Pruning Ficus Bonsai for Beginners


A Caveat and Affiliates

First off, a little caveat: within my articles you will find affiliate links, meaning if you buy them, I get a small commission. Your cost is not affected. In addition, I am an Amazon Associate and I earn from qualifying purchases on Amazon.

And yes, if I say that I recommend a product here, it means I truly believe it is a good product. I refuse to recommend any product that I have not researched and believe to be a good value.

Even better, I provide you with a very clear picture of the product, it’s use, and the probable value.

Earning your trust is important to me. I run this website myself and the commissions and donations help support the site.

Sound reasonable and fair enough? Let’s continue to the article.


Pruning Ficus Bonsai for Beginners

The purpose of pruning ficus bonsai is to keep the tree’s shape and perfect its appearance. The majority of a tree’s growth will occur at its stems’ top and outermost portions. To foster growth closer to the interior parts of the tree, it is necessary to prune these growth zones regularly.


Ficus retusa (Ginseng ficus) and Ficus benjamina are the two principal types of ficus plants that form excellent bonsai trees. Also, they are both native to China. These cultivars are distinguished by their small, green shrub leaves, and rapid growth. Also, their stems may be sculpted into various visually attractive shapes and styles.

Beyond their ability to develop swiftly, these ficus plant varieties can also resist poor lighting conditions and low humidity levels. Only by careful trimming will you retain their small size and achieve the most remarkable results when creating a classic bonsai tree.

bonsai tree
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • pinterest

How Trees Grow
green plant on brown clay pot
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • pinterest

Before delving into the specifics of either technique, it’s essential to understand the fundamentals of how trees develop in general. This will aid you in your understanding of how to prune Bonsai trees effectively and efficiently.

Trees have a natural predisposition to grow in a way that favors their apical growth. Thus, the primary center stem of the plant grows more dominantly than its lateral stems. It indicates that the plant has a central stem. If we consider a branch, the main stem of the branch is more prominent than the branch’s side twigs, for example. This natural process promotes trees to grow higher to avoid being shaded out. Due to the distribution of growth to the top and outer borders, the inner and lower branches of the tree will eventually die. In contrast, the top branches will grow out of proportion, which are undesirable characteristics for bonsai aesthetics.


When you understand the natural development patterns of trees, you can better understand how you may utilize pruning procedures to counteract the consequences of apical dominance in the forest. Because dominant growth occurs on a tree’s central stems, you know that you must prune the top and outside regions of the tree more entirely than the rest of the tree. To compensate for this, the tree must transfer its development to its inner and lower areas, allowing you to exert greater control over the tree’s growth and design.

Tips for Pruning Ficus Bonsai

Pruning Ficus Bonsai During Winter Season
photo of green leafed bonsai plant on brown pot
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • pinterest

Given that the ficus bonsai trees produce healthy, but heavy new growth in the spring season. It is necessary to prune them during the winter months.

Planning from Sketched for Pruning Ficus Bonsai

A bonsai is considered an art form. It allows you to apply your particular vision and aesthetic sense to the process of shaping the tree into the shape you desire through trimming. Before you start removing branches and sculpting a ficus bonsai tree, spend some time visualizing the results you want to achieve. This will help you avoid making mistakes later on. Spending a week or so simply studying your ficus bonsai and letting your imagination run wild will serve this goal.

It is not necessary to develop a complete sketched plan of the pruning session – all that is required is to have an idea in your mind of what you intend to achieve. It would be incredibly beneficial, though, to designate the exact locations where to cut the branches ahead of time. Last but not least, you to consider the possibility of establishing an alternating branching pattern. You can do this by eliminating one branch from each of two branches generated precisely opposite each other.


Using a Sterilized and Sharp Concave Cutters

When it comes om pruning ficus bonsai, use a non-sterilized tool to avoid bringing hazardous germs into contact with the tree. Although it is harmful, employing cutters that are not sufficiently sharp is also harmful. In mind, selecting a high-quality bonsai toolset is extremely important to success.

Don’t Forget About Cut Paste

Ooze will inevitably form in the locations where branches have been clipped, followed by sap. Which will contaminate the surrounding area. The chopped paste will assist your ficus bonsai tree recover more rapidly and successfully. Especially when you remove substantial areas of damage.

Avoid Trimming the Leaves of Your Ficus Bonsai

When cultivating a ficus bonsai tree, the stems and branches need to be pruned. Not the actual leaves of the tree. Trimmed leaves tend to turn brown and appear messy after being cut. Throughout the growing season, you only want to pinch or chop up to three leaves on every shoot. This is true for the whole season. It isn’t a hard and fast rule, however. If your ficus bonsai requires height expansion or filling in empty gaps that interfere with the ideal aesthetic, you should allow certain shots to continue to grow instead of cutting them back.

Consider the Aerial Roots of Ficus Benjamina Bonsai

Ficus benjamina bonsai trees are known as weeping figs for various reasons. They have a unique aerial root system that can further enhance the beauty of your bonsai tree masterpiece. However, to make the root system’s attractiveness work to your advantage, you must try for a sense of balance in the appearance of the exquisite aerial roots and the branches.

Be Prepared to Remove About ½ of New Growth

Because pruning ficus bonsai is similar to performing a beauty routine, you shouldn’t be afraid of removing branches and assisting your tree in achieving the appearance you wish. Typically, a good pruning session will result in the removal of approximately one-half of new growth on average. Maintain your calm and remember that this is not the final appearance of your ficus bonsai. Stick to your strategy, and don’t get too worked up.


Pruning Ficus Bonsai Structurally

Pruning huge branches of a tree is a standard method of giving it its fundamental shape. It can be a difficult decision to make when it comes to which branches need to keep and which ones must go. It is an irreversible activity, and for another, it will determine how the tree will look in the future.

When to Prune

To structure-prune a tree, the optimal time is generally early spring and, in some cases, late fall. It is right before and after the growing season when the tree is most productive. From one species to the next, the exact timing is different. In the tree species area, you may learn more about the characteristics of your particular tree; for example, a Ficus Bonsai requires a different pruning schedule than a Juniper Bonsai.

How to Prune

Place your tree on a table and adjust your position to be at eye level with you. Starting with the tree’s dead branches, remove them all off the tree. After that, take a good look at your tree to determine which branches will need to be removed to get the desired design.

Pruning heavy branches usually result in unsightly scars. But by employing specific concave cutters, you can drastically reduce the appearance of scarring. Major wounds need to be sealed with cut paste, found at most online bonsai shops. The paste keeps the wounds from becoming infected and speeds up the healing process for the tree. Once again, employing the proper bonsai tools will be beneficial.

It should be no problem for a healthy tree to withstand the removal of up to one-third of its leaf during the pruning process. Some people believe that after you style the tree, you need to cut or remove an equal percentage of the roots. On the other hand, most experts recommend just executing one major maintenance task at a time (or even once a year). Suppose you structure prune your tree this spring. It would be best if you did not repot or cut the roots until the following spring when the tree will have fully recovered from the structure pruning you performed this spring.


Understanding how trees grow can assist you in determining how and where to prune a bonsai ficus tree correctly. The main stem, or branch, is the most important, and it is from it that the lesser branches and stems sprout and develop. In nature, the major branches grow upward and choke out the light directed to the lower branches, which eventually perish due to this. The art of pruning ficus bonsai is used to reverse this pattern and produce fullness throughout the small tree’s entire structure. Energy is forced downward to the less prominent branches due to cutting the upper branches. It results in the shape of your tree being driven.


Different bonsai species necessitate the use of various pruning and trimming procedures. Snipping the top leaves and controlling any suckers that may emerge on the trunk is all that is needed to teach this ficus bonsai to grow nicely. Maintaining a clean trunk is an essential aspect of the bonsai aesthetic. Trim the branches with stainless steel bonsai shears, then use a concave cutter for heavier branches.


Read More:

Large-Leaf Ficus Houseplant

Bonsai Tree: Ultimate Care Guide

Bonsai Tree: Ultimate Care Guide

Indoor Bonsai Tree Care: The Hobby That Grows!

Jade Tree Bonsai Care Ultimate Guide


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Great gift idea!

Bonsai Trees

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links. Any purchases made through such links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you). I use these commissions to help maintain this site to provide helpful information to you.



error: Content is protected !!
sun-loving houseplants

Join the HousePlantJoy Newsletter

You will receive our newsletter and updates.

We promise to only deliver quality information to you with NO spam.

We never sell or distribute your information!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest