“ficus nerifolia, salicifolia, salicaria, ficus whatever…”

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Dang botanists, you never know what to call this ficus. I have heard it called a “needle leaf ficus”, too.   I have read that there are different cultivars of this tree but when I see pictures, they all look the same.  For the purposes of this progression and for the site, we will just call it a “willow leaf ficus”.  Everybody can picture that in their head, I hope.  I acquired this group planting in the summer of 2005 from my Dad.  Unfortunately, I do not have access to many of the pictures form the early days under my care, anymore.  It was a nice composition but I did not know much about growing ficus or bonsai in general, I had just started, read a few books, etc.  I wish that I had known more, as the forest would be a lot better for it now.

December 2004, Just Before I Acquired It

I have a few pictures of how it looked while it was in his possession. The earliest picture that I have is from 2001, all the trees are quite small.


A few other pictures through 2004, before it came into my possession.

February 2002

Summer 2002

July 2003, Winter Damage

December 2004

In 2007, our local club, the Azalea City Bonsai Society, held a workshop with Jim VanLandingham as the visiting artist.  Having not had much exposure to bonsai workshops, you can tell by the look on my face that I was a little shocked with what was left.  Looking back on it now (from 2017) I can see that he got me going in the right direction.

Jim Vanlandingham, Before

Jim in Action

More Action, Russel Coker Joins In

The Carnage

I wasn't very good at record keeping and taking photos of the trees, I had a lot going on at the time, building a house (did a lot of the work myself), getting moved in, and a few other life changes.  Here are some random shots that I did manage to find on an old computer.

November 2010

November 2010

November 2010

November 2010

More of the same for 2011, just trimmed and tried to keep it healty and in some sort of shape.  


2011, Nebari Shot

It got a repot in 2012 into a large ceramic pot I got at the club auction.  It was really too small for it but served it well for a few years.

July, 2012

July, 2012

August, 2012, Repotted

August 2012, Repotted

Not too many changes for 2013, here are a couple of pictures from April and October.

April, 2013

October, 2013

Again,in 2014, not very good about record keeping or taking pictures of my trees.  I did manage to find some bushy pictures of it from July.  Apparently I gave it a trim at one point, repositioned some branches, and put it back into a mica pot for some more room to grow, but failed to photograph it.  There are, however, some pictures of it from March, July, and November of that year, it was (to me) starting to take shape.

March, 2014

July, 2014

November, 2014

It wasn’t until 2015 that I tried to focus on being better about documenting my trees progress and whatever horrors that I may have subjected them to.  This is what it looked like in June 15 of that year, the trunks had really thickened up.  For a sense of scale as to the size of the composition, if you look closely, you will see and Oral B toothbrush that I was using to get the moss off of the trunks in the "after trim" picture.

June, 2015

In June, I decided to cut it back and give it a wiring.  Looking at the pictures, it is amazing how much more it grew it in those two weeks.  Ficus are known for their fast growth and you can develop them into a decent looking composition in a short time.

2015, After Trim & Wire

It filled in well by August and was starting to take look more like a unified group.

August 2015

It got a trim and a repot in July of 2016, a major undertaking as the new pot was noticeably shallower that the mica one.  This involved a lot of root work to get it to fit.  If you would like to see more about the repot, you can read about it here.

2016, Before

2016, Trim Before Repotting

2016, Pot Comparison

2016, Repotted

May of 2017 brought another trim, some thinning, and a wiring.  I think it is really starting to come along now.  Now focusing on making it fill in and keeping it in some sort of shape, until now, you may have noticed a common theme for this tree—grows bushy, cut back to nothing, grows bushy, cut back to nothing...  My goal, after reading more about ficus, is to kinda break this cycle.  I say kinda because you never really can completely do to the vigorous nature of the tree.  I just want to keep it looking nice.

May, 2017, Before Trim

May 2017, After Trim

July saw some of the wire coming off and another trim, this time not as much, I think I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

July, 2017

More To Come, I plan to update this page periodically as the group progresses, so check back soon and often. I hope that you found this progression informative, if you have any questions or comments, please use the contact form.