Saturday, June 16, 2012

Plant of the Month :  Ficus   Benghalensis
by Suganthi Aiyaswamy (a member Bodhi Bonsai  Chennai.)

 Ficus  Benghalensis   is  commonly   known  as   Banyan. It  is  a large  and  extensive growing  tree of  the  Indian  sub--continent .Due to the  complex structure  of the roots and extensive  branching,  the banyan   is  used for creating  Bonsais.

Bonsai of Ficus Benghalensis

The  tree  produces  propogating  roots  which  grows  downwards,  these  aerial  roots  touch  the ground  and  grow  into  woody  trunks  that  become indistinguishable   from  the  main  trunk.

The  leaves  are  oval in shape,  thick  and  leathery   glossy green  with a    smooth  margin,  and a short
petiole. Young  leaves  have  an  attractive reddish  tinge  to  them.

The  trees  can  be  trained  into  an  informal  upright  style or  can be placed  over  rocks

Soil :Red  earth,  sand  and  humus  in  equal amounts  work well for ficus, The  soil  should  be allowed to dry out  between  watering. Spray  or  mist  the leaves  .

Propagation: Soft  wood  cutting  planted  in  soil  takes  root  in  3 to 4 weeks   Young  trees  need  repotting  every year. Do  not  remove  more than  20%  of the roots.  Wiring  can be done  anytime  of  the  year, but  the  wires  should not be allowed  to remain  on  the  plant for more than  a few months  at a time

A banyan  starts its  life  when its seeds  germinate  in the cracks  and crevices  on structures  like  buildings  and  walls,  or  on  host  trees. As they  grow  they  strangle  the  host tree or building,  so  they  are  also  called   Strangler  Fig.

The  Banyan   Bonsai   is  favoured   by  a  lot  of Bonsai  growers  since  it  is easy  to   take  care.   The  aerial  roots   if properly  controlled  will   improve   the appearance  with  no  risk  of   them   spreading
outside  the  pot.

( This article is reproduced from April 2012 issue of 'Bodhi Bonsai News Letter' )

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