Ficus Religiosa / Bodhi Tree Bonsai: Easy to care and grow

Ficus Religiosa / Bodhi Tree Bonsai: Easy to care and grow
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Image by Saroja Raghu

Bodhi tree are famous as ornamental bonsai plants. Bodhi Tree Bonsai not only look beautiful but are also easy to groom and train. They grow fast and can survive in harsh conditions to an extent. The maintenance is low and they do not require much care when compared to most of the bonsai plants.

Quick Details of Bodhi Tree

Other Common NamesBodhi Tree, Sacred Fig, Peepal Tree, Ashwattha Tree
TypeOutdoor plant
MaintenanceModerate/ high in case of bonsai
FloweringSpring (in natural habitat)
LightBright direct sunlight, can tolerate partial indirect light
WaterWhen the soil is dry
TemperatureWarm humid conditions
SoilWell drained soil
FertilizerAny liquid fertilizer
HabitatIndia
ToxicityNo
Common DiseasesResistant to diseases
Scientific nameFicus Religiosa

Overview of Bodhi Tree

Bodhi trees belong to the Moraceae family and are native to India and south west china. They are semi evergreen trees that can grow up to a height of 38m when grown in their natural habitat. The leaves are green, cordate shaped with a drip tip. They bear figs which turn purple after ripening.  The plants have a lifespan of up to 1500-3000 years and more. They are fast growers and more than attaining height, the plants spread in width extending their canopy.

Bodhi Tree, Bodhi Tree Bonsai

Image by truthseeker08 from Pixabay

Special feature:

The tree is considered sacred in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment sitting under the bodhi tree. The barks peel off as the trees age. The figs ripen usually after defoliation of the tree.

Usage and Advantage of Bodhi Tree

  • Grown as a bonsai. Bodhi Tree Bonsai are fast growing and have a long life.
  • Used in traditional medicine to treat inflammation, various diseases, sexual disorders, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, asthma etc.
  • They are grown for its fruit.
  • Sacred beads are made from their seeds.

General Care for Bodhi Tree Bonsai

Special Care:

Pruning, Trimming and Training:

A shallow pot is used to grow Bodhi Tree Bonsai. Under potting and constant pruning, proper care and training are the keys to grow a healthy bonsai plant.

While growing a Bodhi Tree Bonsai, care should be taken to prune the plants regularly and at the right time. Pruning and training the plants are important to grow a healthy and good-looking bonsai plant.

The pruning can be done regularly to remove the overgrown branches and to shape the plants. The unwanted branches can be removed to shape the plants according to one’s need. The tips of the branches can be regularly pinched off. While pruning, few leaves should be left on the branches. Removal of all the leaves from the pruned branches can affect the health of the plant. The whole ficus can be defoliated to promote new foliage growth. This should be done only to healthy bonsai.

The branches can be wired using aluminium or copper wires. The wired branches can be bent to shape the branches. The wires should not be wound very tightly. This can cause marks or cuts on the branches when they grow. Wire the branches when they are ½ inch thick.

The Bodhi Tree Bonsai can be re potted once the trunk grows 1 inch thick. They are uprooted and the roots can be trimmed to ¼ its height and later potted into a new potting mixture. They are regularly watered and kept in shade or partial sunlight for 2 weeks and fed with an NPK fertilizer every 2 weeks. Re-potting can be done during mid-summer or spring. Re-potting basically involves the changing of soil and trimming the roots of the plants.

Placing the Bodhi Tree Bonsai in the correct spot: 

The ficus should be placed in spots with direct sunlight or filtered sunlight. During summers or springs, they can be placed outdoors. Adjust the position by examining the leaves of the plants. If the leaves turn yellow it is an indication of stress. The bonsai can be shifted to shade or sun accordingly.

During winters, they can be taken indoors where there is ample amount of light and protection from cold.

They do not prefer to be moved often. Hence a proper spot should be selected and the bonsai should be left undisturbed. They tend to drop leaves in case of change in weather.

Soil:

Any well drained potting soil can be used. The soil should be well aerated as they produce extensive root system, heavy soil can prevent the spread of the root

Watering:

Ficus prefers moist conditions but should not be over watered. Water the plant when the soil is bone dry. If the soil is dry till the bottom when the finger is stuck into the pot the plant is ready to be watered. Deep water them till the water drains out through the drainage hole. They prefer moisture. The pot can be placed on a pebble tray with water. The evaporation of water from this will help maintain moisture.

Light and temperature:

Bodhi trees prefer indirect bright sunlight. It can also adjust to partial indirect light and shade. They do not show much physical changes when exposed to bright sunlight or shade. They are tropical plants and cannot tolerate cold conditions. The plants prefer warm and humid conditions. The aerial roots develop when the temperatures are warm and humid or mostly during the rainy season. To grow aerial roots, the plant should be provided the optimum conditions.

Fertilization:

The ficus plants can be fed with fertilizer ones in a week during the growing period i.e., spring and summer and ones a month during winters. The plants require a balanced fertilizer. A mixture of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus in the ratio of 3:2:1 can be given as these nutrients are essential for the growth of the plant. A nitrogen rich fertilizer also works well.

Pests and other problems for Bodhi Tree

 The bodhi trees are resistant to almost all pests and pathogens.

Propagation of Bodhi Tree

Propagation Method:

The propagation of can be done through stem cutting, seeds, marcotting.

Stem cutting: The stem can be cut off from the parent plant. The leaves at the bottom are removed leaving 2-3 leaves at the top. The cutting is dipped in rooting hormone and planted in a moist soil. It is watered regularly and placed in a place with ample amount of sunlight.

Seeds: The propagation through seeds is easy but availability of seeds can be a problem. The bonsai plants very rarely bear fruits. The seeds can be sown in soil, left in a place with indirect sunlight and watered regularly till the seedlings appear. They can be shifted to a much brighter spot once the seedlings appear.

Marcotting: A healthy stem is selected for marcotting and 1 cm height skin is removed from the stem. Moist mud is placed around the cut and covered completely with a plastic cover. This helps in retaining moisture. This is watered daily. The stem can be cut and planted separately once the root develops from the cut.

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