fat roots - ficus

davidfromdetroitNovember 17, 2007

My ficus tree bonsai has some roots that can be seen above the surface of the soil. This year, for some reason, the roots swelled to become disproportionately fat. (They kind of look ugly frankly.) They look like ginseng roots that are oversized for the plant.

What may have caused this? I know the plant is due for repotting this coming spring and I did fertilize with miracle grow over the summer. Could one of these things be a cause?

Thank you,


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What kind of ficus is it supposed to be?

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 4:59AM
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bonsaibean(7 - TN)

Ficus are well known for getting these fat roots you describe. It may be a matter of lowering the plants position relative to the top of the soil, or you may have to remove the worst offenders if that isn't an option. Before you start cutting off large roots though, you really need to take a good look at what you're removing, and what you're leaving to make sure you're not going to harm the plant too much.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 8:57PM
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I do not know what type of Ficus it is supposed to be. It was a gift and I was never told.

I had thought of cutting the uglier roots off, although I will wait until spring when I inted to repot anyway so I can be careful about it.

To my original question - is there anything I did (am doing) that might promote or mitigate the fat roots?


    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 11:21PM
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buddaboy(qld aust)

David, You could have a ficus retusa 'Pot Belly'. This variety are grown for their roots. Go to Ebay & search for:


This will show what they can look like. ( I am in no way affiliated with the seller of this tree.) From the web:

Ficus Retusa, or the Pot Belly Fig, is an amazing relative of the giant Banyan trees, and is one of the most popular of all indoor plants. The Pot Belly Fig has small dark green, oval leaves which alternate up the stem. They have grey to reddish bark dotted with small horizontal flecks, similar to tiger-like markings. All have heavy trunks with exposed aerial roots. The plant is used extensively in Feng Shui planning, and is rapidly replacing lions at the entrances of houses in China, with one planted on each side of the entrance, or indoors in strategic positions. In China they are also known as Ginseng Fig, as the roots closely resemble the root system of the notoriously famous Ginseng plant, which cannot be grown in pots.

The incredibly amazing root system swells and stores water and nutrients to allow the plants to survive in harsh environments without food and water for a long time. For this reason, they make an excellent indoor plant. The roots continue to swell as the plants get older, and with some training, they can be grown into amazing bonsai.

I hope this helps,

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 6:38AM
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Thank you so much. I am really confident you have accurately identified the ficus. The description is an absolute bulls-eye. Thank you so much for the input !!


    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 5:42PM
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Another Follow-up: I did some more research and the ficus retusa you suggested is VERY close, but in fact slightly different. I did find THE perfect match though via internet hunting. It is a 'ficus benjamina pandora'.

Thank you again for the help.


    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 8:53AM
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