African strangler fig (Ficus natalensis)

The African strangler fig is a fast-growing East African species commonly used for bonsai. In the wild these trees can start growing on other trees, eventually killing the host tree by “strangling” it with ficus roots. The bark is used to make barkcloth.

I started this tree from root cuttings in 2014. I bought its parent from Bonsai Collectables in 2013.

September 8, 2019:
The tree today, defoliated.

May 10, 2014:
The tree five years ago as a pile of root cuttings left over from a repot of another tree.

August 14, 2014:
Its first growing season.

Jan 24, 2015:
The tree at the start of its second season.

April 11, 2015:
First wiring.

August 1, 2015:
Becoming a little tree in a pot.

December 5, 2015:
The tree at the end of its second growing season.

December 6, 2015:
Pruned.

January 16, 2016:
On the bonsai benches.

March 12, 2016:
Bare-rooted.

Over-potted in a large pot. This one is a fast grower so I wanted to give it plenty of room.

March 12, 2016:
Ready to grow in my standard mix of pumice, black scoria, akadama, and worm castings.

June 4, 2016:
A protective army of praying mantises, attached to the tree earlier in
the season as an egg sack.

November 19, 2016:
Branch selection at the end of the season.

January 14, 2017:
Aerial roots.

March 11, 2017:
Spring pruning and wiring.

July 22, 2017:
The tree taking shape.

January 1, 2018:
Start of the fourth growing season.

October 27, 2018:
End of the fourth growing season, restricting the tree height with wire.

February 24, 2019:
The tree at the beginning of the fifth growing season, this year.

September 8, 2019:
The tree earlier this morning.

September 8, 2019:
Defoliated.

September 8, 2019:
The defoliated tree from another angle.

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