Developing a Ficus benghalensis or
any large leaf fig
by Jerry Meislik
Ficus benghalensis is one of the large leafed figs. It grows to be an immense tree in its native environments and also will develop huge aerial and pillar roots in moist areas of the world.
Creating a bonsai from this type of large leaved material can be done in several ways. One is to find a large old specimen and reduce it. A healthy tree can be cut back severely on the trunk and sprout new foliage and branches that will become the future of the tree.
A second method makes use of a very young seedling or young rooted cutting by wiring to create an interesting shape. Young trees and branches are flexible and can be formed into pleasing shapes with wire.
Once some basic shaping is done defoliation can be used to produce more branching and smaller leaves to bring the design into scale.
With all large leaf figs it is easiest to shape them into large bonsai to keep leaf size in scale with the bonsai creation. Defoliation is used to keep leaves in scale with smaller trees.
The sequence above is to demonstrate the shaping of a young plant with wire to create a potentially exciting bonsai in future years. Large leaves make the process more difficult but still possible.