Forcing Aerial Roots on F. Benjamina?

ShadyStump

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I have somewhat of an abundance of benjies, growing every time I chop or prune one. I'm not often a fan of the jungle of aerial roots look, but I would like to experiment with it on some.
My problem is I live in a fairly dry climate, so I really can't expect any of my trees to start generating aerial roots on their own.

There must be methods of forcing it. What have you tried, and how did it work?
I though of just sticking a cutting tube of water over a twig with the foliage trimmed off, but that seems too easy to actually work.
 

Lorax7

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I cut the top off of a plastic Solo cup, leaving just the bottom inch and a half or so, filled it with water, wet a piece of string, hung the string over the top of a branch above, and placed the bottom of the string in the plastic cup. So far, nothing has happened. However, I did this over the winter, so maybe the ambient air is just too dry for it to have an appreciable effect on the humidity near the branch. Alternately, maybe the growth rate is just too slow now for anything to happen (because it's winter and it's under lights now, not outside in full sun).

So, that's one thing that, apparently, doesn't work. 🤷‍♂️
 

penumbra

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Best way I know to force And grow roots is putting the plant in a big terrarium. An aquarium will work, or a grow tent or some other creative enclosure.
However, F benjamini is one of the least likely candidates for aerial roots. It might be possible but none of mine have formed aerial roots. Several other ficus have, but not benjamini.
 

ShadyStump

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F benjamini is one of the least likely candidates for aerial roots. It might be possible but none of mine have formed aerial roots. Several other ficus have, but not benjamini.
Well, I have sufficient trees to experiment on.
Might just try each method over the summer.

They root so easily, I imagined it would be fairly common in the wild. Not as common as other varieties perhaps, but not rare. I could be wrong in that assumption.
 

penumbra

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green tea bottles for cuttings,
We are alike it so many ways.
For me, being very pot bound and having a lot of foliage seems to lead to aerial roots on most trees but I'm in South Florida so it could just be that too.
But have you seen aerial roots on F benjamini?
Anyone?
 

penumbra

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Big benjaminas very rarely have aerial roots same as religiosas, microcarpas yes almost all the time have aerial roots
I suspected as much upon observation of my own Ficus. I have about 10 species.
 

ShadyStump

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@ShadyStump, your Benjamina needs a vacay in South Florida. There. Problem solved.
Oi, after the week I've had, so could I!
Big benjaminas very rarely have aerial roots same as religiosas, microcarpas yes almost all the time have aerial roots
I've tried Google searches for big benjaminas, hoping to find some inspiration for styling, and it's not worked so well. I get results for any old ficus out there, and have to dig to make sure it's a benjamina.

That said, it's not unheard of in bonsai to style a tree to resemble another species. I've seen boxwoods made up in oak-like structures, for example. Not always convincing, but sometimes very much so.

Any suggestions on how to get aerial roots started artificially?
I have material enough to experiment, and I'm certain others would be interested in a successful technique.
Maybe a prick or cut in the bark, then wrap like an air layer? Might work just to wrap it.
 

Ugo

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Hi!

As other mentioned I found it easy in a grow tent with high humidity level.
I selected a few of theses roots and fused them on the branches hoping it will look natural.

One thing that worked for me is water a specific place where you want a root, apply cut paste over it to trap the moisture and wait.
It worked at 80% of the place where I used the paste to old root ls against the branches.

20211103_213656.jpg
20211123_214408.jpg
 

Grovic

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We are alike it so many ways.

But have you seen aerial roots on F benjamini?
Anyone?
There's a mall here that has some benjaminas in pots and they have aerial roots, but they are fairly large trees, I'd say about 8 ft tall, with 3-4 inch trunks, so obviously the roots were grown in wherever place they came from. But I also have never seen benjaminas in bonsai nurseries, except for those "too little" cultivars.


Any suggestions on how to get aerial roots started artificially?
I have material enough to experiment, and I'm certain others would be interested in a successful technique.
Maybe a prick or cut in the bark, then wrap like an air layer? Might work just to wrap it.
The best tutorial I've found on growing aerial roots is from Nigel Saunders:


Say whatever you want about the guy, but this tutorial is right on the money. I tried it last year and got aerial roots sprouting in a week, like from 5 different spots, although I only kept one. I'm using a propagation tray with a clear dome, this year the tree has been in it for like 2 weeks and it is growing an aerial root with several ramifications, I'll upload a pic later if possible.
My tree is a microcarpa, but I think if growing roots in a benjamina is possible, this method would be your best shot.
 

ShadyStump

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Hi!

As other mentioned I found it easy in a grow tent with high humidity level.
I selected a few of theses roots and fused them on the branches hoping it will look natural.

One thing that worked for me is water a specific place where you want a root, apply cut paste over it to trap the moisture and wait.
It worked at 80% of the place where I used the paste to old root ls against the branches.

View attachment 422572
View attachment 422573
I'll give this a try as soon as I get to up-potting some of these cuttings! Might play with different media that just cut paste, seeing as how all I have is plumber's putty. Have you tried different stuff, or just cut paste?

There's a mall here that has some benjaminas in pots and they have aerial roots, but they are fairly large trees, I'd say about 8 ft tall, with 3-4 inch trunks, so obviously the roots were grown in wherever place they came from. But I also have never seen benjaminas in bonsai nurseries, except for those "too little" cultivars.



The best tutorial I've found on growing aerial roots is from Nigel Saunders:


Say whatever you want about the guy, but this tutorial is right on the money. I tried it last year and got aerial roots sprouting in a week, like from 5 different spots, although I only kept one. I'm using a propagation tray with a clear dome, this year the tree has been in it for like 2 weeks and it is growing an aerial root with several ramifications, I'll upload a pic later if possible.
My tree is a microcarpa, but I think if growing roots in a benjamina is possible, this method would be your best shot.
I've never had any issues with Nigel Saunders. He has a light hearted, playful approach to bonsai that I really appreciate. Right up my alley, though we have very different styles.
I think I just missed this video. I don't get to just watch TV much any more. 😝
Thanks!
 

ShadyStump

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As an FYI, part of what made start down this particular path was just a little while ago @penumbra mentioned that benjies shouldn't have branches wired below horizontal or they weaken and die...
But I'd already done it. 😰

Now I'm thinking I might save this section by getting a couple aerial roots to form down that branch helping to feed it a little more.
 

Grovic

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The ones that form in late summer always dry up in the winter on the Benjamins.
Last year one of the aerials in my ficus didn't reach the soil, I assumed it would dry up and die, but I didn't cut it. After a few weeks, the root didn't look shriveled, I wiggled it and a bit of sap came out of it, so I left it alone. This year when I put it in the propagator that root started growing again.
 
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