are sprouting!

I used the same method that I detailed in my Japanese Maple Seedlings post.  Seems to work great–no mold, easy to identify the ones that have sprouted, remove them, and plant!  I check every week or so and remove them only once they’ve sprouted.  Anyway, see below for pictures:


As you might have seen in a prior blog post, I originally drilled the pictured tile for a trident maple fusion experiment. I used inorganic bonsai soil, and the roots were shielded from water by the tile. This combo resulted in the death of that experiment. I suppose I could have submerged the pot containing the tile and maples and bottom-watered … but I didn’t.

To recap the methodology–Using a tile or similar object results in trunk base flare above the tile, and new, horizontal root growth along the top of the tile. Not a new technique, but one that I haven’t pulled off yet.

Anyway, I’m now using this tile with some ficus microcarpa cuttings that I collected from a boulevard tree growing along a street in Santa Monica. Ficus microcarpa, ficus benjamina, and ficus elastica line the streets of most cities here in Southern California. I chose microcarpa for it’s leaf reduction possibilities, back budding and chop-friendly characteristics, fast growth, etc. Essentially all the reasons it’s liked by other bonsai enthusiasts.

Microcarpa also happens to root very well in water. I’ve tried with cuttings from the same donor tree with great results.

As you will see from the pictures, I have taken the cuttings and placed them in the star-shape-holed tile, and have submerged the cuttings partially in water. Once they all root, I will pot the tile and rooted cuttings in some cactus mix. The organics should allow water to saturate the root area even when top-watering. After I notice healthy top growth, I will remove the lower leaves and wrap the bundled stems. These things grow fast, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the stems/trunks begin swelling at their bases in a matter of months.

Pictures below. I also included one of the donor tree.