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How to Grow a Ficus Bonsai Tree?
Having the thought of growing Ficus bonsai might seem overwhelming. This bonsai tree appears to live for novices. Ficus bonsai is the most popular indoor bonsai species that belongs to the large mulberry plant family. Besides, Ficus bonsai trees are flexible and well-suited to preserve in indoor circumstances.
In case you are a beginner and want to start growing ficus bonsai indoors. You don’t have to be anxious anymore. As you know Ficus bonsai tree is easy to take care of. It can thrive in warm and humid places or tropical or subtropical areas. It can also tolerate cases of under or overwatering, and this is what makes it suitable for beginners. Plus, its supple branches make it easy to bend and shape with bonsai wire.
In this article, we will provide all the information you need. About what is Ficus bonsai, the types of ficus, how to grow ficus and its step-by-step guide. And, through this, you can grow a wonderful indoor bonsai tree.
What is a Ficus Bonsai Tree?
Ficus or also known as figs is a famous bonsai for beginners with over 800-2000 species worldwide. It is easy to grow trees and only needs a little light and water. This tree can also survive in warm places. Considering it being a tropical plant, vines, and shrubs that belong to the Moraceae family with shiny leathery leaves. It may also grow to huge sizes in their native environments such as the famous fiddle leaf fig (Ficus Lyrata).
Also, the wide array of Ficus makes almost all the ficus species list used as bonsais; yet, only a handful are very popular. And sometimes the naming of common ficus bonsais can be identified wrong. Like Ficus Microcarpa. It is sometimes mistaken for Ficus Retusa, which is a related cousin. And Ficus “Ginseng” appears to be a generic term for, well, pretty much anything. For us, its scientific name doesn’t matter too much in which plant we’re working with. In the end, all their thriving treatment is identical.
While Ficus is a houseplant, Ficus bonsais have become popular. Ficus Microcarpa and Retusa are the most frequent species used in planting. The good thing about this is that you don’t need to be a Japanese Zen master to grow Ficus bonsai. They are an excellent choice for novices. They also look ideal, particularly in a well-chosen bonsai container and saucer.
How to Grow Ficus Bonsai Tree From Seeds?
If you are wondering if ficus bonsai can grow through seeds. Actually yes, it is one of the ways to grow indoor bonsai seeds. Very perfect for people who love and have the hobby of watching and caring for their indoor plants grow. But, this process may need a lot of your time as it tends to grow very slowly. Sometimes the germination of the seed takes about several months or seasons. Depending on its species, the most likely spring season is the best to plant this. A lot of patience may need indeed but all your efforts will be worth it in the end.
Also, growing bonsai from seeds has a lot of advantages. You can ensure that the bonsai is healthy, pest, and disease-free. Unlike those grown bonsais in the market that sometimes contains pests or diseases. You can shape and style it according to your preference. Over the years that you take care of it, you can assure that this will live for long years. And can be pass down to your loved ones.
But to fulfil and achieve that here are some of the things you need to do first.
Procure your seeds
Acquiring seeds is the very first thing you need, to thrive in a ficus bonsai tree. Usually, you can get a tree seed in the nearest garden store in your area. If it’s not available you can buy the seed online. Nowadays, it’s very common to buy anything through online shopping, pretty amazing right?
This is because it’s very convenient and hassle-free, especially if you are a busy person. But, make sure that the store is trustworthy and legitimate. And sells true seeds to avoid defects and waste of money. Please keep in mind to conduct thorough research beforehand. Aside from buying online or in an actual store, you can also get seeds in your surroundings or nearby forests. This can be also found in the tree fruits and parts. And if this happens be sure to identify the qualities of the plant to ensure that you manage it correctly according to its weather preference and other factors.
Type of seed to plant
Selecting the type of tree seed you will plant is also important. You have to remember that when buying in the market there are a lot of plant seed varieties or species there. Some of them are for beginners or professionals. You also need to make sure that you already know what kind of seed you want to plant and take care of it to avoid wasting time. Aside from this, if you are a beginner please be attentive to the shop or store information.
Read the permits and customer reviews as this will help you to learn if they are selling tree seeds without any diseases and storing them properly. It is also good if you can get a copy of them as a certified tree seed seller. Because this will give you the evidence that they breed and treat the seeds to fight common diseases of bonsai. Please also be vigilant of some fake marketing. They sell “bonsai seed” at a high price because there is no such thing. Do remember that seeds come from the parts of a local tree such as fruits and stems. If you encounter some of this please ignore it or leave a comment for the information of others.
Selecting the best soil mix
In terms of soil, it is necessary to choose which is the best suited for your seeds. You shouldn’t rely on the garden soil as it can damage your seeds. Or even a tree which is also not sterilized may cause it not survive. As you will know, ficus needs fertile soil which is well-draining as well. And soil-based potting mixes can provide the nutrients for its roots together with the moisture it requires.
Germination of seed
Germinating seeds allows you to determine which ones are viable and sterile. Germinating seeds will also help your ficus trees develop faster in the early stages. In a simple explanation, according to Iowa Agriculture Literacy, germination is a practice wherein a tree seed evolves into a plant. It also specifies that germination occurs below the soil and after some time grows together with its parts such as roots, stem and leaves.
In the germination process, make sure that all your materials are set. Such as pot containers, light, watering can, and soil mix including the tree seeds you will plant. Also label your tree seed bags or containers together with their important information. To avoid mismanagement as we tend to forget sometimes.
A step-by-step guide to germinating a bonsai tree seed
Before putting your ficus seedlings in the soil mix, you must first germinate them. To germinate your seeds, soak them for a few minutes in a jar of water. Seeds that float will not germinate because they are infertile. On the other hand, the seeds that sink will germinate.
- First, get your container and fill it halfway with peat seed germination mix.
- Place the viable ficus seeds on the peat mix’s surface. Because ficus seeds need sunshine to germinate, don’t cover it.
- To hydrate the soil, water it well.
- Place this container in direct sunshine outside. Place it in a somewhat shady area of your yard if the temperature outside is over 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the container indoors and under artificial illumination, if the temperatures are too low.
- Keep the soil wet and avoid allowing it to dry out.
- Use a shallow, tiny bonsai container that drains well—two holes at the bottom or sides of the pot.
- Using a coarse, water-draining substrate, create a layer. You may use lava rocks or grit. To remove excess water and fertilizer from the plant roots while also allowing oxygen to enter.
- After applying the substrate, apply a layer of standard bonsai potting soil. Bonsai dirt is available at any garden center or bonsai supplies store.
- You should apply about a one-inch thick top layer of regular bonsai soil. Using your fingers, compact the earth. Softly push the dirt.
- It would help if you watered your sapling. Most days, keep the soil slightly moist. After the dirt has dried, water your pot at least once a day.
How to Grow Ficus Bonsai Tree From Cuttings?
Another way to grow ficus bonsai is by using cuttings. Also known as one of the methods of plant propagation. According to the University of Maine, plant propagation is the technique of establishing a new plant with two types. Which are sexual and asexual. In simple terms, sexual propagation implicates to use of some parts of the plant. And asexual propagation needs of taking some part of a parent plant to regenerate itself.
As we know stem propagation is the most commonly used method by gardeners. And you can achieve this by cutting and planting the stems of a young, healthy ficus tree. Also, with this, you can shape it according to your liking. However, growing in this kind of method may take several months or seasons, so be sure to have a lot of patience. After all, being patient comes with a beautiful result.
Step-by-step guide for ficus tree cuttings
Cut a healthy stem
Harvest a healthy stem ficus tree from cutting. Once you obtained it from its parent plant, cuttings need to have a moist medium. A decent length for the cuttings is ranging from 5-6 inches. A healthy stem is free of problems when you cut it (no dryness, molds, insects, and discoloration) as it may affect the propagation over time.
Cut the branch diagonally
Please make sure to cut the branch off the tree using a sharp knife to avoid damage and get a soft cut surface. Getting a soft cut surface is important. As it will prevent the fungi and bacterias from finding and forming a breeding surface. It is also important to cut the stems diagonally and not straight for the reason that this expands the surface space and improves the water absorption of the cuttings. If it does not absorb the right amount of water through the cuttings, the cut stems can lose their toughness.
Put the cut stem in a water
Sometimes we tend to forget that air affects freshly cut stems. But don’t worry because we can prevent air pockets from entering the roots. And the only solution for that is to immerse the cutting in water.
Wait until plants gain some roots
Please do remember that after cutting you cannot plant the stem. For it needs first to have some grown roots. With this, wait for them to establish roots and after that, you can now plant them already.
As soon as you see that the cuttings have developed roots, you have now the chance to plant the cuttings. It is also important that you plant those cuttings in a shallow container or pot.
Hydrate the soil mix
Always keep the soil wet by watering the cuttings or cut stem regularly.
Only cut strong branches
Before you can trim cuttings from your newly grown tree, they must first be stronger and have a robust trunk, branches, and leaves.
It may take a while as you will have to wait three years before you can begin pruning but it will be great afterwards. Patience is necessary.
Types of Ficus Bonsai Tree
As previously mentioned, there are a lot of ficus species to choose from, which are very convenient for beginners or enthusiasts. They all differ in their qualities and how to cultivate them. Below are some common types of Ficus bonsai that you can grow at your home.
The Weeping Fig is another name for this plant, however, it is usually sold as ficus in the market. In contrast to other ficus species, this evergreen tree has a leathery texture and deep-green oval leaves with a lush, tropical look. And one of North America’s most popular houseplants are mainly placed in offices or homes.
For a beginner, this plant is the best choice. Because Weeping Fig is the simplest to look after, as it is low maintenance and has a significant advantage as an air-purifying houseplant. In addition, it can survive in subtropical or tropical climates. Keeping it to a minimum and dressed with care is still a must. In comparison to other ficus plants, the Ficus Benjamina grows slowly. Lighting, watering, trimming, wiring, and other aspects of this plant need careful attention.
This attractive plant may grow well inside but disturbing this, is not appreciated. You’ll observe that moving a Weeping Fig from one location to another might cause it to become startled and shed its leaves. Any change in illumination, temperature, or humidity can create shock, resulting in leaves falling.
Ficus Benjamina cultivars have glossy green leaves that are different with other varieties. The leaves are around 4 inches long and relatively slender when grown indoors. As it grows, the branches and leaves may bend and twist. Summertime brings the natural fall of leaves, which is nothing to worry about.
The Morton Bay Fig is another name for this ficus bonsai. This plant has lovely red-orange blooms that bloom in the springtime. It is a fantastic ficus species to consider if you wish to develop aerial roots since it responds well to regular pruning and harsh reduction.
The Ficus Macrophylla is also the least prone of the ficus species to shed its leaves. The root flare of the Ficus macrophylla is possibly one of its most fascinating morphological qualities. The tree may choke and dominate poor innocent trees in the wild. This plant multiplies and once established, it may outgrow even the most innocent trees.
The challenge is to create a genuine root flare for bonsai growers who want to grow ficus bonsai trees. It may take some years or a season to do this, but a few strategies to remember.
To create the tree’s roots, you may use pebbles, ceramics, or any other thing. The roots will eventually grow sideways to avoid the item. The roots will give you the root design you’ve always desired when the time comes. Its root system is exceptionally strong. Its trunk taper is extreme, and there is excellent branch growth
The Narrow Leaf or Willow Leaf fig is another name for this ficus species. It has small leaves with high branch ramification potential. Like the Ficus Macrophylla, this species may produce beautiful aerial root structures. This tree, which is endemic to South Africa, has a willow-shaped leaf similar to the willow-leaf fig, although more extensive.
The Ficus Salicifolia tree may reach a height of 15 feet. It may generate vast aerial roots, a lovely buttress in the trunk, and transform the bark from gray to red if allowed to spread. As Ficus Salicifolia matures, the leaves become alternating, lance-like, curled and tawny. As they age, they turn to a healthy green hue. When the green figs on this tree mature, they will be tiny, brick-red, and have brown dots.
Ficus Salicifolia thrives outdoors and responds well to fertilizer treatments when done regularly. If it is given the right lighting, humidity, air movement and temperature, it can be cultivated within
Ficus Retusa Microcarpa
This plant is also known as the Chinese Banyan. It has oval, dark green leaves similar to Ficus Benjamina but is glossier and bigger. This ficus species is best suited for beginners in the bonsai world. This tough tree will react well to heavy pruning and reduction.
It’s also quite forgiving since it can recover from bad growth circumstances, inconsistency in care, and growing blunders. When cultivated outdoors, the Ficus Retusa Microcarpa may reach a height of more than 20 meters. It thrives in a wide range of conditions, including warmth, light, and most soil types. This tree enjoys as much light as possible and may thrive in direct sunlight.
Ficus Retusa Microcarpa has oblong to round leaves that are shiny and mildly leathery on the other. It has a smooth, attractive trunk, but different garden types have broad, swelling roots that protrude above the ground. When figs are relocated or the seasons change, almost all shed their leaves. With the Ficus Retusa Microcarpa, the challenge is to give it just the correct quantity of moisture and light. It will usually regrow new leaves within two weeks.
5 Ways to Care for Ficus Bonsai Tree
As Ficus bonsai has a wide array of species, taking care of it might seem overwhelming as some of the ficus bonsai types tend to have different characteristics and needs. However, in some cases, their ways of managing are almost the same so you don’t have to worry. Below are helpful tips for ficus bonsai care.
When winter comes, you must maintain ficus bonsai indoors since it cannot withstand even a mild frost. However, you are still able to keep this plant outdoors during summer if the temperature stays 60 degrees above. As you need to offer enough light to your tree.
Sunlight is important for plants to grow healthy. Placing it indoors or outdoors is necessary, so make sure to place it in a bright place and not in shady locations.
When it comes to sunshine, Ficus bonsai is quite picky. But that isn’t always the case in terms of ficus bonsai tree watering. When the soil becomes too dry, water it. It is not alarming if you accidentally underwater or over-water this plant. As it can tolerate such situations.
Somewhat soft water and at room temperature is perfect for Ficus bonsai for the reason that it can help in fungal and root rot issues of the plant. You may also sprinkle regularly to keep the humidity level in check. It would help if you placed Ficus bonsai in a warm, bright environment, it will dry out more rapidly.
During the summer, you may fertilize your Ficus bonsai every week or even once every other week. If the plant does not become dormant over the winter, fertilize it once every two to three weeks with either liquid fertilizer or granular fertilizer depending on your preference.
Once your ficus bonsai has grown for some time, you will need to prune the grown leaves of your ficus bonsai to reduce its size to lead to its robust growth. If you want a thicker trunk, you can let it thrive freely for at least 2 years. And after that, you now achieve the thickness you prefer in your bonsai trunk.
In addition, because of its so much growth, it requires you to cut it deeply. If you are worrying if it might affect the health of the plant instead, worry not as the new leaves will still grow in the old wood.
Potting and repotting
It is recommended in some species of bonsai to repot every year or when it gets crowded you must repot the bonsai. You can do it with a simple soil combination. And it also responds well to root trimming, so you might as well do it when it’s time to repot your plants.
However, in the case of Ficus bonsai, you have to limit its repotting every other year or more as it is a fast-growing indoor plant, and can easily occupy a big space in your home if you re-pot it often which can cause overcrowding. Making this repotting strategy will help you keep its development in check.
The Ficus bonsai tree is an excellent bonsai tree, to begin with for a variety of reasons. It does not need a lot of effort to grow ficus bonsai and maintain this tree. Next, it is pretty attractive, and raising such a beautiful and dignified bonsai plant is gratifying. Finally, due to its capacity to adapt to practically any design, this tree is one of the most flexible. The Ficus is an excellent bonsai tree that you should attempt.