Banyan bonsai tree training and care information. Instructions for wintering your bonsai Ficus. Beautiful Ficus bonsai trees you can buy.
The complex root structure of the banyan fig has made it a popular plant among bonsai enthusiasts.
Banyan trees have a tendency to drop roots from their horizontal limbs to the ground. In their natural habitat, they often sprout in the canopies of other trees. They form these adventitious roots in order to be able to support themselves and take nourishment up from the soil.
Ficus trees also have a tendency to root along the surface of the soil. You can see how this would make it a good bonsai subject.
This 20 year old Ficus salicifolia is on display at Heathcote Botanical Gardens in Florida.
It is a preferred banyan species for bonsai because of its smaller leaves.
Because of their aerial roots banyan trees can be trained into beautiful bonsai trees in as little as 2 years. Many online nurseries sell banyan bonsai starter kits. This is the perfect way for a beginner to learn the art of bonsai quickly and easily. Any of the ficus species make good beginner bonsai trees as they recover well from over or under watering.
If you want to create the bonsai from scratch, you will need:
Unpot the ficus and shake off most of the soil. You need to be able to see the roots. The bonsai pot will undoubtedly be more shallow than whatever pot the tree has been growing in so you will need to prune the roots so that they fit into the new pot.
Spread the roots across the bonsai tray. They need not be completely covered with soil. Fill in with the bonsai potting soil. Water until the soil is completely moist. Prune the top of the tree back until it is in balance with the roots. If you’ve cut off half the roots, you will need to remove half the top growth in order to avoid stressing the plant. Set the new bonsai in the shade until it takes hold.
It will probably drop all its leaves, but this is a good thing. The new leaves will grow back smaller and more in scale with the tiny tree.
If you mist the tree every day, it will grow more adventitious roots. Deciding how many and which of these to keep and which to prune off is what bonsai is all about!
Your banyan bonsai tree will look a little awkward for a year or so until you get it trained. Not everyone has the patience to wait this long. You can always buy a banyan bonsai tree that is 4-5 years old and simply maintain it. This is easier to do and more pleasurable because you will have a beautiful tree from the start.
This is a 15 year old F. phillippensis bonsai.
It is another banyan bonsai tree species prized for its small leaves.
This is a tree which loves light. It will not perform well in a dark corner indoors. If you place it in direct sun, monitor it to make sure the leaves do not bleach or burn. If they do, filter the sun with a sheer curtain or move the plant further from the window.
The soil needs to be kept evenly moist. If a banyan bonsai tree becomes too wet or dry it will drop its leaves.
Trees of this species respond to any change in their culture by dropping leaves. If the change is dramatic, the tree may drop all of its leaves. This is alarming but it is not cause for panic. Once your bonsai ficus adjusts to the change in its circumstances, it will sprout new leaves.
Any time the leaves begin to grow too large for your taste, remove them. They will grow back smaller.
Unless you live in zone 10 or 11, you should bring the banyan bonsai tree inside when outside temperatures fall into the 40s F. at night. The tree will freeze if it is left out over the winter.
After you’ve brought the tree inside, place it in a bright, well ventilated spot away from radiators or heat vents. It will probably defoliate no matter how carefully you move it. Don’t worry, it will adjust. Let the soil dry a little more than you do in the summer.
*The oldest living bonsai in Taiwan is a banyan tree.
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Your plant guides,
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