Banyan Bonsai comes from common fig trees growing naturally in Southwest Asia. These type of trees have hundreds of species and most of them are tropical and perennial. Banyan bonsai trees can tolerate a lot of indoor conditions making it ideal ornaments inside the house. Commonly characterized by distinct areal roots hanging on its branches, it is no surprise that this tree species is one of the most in demand in the bonsai market today.
Banyans were first introduced in the 15th to 16th century as part of trading. The name “Banyan” actually refers to the Indian traders who sit underneath these trees looking for comfort and shade during a long day of trading. From then on, all the trees of the same characteristics, that is having roots from above, were referred to as Banyans.
Varieties of Banyan Bonsai
There are two common varieties of Banyan that most bonsai enthusiasts are fond of collecting:
- Banyan Figs or Ficus benghalensis usually starts being an epiphyte. These are the types of plants that usually grow on openings and holes of a host tree or on walls. Upon growing, it becomes independent and can outgrow the size of the host plant. Banyan Figs bear multiple fruits that serve as food for birds and other wildlife. In return, these fowls help in the pollination and the propagation of the seeds.
- Chinese Banyan or Ficus microcarpa is a variety that originated in Southeast Asia. Just like Banyan Figs, Chinese Banyans bear fruits that serve as food to animals. Propagation of Chinese Banyans are abetted by animals who scatter their seed everywhere. Its leaves are usually elliptical in shape characterized by a glossy green color. The bark of this banyan variety is mostly gray and resembles animal skin.
Other varieties of Banyan Trees include The Central American banyan, The Florida strangler fig and the The Moreton Bay fig.
Distinct Features of Banyans
Though Banyans may come in several varieties, they share common features distinct to Banyan trees. Areal roots are its most distinct feature. Upon reaching a particular age, roots grow in its trunks and, in some varieties, grow very thick and becomes a part of the actual trunk. As the tree grows older, the roots become wider and occupies a lot of space. This makes the Banyan trees ideal for those who wanted shade. Leaves of banyan trees are generally green since most of them came from tropical countries.
Growing Banyan Bonsai
The overall process of growing a Banyan bonsai is not that complicated. In order to make the plant grow healthy, the owner needs to provide these basic requirements of the plant:
- Location – the tree can be placed indoors near a sunny window as it does not require much sunlight. Early morning sunlight is more preferable for the plant since high noon sun might be harmful to them.
- Watering and Fertilization – Banyans usually consume a lot of water and the soil on your pots may dry out fast. It is important to monitor the moisture content of the soil using a moisture meter to be able to know when to water the plant again. To supplement nutrients to the bonsai, addition of fertilizers may be necessary. Organic liquid fertilizers are recommended and once every two weeks fertilization is ideal.
- Repotting, Soil, Pruning and Wiring – Repotting is recommended for Banyan bonsai every two years using a basic soil mixture with organic components. There is no specific rule of thumb in pruning Banyans since they grow pretty much moderately. It is the discretion of the owner when to prune and to what extent. If you want to train your Banyans to grow into a specific shape, wiring maybe necessary. However, avoid wiring, Banyans after repotting them.