Cultural Requirements for Bo Tree
Answered by: Richters Staff
Question from: Barbara Tryfos
Posted: Before April 1998

I would appreciate information about growing the Bo Tree (Ficus religiosa) as an indoor plant, especially advice about pruning. I got the plant from you about 18 months ago. I kept it in the small pot that it came in for several months, until the roots had filled the pot and it stopped growing. After repotting, it grew vigorously. At the same time, I moved it to a brighter location; some of the leaves became scorched and eventually fell off, so I moved it away from the window. It now has two small branches from the base, but is mostly growing straight up. Should I prune the "leader" that is growing straight up? The roots do not fill the pot yet, but growth is very slow. I am feeding it about once every two months, and it shows new growth after feeding. Does it need more frequent feeding? The colour is strong, so I think the light must be about right, although it is quite far from the window. I would appreciate any advice; this is a lovely tree but growing very slowly, and I am not sure how to take care of it.

The bo tree is also known as the "bodhi tree", "peepul" or "sacred fig". It is a tender perennial, hardy to zone 10, growing 20-30 m (70-100 ft) high in India. With pruning it can be grown successfully as a pot plant. It needs full or partial light and fertile, well-drained soil. Plants should be watered sparingly during cool periods.

Yes, you should feed more often. A high nitrogen fertilizer such as fish emulsion or bloodmeal is ideal. Despite the "scorching" the plant got near the window, you should move it closer to the light. Bo trees will eventually grow more profusely when exposed to stronger light. Pruning the "leader" will encourage bushier growth, but do not prune now if that would leave only a few leaves. Better to wait until the plant has adjusted to the brighter light.

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