Ficus Techniques : 27

Repotting: When is it time to repot or not?

by Jerry Meislik

One bit of advice often dispensed is to pot the immature or young bonsai into a larger pot or to move the tree to a ground bed in order to allow for stronger growth, to improve health, to develop more trunk thickness and to develop a more mature bonsai.

As we all know Ficus are aggressive growers in their native tropical and sub-tropical climates. They aggressively send roots out of their root systems often breaking open sewers and water pipes in their search for moisture and nutrients. Many figs can also send aerial roots from branches and trunks in the same pursuits.

My bonsai friend Judy Hsiao of California recently sent me pictures of a bonsai Ficus microcarpa banyan growing in Taiwan at her friend's home. The tree was planted and trained as a bonsai in a pot by Judy's friend's father. One day he noticed the root escaping the pot and asked his grandsons to move the small root so that it could root into the ground. Records indicate that this may have been in 1992.

As we know Ficus send many roots out of the pot in warm and humid climates but these are normally removed before too long. In this case the fig found ground growing quite suitable and expanded to the size in the photograph! In the process the pot was blown apart by the tree and wire was used to hold the pot shards loosely together. It has been kept this way to show how the tree originated and to amaze onlookers with the vitality and life force of Ficus trees.

The future of the tree? We doubt that it can now be moved into a pot to continue its life as a bonsai but is to be enjoyed as a garden tree. It is also testament to the power of a happy and thriving Ficus!


Photo 1. The full sized tree in its Taiwan garden setting.


Photo 2. Shattered bonsai pot held together with wire. Huge tree behind the pot is the same tree growing into ground behind the shelf!


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