Ficus Nitida

The trunk of the tree, a smooth light grey, is exceptional growing up to about a meter or about 3.3 feet in diameter which is strong enough to support the fast growing, broad topped and rounded foliage.

Endemic to the Malay Archipelago, the Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, India, Australia, New Caledonia and Sri Lanka, the Ficus Nitida is growing very fast and would reach a height of about 15 meters or around 50 feet or more.

Like all other plants, water and nutrients are absorbed and retained in the roots but here it could be stored for longer periods which allows the plant to survive even in very harsh conditions making it an ideal plant for the indoors and with some learning they could be turned into some great Bonsais.

The leaves have a leathery texture and are dark green in color, elliptic shiny and smooth the branches are well dressed looking like some weeping branches.

The young leaves sprout out throughout the year providing a two tone effect on the tree with a light Rose to Chartreuse color.

Around 8 centimeters or 3 inches long, the leaves on short stems that are much branching can be snipped or trimmed regularly to bring different and specific shapes that would be desired, whilst it would bear an incredible fruit or two.

Care as an indoor plant

Planted in large pots it would grow rapidly but if planted in a small pot it could be kept a miniature for life, whilst the ultimate size would depend on methods of watering, feeding, trimming of which you need to be in control.

The leaves should be thoroughly cleaned regularly if grown indoors to ensure that they are free of dust and grime present in the air.

Sunlight for the plant

It does fairly well in either medium light or when positioned to receive some Sunlight every day.

Ideal temperature

Grows well in normal warm rooms but can be acclimatized slowly to any other temperature as they are highly resilient to temperature changes.

In hot rooms it would be prudent to ensure that no Red Spider Mites attack it as they are known to thrive in such hot conditions.

They are also quite resilient to any climate other than those with regular frost and in such areas it would be advisable to leave it under cover or shift it indoors when frost is imminent.

Temperatures below 13 degrees Centigrade or 55 degrees Fahrenheit could cause long term damage, this is very so when they are young.

Watering the plant

The plant prefers some moisture at the roots and whilst keeping the top half of the soil in the pot dry before you water it again the plant will help itself to dry out longer.

Fertilizing the plant

Ant standard liquid fertilizer every week but at half strength would help an active growth and once the fall is over let it be without any fertilizer, keeping in mind no plant should be fertilized when sick or dry.

Potting and repotting

Use the right pot size keeping in mind that these plants would prefer some cramping of the roots hence using large pots may not be the right way to go.

Utilize more soil based mixture and it would be better if the pot looks small for the plant and when up potting always use one size bigger only when it is necessary, that is when roots stick out of the drainage holes or minute roots visible on the surface.

When repotting do so in spring and use water sparingly until it begins to have acclimatized to the new pot and less water during the first couple of weeks after repotting and also do not shift such repotted plants into the direct Sunlight but keep in appropriate shade.

Propagating the plant

It can be propagated using healthy stems about 15 centimeters or 6 inches in length which should be taken in spring and then potted about 8 centimeters or 3 inches in depth into pots which would have equal parts of peat moss and sand.

The cutting should be just below a node and then carefully remove the lower leaves then wrap a polythene around the pot and expose it to room temperature providing bright filtered Sunlight.

When the shoots appear which is when rooting is complete set aside the polythene and water the plant just enough to keep the mixture in the pot moist.

After about four months and once the plants are well rooted repot into a one size bigger pot which would have the same soil mix as an adult plant.

Some tropical seed propagators do have seeds that they have propagated but finding them would be quite an exercise.

Uses of the plant

Found in many countries more as a container tree and frequently used for landscaping, whilst being used for boulevard trees where there is no frost as it can be susceptible to it.

It is also great as an indoor plant with a good position to receive good Sunshine and if kept in the dark it would seek light by growing towards it.

Trim the long branches or bend it or roll it into shapes and it can be a handsome bonsai at home because it tends to tolerate any indoor condition.

Having this great bonsai uniqueness it would be great learning for beginners due to its lovely light grey bark, super bas roots and would also make experienced bonsai growers an opportunity to try out new shapes.

It is a plant in the forefront of the much hyped “Feng Shui” planning that is taking the world in a storm.

Problems to cope

They are usually infested with Mealy bugs and other pests for which the treatment would be the appropriate pesticides which should be followed before dispensing.

Also avoid excessive watering as this may cause root rot which is a very common occurrence and keeping the roots just moist is what is required and that could curtail many problems.

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