Ficus Hanging Around


If you visit any stockist of indoor plants you are sure to come across small potted trees called Ficus Microcarpa ‘Ginseng’, or ‘Banyan Bonsai’. Although in their natural habitat these trees, which are native to Malaysia, Taiwan and other Asian countries, grow into evergreen giants with huge root systems, novelty growers have found a way to dwarf them into pseudo-bonsai ideal for patio or indoor decoration.

The origin of these ‘fad’ trees is quite interesting, as seedling trees are grown on a commercial scale and dug up while still young. The unusually thick roots are then cut off and treated with agro-chemical stimulants to encourage the sprouting of adventitious buds on the ‘stumps’ to form new foliage. The plants are then also treated with growth inhibitors to maintain a compact form.

How did we do this?
For our hanging tree we removed a little Ficus Microcarpa ‘Ginseng’ from its container, covered its soil ball and small anchoring roots with a piece of old pantyhose, and then packed on a thick layer of dried florist’s moss (available at nurseries and hardware outlets) before manipulating it gently into a ball. The whole lot was then tied together with twine, although fishing line can also be used. The package was then hung up using thin galvanised wire.


Care Tips
• These trees grow in moderate to low light conditions indoors. If your tree is outdoors, keep it in mottled shade.
• Do not over water plants in containers, but rather allow the soil to dry out before watering. The hanging tree will dry out faster so give it a little water every day.
• As this is a tropical tree, it enjoys frequent light misting in hot, dry weather.
• If grown as a bonsai, re-pot your tree into a larger container in spring every 2-3 years.
• For more information on pruning these trees to shape, google ‘Banyan Bonsai’. There are hundreds of relevant websites out there.

The Gardener