Being a common and the most popular bonsai tree to grow for beginners, the ficus bonsai has between 800 to 2000 variations. A common trait within all ficus trees, is their milky, latex sap, that leaks out of their wounds and cuts. Though some have beautiful flowers, sometimes hidden by the plant, it takes a specialized fig wasp to pollinate them.
Being an indoor bonsai, you must avoid frost at all costs. They need to be in a temperature about 59 degrees with a vast amount of light. Ficus trees can live within a low-humidity climate, but prefer a more tropical, high-humidity setting. To begin to develop aerial roots, humidity must be extremely high, and the temperature should stay as consistent as possible.
You should use fertilizer weekly, or bi-weekly in the summer, while in the winter, it should be every two to four weeks. (assuming growth doesn’t go dormant) You can go with organic pellets, or liquid fertilizer, as both are safe to use.
Watering should occur regularly. Whenever the soil starts to get dry, you should apply a generous amount of water. The water should be of a soft consistency, and be at room temperature. The ficus can withstand occasionally being over-watered, and under-watered, but this should not become a habit. To maintain the proper humidity level within the trees environment, it is recommended to mist the tree daily. Use caution when doing this though, because certain fungal problems can arise if misting is overdone. The warmer the climate in which you ficus tree is in, the more water that is needed to satisfy your tree, and promote optimal growing conditions.
Pruning Your Tree
To maintain the tree’s shape as best as possible, regular pruning and trimming will be required. Some ficus trees leaves can grow to be rather large, so regular pruning can help to restrict the size of the leaves. When the tree has grown about 6-8 leaves, you will want to prune two back. If you are wishing to increase the size of its trunk, the plant should be left untouched until the desired size is reach. Cuts after this period will not negatively affect your trees health. If a large size wound does occur on your tree, it should be covered with cut paste.
Ficus branches are rather malleable. This makes wiring thin to medium-strength branches relatively easier. You should check your wires frequently though, because scarring and wires cutting into the bark, can happen rather quickly. Remove or re-wire any that are or could potentially cause any damage to the bark to promote healthy growth and harden the plant against pests.
The use of guy-wires to shape strong branches is highly recommended, as these wires can stay on the tree for longer periods of time without causing adverse harm to your tree.
Possible Diseases and Pests to be Wary of
The ficus is rather resistant to pests. With this being said, a variety of problems can arise, depending on the trees location. These problems are more prominent in the winter season. Leaf drop can occur if the trees are exposed to dry air for extended periods of time. This can also be caused by a lack of light to the tree. When your tree is exposed to conditions mentioned above, it can lead to your tree becoming ill with scale and/or spider mites.
If these conditions transpire, customary systemic insecticide sticks should be placed within the trees soil. Miticide or insecticide sprays will also suffice. However, the compromised health of you tree must be improved and strengthened. It is highly recommended to use a plant lamp (with about 12-14 hours of direct sunlight), as is frequent misting of the leaves while you are nursing your ficus bonsai tree back to health. The extra light and water provide the necessary nutrients to help the tree get back to a healthy state.
Overall, the ficus bonsai is a great introduction for beginners looking to grow a bonsai tree. If you’ve never grown one before, I’d recommend starting here as they are quite easy to grow compared to other species. They are also quite resilient, and live with a somewhat negligent or forgetful owner; that’s not to say you should neglect them though as like all plants they do need care!
If you’re looking to get started I’ recommend checking out this Bonsai from Amazon:
The bonsai comes at 4 years old, so it’s already grown enough to enjoy. Bonsai trees take quite a while to grow, so grabbing one a few years old is generally a good idea.