How to Grow the Bodhi Tree

Written by megan mattingly-arthur
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Known botanically as Ficus religiosa, the bodhi tree is a broadleaved, semi-evergreen ornamental tree with wide-spreading branches and distinctive heart-shaped leaves. The bodhi tree is sacred to Buddhists and Hindus, as it is believed that Gautama Buddha was meditating under a bodhi tree when he received enlightenment. Because of its religious significance, bodhi trees are thought to bring happiness, prosperity and good luck to their owners. Native to Southeast Asia, bodhi trees grow best in warm, humid climates, such as U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and 11.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Peat moss
  • Dehydrated manure
  • Perlite
  • Shovel
  • Garden fork or tiller
  • Alfalfa meal
  • Garden hose

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  1. 1

    Select a planting location, considering the sunlight, soil and space requirements of your bodhi tree. Search for a full sun location that regularly receives more than six hours of direct sunlight per day and offers soil with favourable drainage. Note that mature bodhi trees can reach heights of up to 100 feet with an equal canopy spread. Choose a planting location that provides adequate room for healthy development.

  2. 2

    Layer 3 inches of equal parts peat moss, dehydrated manure and perlite over the surface of the soil at the selected location. Use a shovel, garden fork or tiller to work the amendments into the top 24 inches of soil to improve its aeration and drainage.

  3. 3

    Dig a planting hole that is twice the diameter of the garden centre container that the bodhi tree came in. Note that the depth of the hole should equal the height of the container.

  4. 4

    Position the bodhi tree in the planting hole and carefully fan out the roots. Return the displaced, improved soil to the hole. Pack down the surface of the soil around the base of the tree.

  5. 5

    Sprinkle 4 cups of alfalfa meal fertiliser over the surface of the soil in a 4-foot diameter around the bodhi tree after planting. Triacontanol, a naturally occurring growth hormone found in alfalfa meal, stimulates the tree to develop a strong, extensive root system in its new location.

  6. 6

    Water the tree with 1 gallon of water immediately after applying the alfalfa meal to water in the organic fertiliser and moisten the soil surrounding the bodhi's roots. Continue to provide the bodhi tree with 1 inch of irrigation per week from spring to fall, while the tree is actively growing. Provide supplemental irrigation only when rainfall is insufficient. Reduce watering to just 1 inch every two to three weeks during the fall and winter months, when the tree does not require as much moisture.

Tips and warnings

  • Trim any diseased, damaged or dead branches from your bodhi tree in the winter, when the tree is not actively growing. Use sharpened and sterilised pruning tools to prevent the spread of plant diseases when pruning bodhi trees.
  • Avoid planting bodhi trees within 60 feet of sidewalks or driveways as the tree's shallow, but strong, root system can break through the concrete.

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