A Custom Pot for My Ficus Tree Bonsai Plant Microcarpa Part 1

After an online meeting with Stephan from Germany, we have decided to make a 3D printed pot for my very first bonsai (My Ficus microcarpa) that started from a seed.

It has been exactly 11 days since the last video on this tree this tree is a ficus microcarpa that i grew from a seed and it’s 28 years old now this winter i defoliated the tree and i’m managing the growth that’s coming in now in the last video i did a lot of shoot selection keeping the branches i wanted and removing the ones i didn’t want i also root pruned and repotted the tree this winter getting all my radial roots all sorted out getting rid of a lot of crossing roots sorting the root structure out the soil at the moment is piled up kind of high to make sure all those roots are safely in the soil and i have some rocks holding down some of the roots so they’re not sticking out of the soil i also mentioned that this pot was starting to look a little small under the tree and i was kind of searching for a new pot and i found some really nice ones but they’re really expensive even though this tree is 28 years old it’s just starting to make that transition from development where i’m developing the trunk and branch structure to the refinement stage where i’m starting to refine all the branch tips and you know fine tuning the tree for aesthetics i was looking around for that perfect pot for the tree one a little bigger in dimensions a little deeper to match the thickness of the trunk and i found some really nice ones by some north american potters uh they’re quite expensive they’re you know getting up to that six to eight hundred dollar range for you know a fairly large pot um and i thought about it i i thought about seriously and uh then stefan approached me stefan sent me those 3d printed pots uh those really nice ones with some of the metallic finishes on them and some really really nice pot so he approached me he said have you ever thought of a 3d printed pot for this tree and i i hadn’t really considered a 3d printed pot just because it’s fairly large and i don’t have a 3d printer that can print a large pot like this so stefan was willing to tackle that project and so the process of designing and creating a pot maybe the perfect pot for this tree started i had an online meeting with stefan and it was really nice to talk to him face to face even though it was electronic but it was good to meet him and i discussed you know what i was looking for in the pot and what came to mind was some of these vietnam style pots that i had created in the past where i 3d printed them painted them up to look like cement and i was thinking well if i was to design a pot for this tree maybe a vietnam style pot would be the pot i would choose so that got me thinking well maybe i can just take that design i had on the four legs and scale it up i’ll show you what i’m talking about here’s a look at one of my vietnam style pots that i modeled up in 3d and got 3d printed it sits on four columns there’s holes in the bottom of the pot and there’s kind of a drip tray underneath and i really like this i think not only is it practical but i think it looks nice especially with these ficus trees so i thought i’ll take some photographs of this pot and i’ll do a photo mock-up to see what it would look like underneath my very first ficus tree so i did that now i’ll show you those [Music] i’m really glad i did that photo mock-up i played around with the proportions of the pot increasing the thickness the size of the pot the height of the columns and it kind of fine-tuned the eventual design of the pot there’s a ladybug in here on top of the jade cruising around eating insects can you see them there it’s really good i’ve had trees with aphids on them before and i brought a ladybug in from outside and it strips the aphids off in overnight and you get rid of your aphid problems so it’s just amazing and so it’s always good to bring a few ladybugs in your plant room and they’ll they’ll eat a ton of insects the photo montage also showed me that on those tall columns the overall composition looked way too tall i have a tall tree and the tall columns it just looked too high it looked unstable so i shortened those columns up in the in the photographs and it looked a lot better it was looked very stable so the other thing i had to do is i had to think of the future of this tree how much will it grow in the next you know five years so i’ve got to design my pot for the future growth of this tree if i make it the perfect size right now as the tree grows in the next few years maybe that pot will look too small so i’ve got to make the pot a little larger so the tree kind of grows into the pot i see many ficus trees that grow a little larger every year and they get larger and larger and there’s some point in time you’ve got to say okay i can’t let this tree get any larger because i mean they’ll grow so large that it becomes impractical you can’t fit them through doorways you can’t put them in your car to take to shows a ficus tree any tree will grow into a full-sized tree if you keep letting it grow so there’s a certain point in time with a bonsai that you say okay i’m not going to let it get any larger than this and then your techniques have to change because now you’re starting into replacing thicker branches with thinner ones to keep the tree to size and it’s kind of nice when you get to that stage that you know your trees refined and you want to kind of keep it that size and shape so again let your techniques have to change you start out trying to grow your tree develop it and you’re looking for a good strong growth and then when you get into the refinement stage you want that growth to slow down so you get finer branching uh tighter internodes a fine crown on your tree and then eventually you’ve got to start i mean it’ll still grow a little each year so you’ve got to eventually start replacing branches so you know cutting branches back developing new shoots to the outer part of the canopy otherwise the whole tree structure gets too thick looking all these new shoots that are really fine right now will thicken up and you’ll you may get the right size of the tree but you’re your growth won’t go from thick at the branch junction here or the branch origin to thin out at the branch tips and that’s what you’ll want in a branch it’s going from thick to thin as the branches on the outer part of the canopy start thickening up you’ve got to start removing them and replacing them with buds further back on the branch to keep that fine branching on the outside profile of your canopy so yeah techniques change as the tree change through throughout the years generally speaking with a bonsai matching the tree to the pot the height of the pot is usually about the thickness of the trunk now on this tree what is the thickness of the trunk because you know it’s really wide at the root base here it kind of tapers up all the way to the top so you know where do you measure the thickness of the trunk and i would say probably somewhere in the middle somewhere about here so that’s the thickness of my trunk and you can see my pot is quite a bit shallower and it looks kind of out of place the pot looks too shallow at the moment i do have a lot of soil piled up here eventually the soil will be down to the kind of the height of the pot so right now it looks kind of mounded which also makes the tree look too large for the pot or the pot too small for the tree so eventually that soil will get raked away and you know you’ll see the soil won’t be bulging out of the pot making the pot look too small so i do want to increase the thickness of the pot i want to match the thickness of the trunk a little more and i think i want the overall proportions of the pot to be a little larger not a whole lot but a little both in width and in length so those are the kind of rough dimensions i’m going for a higher pot than this a little longer and a little wider at the moment the canopy i i pruned it back and the new growth is just starting to come in so the canopy doesn’t look heavy at all on this tree in fact it looks very light and airy and that’s kind of deceiving because as this canopy fills in and grows a bit this summer you’re going to see the mass of the canopy get very heavy which will also make the pot look less significant it’ll make the pot look smaller so that’s another reason why i’m going wider in the pot and and longer because as this canopy grows out and it will grow out probably a third wider than this i want the pot to match you know that fully developed canopy a lot of people might say well why would i put a plastic pot under a tree and uh you know that’s what you do for training trees is put plastic pots under them uh the reason is that bonsai is kind of a marriage between the pot and the tree uh i developed this tree from a seed and i’d also like to put my input in on the pot so the overall composition the pot in the tree has more of meat in it so it’s kind of what i like i like this in a tree and i like this in a pot so it allows me that kind of my artistic sense to guide the entire project i guess whether the pot is made of plastic or clay or metal doesn’t really matter to me um what matters is the aesthetics of it and the functionality of the pot i don’t think clay is any more valid a medium than plastic or wood or metal i think you can use whatever you want to make your pot some people use a slab that’s just putting your tree on a stone some people want a nice japanese clay pot that looks good too some people have metal pots that looks fine you can use whatever you want it’s it’s like saying you know if you’re painting you can only use oil paints you can’t use acrylic that’s that’s not acceptable that’s that’s artificial or you can only use watercolor paints or egg tempera you know saying that one form of art is more valid than another and plastic is a medium it’s a modern method of uh a modern material i guess and uh to say it’s not valid is that’s like saying you can’t use aluminum when you’re making a car because it’s not made of steel or you know you can’t use plastic on your car because that’s that’s not how cars should be made they should be made of steel um that’s a bad analogy but um yeah it’s it’s a modern technique 3d printing it’s a modern technique and i like it it’s i think it’s a technique that’s here to stay it allows me to design print any size pot in any style pot i want and i don’t have to be a potter i don’t have to fire it in a kiln and a lot of people say well it’s not environmentally friendly 3d printing pots well you look at how much energy goes into firing clay pots in a kiln the transportation costs from going from asia over to north america you’ve got to mine the clay out of the ground you’ve got to refine it so you know there’s costs associated with everything environmental costs and i think the environmental costs of a plastic pot that’ll last you the rest of your life is not that significant compared to the cost of a clay pot which may also last you the rest of your life but there’s tremendous energy required in firing the pot and you know everything has a cost environmental cost and to say clay is more environmental than plastic maybe in some areas maybe in other areas not um yeah so yeah i don’t think there’s anything wrong with using a plastic pot in bonsai as long as it looks good it’s that’s the end result is it has to look nice with the tree uh doesn’t matter what it’s made of it’s just gotta enhance the look of the tree or complement the tree and if it does that it’s a successful pot in my view and it also has to be functional it has to be you know strong enough to pick the tree up and hold the tree in the container and yeah hold the soil so functional and aesthetics make the perfect pot since the last video on this tree a lot of new shoots have grown in a lot of new shoots have extended so today i’m going to be doing further shoot selection on the top of the tree keeping what i want and removing the ones i don’t i may also be pinching some of the stronger shoots back to kind of balance the vigor on the upper canopy here’s a look at the upper canopy kind of see the density yeah so there’s a lot of new stuff growing in it’s still as i said light and airy but that’ll fill in quite a bit in the next few weeks here’s an example of a branch i’ll be pruning today so you can see i have two nice lateral branches here going side to side and then on top i have a shoot sticking straight up and another one at the tip here that’s kind of quite vertical so these shoots are strong enough now that i can prune that branch back and just keep the two two growing tips removing this vertical one printing this one off and keeping my two branches so my one branch divides into two in this area of the tree i’ve got all kinds of branches this one crosses on top of the other branch so i’ve got to do a lot of thinning i’ve got you know multiple shoots coming out in the same direction here so i’ve just got to sort the structure out so everything can grow in nicely for the future here’s another branch i’ve got a shoot growing straight up i’ve got another shoot growing across the other branch here there’s a chute from another branch over here that’s crisscrossing everything so i’ll just be sorting everything out i still have new shoots coming in on this tree here’s a branch with some new shoots that are just starting to grow in so that’s happening all over the tree is that i’m getting new shoots growing everywhere as the tree gains bigger as i guess as the roots are starting to grow it’s gaining vigor and it’s getting all these new shoots all over the canopy i’ve also got a lot of shoots that are growing in towards the tree so that instead of fanning out creating a nice fan shaped structure in the canopy there’s a lot of shoots that are growing in towards the center crisscrossing other branches so i’ll have to clean all that out yeah but it’s very exciting getting all these new shoots growing in it’s just fantastic i’m going to work away at the tree now i don’t think the tree will look a whole lot different when i’m done but it’ll just you know make it look better for the future so yeah here i go i’m going to start the pruning sorting out the branch structure so i am going to start on this branch here i’m going to remove this upright tip here looking good like that yeah so i’ll keep going with the pruning and we’ll come back and see what the tree looks i don’t think it’ll look a whole lot different but uh we’ll come back when you’re pruning your tree make sure you look at it from all angles look at it from above below give it a good thorough check over make sure all your branches are kind of developing in the right directions it’s easy to miss something you don’t have to do it all at once but uh yeah give it a good thorough examination there’s a shoot there i don’t want yeah so i’m always looking for areas of congestion too where it’s just getting too dense in one area and you need to thin it out well that is getting very close i may have missed the odd branch here and there but i’ve got most of them it’s not developing a shoot there’s a stub there i can remove yeah that’s got the tree cleaned up pretty good i don’t know if it looks any different but i took a fair amount off i’ll show you what what i pruned off here’s a look at the amount of foliage i pruned off it doesn’t look like much but there’s not a whole lot on the tree either so this is probably a quarter of what was there i would think so you know fairly fairly significant pruning i’ll spin the tree around so you can see what it looks like from all angles so this is the front so coming around to the right side to the back [Music] the left side [Music] and back to the front i really appreciate stefan reaching out to me helping me develop this 3d printed pot i think it’s going to look fantastic i’ll keep you updated with the developments of the pot in the future i’ll put the link to stefan’s website in the description below i’ve really enjoyed every stage in development of this tree right from a little seed when it first sprouted out of the soil to developing it into something that looks like a mature ficus there’s lots more development to come to this tree in the future so it’ll be exciting continuing the journey seeing a tree go from a seed to kind of a mature looking bonsai that’s all for today i’m nigel saunders thanks for joining me in the bonsai zone [Music] you

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