Ficus bonsai

Ficus bonsai, appreciated and known

Ficus bonsai can be considered as one of the quintessential indoor bonsai. It is a plant capable of vegetating without problems in environments without excessive lighting, in the same points where most other plants would not be able to survive; moreover, to request few and simple treatments to survive and grow, and therefore it is also recommended to less experienced bonsai enthusiasts. In nature there are thousands of varieties of ficus, from the repens climbing to the common one, but the most suitable and widespread for the bonsai technique can be found in the ficus retusa. We are dealing with a species with a sinuous and robust trunk, characterized by a rather light bark sometimes enriched but white horizontal spots. The base of the trunk in adult specimens is rich in very twisted roots, with a particular aesthetic appearance; but to distinguish even more the ficus bonsai are the aerial roots, which reach the ground starting from the branches, and in practice they appear as secondary trunks. As for the leaves, they have an intense green color and are pointed; the fruits, on the other hand, are small yellowish figs, but they do not always appear.

Exhibition in spring and summer

During the spring months, with temperatures above ten degrees, the plant must be kept in full sun outside, so that, receiving adequate lighting, it can vegetate vigorously, producing small leaves and sturdy branches, and giving life in general to a uniform and compact vegetation. Even in summer the ficus has no problem staying in the sun (unlike what happens with most other bonsai) as long as the pot is adequately protected from direct rays: in this way, in fact, it avoids the root system overheat. Alternatively, the plant can be brought into the house and placed in a well-lit place, possibly in front of a window. Beware of windows exposed to the sun, however, which must be covered by a curtain to prevent the lens from burning the leaves. While in autumn the ficus lives without problems both outdoors and at home, indifferently, when temperatures go below ten degrees shelter at home is mandatory. The right humidity can be obtained with wet gravel placed in the saucer, both during the hot summer months and in the winter, when the air is dried by heated radiators. Among other things, the presence of wet gravel also serves to discourage possible infestations from the red spider.


The ficus bonsai can be irrigated using a watering can equipped with a delicate shower head: for the administration of water, however, it is necessary to wait for the soil to be completely dry. The operation must be repeated at a distance of a few minutes for two or three times, so that the substrate is able to completely absorb the poured water. The irrigations must be less frequent in autumn, when the sun is lower and the days become shorter, since, naturally, the plant will consume less water than that consumed in summer. It is during the spring, on the other hand, that pruning must be performed: if the branches are cut between April and May, in fact, it will be certain that the vegetative restart will be instantaneous. We are dealing, moreover, with a species with fibrous and tender wood, which results in a rapid but aesthetically unpleasant healing: in particular, large cuts create a rather evident swelling, which must be cured using healing paste . The pruning operations must be carried out with the concave cutter; It is the style of bonsai, instead, that determines which branches to eliminate or shorten. Certainly, all those branches that are projected vertically must be removed, those that appear under other branches, those that develop towards the inside and those that intersect.

Ficus bonsai: Staple, topping and defoliation

Since in the bonsai ficus the appearance of new shoots occurs throughout the year in an uninterrupted manner, it is necessary to constantly put into practice the technique of stapling, so that the line of the bonsai maintains optimal; in other words, a non-clipped plant would turn into a bush with no regular shape in a short time. It is clear that it is necessary to wait until many buds are produced from the foliage, to avoid weakening the plant: in the presence of at least four or five leaves, the cut is made, using the long scissors, after the second leaf. Speaking of leaves, the importance of defoliation should not be underestimated, a technique to be applied in June in order to limit leaf size. It is sufficient to use a well sharpened and disinfected scissor, removing the leaves of the ficus, and wait a few days: in fact, the plant will have produced new leaflets, of smaller dimensions, so as to make the bonsai balanced and aesthetically proportioned. The only risk to which we must pay attention is that of a lymph withdrawal, which could cause the bare branches to dry out: it should be avoided simply by leaving a leaf at the top of each branch.