Root Over Rock Style...

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Scrape and then wash away all soil


Once the pot is taken away, the soil is removed by scraping and then washing, to expose the rock and rootball. Still try to be gentile so that you don't damage any of the established or newly formed roots as this will cause quite a lot of undue stress to the plant.






leave remaining rock and wrapped roots


Here we see the roots, which were bound to the rock by means of grafting tape. The lower roots were allowed to come out the bottom of the grafting tape.

a close up of the bound rockYou can see where there have been weaknesses in the grafting tape and roots have escaped. This is why it is important to wrap the grafting tape tightly. Unfortunately, the shape of this rock did not make that task any easier...




The roots have now bound themselves to the rock


Next, remove the grafting tape with a pair of sharp scissors - taking care not to cut through the roots. Here we see the exposed roots and rock with the grafting tape removed. After a period of 2 years, the roots have well and truly bonded themselves to the rock in quite an attractive way. These roots have also grown considerably and will be exposed as the 'lower trunk' of the bonsai when potted up into a ceramic dish.


For the meantime, pot the fig back into a plastic pot with the rock above the surface to allow it to rejuvenate. Leave it for a few months.


Now, choose a suitable ceramic bonsai pot in which to display your newly formed bonsai. Root over rock style bonsai works particularly well with shallow, oval pots. The colour of pot that I will choose for this bonsai will be one that complements its natural, subtle colours. I might choose an unglazed brown pot, or a light green one that matches its leaves.

Progress Report :

The finished bonsai#1.Here is the end result - Ficus Microcarpa growing artistically over Japanese Ibigawa rock (picture 1).

This arrangement looks very attractive placed in this blue-green glazed oval dish which perfectly compliments the natural tones of the fig. Placing the plant to the dish's left opposed to the center - which is an artificial placement - further enhances the natural effect that I was trying to achieve.The finished bonsai#2.

At the time of potting, the bonsai currently does not resemble a tree very much - being quite bushy and out of proportion to how figs would normally grow, so it must be pruned further back to encourage trunk taper, a tree-like appearance, and to refine the branch structure.

Six months later, the fig was cut back further to re-establish its natural tree-like shape (picture 2). The left lower branch was removed, and trunk (which was allowed to grow larger than usual to help the tree establish itself and broaden the lower trunk) was also chopped.

Now we must allow the tree to grow back and keep re-shaping until the desired form is reached. The third picture (and the large tree pictured) was taken 2 years after the tree was first taken out of its training pot.

Overall, 'root over rock' is a very effective and aesthetically appealing style, which mimics how figs and other plants grow in the wild. It is considered an advanced style, although is not too difficult to achieve with a bit of practice and the right materials.

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