The banyan fig is a massive tree in terms of height and spread, said to have the largest canopy of any tree in the world. Growing to heights of 100 feet and spreading with massive limbs and prop roots up to 300 feet. It is the national tree of India, where it is considered sacred, temples are often built beneath the large, spreading canopy of these trees. The banyan begins life as an epiphyte on a host tree, seeds having been deposited by birds. When banyan aerial roots reach the ground they strike root forming separate but connected trees. Once numerous new trunks are formed, the tree becomes a small forest. The crown of the tree is irregular with dense foliage. Leaves are leathery, ovate, shiny green, smooth above and velvety below, 5 - 10 inches long. Flowers are borne in pairs, yellow in color but inconspicuous, pollinated by specialty wasps. Fruits are cherry-sized, pink to red, globose, downy and edible, containing numerous very small seeds. The fruits attract birds which disperse the tiny seeds. In Asia banyan has numerous medicinal uses and is considered a sacred tree. Banyan will grow on most any soil type, dry to wet.
- The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Put the soil in a pot. Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet.
- Sow the seeds on the surface of the mix. Do not cover; the seeds need light to germinate.
- Water the seeds.
- Set the container outdoors in full sunlight or partial shade if temperatures are above 77 degrees Fahrenheit. If temperatures are too low, keep the container indoors under artificial lights.
- Keep the soil moist; do not allow it to dry out. Germination takes between 15 and 90 days.
- Transplant seedlings into individual containers when the second set of leaves, or true leaves, appear.