Ficus are easy to develop into root-over-rock designs as they have aggressive roots that tolerate gradual exposture to air and the roots really do well growing over rocks. The photo is of a Ficus burkei ‘puberula’ cutting that was placed on the rock, roots wraped to keep them tight on the rock and then planted deeply so the roots were not exposed to air. Gradually over some years the soil was removed from the rock and the roots exposed. Done repeatedly the rock was elevated and more of the roots showing. This picture is about 10 years or so after the procedure was started.
The tree about ten years before the image on the right was taken
At long last it is here. The World of Ficus Bonsai by Jerry Meislik. I have been learning more and more about Ficus and how incredible they are for bonsai and for growing in your home. I have expanded and added new material to create an enlarged and updated book on using Ficus for bonsai. The book is 324 pages full of great information and full of pictures. It is available as a e-book or as a soft or hard cover book. You can purchase it on:
One of favorite species for bonsai is Ficus tremula. I have only recently been able to find the species and started growing it. I originally saw the species in South Africa in the collection of Hennie Nel, a great bonsai artist and grower.
The species grows easily from seed, cuttings and root cuttings. Leaves reduce well and it produces figs from the trunk at an early age. A few of my trees that are just several years old are shown in the photo.
I think all bonsai and fig lovers should give it a try
Some 6 months I have been waiting for a cutting of Ficus burkei ‘puberula’ to show some signs of rooting. This is a long time for this Ficus species to show no evidence of rooting.
I did see some foliage poking out of the soil in the corner of the pot. So, I unpotted the cutting and what did I discover?
The cutting actually had roots in the soil and at the end of the cutting. But, it also had roots and foliage coming from the “bottom” of the cutting!
Conclusion?? I had potted the cutting upside down! Despite this fact the cutting was completely alive and roots were coming out in two places from the cutting as well as sprouting leaves from the bottom or more accurately what should be the top.
I repotted the cutting and in a few weeks it will be growing normally and a lot more quickly. I do recommend that cuttings be placed properly oriented in the soil for the best results but the result indicates that figs can take this error in stride. Just another of the amazing capabilities of Ficus!
Ficus burkei ‘puberula’ cutting with some foliage coming out of the soil
Close up of the folaige1. Roots growing from the cutting 2. Roots and branches and foliage growing from the “bottom” of the cutting
The cutting now planted the right way. Branches and foliage will soon grow back upright
This is a Ficus rubiginosa grown from seed collected by a friend while traveling in Australia. I bought the young tree from him about 40 years ago. The photo shows how the tree has evolved from the left side photo taken in 1985 to the right photo taken in 2019.
Rubginosa is one of the strongest Ficus species that I have grown and responds really well to growing indoors under lights. Leaves are a bit large but with defoliation they reduce extremely well. Even aerial roots can form under moderately dry conditions.
In this Ficus microcarpa ‘melon seed’ I needed a left side branch. As you can see in image 1 there is no branch. Fortunately, several small branches sprouted in the right spot and to speed the development of the branch three of the sprouts were tied together with cable ties, image 2. Two of the branches were brought outward and used to develop side branches. All the branches were allowed to grow and to fuse. Side and front views of the branch show a nicely developing left main branch. Sometimes fusion will allow you to create a heavier and more detailed branch more quickly than with the usual techniques.
Ficus microcarpa ‘melon seed’ progression of fused branch on left