Tropical Updates and Some Clean Up Work, The Bonsai Zone, March 2021

Tropical Bonsai Tree Updates and Some Clean Up Work

Hi everyone nigel saunders here today we are continuing on with tropical tree updates and a little bit of pruning work on them here’s a look at the portulacaria afroforest it’s growing in really nicely i’m getting a lot of backbiting because i pruned it back fairly hard last time i’ll show you some of the back budding on the branches here’s a look at one of the branches here and you can see there’s just new shoots popping out all over the place so that’s really exciting it gives me a lot of choices for the next time i prune this tree here’s a view looking down at the largest tree in the forest and there’s back buds coming in all over the place so that’s really exciting because i want to reduce the overall footprint of this tree down a bit keeping it a little more compact and less spreading so i’ve got lots of choices that’s going to be fantastic i’m going to let all these new shoots grow in and mature before i prune the tree again so i’ll let them grow to about this long maybe twice what this one is and then i can prune it back once again i’ve noticed that some of the new growth is a little thin looking the leaves they’re not quite plump and they’re a little yellowy so generally that’s a sign of over watering so i’m going to cut back on the water let these new leaves kind of firm up and begin looking more normal here’s another look at some of these leaves that are you know they’re not shiny they’re not plump looking they look more like a regular leaf on a plant they’re kind of thin so that shows it’s over watering so i’m going to let the whole planting dry out try and give it as much sun as possible and it should recover nicely from the over watering watering a spec boom or portulacaria aphra is can be very tricky uh too much water and you get these thin leaves these yellow type leaves and you know you’re giving it too much water so it’s time to cut back if you underwater the tree you’ll get the leaves will go kind of wrinkly they’ll start drying up and go wrinkly and then as soon as you water it they plump up once again finding that sweet spot in between where you get maximum growth and maximum health is tricky you’ve got a it all depends on the weather and the sunlight conditions and the wind and that how much water they need so it’s better to err on the side of watering less than to water too much too much watering can lead to root rot trunk rot and you could kill some of the trees so the key to these porcula cariaferas is to water them moderately not too much that you get long leggy growth and yellow leaves not too little that the leaves are wrinkling up all the time and you’re getting very small and poor growth on it somewhere in between where you’re getting good healthy growth but not too excessive here’s an example of a branch that can be shortened in the future the branch is kind of long it goes from this point it’s been pruned once here and then out to here so there’s not a whole lot of difference in taper from here to here on the branch it’s kind of skinny and long there’s a bit of movement but i’ll be able to prune this branch back to these new shoots back here so pruning it off here i won’t do it now but once these strengthen up i can prune this branch back and i can do that on a lot of branches on this tree getting that overall crown more compact which will make the trunk look more powerful i think i’ll be ready to prune these trees in probably a month i think they’ll have grown enough that they’re nice and healthy and strong and i can prune the tree back once again if you notice that your portulacaria is growing really weakly and sickly looking there’s a lot of different causes one can be fertilizer maybe you’re not giving it enough fertilizer low light maybe it’s not getting enough light you’re watering your soil maybe your soil isn’t you know when you’re watering it maybe there’s dry spots in your soil so there’s a lot of factors and you’ve got to read the tree the tree will tell you how it’s doing if it’s growing back budding everywhere and growing really nicely then you know you’re doing everything right if you’ve got some problem with wheat growth yellowing leaves dropping off then you know there’s a problem so by hand watering your trees instead of using an automatic sprinkler system or you know just hosing them down from the distance watering them by hand you really get a good look at the tree every day and sometimes twice a day and that’s really important with bonsai is observation reading the tree and then taking the appropriate action i see it a lot that people bring in a tree that’s really really sick or really infested with insects and you know it’s the first time they noticed it they say oh yeah it was growing really well and then i looked at it the other day and it was this branch was dying or was dropping its leaves or is full of insects and you know you’ve got to observe all these things early by looking at your trees every day you know if you do notice a change in the growth rate or the color of the leaves or the texture of the leaves that’s the time to react not when it’s too late so yeah you’ve got to really know your plants so you know how fast they grow you know you know in in the summertime they’ll put you know this length of a shoot on in a month and if it’s not doing that you know there’s some problem something’s wrong with the tree so yeah it takes a bit of experience um you’ve got a you have to know how much growth to expect from the trees in a certain amount of time and if the tree is underperforming then you know something’s wrong if it’s over performing well maybe you’re doing something wrong also maybe you know your internode lengths are too long and it’s unusable growth so there’s a certain speed you want it to grow at and that’s what you strive for in a healthy tree i’ll put my portula carry offer forest back on the bench and we’ll get out today’s tree that i’ll be working on today i’m going to be working on my franken ficus or my fusion ficus bonsai in the last video i showed an update i i hard pruned it back like really hard and it didn’t look very good in the last video there was new growth just starting to come in and i could uh i could tell by the lack of excitement in the comment section that people went oh he’s just just ruined that tree it’s never going to be good now but it’s growing in more now the leaves are getting larger and the branches are getting larger and hopefully today you’ll see that maybe there is some promise in the tree still so i’ll get it out and we’ll have a look at it here’s a look at the ficus today so it’s doing really well i hope it looks more promising now than it did a few weeks ago it’s starting to fill out today i’m going to be pruning back some of the height of the tree removing the dead branches doing some branch selection there’s a lot of multiple branches coming from one spot and you know removing any branches that aren’t growing in a good spot so yeah just a general tidy up on the tree today i may be pruning off some of these higher branches today i’ve got a lot of good growth at this level so i’ve got to kind of determine where i want my canopy profile if i want it this high or maybe down lower so that’s something i’ll determine before i start the pruning i’m going to start today by removing dead branches you can see this one is just dead it’s all shriveled up and dried dead one on a ficus doesn’t last very long it goes soft like balsa wood and it just disintegrates in the humidity so don’t you normally don’t have a deadwood feature on a ficus because it just it just rots away like this was a fairly thick branch and it’s just it just crumbles see that you can just so deadwood doesn’t last long i got another branch that’s dead up here comes off so i’ll get out the pruners i’ll start up top here so i’ve got this whole top is dead but i have a a world of branches at this level so i’m going to take off the dead part of this branch so i’ll take it back to here like that this branch here it’s died back but there is a living chute coming from here so this part of the branch is alive and you can kind of tell they change color when they’re dead they they go instead of a greeny tan they go to more of a tan color so i think i’m just going to take off the top of this one because i don’t want to prune it back too far i want that new shoot to grow so that comes off yeah that looks like it’s this stump here is living so there may be more shoots that come out from it so it’s possible i could keep that there’s a small branch here i can remove that’s dead now let’s go to this back branch here there’s a dead section here that comes off and then i’ve got a dead portion up here but a live shoot here so i’ll take it back to here like that i’m thinking on this tree it’s best to keep all my options open i can see some more green shoots coming out on this trunk here so i’m going to keep all this living part for now and as this grows i may decide that well these look way better than having this top on the tree that i may prune it back then but i think it’s best to keep my options open so i can have the choice of having a higher canopy if i want or bringing it down lower i’m going to continue searching for dead branches there’s one at the back here take that off dead root here take that off there’s a dead branch going right here towards the inside that’s dead i’ll take that off there’s one coming out the front here i can take off it’s dead this whole branch here looks to be dead there is live growth down lower on it so i can take that back it does it kind of goes a bit greener down lower i’m wondering if i should leave it for now something may sprout out in this direction i do have a good shoot down below but i better leave that it’s uh it doesn’t look totally dead this whole branch it’s not shriveled up only the end is so i’ll leave that on there for now there’s another dead one up top here take that one out there’s a dead one coming out front here take that off like that there’s a dead one on the inside here i can remove there’s a dead one out the back here there’s another long one here that you can see there’s a live shoot about halfway but the top is probably dead or the tip of it i’ll take that back now i think yep you need to shorten anything here’s a dead one out the back here take that off there’s a dead one up top here and one out the back there’s some there’s a dead one out the back here you can see the dried leaves on it like that the rest is looking pretty good i’m not seeing any more dead ones i’m standing back having a look at the tree now and trying to imagine the canopy so if i put my hand over here now i could if i had a lower canopy it would be about here but i think i’ve got you know a fairly thick trunk in this area and that the transition to the canopy here is too abrupt i do think i need a taller tree so these areas of the tree will grow out to kind of form a larger umbrella canopy if i have the shape kind of like this so i i think it’ll be quite fine having it that height um if i do reduce it it’ll just be a slight bit off the top but i think it’s okay i may there’s some new shoots forming on this upper part here too that will come out so i i think i think it’ll be fine i think it’ll grow wider a little taller and i’ll get that kind of umbrella shaped canopy to about here i think that’ll look pretty good i think the proportions will be really nice a lot of the root base on this tree is hidden by the moss so today i’m going to peel back that moss the moss doesn’t look very good anyway it’s kind of thickened up to the point where it’s not looking that healthy it is starting to green up again but yeah i’ll peel it away from around the root base and we’ll see what the root base looks like all right i’ve got the tweezers here and i’ll start picking the moss away usually when you pick this kind of thick moss away it starts growing under the soil again it’s got all these spores that drop down into the soil and it’ll regenerate itself quite easily there’s an aerial root that was hidden in the moss there i’ll keep working away at the root base clearing away all this moss and then we’ll come back and have a look at it i may have to get the toothbrush out here and kind of wash the root base too here’s a look at the root base all cleaned up from eye level so i’ve exposed a little more of the surrounding roots this tree may become the home tree for my avatar scene in the future depending how the canopy develops it’s got a nice interesting root base i think it would be quite suitable for that application here’s a look at the root base from above so you can see the the way it’s spreading out into the soil yeah it’s quite an interesting root base and it’s looking good it’ll only get better in the future i think the root base of the tree gives you the impression of a large tropical tree in the jungle so we just got to get the canopy to match [Music] i did some cleanup work on this tree today and it doesn’t seem like i did much work but it kind of encourages you to develop the tree you kind of get excited about the tree again if it’s just sitting off on your shelf there or your bench kind of forgotten about neglected uh it just kind of grows but you know when you clean it up and take a fresh look at it you kind of get excited about the tree again and the future possibilities so i think the tree will look quite different at the end of summer i think this canopy will have developed a lot it may it won’t be perfect but it’ll uh at least have a nice canopy on it and i think it’ll look like a tropical tree that is all for today i’m nigel saunders thanks for joining me in the bonsai zone

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