Tropical Bonsai Updates, Part 1, The Bonsai Zone

I’m updating all my tropical trees and working on any that require some pruning.

Today I work on my Schefflera clump style, my Pink Pixie Bougainvillea, my Ficus religiosa for Connor, my Norfolk Island Pine forest, my Fusion Ficus “FrankenFicus”, my “Too little leaf” Ficus, my root over temple Ficus, my tropical style Ficus and my Ficus lyrata.

Hi everyone nigel saunders here today i’m doing a massive tropical tree update i’m going to go through each one of my tropical trees and show you the current status of them for good or for bad i’ll be taking my tropical trees out and putting them one at a time on the turntable here and we’ll have a look at them and maybe do any minor adjustments if they need it the first tree i have out is my dwarf chef lara and you can see this side of the tree is facing the windows and gets the sunlight and you can see the growth is stronger on this side and this side of the tree is under the grow lights and the grow light is quite high above the table so the growth here is a little weaker maybe if i brought the light down lower i would get better growth on this side but you can see the difference you know the sunlight is definitely the best light for the tree however it looks healthy it’s doing well it’s not growing too wildly out of control at the moment so i think it’s ready for spring today i’ll just give it a good watering with some fertilizer mixed in my water and i think that’ll be it i don’t think there’s any cleanup much to do on it there is a little bit of debris that’s fallen down from the branches some of these stubs of the leaves that i removed when i leaf pruned it and top pruned it so i’ll just pick those out i’m going to give the tree a good watering now and i’ve mixed some fertilizer in with the water so it’s a bit of 20 20 20 mixed in and it’s just sort of a pinch of fertilizer so a very very weak solution and i give that to the tree every time i water it i do have a video on watering bonsai if you type in watering bonsai in youtube you’ll see it come up and it shows how i water my trees and how i fertilize them i call these spa days for my trees where i get them off the bench and i get them on the turntable so you can rotate them around and i give them a really good thorough watering and fertilizer inspection and a clean up and you know maybe a light pruning just to get them really good pamper them for a day my chiflera was quite dry so i’m watering it in stages i water the moss let it soak in give it another application and i’ll keep watering until the water starts coming out the drainage holes which is starting to do now so i’ll just give it one more watering and you got to water all over and all around the pot to make sure everything gets all the soil gets nicely soaked otherwise you know you’ll get dry spots in your soil and the roots the roots could die in that area so proper watering is really important there it’s coming out the drainage holes really nicely now all over my floor too but i’ll clean that up i uh i did a calculation on my other tree my ficus my very first bonsai it’s 28 years old and if i water it once a day i’ve watered that tree over ten thousand times and i know i water it more than once a day in the summer sometimes three times a day so i would say a more accurate estimate would be 15 to 20 000 times i’ve watered that tree so you kind of get pretty good at watering after a while you know practice makes perfect i’m looking at the tree from the front now just seeing if it needs any pruning to kind of equalize the vigor on the tree i don’t think it does it looks quite even to me i mean the area over here that’s in the sun is a little more vigorous but it’s only a few leaves it’s not you know there’s no shoots sticking out of the profile really wildly that i need to prune back so i think this tree can go back on the bench i’ve given it a good thorough watering fertilizer i inspected it for insects inspected it for overall health and vigor everything’s looking good with it i’ll put the tree back on the bench and when i do i’ll turn it around so the side that was facing the window will be more towards the grow light and the side that was under the grow light will be facing the window so that should kind of help equalize the growth a bit the next tree i have out is my pink pixie bougainvillea bonsai so it’s growing in really really dense up top uh you can’t i’ll show you a top view where you’re looking down at it and you can’t even see the branch structure it’s so the leaves are growing in so well that it’s just super dense so i’ve got to fix that otherwise i mean it’s growing really well it looks healthy i don’t see any insect problems with it yeah everything’s looking good it looks like it’s well watered yeah so i’ll show you that top view all right here we go let’s have a look at this so there’s a look down at the top and you can see in this area it’s just leaves upon leaves upon leaves very very dense so you can’t see any of the branch structure so i can do a little bit of work in this area you can also see it’s gaining vigor all these shoots are going in really well so i think i can knock back the vigor a bit by taking off some of the larger leaves doing a little thinning maybe the leaves that are pointing in towards the center of the tree can be removed to get a little light to the some of these lower branches just kind of even out the balance of the foliage all right i’ll come in with the pruners and so my plan of action i think i’ve got to remove some of the larger leaves they’re just too large and they’re blocking out all the light and you know this branch there’s nothing underneath it but there is branches down here and the leaves up here are blocking light from getting down to these you know the layers of branches below so definitely have to do some leaf removal um well let’s start let’s start with some of the larger ones these are the leaves that initially came in after it was pruned i’m trying to think did i defoliate this one let me go back and check i reviewed the videos of my pink pixie bougainvillea bonsai so i brought the tree in in fall where it lost almost all its leaves i i gave it a pruning a structural pruning and then it started growing back in and it grew really well and it got really dense up top so i did thin it once i removed all the leaves facing inwards on the tree i gave it a lot of tip pruning getting the vigor kind of balanced getting light to my lower branches and it’s at that stage again where it needs more thinning i think i’m going to start by removing those inward facing leaves that’ll open it up a bit and hopefully i can see it a little easier see the structure a little more easily so i can give it a better pruning sure is dense up top here it’s hard to even find where these leaves originate from it’s so dense i’ve had a lot of people ask me about my temple project um there are a lot of people who really like the project and then there are a lot of people who really dislike the project you know my whole purpose my channel is just to show what i’m doing in bonsai and sometimes it’s pruning trees like this and other times it’s making you know structures to put the trees on like my temple and maybe it’ll be 3d pot printed pot making and i read all the comments on the channel and you know sometimes it doesn’t matter how thick a skin you have and that sometimes the comments get to you um it’s not easy like i’ve seen other youtubers talk about this and they say it’s probably the only you know job or hobby in the world where everything you do gets criticized um and you know everything you do i would have done it this way and suggestions are helpful i’m not saying they’re not but it can get to you i guess that uh you know there’s some days maybe you feel like it doesn’t matter what you do you can’t do the right thing but i think you know you’ve just gotta take the attitude that you know this is my channel i’m doing what i want to do i’m not here to please the entire population of the world if you like what i’m doing you’ll follow the channel if you don’t like what you’re doing what i’m doing then you know you’ll follow someone else’s channel or follow some other hobby i guess i don’t know what i’m saying but anyway um back to the temple i will be getting back to making the temple and you know even though i wasn’t getting a lot of views at the temple i don’t really i’ve got to get it finished and there were a lot of people who were really interested in the project which was really nice to see a lot of people weren’t and they let me know about it but you know they don’t have to watch the channel i guess i mean it’s not like i wasn’t doing something multi-related like i can understand when i’m working on my trucks or not maybe it’s not for everyone it’s supposed to be a bold side channel or maybe it’s not anymore maybe it’s just my my daily routine recorded on video i don’t know but again i i you know you can’t please everyone we’re back to the front view and you can see this branch it it’s quite a large branch and it climbs skyward and i i don’t want it you know competing for the apex of the tree so i want to keep it kind of short and maybe a little more horizontal there is a future branch at the back here i’ll probably prune off this entire front section and just keep this one at the side here uh if you can see that right here this will become the new branch leader and this one here will get pruned off totally but for now i’m just going to keep the height of this branch down so there’s a couple of shoots there’s one sticking straight up here i’ll prune that back actually i’m going to remove that like that and there’s another one here sticking up and i’m going to prune it back to an outward facing chute back to here there’s another one growing on the inside here which i think i’ll keep because if i do remove this branch tip i’ll need this branch to be quite full and come forward so i will remove this tip here it’s getting too tall like that and i think that one’s okay i’ll move this leaf on the inside here i think that’s got that one branch pruned up pretty well it’s not going to get any taller it’s kind of fanning outwards and you can see all the structure so it’s getting light so yeah so i’ll do that for the rest of the tree just removing all those inward facing leaves pruning back any really vigorous tips thinning it out and we’ll come back and have a look at it before i get too involved in the pruning i’m going to give it a spray with soap and water i’ve noticed quite a few aphids on it so i want to get rid of that let it soak in while i’m pruning it and then i can rinse the tree off so here i go i’m just getting underneath the leaves for starters [Music] like that and then above the tree get that all sprayed down just like going to the car wash use the foaming brush so this should take care of the aphids they don’t like soap and water at all it kills them really quickly i guess my ladybug didn’t get over to this tree so that should do it that’s good and soak down all these other leaves i’ve pruned off i’ll get those in a plastic bag so the aphids can’t spread to other trees and that should take care of the problem at least for now and again if you notice a problem on your trees treat it right away the longer your weight the bigger the problem gets and you could start losing your trees and i know from experience i put off you know scale insects removing them you keep putting it off and then you notice your tree’s starting to decline in health you start to remove all the scale insects and it’s too late the tree gets so weak it dies so it’s best to take care of the problem when you first notice it i’ve let the bougainvillea soak with the soap and water on it for a while so now i’m going to give it a thorough rinsing so here i go and i’ll make sure i wash all the soap out of the soil get all the leaves washed off get underneath underneath the leaves [Music] here [Music] and that should do it that’s pretty well rinsed off just like that after spraying the tree down the soap and water and rinsing it it’s back to pruning i finished the leaf pruning on my bougainvillea so let’s go above now and have a look down at it i think you’ll see a big difference in density so there’s looking down at it now you can see all the branches they’re all getting light yeah looks much better the bougainvillea looks really nice it’s in the sunshine just beautiful so i’ll put that back on the bench i think it’s had its spa day for today and we’ll get out the next tree the next tree for today is my ficus religiosa the one i’m giving to connor in the last video i gave it a good root pruning repotted it into a new pot new soil and now it’s leafing out which is really good to see here’s a look at the tree up close so there’s several sprouts here there’s three there’s a couple over here there’s three on the apex here and this branch it looks like there’s one coming out down below here nothing in this area so maybe the top part of that branch has died well there’s a chute there so it looks like the branch lived and these buds are in really good positions to radiate outwards from the center of the tree so everything’s looking really good on this tree i think connor is going to get a good one the next trees are my norfolk island pine forest and it too is starting to bud out after its last pruning here’s a look at the top of the trees you can see there’s a new shoot here there’s one developing here that’s a new shoot there’s one here coming one down here one here one at the tip here so it’s just starting to butt out all over which is really exciting to see there is one little branch that died back here i could prune that off so i will do that if you can see that like that there’s a few needles that have gone brown those are just old needles that’s perfectly normal yeah so it looks like it’s doing really well it’s growing in now so we’ll give it a good watering all right here i go with the water and fertilizer give it a nice thorough watering on this sunny day so nice to see the sun out there’s so many rumors with these norfolk island pines on the internet people saying oh you can’t prune them or they’ll die you can’t repot them you can’t root prune them or they’ll die and you know sometimes you just gotta find out for yourself don’t believe everything you read on the internet try things experiment and you’ll find that maybe you know there is good techniques for some of these trees and you can make them into a nice bonsai and i’ve seen some nice norfolk island pine bonsai so they they can definitely be made into a bonsai all right that’s a good watering ah look at that sunshine on them that’s fantastic i’ll put the norfolk island pines back on the bench and we’ll get out the next tree at the start of the video i i said i’d bring out each tree even if it’s doing poorly or if it’s doing really well or somewhere in between so let’s get out some of the ones that are kind of borderline and we’ll talk about them i’m going to start with my ficus benjaminus and i’ve always said that you know if the tree’s growing really vigorously and it’s healthy and you cut it back hard like really hard it’s rare that you’ll actually lose the tree but you know the new growth may not come in where you want it and it’s very unpredictable you might lose large branches but usually the tree lives in some form and that’s what’s happened with my ficus benjaminus the trees are living but the results maybe not what i expected or what i wanted my first ficus benjamina is my fusion ficus or my frankenficus the one where i grew a cutting of the tree over top of the remains of the tree after the top died in the cold i did some hard pruning on it and as you can see the tree is still alive nearly every branch on the tree survived except for this one out front here and i kind of wanted that one to live but it didn’t it was too weak i guess so the one up top here it’s got shoots coming out off of this front one which i really wanted something coming out in this area so i’ve got a bud on the inside there and i think there’s one back here this top branch um this one died back to here there’s a bud here coming out this top branch died back to the here you can see there’s several buds coming out from this place this back branch did really well the top of this one died but there’s all kinds of shoots down here and all the other branches did quite well i would say the hard pruning was about 95 successful it did what i wanted to do it allows me to lower the canopy on the tree to get a lower canopy i’ve got all kinds of new branches coming out now that i can work with and i can prune off all these tall ones that i didn’t want here’s an overall look at the tree so i can now at least prune the canopy down to probably this level which is really nice to build a canopy here it’ll display the trunk nicely i’ll get a nice umbrella canopy on it i just wish this branch had lived out front but that’s okay i can grow these branches out towards the front it’ll look fine so that’s the tree i’ll rotate it around so you can see it from all angles there’s the back i was really pleased the tree lived i it took a long time for all these shoots to come out it just sat there dormant and i wondered oh have i killed the tree there’s no signs of life on any of the branches some of the branch tips were starting to dry up and i thought you know maybe i’ve done the wrong thing i had this tree in dormancy in the basement and you know it was really vigorous after the summer and i thought okay this is the perfect time to do this operation the tree was full of vigor it had a dormant period i brought it up into the plant room into the warmth which will stimulate the new growth and i cut it back hard and in the end i’m really glad i did i’m getting the results that i wanted from the hard pruning so the tree doesn’t look like much now but once it comes out in summer and all these branches develop and i start getting the canopy under control i think it’ll be a great tree in the future for frankenficus’s spa day today i’m just going to give it a nice thorough watering and there’s some fertilizer in the water and put it back on the bench so here i go with the water we’ll just make sure it’s thoroughly watered all over again on this beautiful sunny day so what i did with this tree was very risky and you know sometimes with bonsai you’ve got to take risks so far i’m happy with the results it was kind of scary there for a while when nothing was growing but i think in the end it worked out really well this tree takes a lot of water it’s in a big pot which is just a seed tray pot it’s nothing fancy it’s just a double up seed tray it’s in great great pots for training trees you know it’s the right proportions they’re cheap and they’re great for starting trees okay that’s a good thorough watering starting to run out the drainage holes i can put it back on the bench and let it continue to grow the next ficus i have out is my two little leaf ficus my ficus benjamina with the one with the little tiny leaves and i gave it quite a pruning in the last video and it’s coming back into leaf now quite nicely it’s doing really well it’s a little you know thin at the moment but you know once summer comes this will all fill out nicely there is a few tips i could prune back here just to keep it compact there’s some good back biting on some of these branches so i’ll do that today up here in the apex i’ve got a lot of shoots coming out so i’m going to take the tip off here like that some of these branches i’ll cut back to here this one back to here so just some light pruning just to keep the plant you know shaped so it doesn’t get too sprawling so it stays compact that’s about it that kind of got it a little more compact so a good watering with some fertilizer and it can go back on the bench all right here i go with the water give it a nice soaking so i’ll be repotting this tree this summer when it’s nice and hot and humid out repositioning it in the pot this is the front of the tree and the front of the pots this direction i think the pot is fine but i’ve got to do some root pruning reorient it reorient the tree and i think that should be good i’m just going to let that water soak in for a bit like that a little more and then i’ll give it another watering a little dry let that soak in i’ll just keep doing that until it starts running out the drainage holes i think one more soaking and that is good yeah so the tree is looking good it’ll need a lot of root work but we can do that all right time to get out the next ficus benjamina my next ficus benjamina is my root over temple planting and this was probably my least successful of the heart prunings however it did it was successful um this tree kind of leans backwards a bit and i didn’t like that so i was hoping to get more growth coming out the front and so what happened is the entire top branch died off and this side branch so the only thing that lived was the one coming out front which is the one i wanted and it’s just exploding in growth right now so that’s really good i’m uh i was a little sad to lose this back branch here but you know that’s the way it goes and i can develop the tree out the front which is where i wanted it in the first place so yeah this is another example of results that you know i didn’t expect the top to die i didn’t expect this branch to die back but it did and but the tree lived it’s still alive and there’s plenty of branches there’s hundreds of branches new ones here that i can work with to develop the canopy in the future so again you know a drastic operation the tree didn’t die but uh the results weren’t quite what i expected but i’m in the end i’m still happy with the results i it did what i wanted it reduced the height of the tree it got branches coming out the front i can shorten the tree i can develop a nice canopy on it now so yeah that’s the way it went so today i’m just going to give it a nice watering i’m not going to prune off all these dead branches yet i’m quite sure they’re dead but you never know i’m just going to leave it you never know once this is growing even more vigorously then maybe i’ll come in and start pruning away all the dead branches this tree has quite a well-developed root system so i think the growth in the upper part of the tree will be quite rapid this summer as it catches up to the roots yeah so i’ll just give it a good watering today put it away and again this was another one that came out really slowly i wondered did i kill the entire tree is there any sign of life and there wasn’t for the longest time and then suddenly it started growing and you know producing green shoots which was quite a relief the water is flowing out the drainage holes now so i’ll put my ficus root over temple back on the bench and we’ll get out the next tree here’s the last of my ficus benjamin is that i prune back and this one was very successful uh pretty well every branch lived except maybe this one off to this side so i’ve got a lot of new shoots in this area so now i can prune down these tall top parts of the tree and grow it to this height which i think would look much better you know a thick powerful trunk and a lower canopy on the tree it was starting to get too high and yeah it wasn’t looking very good uh even this branch got a lot of shoots coming out on it better ones that i can prune it back uh yeah so this branch here i lost this one both areas of this branch have died however you know there’s lots of new sprouts in this area new shoots that i can develop into branches there’s one up higher there no shortage of new uh branches coming on the tree which i can pick and choose the best ones and develop it into a really nice canopy once the shoots in this area get stronger i will remove these upper two branches here cutting them right back developing this as the canopy so again today i’m just going to give it its spa day i’m going to give it a nice thorough watering with fertilizer so here i go so i was really pleased with this tree i think it recovered really nicely it’s going to be a good looking tree in the future and again this one will need repotting probably this summer also it’s been a while i remember painting this pot up in a video this is a plastic pot and i painted it to look like an old weathered pot okay that’s coming out the drainage holes now there’s a look at the root base on it looking quite old and mature the tropical tree updates will continue but this will be my last tree for today this is my ficus lyrata or fiddly fig i repotted this tree and gave it a root pruning and now i’m starting to get a nice flare at the base of the tree i’m getting a lot of taper from thick to thin on the trunk which is really nice i did prune this suit back and nothing has developed on it yet no new buds but that will come up top though i did get a lot of new growth i’ll show you that here’s a look at the top of the tree so i’ve got my trunk i came up and i cut it here i have two branches growing each side and then i i prune those branches here and this tree i have it dividing from this one branch into two now and this one i pruned it also but it only has a single chute coming off of it so it’s still just one branch continuing to one more branch but you know once i prune this i’ll probably get another shoot come out from down below and i’m really happy with the progress on that um i’ve got a lot of new leaves that have just come out in the last couple of weeks giant leaves which shows the tree is healthy yeah so as this tree gets more and more leaves and branches on it this leaf size will reduce and probably down to about this size i don’t expect it to get any smaller than this but you know that’s a reasonable size for a large tree so i really like this tree i like the bark i like the flare at the base of the tree and i like the giant leaf size i think it’s really interesting an interesting tree to grow as a bonsai maybe a crazy tree to grow as a bonsai that’s my last update for today so stay tuned tomorrow and i’ll continue all the updates on my tropical bonsai i’m nigel saunders thanks for joining me in the bonsai zone

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