This is one of the earlier trees in our 1:10 Project that utilized shallow saucers that are ten times wider than they are deep and in this case using a 9" diameter saucer less than one inch deep.  I wanted it to be thin and tall.  The tree is 15" tall and the trunk merges into the roots so the overall has the appearance of a snake, but about 3/4" diameter below the branches and about 1 1/2" in diameter at the root level.  The goal was to create a really twisted root with the "foliage head" being the dragon head.  Five possible pots are shown with it.

 

LESSON #30:  CONVERTING THIN & TALL
"ROOTS" TO TWISTY "BOTTOM DRAGON CASCADE!"

                     Each year we learn more about "ROOTS" and are figuring out how to make the wide, heavy and profuse ---  or even how to lengthen them to create the majestic Rainforest Banyans!  One trial was to try to create long thin bendable roots to create a "BOTTOM DRAGON."

                     "DRAGONS" are our most complex difficult efforts and we still have a lot to learn.  We're nowhere near to understanding the full range that is possible.  Our earliest "TOP DRAGONS"  have twisty trunks and branches and we later extended the roots and developed really complex "TOP & BOTTOM DRAGONS."  This lesson focuses on twisting roots.

 

            When all the aluminum foil,  two heavier "U-shaped wire supports, and the plant removed from the shallow saucers.  Note the large number of drain holes needed for shallow planters.  By planting it in a shallow saucer, we dramatically slowed the growth and produced longer, more slender, more bendable roots that stay compact.  Leaving media that was held by the root hairs,  most media was removed. The long slender root would be removed so roots would end in a compact bundle. 

 

 

           The top 6" section contained the woody trunk and the original roots that had been tied to blend and extend the line of the trunk like the body of a snake.  With the media removed,  new material was placed within the roots with a layer of sphagnum moss,  medium gravel, more moss, Nutrient Granules, more finer gravel  with organic matter, and more moss.  The idea is to keep this section as compact as possible and to build out the remainder to be heavier.

 

 

 

 

 

            In the past I used aluminum foil.  But for this effort I used thin, clear, kitchen plastic wrap to hold the materials filled between the roots. 

 

 

 

 

           Another section of kitchen plastic wrap was laid down and flattened and sphagnum moss, medium gravel, Nutrient Granules,  and some finer gravel with organic matter.  I just guessed at the amount of each.  Too much sphagnum moss will shape it well but will hold too much water and roots will rot.  I used about 25% premium fluffy moss and about 75% medium and fine gravel with organic matter.

 

 

 

 

           Bring up one side of the plastic wrap then the other.  If it does not have a smooth blend and taper, open up and add more materials until it's a nice steady gentle taper and enlarging to the base of the roots.  Notice that the end is still open and not yet taped close.

 

 

 

 

           With the end taped, wrap thin paper-covered bindwire in a spiralling pattern from the trunk down to the larger bundle of roots.  At this point,  it is very limp and if you held it in the middle, both ends would hang down on each side.  If the wrapping had been done with aluminum foil,  it would be a lot stiffer and far less bendable. 

 

 

 

            One heavier U-shaped support wire was wired and taped to the stiff trunk and the two wires run down the sausage like mass of roots and media.  Starting from the top it proved very easy to twist in a clockwise direction while bending.  The "sausage" would have been easy to bend, but the support wire held the bends in place and every inch or so, they were taped together.  Keep the wires running parallel to the original shape so as the mass is twisted, the wire is twisted too.

 

 

           Keep twisting and bending and put sharper bends over previous bends.  Initially twist and bend in one direction as this will give you the tightest bends.  My earliest efforts were bend in one direction and I produced spirals which was okay when I had just one or two. But as they all started to look alike, I learned to flare out coils with some being not as tight.  But it really becomes more interesting when you reverse and go counter-clockwise. At that point I added a second U-shaped support wire  for greatest 4-wire holding power! 

 

 

           I'm trying to create variety within the collection,  selected a tall pot and extended the ends of the wire to go through the large single drain hole on the bottom.  Generally most of my Dwarf Scheffera are uprights, but Dragons don't listen to rules and they make interesting cascades.  With a scissors,  I cut of sections of the kitchen plastic wrap from the bottom so roots could easily pass through the large hole into the media in the pot. 

 

 

 

           I don't do cascades too often but like to have some complex bending above the pot instead of just falling over the end and dropping down.  I think most cascading bonsai are simplistic and obviously bent in a rather boring manner.  By using the paper-covered bindwire to create bulges and by then twisting in a number of ways to create more character, there's a livelier movement that I prefer. But notice the end of the tree is facing up for stronger growth.

 

 

             While the clear thin kitchen plastic wrap worked well,  I added a foil cover.  In this type of planting,  you need to consider how you are going to get water into the cascading section as well as down the main trunk.  So the top section of the foil was made into a water catcher and the kitchen plastic wrap was removed from this area.  Sphagnum moss filled that opening so it's very easy to simply pour water onto the moss and it quickly disperses. 

 

 

               This tree rises pretty much out of the center of the pot and the portion above the pot is the widest area so it appears to be very stable in spite of it being lop-sided and with the pot having cloud feet with a small foot-ring.  Note that the air holes are fairly large. When I poured water into the top,  it quickly began flowing out of the air holes so the roots should develop nicely.   

              Generally I don't do too many cascade styles as they don't look natural.  I call this version "Dangling Cascades" that depict a tree growing in a gully that has had its roots exposed by water flowing in the gully.  I've seen such trees in the mountains of Oahu in the days that I collected Casuarina for bonsai.  I've since created successful Dangling Cascades with Shimpaku Juniper, Chinese Box Orange, and now Dwarf Schefflera.  This might look nice one day planted near the top of a rock, falling down and curling around the rock, and growing outwards in the middle of the slender tall rock for a new design.  The roots will likely grab onto the rock in every area where roots are in contact.

          Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai, 2014