What is the Ficus Bonsai?

The most common and easy-to-care-for indoor bonsai tree is the Ficus Bonsai. While no one can agree on the exact number of Ficus species, the estimated number is between 800 and 2000. Ficus trees grow in all tropical regions and are ideal for growing indoors.

The most common variety of Ficus is the Ficus Retusa. The Ficus Retusa has an S-shaped trunk and dark green, oval leaves. Another popular Ficus species is the Ficus Ginseng. This tree has a thick trunk and is often grafted with microcarpa Ficus leaves, which would result in a Ficus microcarpa Ginseng.

All ficus bonsai trees have milky latex sap. This sap leaks from the tree’s wounds when injured. Some Ficus trees can produce flowers, and many species’ flowers are hidden in the fruit receptacles. These flowers can only be pollinated by special fig wasps. The fruit that grows from the bonsai trees is fairly small and can be red, yellow, green, or blue-purple.

Caring for a Ficus Bonsai

Position

The Ficus tree is an indoor bonsai tree that cannot stand frost. These trees can be kept outdoors in the summer if temperatures are above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Lots of light is preferred at all times. Do not place this tree in the shade. These trees are tropical, which means they prefer high temperatures consistently all year round. And while they can stand low humidity, they thrive in high humidity and need high humidity in order to develop aerial roots.

Watering

Watering a Ficus bonsai is much like watering any other bonsai tree. This means you should water the tree when the soil gets slightly dry. Water generously, allowing the water to drip out of the drainage holes. Once the water stops dripping, water once more. The Ficus can live through occasional over- or under-watering. Room temperature soft water is ideal. While you shouldn’t overdo it, daily misting is advised in order to get high humidity. The warmer the Ficus is in the winter, the more water it will need. 

Fertilizing

Fertilize every week or every other week in the summer and every two to four weeks in the winter. Liquid or solid fertilizer can be used.

Wiring

The easiest branches to wire are thin branches and medium-strong branches because of their flexibility. Be sure to check on the wire regularly as the wires can cut into the tree’s bark very quickly. Use guy-wires to wire strong branches because they won’t cut into the tree as quickly.

Pruning

Ficus trees take pruning very well. In fact, it is necessary in order to maintain the shape of the tree. Once 6-8 leaves have grown on a branch, prune 2. Pruning off the leaves can also reduce the leaves’ size as well. To thicken the tree’s trunk, grow the trunk freely for a year or two. Cuts that are strong but necessary will not affect the tree’s health and new shoots will grow in that space. Cover large wounds with cut paste.

Special Training Techniques

The Ficus tree’s trunk, branches, and roots can fuse together with pressure. This means you can tie young shoots together to create one big, strong trunk. You can also perform approach grafting on these trees. Young plants, shoots, or aerial roots can be grafted onto wounds to heal wounds faster. 

Propagation

Cuttings can be planted at any time, but for best success rates, plant cuttings in mid-summer. Growing trees from plants will work best in the spring.

Repotting

Re-pot every other year in the spring.

Diseases and Pests

When properly cared for, Ficus trees shouldn’t have any problems. They are very pest resistant. Without proper light and humidity, the tree will weaken and develop leaf drop. If this occurs, the tree is likely also infected with spider mites or scale. Interstices specifically designed for the problem at hand will help, but the plant’s conditions must be improved to save the plant. Misting the plant’s leaves and adding artificial lighting will also help.

The Ficus bonsai tree is ideal for those just starting to grow bonsai trees. These trees are fairly pest resistant and forgiving when it comes to watering. Fertilize every few weeks depending on the season. These trees respond well to wiring and pruning and are able to withstand many special training techniques. Happy growing!