Bonsai Tonight

Making a large cut on a ficus bonsai

Posted in Bonsai Development by Jonas Dupuich on June 19, 2012

I’ve been having fun watching my new ficus develop. After seeing how quickly it’s grown, I can better understand the appeal of ficus bonsai. Here are some shots of the tree since the initial cutback in April (see “New Ficus Bonsai” for details).

Repotting complete

After heavy cutback and repotting – 4/1/12


After 6 weeks in greenhouse – 5/13/12


After another 4 weeks in greenhouse – 6/17/12 (10 weeks after repotting)

I figured it was time for some cutback so I began evaluating the good and bad points of the tree. The good is that the trunk has good size and some movement. The bad is a large, straight branch with a large wound. I decided to remove the branch and see what happens. I made the first cut with a saw.

Saw cut

After sawing off the largest branch on the tree – note rotting wood near top of cut

I removed the last half-inch of the branch by nibbling away at the wood with a concave cutter. I left the wound convex so the resulting scar would be rounded rather than flat. After removing the bulk of the wood with the concave cutter, I cleaned up the edge of the cut with a grafting knife and applied liberal amounts of cut paste.

Cut rounded

Somewhat convex cut

Cut paste


I returned the tree to the green house where I will begin feeding it to further accelerate the growth.

After large cut

The remaining half of the ficus

My goal for now is to let these branches grow freely in an attempt to heal the large scar left by removing the large branch. Along the way I’ll be thinking about the future of the tree. And at the rate it’s been growing so far, I don’t think it will be long before it’s time to trim the tree again.

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4 Responses

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  1. Trinity River said, on June 19, 2012 at 4:42 am

    I just love your bonsai plants. I first discovered how wonderful they were 35 years ago in Japan. I stayed in an old hotel that the family lived in. Stumbled onto the roof one day and found a little old man, perhaps grandpa, working on his bonsia plants. I spoke enough Japanese to understand that he had them all his life and that they had belonged to his grandfather. One was a miniature cherry tree in full bloom. Absolutely enchanting.

  2. Jose Luis said, on June 19, 2012 at 6:17 am


    Concave cuts are not well suited for ficus. Once the callus tissue begins to grow, it will only do so to a certain point,stopping right before the deepest areas. A flat cut is better, because the callus tissue will have something to grow over to. If you wish to heal the scar quicker, promote some air roots in the edge of the cut. Once they elongate, place them in a separate pot and fill it with your regular medium. Once they begin to flourish, scar tissue will develop faster and the cut will disappear in a few months.

    Basic japanese techniques sometimes do not apply to tropical material.


    Jose Luis

  3. Jonas Dupuich said, on June 19, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Jose Luis – thanks for the note about making flat instead of concave cuts – you’ve reaffirmed my decision (Boon’s suggestion) to make the cut convex, not concave. We’ll see how this heals compared to flat cuts. And if the healing goes slow, I’ll be sure to try the air root technique.


  4. Jonas Dupuich said, on June 19, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Thanks for sharing your story Trinity!

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