Thursday, 29 December 2016

Deconstructing a Ficus Pumila Houseplant

My smallest tree is this little Ficus Pumila which I grew from a cutting several years ago.

Ficus Pumila - November 2015

The parent plant was one I bought to use as material for cuttings but, given the slow growth of my little tree, I only ever propagated two more cuttings from it and I gave both of those away a long time ago.

My initial plan was to keep the parent plant as a houseplant but it was never happy indoors, so I soon decided to move it outside for the summer months, bringing it back inside as soon as the nights got chilly. Even that proved problematic though as it always suffered a lot of die-back while indoors, so last winter I moved it into my greenhouse instead and it's been thriving there over the last few months.

And that was the way I intended it to stay until I came across a post about a Ficus Pumila bonsai at Reddit a few days ago. The one in that post is a lot larger than mine and seeing it made me wonder if I could use a piece of my houseplant to create a bigger bonsai.

Ficus Pumila houseplant

And so began the hard job of untangling and pruning this mess to see what useful trunks I could find.

Close-up before pruning

Given Ficus Pumila's propensity for layering itself there were stems aplenty, though only two had any substance. Still, once I started separating them, I didn't want to kill any so I felt obliged to repot them all. I ended up with six individual plants of various sizes and potted the remaining fragments as a clump in one small pot. Maybe I'll try to fuse those together later on.

Divided and potted up

This is the fattest one.

It will almost certainly become another mame.

This one is slightly thinner but has better potential to make a larger tree, especially if I wire the cascading section upwards.

I'll probably do a little wiring to the two biggest ones once they're settled in their new pots. Other than that I'll just leave them to grow for a while.

This is definitely going to be a long, slow project, but in time I should be able to produce something much more interesting than the unruly plant I started out with. Assuming they survive, that is.


  1. I have seen and heard about many Ficus bonsai, but never from Ficus pumila! To me, pumila is a creeping vine. I generally like Ficus and how they can sprout roots and branches from anywhere on the plant, how they can grow back from heavy cutting, etc. Your articles are full of inspiration.

    1. Thanks for your kind words. Ficus Pumila isn't commonly used for bonsai but if you search on Google you'll find a few, though they tend to be very small because it takes so long for the trunks to thicken.