How to Care for Ficus Bonsai – Care Guide

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know to properly care for your Ficus bonsai. Ficus bonsai is ideal for beginners because its care is relatively easy.

The genus Ficus belongs to the Moraceae family and comprises hundreds of species that are generally distributed in tropical areas. Common to all species of the genus Ficus:

  • the production of a milky, rubbery juice, called latex,
  • and a false fruit called fig, which is a set of modified flowers (inflorescence) in a juicy structure.

The most used species and easy to find as bonsai in specialized stores are:

  • Ficus retusa (Ficus microcarpa L.).
  • Ficus panda (variety of Ficus microcarpa L.)
  • Fig tree (Ficus carica L.)

Characteristics Ficus retusa

In this article, we will focus on the Ficus retusa (Ficus microcarpa L.) as it is one of the most popular and easy to find in specialized stores.

The Ficus retusa is a tree native to southern China and Southeast Asia, evergreen, that is, it keeps its green leaves all year round. Its foliage is compact, with leathery, oval, and shiny leaves.

Their flowers, mistaken for a fruit, are juicy and, as we have said, are called figs, although it is practically impossible to obtain them because the conditions are usually not suitable for their place of origin and the continuous pruning and trimming.

Its trunk is grayish with elongated white spots and its roots produce interesting nebari, sometimes even emitting spectacular aerial roots. If conditions are right, it grows very fast.

How to Care for Ficus Bonsai

The Ficus bonsai is one of the easiest to take care of, follow all these tips, and in this way, you will give correct care to your Ficus bonsai.

how to care for ficus bonsai

Care for Ficus Bonsai – Location

Due to its origin, it is a tree that does not like low temperatures, so in winter, if there were frosts (temperatures close to 32°F (0º C), it should be protected from the cold in a warm greenhouse, with plenty of light, but without direct sun, and at temperatures above 54 to 59°F (12 to 15º C). Special care should be taken with sudden changes in temperature because it is very sensitive to these and could lose all its leaves for this reason.

During the whole year, except in the moments of intense cold, its situation will have to be outdoors, partially shaded, obtaining this way that it recovers its green color and growth of the stems and leaves to a size more adapted to its cultivation as bonsai.

Care for Ficus Bonsai – Watering

To take care of the Ficus bonsai correctly, watering should be done thoroughly when the surface of the soil begins to dry out and avoiding both permanent waterlogging of the soil and leaving it completely dry.

In summer, a container can be kept in a tray with wet stones, always avoiding that the roots are in direct contact with the water, but this practice should never be maintained during winter.

It appreciates the spraying of its crown as it is a tree of tropical origin, but do it with great caution to avoid the proliferation of fungi and provided that you have treated the tree with a fungicide. In any case, if possible, avoid frequent spraying on the leaves.

Care for Ficus Bonsai – Fertilizing

Fertilize only during the period of vigorous growth and stop fertilizing when growth stops. We use this fertilizer on our bonsai (Order it here).

Do not forget that:

– We should NOT fertilize a repotted tree, we must wait for it to sprout.

– DO NOT water a tree grown outdoors after a frost or when there is a risk of frost.

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Repotting Ficus retusa

For correct care of the Ficus bonsai, we must every 2 or 3 years repot, preferably in spring, before it sprouts when the temperature begins to reach 68°F (20ºC), with good soil that retains water and drains properly. However, if the tree is healthy, it can be repotted almost all year round.

Beware of lime content in the soil, as it causes yellow and weak leaves due to iron absorption problems. It should also be taken into account that soils with a lot of peat, due to the excess humidity, could produce diseases (fungi).

repotting ficus retusa

How to Prune Ficus Bonsai

Pruning the Ficus bonsai is very important for its care. Unwanted roots and branches should be pruned during repotting.

New shoots are pinched out during the summer at a distance of two leaves to compact the crown by branching the main branches.

It withstands drastic pruning well before spring and sprouts without difficulty from branches older than 2 years.

To reduce leaf size and encourage branching, leaves can be leafed out in late spring or early summer.

During pruning or defoliation, the branches will secrete abundant latex that will aid wound healing.

Wiring Ficus Bonsai

Branching by wiring should be done at any time of the year, but never immediately after repotting. The bark must be protected and care must be taken not to mark the wire.

The most frequent styles are moyogui or informal straight, multiple trunks, and on rocks.

Both during pruning and wiring of a bonsai, we must use the right tools to avoid damaging it. We recommend this kit for excellent care of the Ficus bonsai (Order it here).

SEBIDER Bonsai Tree Kit Bonsai Tools Set Succulent Kit 16PCS Garden Hand Tool Set Include Pruning Shears, Carbon Steel Bonsai Scissors, Bonsai Starter Kit Gardening Trimming Tools
  • 16 BONSAI TREE KIT - The Bonsai Kit including 1 x Bonsai Scissors,1 x Long Scissors, 1 x Pruning Shear, 1x Mini Wide Shovel,1 x Mini Shovel,1 x Mini Rake, 4 x Bonsai Wires, 2 x Leaf Cutters,2 x Tweezers,1 x bucket shovel, 1 x Organizer Bag. If you are a bonsai beginner, you will find this is a good bonsai starter kit!
  • CARBON STEEL SCISSORS FOR GARDEN - Made of high carbon steel, Bonsai Scissors, and Long handle scissors are super suitable for bonsai and other potted plants pruning, shaping, and other quick cutting. Quality pruning shears ideal for cutting stems and light branches, can cut up to 3/4" diameter size, this may vary depending on tree species. Polished by hand, it's stronger, sharper, and more durable than other materials. Wipe clean and lightly oil after every use will let them last a lifetime.
  • BONSAI TRAINING WIRE - 2 different diameter Bonsai Training Wire (4 coils) in the garden tool set. You can use them to shape the bonsai tree. The bonsai wire is flexible and strong enough. There is no problem to bend and twist many times. Not breaking at all.
wiring ficus bonsai

Most Common Diseases and Parasites

Mealybug, red spider mite, and leaf fungus, although if properly grown, it is very resistant to diseases.

Leaf spots may appear due to fungus caused by spraying water on the foliage. This problem is easily solved with the preventive use of a fungicide or avoiding water spraying.

Another frequent problem, especially in poorly ventilated or indoor environments, with a dry and hot atmosphere, is attacks by mealybugs or red spider mites, which will cause progressive weakening. The treatment must be specific against the pest and constant over time until it is eliminated.

Where to Buy Ficus Bonsai Tree?

If you still do not have your Ficus bonsai or want to expand your bonsai collection here are the best sellers of these beautiful bonsai.

Brussel's Bonsai Live Golden Gate Ficus Indoor Bonsai Tree-4 Years Old 5" to 8" Tall with Decorative Container, Small
  • CONTENTS: Bonsai, Decorative Container (Assorted Colors & Styles), Soil, Care Instructions.
  • SPECIES: In the ficus family, the Golden Gate variety is the best for growing indoors. The attractive gray trunk is thick and sturdy topped by small, dark green oval foliage.
  • AGE/SIZE/CARE: Your 4 year old bonsai will arrive between 5" to 8" tall in a 6" container and will perform best indoors (see detailed care instructions in images)

Brussel's Bonsai Live Golden Gate Ficus Indoor Bonsai Tree-7 Years Old 8" to 10" Tall with Plastic Grower Pot, Medium,
  • Contents: bonsai, plastic grower pot, soil, Care instructions.
  • Species: in the ficus family, the golden gate variety is the Best for growing indoors. The attractive gray trunk is thick and sturdy topped by Small, dark Green Oval foliage.
  • Age/size/Care: your 7 Year old bonsai will arrive between 8" to 10" tall in a 6" container and will perform Best indoors (see detailed Care instructions in images)

We hope that this article on how to take care of Ficus bonsai will be of great help and that you will always have a healthy and strong bonsai.

where to buy ficus bonsai tree
About Henry Morgan

We are the Morgan family, Henry, and Julia, both agronomists from the University of Michigan, where we met. We are experts in putting our hands in the soil and developing organic foods and improving production processes for decades. Likewise, we have worked for companies such as Mondelez International, BASF, Monsanto, etc. currently in our role as science writers for TheGardenStyle.com as well as advisors in promoting large scale food growing in urbanized areas. In this website, we share what we are most passionate about, gardening and farming. Enjoy and see real photos on our website.