Lumpy Ficus Roots

Joe1980(5)May 7, 2012

Anybody ever have an issue with ficus roots being lumpy? With repotting season looming, I decided to check out the plants that need repotting, one of which is a typical variegated ficus benjamina. I scratched down 1/2" into the gritty mix to assess the roots, and I found that every root has a bulb like shape just below the surface. This particular plant is in a 5" pot, and is being trained into a bonsai tree. I have to imagine that this problem will pretty much scrap the tree for bonsai. What do you think?

Joe

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Root knot nematodes or crown gall.

Al

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 8:56AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Unless you're just describing the normal roots of the plant, which can grow very bulbous and look a little like sweet potatoes.

Al

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 2:18PM
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Joe1980(5)

They do look like potatoes, and I suspect it is normal now that I searched a few terms on google that relate to it. Question is, what in the world do I do with it? Just lop off a "potato" or 2 each year? Or will they keep coming back?

Joe

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 5:07PM
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marguerite_gw

They look great if you expose the roots and grow them in bonsai pots. They seem to like that.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 4:30PM
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Joe1980(5)

My intention is to do just that, expose the roots. However, these bulbous potato roots look goofy, and to me will ruin the look of the tree. If I knew that the roots would eventually fill in and level out with the bulbs, I'd be ok with it. Is it possible to carve them down to be even with the roots, or do I need to remove them?

Joe

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 9:19PM
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marguerite_gw

Joe, I'll try to take a picture of mine and post it later. I really like the bulbous roots. I've seen them on other ficus plants too, not just Ficus benjamina.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 1:05PM
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marguerite_gw

Joe, here is the link to the Ficus benjamina on Flickr. I really like the look of the exposed roots, but in the end it's a personal choice. The roots were visible when I bought the plant.

If anyone has any idea of the variety name I would be delighted.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ficus with roots

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 10:00AM
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Joe1980(5)

Mine are not that thin all the way through. My goal is to expose the roots, or develope the nebari. The roots on mine start out nice, but about 3/4" from the trunk, below the soil, they have disproportionally large bulbs that look like potatoes. After doing some google searches, I found a few pics of some that look decent, so I guess I'll start exposing them, and see if they grow in. I wonder if they can't be trimmed down a bit with a razor knife?

Joe

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 10:05PM
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marguerite_gw

Joe, they appeared much lumpier initially, but since the plant has grown some have thinned out. You probably can't see the thicker ones because of the photo, it was hard to get the light right. They remind me of dahlia tubers more than anything. The plant is at least five years old now, and the 'tubers' are getting a stilt-like appearance. I wouldn't carve them because it might be hard on the tree, but then I'm not growing my ficus as a bonsai, but a houseplant.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 5:34AM
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