Ficus Bonsai Tree Care

The word bonsai is a combination of two words "bon" and "sai". It simply means "a plant in a tray". People often mistakenly think that bonsai is a separate species, yet it is an art form expressed by all types of plants and trees growing. Bonsai trees were originally found in Japan. Authentic records of bonsai trees date back to the early 14th century. Nowadays bonsai reflect different tastes and times of variety of countries and cultures. In Japan bonsai trees are regarded as a cultural symbol.


Short history of Ficus bonsai

There are many species which have ficus genus in the world such as evergreen trees, shrubs, and woody climbers, but there are about half a dozen that are commonly used for bonsai. See the following species: ficus benjamina, ficus microcarpa (or giseng ficus), ficus retusa (or Green Island fig), ficus salicifolia, etc. Figs are found in tropical and sub-tropical areas. Many are native to southern Asia and India. Only two originated in Florida, however numerous species have been introduced to the American tropics. Ficus bonsai is extremely suitable for beginners because it is easily shaped and grows quickly.

General description of Ficus sub-species

FICUS BENJAMINA BONSAI. Popular house plant due to its elegant growth and tolerance to poor growing conditions. It has oval, thinly leathery leaves. Reductions to the trunk and the branches should be made gradually. The leaves are very sensitive to small changes in light. When it is turned around or re-located it defoliates easily.

FICUS RETUSA, or FICUS MICROCARPA BONSAI. A rapidly-growing, rounded, broad-headed, evergreen tree. Bears beautiful oval, glossy, dark-green leaves up to 10cm long though these reduce with ease. Ficus retusa bonsai is extremely tolerant for small amount of sunlight and poor humidity. It also easily regenerates even after hard pruning.

FICUS GINSENG is another variation of FICUS MARIPOSA. GINSENG FICUS has oval, dark green leaves and rootstock which has characteristic shape to the ginger root. The bark of ginseng ficus is of reddish colour. This ficus needs only a modest amount of water.

Leaves and trunk

Most Ficus species evolve produce aerial roots from the branches and huge trunks in nature. Some are straight, some curved, others fluted. Most will do the same in containers. Bonsai leaves vary in size depending on the species. Not all fig trees have small leaves. Some are twelve inches or more across.

Flowers and fruit

Ficus fruits and blossomFicus trees have flowers, although they are not visible. The "fig" fruits are small and often colorful. They grow on short stems, without stems and in clusters depending upon the species.

Tolerance to climate

It is possible to grow Ficus bonsai outdoors but only in places where the climate is mild. Ficus bonsai are not frost hardy but they need to be protected from frost and cold temperatures. Thus for people living in other-than-tropical climates, the tree should be kept indoors during the winter under fluorescent lights. Ficus bonsai will do well when the temperature does not fall below 15°C.

Tolerance to sun

When indoors, Ficus bonsai should be kept near a south facing window. Ficus will tolerate full sun. However temperature fluctuations should be kept to a minimum, so do not position the tree near the radiators which dramatically dry the surrounding air.


All potted plants will eventually outgrow their containers. The miniaturization of a bonsai trees is maintained by keeping the roots confined to the small container. The tree should be removed from its container and its root inspected once a year while it should be repotted every two years. Ficus bonsai needs to allow the water to drain easily, thus use basic soil mixture when repotting. Sufficient fertilizer is important for their growth, since ficus bonsai are grown in limited soil amounts.


Watering must be plentiful during the spring and summer period while the plant is outside. In winter, allow the soil to dry out before watering. Spray the plant often to maintain humidity.

Pests and diseases

As living trees, bonsai are susceptible to insect attacks and disease. The biggest probems can be caused by mites and scale insects. Also you may find black spots on your fungus. Defoliation can be the consequence of overwatering or incorrect position of bonsai tree. Yet Ficus bonsai will leaf out in 3 to 6 weeks if the conditions are improved.

Shaping ficus bonsai

Ficus bonsai can be shaped into the desired form by pruning or wiring. Pruning also reduces growth above ground in order to maintain a balance with root growth. It is better to prune Ficus in spring. You can trim branches of various sizes by sharp scissors or shears. When pruning back smaller branches, leave a short stub which will dry out over the following days, removal of this dry stub is easy and leaves a far smaller scar in the bark.


Ficus bonsai vary in styles and size. The most popular bonsai styles are simple forms such as informal upright and leaning styles. Also you may try the following styles: small groups, multiple trunk, raft, and semi-cascade.

Ficus bonsai Summary

Since Ficus is tropical and sub-tropical species, they can grow indoors. Various techniques such as pruning, wiring, and trimming can be applied for shaping bonsai. Light and humidity are essential for ficus bonsai. Ficus bonsai is perfect for beginners because it is not difficult to care for and just in two years he will have an impressive and beautiful bonsai tree.