A large forest tree in India, banyan can be grown for a limited time - often several years - as a pot plant. Even growing in a heated greenhouse it will reach 10m or so don't expect to be able to keep this plant for ever.
It needs to be kept in a warm place all year round. This particular species is not as popular as other Ficus which are commonly grown as house plants, and can be harder to track down.
Will not survive outside, except in the very hottest months of summer. Minimum temperature 12-15°C during the winter, 25-30°C in summer.
Usually bought as a growing plant from a garden centre.
If you are lucky enough to have a healthy plant, you can take cuttings during spring and summer by putting short pieces of young shoots, each with a single leaf into a 50/50 mixture of compost and aquarium gravel, and keeping them in a warm place out of direct sunlight. Allow the pieces of shoot to dry a little (they will exude a sticky latex) before you stick them in the compost. Make sure you put the cutting into the compost in the same direction as it was growing on the plant, with the stem which was nearest the roots on the plant facing downwards - it's easy to tell this by looking to see which way the leaves grow on the stem. You may need to prop the large leaf up with a stick to stop it breaking away from the stem.
Banyans like a light position away from direct sunlight, so a north-facing windowsill is ideal.
As the plant grows move it into a bigger flowerpot, but you may have to grow it in a pot on the floor when it gets very large! Use a good brand of ordinary potting compost to repot it with. Feed the plant occasionally with a soluble fertilizer during the summer. Banyans like to be lightly misted with a fine spray of water every day during the growing season - if you can, use rainwater for this, as tapwater sometimes leaves greyish marks on the leaves.
Plants growing in dusty classrooms will grow better if their leaves are gently sponged with a soft cloth and lukewarm water once a week, but don't apply leafshine products as they can clog up vital pores in the plant's leaves.
Red spider mite can be a problem - the plants look pale and unhappy. If you look carefully you may see a fine webbing around the base of the leaves and the stems, and sometimes tiny specks of orange or rust colour on the backs of the leaves, which are the mites. Regular misting of the plants to keep the atmosphere around the leaves humid helps stop spider mites becoming established.
Suppliers: You may find this plant in the indoor section of large garden centres.
It's sometimes called an India Rubber Plant, but has less shiny leaves than the true rubber plant, Ficus elastica.