Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

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Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

Postby alpinebonsart » Thu Apr 09, 2009 9:58 am

Hi to all in the world of Bonsai . I have a couple of P.J or Moreton Bay Figs that are a result of leaf cuttings taken 7 years ago and given to my Nieces as gifts . These are "return to sender" items as their use as Cricket Wickets had expired ,"true". I transfered them into 12 inch round terracotta pots 4 years ago and placed a rock in each pot , to make them easier for the girl to look after . Neglected and only trimmed via tennis balls or cricket bats during play , they have been neglected and damaged continuosly .

Most or all of the side branches have been torn from the trunk at some stage and have healed leaving ugly unions .The Harsh reality is that i want to serverly cut the damaged branches off , leaving 1 central leader .
100_2810.jpg
450mm and 500mm height with 45mm trunks repotted into Bonsai pots 2 weeks ago, moss added to prevent the non existant roots from drying out
100_2811.jpg
100_2812.jpg
.

The stubs from the damaged branches are around 15mm thick so scaring will be severe . I would like to also flatten the entire root system on the smaller tree to represent a P.J/Moreton Bay in its natural state . Due to my disaterous experience with Figs , black frosts and minus 5 degree temps i will winter these inside .

A couple of queries reguarding these figs
1 -They have little or no fiberous root system below soil level due to the water repelant sand they were grown in , yet they are extremely healthy.
2 - Can they be severely cut back now and should concave cutters be used to reduce scaring
3 - Can P.J /Moreton Bay figs be partially of fully defolinated at any time now , considering the harsh winters down here.
4 - Do they scar easily from wiring , should protection be used to prevent wire marks
5 - Can the roots be stimulated by scoring the underside to produce or replicate nature if i choose to flatten the roots on the smaller one.
Cheers .
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Re: Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

Postby taffyman » Sat Apr 11, 2009 9:47 pm

Hi ABA.
Looking as closely as I can at your trees, I tend to think they're Port Jacksons. One question: You said you grew them from leaf cuttings - do you remember the size of the leaves? Full size Port Jackson leaves are 6-10cm and Moreton Bay leaves are 15-30cm long. Port Jacksons Bark is light grey, Moreton Bays are a darker grey. Do the leaves feel and look a bit 'velvety' underneath? If so, then definitely Port Jackson. On really mature trees, the underside of the leaf can be a slightly rusty colour as well.

Now, let's see if I can go some way in answering your questions.

As long as they are healthy, then yes they can be cut back - but only if the sap is really flowing freely. As the weather cools down the sap flow slows and almost stops. If by concave cutters you mean Knob cutters (as opposed to normal branch cutters) then again yes - they do a better job of doing a decent hollow that will eventually callous over. When you do cut the branches off, it's a good idea to cover the wounds with 'cut paste'. If you don't have any, a good substitute is proper modelling clay. The $2 shop up here sells it - 10 different coloured sticks for - yes, $2.00. If it is all mixed together it turns out dark grey and almost identical in appearance to proper cut paste. If the scars are large, then the wound may take quite a while to heal over. To accelerate it, the inner rim of the cambium layer can be lightly scraped off. That will stimulate the cambium layer into life again.

I wouldn't be defoliating them now in your climate - I don't think they would have the time to send out new leaves before winter really sets in.

Yes, they do scar easily from wiring. The bark on most figs is relatively soft and because of the rapid growth they put on during early spring/summer it is very easy to forget to check the wire isn't 'cutting in'. There are a couple of ways of helping to prevent it cutting in. One is to 'loose wire' the branches. In other words, as you're applying the wire, wind it on very loosely leaving a gap between it and the branch. It means that the wire will only be touching the branch on the bends and the gaps will allow the branch to thicken up considerably before any cutting in occurs. It's against 'normally accepted rules' of wiring, and isn't very pretty - but it is effective! Another way is to use something soft under the wire to cushion it. I quite often use strips of leather. If left on too long it can result in wide shallow dents in the branches but they grow out fairly quickly. Something else that could also be used is soft rubber strips - like the stuff car door seals are made of. Anything you could think of that would buffer against the wire cutting in would be quite suitable. Wrapping the branches in a couple of layers of raffia can also be effective - but don't use the cheap plastic raffia - that stuff can cause just as bad wire marks as bare wire. It needs to be natural raffia.

Scoring the underside of the roots can help stimulate new roots but it can be a bit hit and miss. A good rich potting medium with added grit, regular watering and feeding is a lot more effective. Pruning the very tips off the roots is also very effective, but if as you say there is very little or no fibrous root system then that might not be such a good idea at the moment.

One other thing I would mention is the use of moss around figs in particular. Although figs like moist soil, they don't like wet bark - and that includes root bark above the soil level. Moss has a tendency to promote root and trunk rot because it's usually far too wet underneath - and as I said earlier, figs have soft bark so it's easier for constant moisture to penetrate the bark. I do use moss, but only when I'm displaying trees. As soon as I get them home, off comes the moss. We have an extra problem up here - heat and humidity which can intensify the problem of rotting. It sounds a bit of an oxymoron - figs don't like wet bark, yet the roots are constantly moist. It appears that the problem is above the soil in daylight, the bark changes and dries out so moisture is more liable to penetrate it - maybe also the very fine roots from the moss penetrate the outer layer of bark which gives an entry point for the moisture (that's just a guess on my part).

Well, hope that's gone some way towards answering your questions ABA.
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Re: Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

Postby alpinebonsart » Sun Apr 12, 2009 8:12 am

Hi Tafyman , thanks for the info , they were cuttings from 2 plants i puchased 8 years ago . I have never seen leaves larger the 60mm x30mm on these plants due to poor soil lack of water and care from the girls . The are smooth underneath , however they look like velvet in appearance . The trunks are a dark silver-gray not a silver-white . You know my tool box branch cutters only but i will use a die grinder with a countersinker to hollow the cuts out . Yes my little bloke has the modelling clay you refer to for cut paste .

I took some cuttings off these 2 months ago before my Nieces gave them back, their father bought them some wickets . The roots on the cutting are rampant compared to the Bonsai which have small 40mm pads at the ends of the main roots . They have however grown 4 sets of leaves on every broken branch in 3 weeks plus numerous new side shoots . Amazing what good food and drinks do for sick fig .

I use Cracker dust or Quarry dust , its found at the crusher plants/quarries , usually 5mm minus granite sharps . I sieve this to 2.5mm wash and add to my mixes . I have used washed course river sand but find the roots tend to run in circles rather than spread out . I will give them a chop and post an update . Thanks for the tips . Cheers alpine
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Re: Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

Postby alpinebonsart » Sun Apr 12, 2009 12:48 pm

After a quick chop and Hook and hold wire , 2 different Bonsai have emerged .
100_2810.jpg
Before styling
100_2834.jpg
Restyled and wired
100_2836.jpg
Completely restyled and wired using shade cloth strips and hook and hold wiring .. Possibly change this to cliff face clinging style
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Re: Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

Postby gooba » Mon Apr 13, 2009 10:25 am

I also have difficulty with the I.D of 2 species of fig Queensland small leaf (Eugenoides) and Port Jackson (Rubiginosa) Both are very simular when grow as Bonsai due to the reduction in the leaf size and the Q.S.L fig seems to have less frequent red tips on new growth, as large mature trees its easier to I.D - colour and leaf size. The pics attached are of a fig that i have been growing for many years, i always told people that it was Q.S.L but its actually a Port Jackson.
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2007
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2009
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Re: Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

Postby alpinebonsart » Mon Apr 13, 2009 1:53 pm

Hi gooba , thats a magic looking Bonsai . I tried figs once , unfortunately the frosts wiped them out . Only recieved these back as the Nieces couldn't be bothered , they considered cricket wickets were the only use for them . ICheers alpine
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Re: Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

Postby taffyman » Mon Apr 13, 2009 8:00 pm

Hi Gooba, welcome to the forum.
There are two types of fig called Queensland Small Leaf - Ficus Eugenoides and Ficus Obliqua. Eugenoides has red petioles and Obliqua has normal pale green ones. The petioles on both are thinner and longer than on Port Jackson - Ficus Rubiginosa. So, there's a third one to throw into the arena to make it even more confusing :shock: I agree though, it is very difficult to accurately identify some figs if they've been in a pot for a while and the leaves have reduced in size.

That is a very nice tree (Y) Can you tell us your general locality? - with aerial roots like those, I'd guess you're in a warmer and more humid climate than Melbourne.
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Re: Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

Postby gooba » Tue Apr 14, 2009 7:39 am

Thanks for the complements on the fig , I purchaced it in 1996 as a small stock bonsai it had been grown from seedling in a planter bag from 1994. the arial roots are just unstopable (I trim them as much as I do the foliage!). In answer to your question Taffyman im on the Sunshine Coast (Maroochydore) or should I say Rainy Coast , never seen so much rain!!! Hopefully the fig should be at its best for the National convention in Brisbane in May. You coming ?
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Re: Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

Postby rocket » Tue Apr 14, 2009 5:51 pm

Gidday Alpinebonsart

I really like the fig on the rock that you have done the chop on. Looks like a tree with a great future. I have a Chinese elm of a similar style on a rock. The roots on mine are positioned in the same way as yours. I can see the potential in your tree and like the shape and style of it. Well done!

Cheers
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Re: Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

Postby rocket » Tue Apr 14, 2009 5:57 pm

Hey Gooba

Great looking fig. Has come a long way. I'm wondering why you've not got it in the oval pot? Is the reason because it has grown too big for it? I think the oval pot suits it more than the rectangle pot. Still, the tree really does look great though! Good work!

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Re: Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

Postby gooba » Tue Apr 14, 2009 6:26 pm

Hey rocket , yer its to big for the oval , and it did look good !! will send you more pics ,not real good at taking photos see what you think theres still time to change the pot.
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Re: Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

Postby taffyman » Tue Apr 14, 2009 7:43 pm

gooba wrote:..or should I say Rainy Coast , never seen so much rain!!! Hopefully the fig should be at its best for the National convention in Brisbane in May. You coming ?


We didn't have as much rain as you guys. We had 175mm from 9am yesterday till 9am today.

Oh yes, I sure will be at the convention. Ticket all paid for and I booked the hotel room back last July.

Hi Rocket, if I don't see you before, I'll see you at the convention as well (Y)
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Re: Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

Postby alpinebonsart » Tue Apr 14, 2009 7:53 pm

Hi Rocket , that for the comps i had very little to do with the original design only the restyle , although i did place the rocks inside the pots when the girls had them . At least in their care the frosts in Melb' aren't as servere as in the alps so they survived whereas mine didn't . Just for the record all you fig growers the sheath on the top shoot has a reddish streak if this helps with I.Ding the plants .Cheers alpine
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Re: Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

Postby alpinebonsart » Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:47 am

These are the progression shots of the 2 Port Jackson Figs that were "returned to sender". I transferred 1 to a clinging style .Both were defoliated 4 weeks ago and progressing well .
100_4326.jpg
100_4330.jpg
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Re: Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

Postby taffyman » Sun Jan 24, 2010 3:46 pm

Great to see Alpine, and they do seem to look quite natural sitting on their rocks. (Y)
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Re: Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

Postby alpinebonsart » Sun Jan 24, 2010 6:27 pm

taffyman wrote:Great to see Alpine, and they do seem to look quite natural sitting on their rocks. (Y)

Hi Taffyman , hope i can keep them alive through Winter . Should i tip prune now or leave them to thicken the branches then tip them. Cheers
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Re: Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

Postby taffyman » Sun Jan 24, 2010 7:29 pm

Sure, tip prune them now. You'll most likely be able to do another tip prune before Autumn sets in as well.
The main thing figs don't like is Frost (and of course, snow). If you can keep them protected from that they should be ok.
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Re: Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

Postby alpinebonsart » Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:56 pm

Hi Taffyman , thanks i will tip prune tomorrow and yes i know about the frosts , i lost all my Figs 10 years ago . Have a cold frame to put them in and in the process of assembling a heated hothouse i scored as a "free to a good home" originally custom built for a member of the Royal Botanical Gardens comes with all the bells and whistles that you require to propagate exotics .Cheers
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Re: Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

Postby taffyman » Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:18 pm

Oh wow - a heated hothouse! You'll be able to have your figs growing all year round - and if you can set the humidity as well, you should be able to produce a lot aerial roots as well (Y) (Y)
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Re: Port Jackson figs or Moreton Bay figs

Postby alpinebonsart » Mon Jan 25, 2010 4:48 am

Some pics of the hothouse it Measures 5m x 3.0m .Yes it has a humidifier ,heater , timers, misting sprays and a heated grow box . The only thing missing is the Solenoid that operates off the Mercury switch .With the company names on the equipment , they should be able to provide a switch .
100_4169.jpg
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100_4166.jpg

To my surprise the tiered rack is stainless steel , no expense spared when this was built .Cheers
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