The Ficus religiosa, often called the bo tree, Bodhi tree or peepul tree, is the scientific name of the tree under which Gautama Buddha is said to have become enlightened. Because of this link, the tree is sacred in both the Buddhist and Hindu religions. Although native to the tropics, Ficus religiosa can grow under a number of varying conditions. Ficus religiosa is primarily grown as an ornamental or sacred tree.
The Ficus religiosa makes an excellent bonsai. Because the trunk and roots often are indistinguishable, with the thick roots appearing to be multiple trunks, the many above-ground verticals give your Ficus religiosa bonsai a unique look. When growing ficus religiosa as bonsai, the soil should dry out briefly between waterings, but do not allow it to remain dry for too long. Allowing the soil to dry out briefly will encourage root growth as the roots search for water. Repot and trim the roots on your tree every two years.
Ficus religiosa grows well in pots that can be moved inside when outdoor temperatures become too cold for the tree. Ficus religiosa will only winter over in Florida, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. In all other areas, you will have to grow it as a potted tree. A potted tree will not require the care and pruning of a bonsai and will grow much bigger, its size limited only by the size of the pot. Repot your Ficus religiosa every two years, trimming the roots halfway back to keep it the same size or planting the tree in a larger pot.
If you live in Puerto Rico, Hawaii or Florida, you can plant Ficus religiosa as a landscape tree. The deciduous will lose its leaves in winter. A Ficus religiosa adds a dimension to your garden when its leaves shimmer with the slightest breeze. Because of the lack of a particular type of wasp that pollinates the tree, Ficus religiosa must be propagated from cuttings in Hawaii. In Puerto Rico and Florida, the trees may propagate well from seed.