Root cuttings are one of the easiest ways to develop a good bonsai from throw away materials. Repotting a fig bonsai is needed every year to 5 years depending upon growth, species, size of pot etc.
On removing some of the larger and more shapely roots the root is potted up with the root hairs in the soil and the cut end sticking out of the soil about 1-2 inches. After 2-6 months the end of the root will sprout new leaves and stems. Over time the new growth can be shaped to be an interesting bonsai. In addition most of the root can be lifted out of the pot to make a longer trunk.
Not all fig species will sprout from roots but natalensis is one that sprouts very easily.
Ficus natalensis, root cutting that has sprouted new stems and leaves
The same root cutting after a year of growth and wiring for shape
This is a young plant grown from a root cutting of a Ficus natalensis. The root cutting sprouted three branches.
To develop a new apex and create a better transition to the new apex, two of the sprouts were pulled together with electrical ties. A month or two passed and the ties were removed. The lower part of the fusion appears to be nicely grown together but the upper portion is not fused. So several new electrical ties were placed in areas adjacent to the old ties.
Root cutting of Ficus natalensis
Side view shows three sprouts have grown from the root cutting
To develop a thicker transition to the trunk two of the sprouts were tied together with electrical ties
After a month or two the ties appear to have worked
The ties were removed and the upper part of the fusion was not together. Some mild scars from the ties will be present for about 6 months. With growth they will disappear.
Two new ties were placed adjacent to the old ones and growth will be allowed to speed the fusion more completely
Some basic wiring was done to give the young bonsai a bit of shape
The definitive reference work on Ficus
for bonsai. The book is a softcover, 8 by 10 inch volume, with 144 color pages, containing detailed information for the beginner as well as the advanced hobbyist.
Ficus natalensis is one of my favorite species for bonsai. It has many characteristics making it suitable for bonsai. One, of these is how easily it is grown from root cuttings.
The images show one of mine that is only 2 years from a root cutting.
Root cutting in 2013
Same cutting in 2015
This is an exercise in bonsai creation that is just for fun. The plant is a Ficus salicaria, Willow Leaf fig, grown from a root cutting. This was a very long root, perhaps 2 feet in length. Foliage has sprouted at the cut end but how to design a tree out of it?
One possibility is to place a lot of wire on it and to twist and turn and bend until the trunk is quite contorted. The result is as you see. The foliage canopy will need shaping but for now it is being left untouched to allow the trunk to grow and to hold the shape we have set into it with the wire. Literati or bunjin is the closest shape or style grouping in which this might fall.
I perhaps may change my mind and move the trunk into another shape.
The root cutting before it was shaped.
After wiring and twisting a shape emerges
Or is this shape more pleasing?
Another possible shape