Ground layering ginseng ficus

I was given this Walmart special, ginseng ficus by a neighbor because it was loosing it’s leaves and She thought she was killing it. She knows I enjoy a fun safe so she brought it over. I took it out of his Walmart container and repotted it as you can see. The tuberous roots were buried orriginally and I continued to that effect when I repotted (those ginseng roots are ugly). Planted upright it looked like an uncircumcised phallus (I swear, and it wasn’t just me ) so I planted it in the slanting style that you can see. Interestingly the similarity between this “trunk“ and the bulbous roots are very striking in all but it’s shape. I’d like to plant it more Upright and so am thinking of ground layering the roots higher up the trunk. I replanted it last summer ,

it looks like it’s flourishing so I was wondering if this might or might not be a good time to do that. Thank you all in advance.
Ken

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If you repotted last year, and it’s been growing well, I think you’ll be in good shape. I did the same thing with a Walmart ficus I got earlier this year.

The original root reached all the way down an filled the nursery container. I took a saw to the bottom, leaving only a few roots, and made it fit into a smaller pot.

Now the root reaches half way down the pot, and has no weird gaps. It’s been growing amazingly well since. Those roots probably store a ridiculous amount of resources, because the plant didn’t even miss a beat. Hoping to get a fat, stumpy, sumo looking shohin out of it.

If you’re not going to go with a full cut, I would recommend making cuts into the trunk in the spots that you want new roots.

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Thank you Alfredo. Appreciate the reply. Little sucker actually looks quite good. I’m a Little confused however. Are you saying that you actually and quite simply cut the roots off without any attempt at layering (i.e. girdling and replant over the cut). Come to think of it though :thinking:, How much different is that from just chopping and putting it back in the ground . Like you would a cutting. Come to think of it, i’ve seen videos in which ficus cuttings practically never fail. I’m curious as to what experience others have had.

I’ve actually done both! This larger one I sawed off as high as I could, while leaving only one small feeder root. About where the red line is.

You can actually see the root coming off the trunk in the picture. I then stuck it in my normal bonsai mix and hoped for the best.

I have this smaller one that I raised the soil level on and made cuts around the trunk. Like an airlayer to get rid of reverse taper.

Both of them rooted and are doing great, but I liked the way the larger one feels further along than the little one. Now I have to go in and remove the lower chunks on the little one, which I don’t have to do on the first.

Whichever way you choose, I’m sure it will be fine, as long as you are mindful of after care.

I noticed that I got a shot of growth shortly after repotting both, way before any roots could form. I think it was the plant putting out more panels to grow roots, but I’m lucky I waited before putting them back in direct sun. Otherwise, the trees would not have had a way of replenishing moisture. It really was a balance of water and oxygen that helped them pull through.

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Hi Alfredo. It’s been a while but I thought you might enjoy my update. I followed your lead and just cut the roots straight off at the trunk line and place it in academa and kept it watered in a portable greenhouse. It really seems to like it there. As you can see it’s getting a lot of growth and it’s going through its second season now. I haven’t messed with it and will likely wait until summer. But do you know when is the best time to prune? Thanks Alfredo.
Ken

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I’m excited that the tree is doing so well. I’d go easy on the pruning until you are sure you have a nice new root system. Your ficus likely threw out more leaves to replace its roots.

With ficus, I’ve noticed that the best time to prune is in the spring, before the new growth, because a healthy ficus will hardly miss a beat at that time. Thing is, with a healthy ficus that isn’t going to really go through a rough winter, you can prune just about any time. They are tropical trees that don’t really stop growing or go dormant. They slow down in the winter, but in the right conditions, they don’t really stop.

These ficus store a lot of energy in those bulbous roots, which is why you can chop all the roots off and put it back in soil without killing it. If it’s going to stay outdoors, wait until the spring growing season. You could get away with it at any time, but give yourself and the tree a better chance for success. Especially after such a drastic repot.

Please keep me updated! Mine or both still alive and growing. I’ll likely work on them in March and put some picture up here of the progress.

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Awesome Alfredo! Perfect! Your advice is exactly what I was looking for. Looking forward to your posts and will post again with my results in the future. Thank you so much.

I think I should mention for everyone, that these ficus are the only trees I would try this with, due to their vigor. Also, the only reason I’ve chopped the roots so drastically, was because I’ve successfully, severely root pruned ficus before, and I wanted to test how far they could be pushed. I haven’t lost one of these bulbous ficus yet, and have even successfully started a root over rock with one.

I live in a very temperate climate that these plants thrive in. I would not recommend it as a normal practice. With good aftercare, the plants have done well, but I don’t think I would do this with a larger, or more valuable, specimen.

And I would definitely not do this with any other species of plant, or maybe even other types of ficus.

I’ve had good experience with this, which is why I know it can be done, but it’s definitely a gamble, so please do it with caution.

Hey what soil mixture would you recommend for the Ficus?

Thanks

I use a 1:1:1 of lava, pumice, and diatomaceous earth, with sphagnum moss as top dressing. I wanna say the size is 1/16"-3/8" for the lava and pumice, but the DE is at 1/4”. I bring everything down to 1/4"for shohin. I pretty much follow Ryan’s guidelines for the particle size. The DE size difference is not on purpose, it’s just the size I could get. Akadama is really expensive for me to get, though I would likely use it if I had it.

The mix I use holds moisture well, but breathes well enough to keep the roots from cooking in my summer heat. I don’t get any rain here though. If you live somewhere with a lot of rain, maybe consider switching out the DE with something that holds less water.

Thank you. I am in the UK and Akadama is readily available and its not too bad in terms of price. So would you recommend I use 1:1:1 ratio of Lava, Pumice and Akadama instead of DE?

We get a fair amount of rain in London even during the Summer, i’ve used Akadama for all my other trees and they seem to be doing really well. I will post a pic once its repotted.

Thanks once again for your insightful advice :blush:

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Hi Ali. You‘ve apparently followed the discussion above. I did in fact chop the “roots” ( those large bulbous appendages)off completely. Just above where they met with the “trunk”. Actually I’m not convinced that it is the truck in as much as it bears such a similarity to the “roots”. The tree is a real curiosity for me and I wonder if they change with maturity. I’ve seen much larger ones but they also have those big tubers only bigger. After cutting it straight across I put it in a large pot with 100% acadama and kept it well watered. No fertilizer. The grafted on Microcarpa is growing well and has been putting out plenty of new shoots But the “trunk” seems to be the same size. If anyone has a picture of one about 10 or 20-year-old I’d like to see it.

I don’t know how well it will do in akadama, but I would think it would do better than the DE. I think some people do all akadama, but like I said, I don’t have much experience with it as a soil particle.