Several months ago I bought a ficus bonsai starter plant from a garden center that specializes in bonsai (I've been attending bonsai meetings there and have benefitted greatly, by the way.)
The ficus is doing great - nearly doubled it's leaf count, and continues to show a lot of encouraging signs. Good roots, trunk taper, branching structure.
It's getting to the point where I should probably be thinking of how I want it to ultimately look, and I think I'd like to move in the direction of a banyan style.
How can I encourage more horizontal growth? I've been told cutting off part of the top will make the plant redirect it's growing efforts into a more horizontal plane. I am undecided if I ought to leave a few branches that are too low on the trunk - they'll likely stay on longer, probably another year or two, to help thicken the trunk.
I read in a book (I believe it was entitled something like The Bonsai Survival Manual, a tree by tree guide) that ficus are similar to willow in that they will readily root from cuttings. There was no mention of applying root growth hormone. The book also mentioned it would be pretty easy to take a ficus cutting and get it to grow roots over a rock to form the "root over rock" style.
Any opinions from people more experienced with this? Would it be reasonable to think that if cutting off a little bit of the top would encourage the horizontal growth I want, could I plant the cutting and expect it to root all by itself, without applying any root growth hormone? If so, I might give it a shot, pending some advice from the next bonsai meeting. If I can get the cutting to grow some roots, I'd like to train it in the root over rock style pretty quickly from a young age.
Thanks for the input.