Ficus Techniques : 23

How to heal a wound?


Brian Damboise from Connecticut sends in pictures of his Ficus benjamina that he reduced back from a 7 foot tree about 1.5 years ago. The new apex grew back at an awkward angle. In order to move the apex to the upright position Brian made a wedge cut in the back of the apex. He now wonders how to fill in the gap?

Brian's tree after reduction but before bringing up a new apex.

After reduction and new apex in place.

Side view of the apex showing the wedge cut that allowed the apex to be brought vertical.


The wedge that was removed is fortunately on the back of the tree. This "defect" although seen from the side and the back of the tree does hot hinder the appearance of the bonsai from the front. In addition the large tapering cut made below the wedge cut must be allowed to heal in. For the moment both cuts can be ignored since they are on the back of the tree and not visible from the front. S

Healing of any cut requires growth of the tree closer to the trunk or "above" the cut area. That means that the more foliage that grows above the wound area and the more growth that is permitted the faster the defect will callus over. In addition, periodically freshening the wound by cutting away 1/4" of the new callus keeps the area healing over.

Unfortunately during the time that the growth is allowed to go wild the appearance of the bonsai is not at its best. Thus in many cases the tree is unable to be shown.

One other suggestion is that the tree could be shortened even more to provide a more compact and condensed form. Of course, Brian as the artist must decide if he wishes the shorter tree or prefers to grow it with its current length. Suggested branches to shorten as the new apex inculde the numbers 1, 2, or 3 (in red) showing the new possible apices.

Unfortunately, in the short run the process of shortening the tree back to one of these new apices will slow the healing process of the wedge scar.

We look forward to Brian's further artistic decisions on his tree.

1, 2, or 3 could be selected as a future apex to create even a shorter tree.

All Rights Reserved © Ficus Forum 2007