If you’re new to growing bonsai, the thought of the task might seem overwhelming. Luckily, there are some plants that seem as though they are tailored for beginners.
One of those plants in the Ficus bonsai. The ficus genus is part of the extensive family of mulberry plants and is one of the most popular indoor species of bonsai specimens.
With roughly 800-2000 ficus species on the planet, ficus trees are adaptable and well-suited for being kept in indoor conditions.
Here’s everything you need to know about growing the ficus bonsai.
Interesting Facts about Ficus Bonsai
Height: 3 feet
Width: 6 inches
Sunlight: Full, direct sun
Flowering Time Length:
Lifespan: 100+ years
Scientific name: Ficus Retusa
Types of Ficus Bonsai
You will find hundreds of types of ficus as you begin searching for plants, but the best species for bonsai is the Ficus Retusa. This plant has a trunk that curves in an s-shape along with deep, dark green leaves that are oval-shaped.
Some other varieties, most of which are quite similar in nature to Ficus Retusa, include the Willow leaf, Tigerbark, Microcarpa, Golden Gate, Benjamina, Religiosa, and Taiwan varieties of Ficus bonsai.
Another option is the Ficus ginseng. Like the common ginseng root with which you are already familiar, the Ficus ginseng has a thick trunk and is often grafted with Ficus microcarpa.
What all Ficus bonsai have in common is that they have a milky latex sap. This leaks from any cuts in the plants. In addition, all tropical figs are evergreens, with many producing nice flowers that sometimes hideout of plain sight.
Growing Ficus Bonsai from Seed or By Propagation
Ficus bonsai can be grown from seed or by propagation. If you decide to plant from seed, do this in the spring. If you choose to plant cuttings, you will want to use midsummer growth, while air-layering is best done in the early spring.
How To Care for Ficus Bonsai
Here are useful tips how to care for bonsai trees:
Ficus bonsai must be kept indoors in most locations, as it cannot handle even a light frost. You may have some success keeping this plant outside in the summer, as long as temperatures remain above 60 degrees.
You will need to provide your tree with plenty of light. Full sun is best, both for plants that are grown indoors as well as those that grow outside. Shade is not ideal under any circumstances.
While Ficus bonsai is very particular when it comes to sunlight, that is not necessarily the case when it comes to water. You can water this bonsai species just as you would almost any other bonsai specimen. Simply water whenever the soil is too dry.
If you happen to over- or underwater this plant on occasion, don’t panic! It’s not the end of the world.
Providing Ficus bonsai with room temperature water that is somewhat soft is ideal. You can also mist on a daily basis, which will help maintain proper humidity. This can also prevent problems related to overwatering, such as root rot and other fungal issues.
Since it’s necessary for you to position for Ficus bonsai in a bright, warm location, it will dry out more quickly, even in the winter.
You can fertilize your Ficus bonsai once a week or even once every other week during the summer. In the winter, if the plant doesn’t go dormant, you can fertilize every two to three weeks. You can use organic pellets or liquid fertilizer to get the job done.
Potting and Repotting
Ficus bonsai should be repotted every other year. You can use a basic soil mixture to do this. It does well with root pruning, so you may want to do this when it comes time to repot your plant, too.
Pruning a Ficus Bonsai
Over time, it will become necessary for you to prune your Ficus bonsai. You only need to prune back to two leaves after six to eight have developed. This can reduce leaf size and help the plant put on more vigorous growth. If you want the trunk to become thicker, let the plant grow freely for two years.
You’ll have to cut more intensely and deeply after letting the plant put on this much growth, but don’t worry – these cuts shouldn’t affect the health of the plant. New shoots will grow from older wood.
Occasionally, you may also need to wire your plant. Wires need to be checked often as they can cut into the bark.
Pests and Diseases
Ficus bonsai is very resistant to pests, but there are a few problems that can occur depending on where you live. For example, both dry air and too little light can weaken the plant and leave it more susceptible to leaf drop.
When a plant becomes weak, it’s also more likely to suffer from issues like spider mites or scale. Usually, misting the leaves is a good way to prevent serious problems. You can also increase the amount of light to which your plant is exposed.
Where to Buy Ficus Bonsai
You can purchase Ficus bonsai from just about any nursery or home store. They are usually sold as potted plants or specifically as bonsai. Just be careful purchasing bonsai that seem cheap. Often, these plants bring a ton of problems along with them, like scars and poorly grafted branches.
Instead, you’re best off purchasing a Ficus bonsai from a reputable bonsai trader that specializes in these kinds of plants. You’ll find healthy and well-styled plants from these sources.
*Photo by Photo-Jope&MKhamidulina/depositphotos