Watch me Create a Ficus Bonsai on a Rock
Today we’re going to be working on this massive Ficus. It’s actually going to be part one of a two-part Series. This tree was acquired not too long ago and oddly enough there’s a Green Island Ficus on top of a ficus benjamina.
So today we’ll be removing this and planting it over a rock, hey everybody.
We have a big challenge in front of us today, we’ll be working on this massive Ficus. Before we start, though, I have another challenge for you guys.
Like I said, today, we’re going to be working on this Ficus, but oddly enough, when it was purchased, there’s a little surprise inside looks like a little bird’s nest, almost but the former owner when he cut off the top.
Actually, I think to hide the scar planted another Ficus, but not the same species. He planted a Green Island Ficus on top of a ficus benjamina, which I’m not too crazy about that concept. So today, I’m going to remove it and see how what we can do with this tree.
I think we’re actually going to plant it on a rock okay. So that’s that’s what the project is for today, at another time, I’ll be working on on the main tree and we’ll see what we can do with that so uh I I, since I didn’t do it.
I have to see what’s going on here, so we’ll be removing this fagna Moss and sing what we can find under there there’s some already. I thought I would find some there’s some wire holding on the other tree.
So we’ll cut that off. We want to liberate the Green Island Ficus from the trunk of The Ficus benjamina, without harming too many roots, I’d like to leave the roots as long as possible, so that um, if we do plant it over a rock I’ll, be able to have long roots to Drape down in the fissures of The Rock now there are this uh here’s a a big root going into the ground, so we’ll have to we’ll have to get this route out here.
I think it’s actually going in quite deeply. It’S coming out there. We are this one is freed. We just have to keep it wet, so we’ll spray it a bit here, while we’re working Ficus are fun trees to work on, because uh you can remove actually remove quite a few roots and they’ll survive it.
Always find the appropriate rock
So here we go get some of the wire off of this and see what it looks like okay. Well, this here is just what I thought it would be. It’S it looks like it’s a cascading tree, so we’re going to take advantage of that.
We’re going to find an interesting Rock wherever I go, I always try to collect a few rocks and we’ll try to match it off to the Rock. We’re going to train the roots down just want to trim it a little bit, so we can see it a little bit better.
The challenge is always to find the appropriate rock. You have to have a lot of them and you have to try to try to match it up with the roots of the tree. So sometimes you have to have quite a few and you play around with it until you find the appropriate sized Rock there’s.
One branch there that I didn’t like the way it was moving so we’ll bring it over here to fill in that empty space. Okay, so here we are now. This is only a preliminary cut, probably once it’s on the rock I’ll be removing some other branches, but for now this is what it’s going to look like on the rock.
The next challenge is finding a rock we’ll also maybe take the spicus off the table so you’ll be able to concentrate what I’m doing on what I’m doing here now next step is choosing the appropriate rock.
This tree was trained into sort of a cascading style and we want to keep that vibe going okay, so I’ve whenever you’re trying to match tree in a rock, it’s really hard to harmonize the the two of them.
You need a lot of rocks. So here’s some from my Myriad collection of rocks. They come from everywhere. Let’S look at the tree on this one first, this one here is a rock from China. The only thing is, I think, of it stays wet.
It might degrade a bit and there’s no real good pocket. If I put it on this side, I’d be hiding the interesting part of the Rock and um we’d see the back of the tree. So we’re going to eliminate this White Rock, which I really didn’t want anyway, because it’s too soft I want to rock with this very hard on the Mohs scale.
It should be at least a six or so seven. Now this is an interesting rock. It comes from in Quebec, here, okay from a river in Quebec, and it has a bit of a pocket right here where we could put the tree, but the trouble is it doesn’t have any good channels for for the rules.
Now it has a channel here, but this is the prettiest part of the Rock and we would be hiding it if we planted the tree there. You have to take into consideration the Aesthetics of the rock also, and it just wouldn’t suit it, because you’d be hiding the best part of this rock.
So that’s out of the question now here here is a slightly smaller rock um. We could sit it. It’S sort of like a Mesa, you know in in the southwest, and we do have have a fissure here that we could train The Roots down, but all in all I don’t know it the tree, it doesn’t excite me.
It just looks like a tree sitting on a big Square slab of stone and, as the roots grow over it, you won’t even see the stone very much there’s no saddle also for the tree to sit on it. Doesn’T excite me? No, so let’s forget about that.
Okay, now here, here’s one that we could have a nice fissure here and we could actually there’s no there’s no natural space to plant the tree. We can try it the other way. This rock okay, here again, there’s no natural saddle that I could put the tree on and I don’t like to have trees sitting on top of a rock.
It just looks too artificial, okay, so that one’s eliminated – okay, we’ll go to these two smaller rocks. Both of them came from Lake Canandaigua, which is in the Finger Lakes region in Upper New York state.
Now this one’s interesting okay, this one is real pretty and I think I think we could sit the rock right here. Uh the tree right here on the Rock and bring it over. The only thing is the rock is short, so the cascading Branch would from the get-go would be sitting almost on top of the ground.
That interests me less because I wanted to emphasize the cascading aspect of this Ficus. Although the rock is well suited to the tree, I just think it’s too small. Okay. This also is another rock from Lake Canandaigua, but it’s there’s no natural way of sitting it.
I could put it on this rock um, but I’d have to make a cement base or cut the base to sit it on the Rock and if I cut it, it’s going to be too short, so I think I’m going to pass this one over so now I have two other rocks this this one here and this one here these these came from far away this one here and this one here came from Vancouver, Island and they’re, actually very, very similar to the yin Tak stones from Southern China.
They actually a few hundred million years ago. They were it, they were found in the same place and gradually the continents broke up and one part floated up to Canada off of the Canadian Coast and the other part uh line it up in southern China.
So these rocks are really exciting. Okay, I didn’t collect them myself. I bought them from a Stone Collector there. This one here um. I bought them actually as gong Shi as a Chinese collar stones, but I don’t think they’re good enough to be a good Gunk sheep.
Now this is a flat part of the stone here I could plant the tree there, although it’s pretty high up and train The Roots through this fissure, but I think the holes are what make the rock interesting and this rock doesn’t have a good base.
So I’m going to try the other one and we’ll see how that one works out. These are very, very hard rocks they’re on the most scale, I think they’re, like eight or nine posted diamonds, and this one here is beautiful.
It’S a beautiful stone and um. It can be, it can be set many ways it could be used this way here. It could be used. This way here make a really interesting. This one would make a really good sweet, Seiki, okay, yeah beautiful Stones uh.
I paid a lot for them yeah, but look at look at this nice saddle here and on the perfect side for this tree. So if I could fit the tree right in there and train that root right down the fissures and train these roots, I would say that this this tree and this Stone are made for each other.
I’M sure that this this is going to be a marriage made in heaven. So this is the stone I’m going to use by the way a good example of a stone planting. Is this lovely little boxwood right here on a yingtak stone? The Roots were trained over the yingtak stone.
Many many years ago, you’ve got a nice little shimpaku at the base. The movement of the tree reaching outwards from the the cliff the stone representing a cliff is just gorgeous um and a good choice of tokonami oval pot.
The same color as the yingtak stone. This is a great little planting. Okay, folks, I’m back! If you’re wondering about the change of clothing, it’s because today is voting day here in Quebec, so I went out and did my Duty as a citizen.
Okay, so we’re back here now I’m preparing the um, the keto keto is actually the common name is Pete muck. It’S made from a combination of uh Pete, muck uh with academa dust in about 25 percent of long fibrous, phognum thrown in so I’m just.
I just added a bit of water to soften it up. It has to be about the consistency of uh. Oh I’d, say um just about like cement, so here here is actually um. I put too much water in so I’m going to add a little bit of of academic dust, so I’ll be able to harden it off a bit.
You have to be careful about when you’re, adding water. I was a bit too generous, so, okay, I think it’s going to work now be able to make like um a tennis size ball out of it. This is just about the right consistency here.
As you can see, I can make a little balls out of it. Like that, so that means it’s it’s good, okay! So now, let’s get our Rock ready! This is our Rock now we’re going to put a layer of peat muck on the Rock, because I don’t want the roots lying directly on the Rock Roots need to absorb humidity and minerals in the humidity in the and it’s the soil that keeps it in reserve.
So if it’s directly on the Rock The Rock’s hard so uh, there won’t be enough nutrients for our plant okay. So I’m going to be tying tying The Ficus to The Rock. I could anchor it with copper wires, but in in almost no time the the tree will uh will really cling to The Rock.
So I’m just tying the first, the very first piece of rock now to get the peat mop to to attach to the rock your rock has to be moist, at least where you’re putting the peat muck. So I’ve moistened, The Rock and now we put a very thin layer of peat muck where we’re going to place the plant and The Roots I’ll be training.
The Roots down through these fissures there’ll be another layer of this peat going over the top, but this bottom layer is very, very important. Don’T forget that, because otherwise, if their roots are just sitting on that hard rock, they can’t get up.
They can’t get any nutrients. Now we’re not covering the nicest part of the rock we’re covering the boring part of Rock of The Rock, and you don’t want to put too much of this peat muck, just a thin layer where the tree and the roots are going to go okay.
So this is ready, let’s get our tree as you can see. While I was gone, I kept the roots moist, I wrapped it in a plastic bag. You don’t want to leave it sitting there. The Roots will dry out and it will die.
So now we’ve got the tree. It has a nice flat root system. That’S what inspired me to um to think about putting it on a rock, usually what I love doing: Rock plantings and usually um I’ll use, trees that I’ve air layered off of um other trees, because they have very thin flexible roots and that’s what you need a Tree with thin flexible Roots, so now we’re going to get it right in there in this little saddle, we have to get it in real tight, real, real, tight now now this long route here in the front, this is the root we’re going to train down into This fissure, we have two fissures.
We can decide which one, I think it’s good the best one would be this one here so here you can see I’m tucking it into the into the peat muck right here. Now it’s a very hard rock, so the roots will never get they’ll get big and fat, but they’ll never be able to break the rock, which is an advantage to using a rock with a very, very hard texture.
Okay. So now, once it’s on the Rock, I have to tie it very very tightly to The Rock I just want here we go. This is one end. Okay, so now we start the tying part. You have to make sure it’s nice and it’s well placed, and here we go in the end, I’m going to tuck The Roots under the rock, also because the roots, if they’re not tucked under the root, the rock, can get very, very um strong and push against The bottom of the pot and push the the tree off the Rock – and I don’t want that – okay, so it has to be really really tight to The Rock.
Sometimes if the roots don’t want to go into the Fishers. What I do is, I I have pieces of cork and I’ll actually stuff the cork into the Fishers to to block The Roots into it. Now that I just cut my cord okay, there we go, Ficus have very strong roots, they’re, probably one of the best subjects to do rock plantings with when you travel in Asia, Encore Tom or even the streets of Hong Kong.
You see these tremendous Ficus with their Roots growing over Cliffs and buildings and going through sidewalks even there’s the roots are so strong, there’s they’re literally just so impressive. You really have to make sure it’s it’s tight.
There we go. Okay, now we’ll tie the other end. Here, thank you. Okay, we’ll cut off the excess cord here. Okay, just want to tie one last piece of cord to keep it sitting higher up. This cord is, as is a butcher’s twine.
It’S pure cotton, so um it’ll, eventually just rot away in a few months by then the tree should be well attached to the um to the Rock. The Roots will have grown into place. That’S why you want to use a cord that will disintegrate.
It has to be pure, pure cotton or jute twine. It can’t be it. It can’t have any nylon in it all right. So now that we’ve got a tree attached to the The Rock now we want to work in more keto cover all the roots with Keto.
We also want to make sure that the roots don’t cover the interesting part of the rock these streaks of white quartz make the rock look very interesting, so those are features that you want to keep you don’t want to hide any of the best part of your Stone foreign and you really have to press in with your fingers to make sure that that keto soil is in contact with the roots, so the roots will not be sitting in air.
The Roots will be able to absorb humidity very important that it’s there’s a tight fit in there, foreign okay, now we’ll get around to the back here. We’Ll tie the back down right here and put some of the cover.
Some of this part up here cover these roots in the back, the back’s, not so important in the back. I don’t think many people will see, but it still has to be well done. So this is where we’re working our soil in now.
The problem with this Pete muck is that um it doesn’t want to stay on the rock it falls off. So we’ll show you, in a few moments a little trick that we use to keep the Moss to keep the soil on the stone we’re almost there.
Okay, we might just have one little root. That’S sticking out we’ll tuck that one in now we have two choices. We could keep this tree permanently on the Rock above the ground uh, but Ficus like a lot of humidity and the roots are very, very um strong.
So I think our best bet with this tree – this rock planting – is actually going to be to put it into a pot, so the roots will grow in Bonsai soil in our pot and that way we’ll make sure that the tree Will Survive.
We will train some of the branches downwards and okay, A bit more match them off to the Rock better, to keep the the peat muck on the Rock we’re going to have to resort to Moss, we’ll hold it on with moss.
So let me get a tray of moss here, it’s right behind me. Any short Moss will do, and what we want to do is remove some of the excess soil from it, because we want a really really um it to stick to the the keto and sometimes where the place is very straight, where the rock is is really a Straight drop to the ground, we might have to um to pin the Moss to the keto.
The keto is very sticky, so the Moss will stick to it, especially if we we really press it into the keto and one little um word of advice here when you’re doing Rock plantings keep the pieces of moss as big as possible.
It’S like sheets, because that that Moss, that’s, that large sizes of moss will really hold the keto in better, so I’m using a very large piece of moss. So again you want to you want very, very large pieces, the larger, the better remove all the old soil.
Otherwise, it won’t want to attach itself to the new soil. Now, as I’ve said in the past, you must remember: Moss does not have Roots so we’re pushing it into the keto, we’re pushing it in there so it’ll hold now.
This will not only hold the keto in place when your soil is when you’re Rock planting is watered, but also the other advantage to that is that it will keep the roots, nice and moist and Ficus love the the humidity they like to have moist roots, not Wet moist here I’ve got a big piece of moss and this piece this sheet is so large that I think there’s a straight drop in the back here and the straight drops are very hard to um, keep the keto on it.
So I’m going to use this very long piece here and bring it straight down to the ground. Okay, here we go foreign. You really have to mash this Moss into the kettle so that it will follow every Contour of your rock every single Contour and hold all of this Kettle in place.
Also, okay, so we’ll need one other piece of muscle or maybe two other pieces here now. This is just Moss that was collected from other trees and um. I actually keep it for future transplantings. I grow it in little.
Trays keep just on one sheet of newspaper and it grows very well when I’m watering the Bonsai I’ll Water, the Moss. So I always have a supply of moss ready for any emergency and that, I think, is important too you always when you’re doing Bonsai you have to be prepared.
You always have to have you know, sort of contingency planning, because there’s so much that can go wrong when you’re doing Bonsai, so you really do have to be ready, and one last piece up here is that going to be large enough? I think I’m going to take one larger piece rather than several smaller ones.
As I said the largest pieces, I can find the better it is. You can either use scissors or a little knife to cut all the excess soil from the bottom of the Moss. Again. I’Ve mentioned it in past: videos Moss does not have Roots, so you don’t have to worry about cutting off roots and killing.
Your Moss roots attach themselves themselves to soil with what are called rhizomes and that’s why you have to really press it in, because there’s no roots that are going to grow into this soil, the Moss will just be attached to it.
Oops foreign, sometimes I’ll, add little ferns, but this rock is not that large and I don’t think ferns would be particularly appropriate because it would take away from the smaller leaves. So I think I I’m just going to just keep it this way.
I’Ll just pin on one or two pieces just show you how to do it, so this here is basically uh. Two millimeter aluminum wire and I’ll just grab a little piece here and make you make a little pin like this little u-shaped pin right there.
Okay, you can see it the other way here and and then not too long, because there’s not not that much keto on the Rock and then you can just pin your Moss temporarily. You won’t you, don’t even see it though, and uh you pin the Moss onto the rock, so it won’t fall off and press down it’ll hold it.
You can put as many of these as you want on your rock, especially where it’s it. It falls pretty straight. It’S a steep drop there’s where the Moss can risks coming off. So you don’t want you don’t want that now, I’ll put one in the back here where the Steep drop is right here I generally put them on horizontally.
It’S a bit too long. This one, the rock, is very or the soil, is very shallow here, so I’ll cut it a bit shorter just to hold the yeah there. We go good, good, good, good. Okay, now um, I think, as I said, the best solution to keeping this tree happy is actually to um.
Not it would grow on the Rock, but you just have to water, pretty often in uh, not sure that everybody especially indoors wants to do that. So in this case, what we’re going to do is put it into a bonsai pot I’ll, just clean the muck off the table and go and get some Bonsai soil to repotting.
I’Ve chosen a pot for the rock planting, as I say, we’re going to train the roots down into the soil, so that’ll always serve as a reserve of humidity and nutrients for the tree in the future. Now I’m just anchoring some um drainage hole covers just plastic covers that are mesh and we’re attaching it to the bottom of the pot, the other one.
Also so we’re going to turn and turn you have to make your space the same distance as the hole. So you have to sort of after a while, you get to judge it pretty well, there’s always a flat side to the screening.
Also. So in this case, I feel it out. In fact, I can take off these gloves now, which I find it a hindrance and attach now I don’t want the rock to jiggle around in the pot, so I’m actually going to put a couple of anchoring wires through the pot, so I can hold the Rock In place, sometimes if it’s really unsolid, if it’s a really if it’s unstable, if it’s a high Rock, sometimes I’ll, even drill a little hole through the Rock and wire it into the Rock, but generally it should say, stay pretty this one’s relatively stable.
So it should be pretty good. I like the um. I like the uh, the hollow the going through the bottom of the Rock. I think it’s pretty cool. It lands an air of mystery to the Rock. So that’s pretty interesting.
Okay, now we’re going to put a tiny bit, of course in the bottom, not too much the pot’s very shallow, so you just maybe want one granule deep, not very much at all. We set the rock in the tray now. A really important thing to remember is you don’t want to Center The Rock in this case visually to balance it I’m going to move the rock to the far end of the pot to the far left, and I want it leaning slightly forward also so foreign here.
I’Ve just leaned it forward tucking The Roots into the into the pot in the back. It’S almost touching the back of the pot. That’S okay! That’S fine! That doesn’t bother me at all. That’S okay! Now we’re going to try to find a way to Anchor it.
So it’s not going to move I’ve attached the wire over a little ledge in this rock, so it’ll hold it now this this one here I will go through the center again using that little ledge here and attach at the base at the base of my rock Right here, okay, so now we tuck Our Roots in.
If they don’t want to stay, I can actually use some of the excess wire to to tuck them in hold them in place, cut them all underground here. Okay, so now we just have to add our finer. Our our medium sized potting mixture now Ficus just love growing in academa, so this is about 70 percent akadama uh from Japan and about the 30 percent is pumice.
We actually use a pumice that comes from France, that’s called chabasai, but you can use any pumice at all. Okay, so now we’re just putting some in here now. You don’t want to hide the base of your Stone and we want it to be tilted slightly forward toward the viewer.
So when I add some more medium size, I will tilt it forward. Here we go tuck some underneath there we go so now. It’S it’s moving forward, just want to tuck that Bonsai soil around the roots, although there’s only two the rest are under the peat muck, the peat muck will serve as a wick they’ll, follow the Piedmont down into this akadama.
In no time within a few weeks, the akadama will start filling in with um with The Ficus roots. So we don’t have to worry about that now. I might just put a little bit of moss at the base to form a continuity, so I’ll just wet this.
Now this wedding is just purely aesthetic, and so the Moss will attach to it as soon as this is um. As soon as I’m finished, I will put it in a a tray of water and let up to the rim of the pot and let it soak there for about 15 minutes to make sure that all the roots are well wetted down.
As I said, I just want to make it a little bit of continuity here, so I will put a little bit of moss at the base and after that we all finished. You never want to cover up the the bare parts of the Stone.
Those are the interesting parts, but I just want it to look natural as if the Rock has um the Moss is growing Down The Rock and into the soil, lower down just a little bit here. I don’t want to cover this beautiful rock with moss.
It’S just too beautiful we’re not going to touch the beautiful parts of the rock we just leave them, as is final placement. Now the tree is not perfectly wired. All the new growth is sticking up in the air.
So that’s another future project is to wire it down um to its new position. All of these have to be wired down. That’S a job! We’Re not going to do that today, but you will see it probably in the future.
You’Ll be able to follow its progress. I’Ll take away the tools and I think I think this is it folks. So I hope you enjoyed this little demonstration on um how to do a ficus Rock planting and don’t forget that uh.
My next video will be working on that humongous Ficus over over here and uh, transforming it into a really cool looking Bonsai, there’s a lot to do on that Ficus uh, but I think you’d see some major changes when I work on it.