Roots over Buddha - how?

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Per PF
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Roots over Buddha - how?

Post by Per PF »

I have this unstyled Ficus Benjamina:
IMG_3773.jpeg
And this Buddha figure:
IMG_3775.jpeg
Size comparison with hand:
IMG_3776.jpeg
And I thought it would be pretty cool to have the Buddha sitting under the tree with some roots growing over him. The lotus base he's sitting on would be at least partly buried under the soil surface.

How would you go about this? Sphagnum around him? Bury him and gradually remove it?
(The pot size is fixed so I'm going to need to root prune to make room.)
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Re: Roots over Buddha - how?

Post by KIRKY »

Sphagnum moss would be the easiest. Just put the statue where you want it then cover both tree and statue with the moss. Keep damp to raise humidity and you will get aerial roots.
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Re: Roots over Buddha - how?

Post by shibui »

Ficus are tough. Many can grow without even having roots in the soil and you can take advantage of that by bare rooting the tree then place roots over the statue (or rock). I then wrap the whole thing in aluminium foil which is great because it will mold to all the crevices and hold roots tight against all the surfaces. Bury the whole thing so the top of the foil is just sticking above the soil. Pressure of soil outside the foil helps hold roots closer to the surface.
With ficus it is not even necessary to have roots sticking out the bottom. The existing roots will keep growing down between statue and foil until they eventually emerge into soil below. Just need to have the top open so water can run down to keep the roots alive while they grow.
Sphagnum could be used with ficus if you like. Sometimes it holds just too much water and the roots can rot but should be OK for ficus because they are tough. Don't put too much sphagnum or soil. Roots need to be as close to the surface as possible and added stuff tends to push some roots away.

After a year you can dig it up and unwrap to check progress. Rearrange roots if required. Rewrap and bury again if the roots still need to grow more but when you are happy with progress just plant the whole thing at the right level. No need for progressive uncover of roots, they can adjust provided the tips are still in the soil to provide food and water for the tree.
I have a few ror ficus developing this year.
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Per PF
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Re: Roots over Buddha - how?

Post by Per PF »

Thanks again guys I really appreciate your answers. That's a great tip about aluminium foil. I'll consider these options and keep you posted when I get the time to dig in.
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Re: Roots over Buddha - how?

Post by legoman_iac »

One thing mentioned to me recently, was to take a few branches, stick them in the soil, let them grow new roots, then take them out and add ontop, so the roots run down the statue. I haven't tried it yet, but sounds like a great way to quickly add roots/interest?
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Matt S
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Re: Roots over Buddha - how?

Post by Matt S »

Hi Per,

I did something similar a few years ago with a strangler fig, although in this case I just planted a cutting on the shoulder, wrapped in foil and waited. Shibui’s method is spot on and you should get a good result in a few years. I also have a Chinese elm on a Buddha which I’ll take a picture of if I get a chance soon.

88AE6E1B-66D9-4862-9037-F73CAE053A5E.jpeg

Matt.
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Re: Roots over Buddha - how?

Post by Per PF »

Nice tree Matt!
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Re: Roots over Buddha - how?

Post by Per PF »

Today was the day! Thanks again for all the answers and suggestions.
21-04-05A.jpeg
21-04-05B.jpeg
21-04-05C.jpeg
The roots had gotten away on this one with some bulbous action.
I pruned away the largest bulbous parts and snaked some of the remaining around and under the arm of the statue.
21-04-05D.jpeg
(Took some root cuttings..)
21-04-05E.jpeg
Added the aluminium foil (more diligently than in this photo).
21-04-05F.jpeg
And here's how the poor bastard ended up 8-) (I also changed to a finer pumice size)
21-04-05G.jpeg
I'll let time do its thing... :fc:
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Re: Roots over Buddha - how?

Post by shibui »

Nice roots. They should grow really well on the little statue.
You did well taking off the bulbous roots. They would have caused real problems getting the roots close enough to the surface of your statue. So many people are too frightened to cut roots. Even if F. benjamina has a reputation for not liking root work it will still cope with losing just a few any time it is repotted.
Ficus are a species that does not seem to grow new surface roots easily so your planting should be OK as is. Trident maple do grow new roots easily and I have learned the hard way to make sure the foil is showing all round above the soil. If there is any spot where roots can escape over the top a trident will do so and those surface roots grow so much faster than the ones wrapped on the rock. Always make sure the foil is above the surface when using this ROR technique.
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