Proper Ways on How to Care for Your Ficus Bonsai
The ficus or fig bonsai is a well-loved tree specie because of its dark-colored small leaves and fascinating root structures. You will be amazed by its the unique appearance of its surface roots, and you may notice some aerial banyan roots developing and hanging down from the plant’s lower branches. Moreover, these trees are quite tolerant of common beginner mistakes in growing bonsai such as over watering and low light conditions. Thus, the ficus bonsai is usually recommended for beginners or those who look for a plant that can be kept indoors.
Light and Location
The ficus is not very particular with lighting conditions, which means you can grow it indoors or outdoors. For instance, some varieties of this plant can thrive in an area that receives minimal sunlight while other ficus varieties can survive when exposed to the full sun. However, if you wish to place your plant indoors most of the time, you should position it near a window that is facing west or south. You may also use fluorescent bulbs that can supply sufficient amounts of light that your plant needs.
Basically, ficus bonsai trees respond to low light conditions by producing more chlorophyll and increasing the size of their leaves. You may also notice that trees placed indoors tend to be more leggy than those that are kept outdoors. If you want your tree to produce smaller leaves and maintain its small trunk size, then you should increase the level of light it receives each day.
Watering and Fertilizing
Ficus varieties such as the neriifolia and salicifolia are not difficult to grow because of their simple watering requirements. Beginners who wish to get started into bonsai gardening may grow these species, since there is little risk of killing the tree by overwatering or underwatering it. After all, the tree can grow well as long as you do not allow its roots to dry out completely. Furthermore, you should keep the soil moist, but not drenched to prevent the roots to rot.
As for feeding the tree, you may use a half-strength liquid fertilizer every 2 to 4 weeks. The best time to apply fertilizer is after you have watered it, and make sure you avoid applying any fertilizer when you notice that the tree is already weak.
Repotting and Common Issues with Ficus
The ficus tree is known for its vigorous growth, and its roots grow quite rapidly. Thus, you need to prevent the plant from becoming pot-bound by repotting it when necessary. The ideal time to repot and prune the roots is every year, as this can help maintain the size and shape of your bonsai tree. In addition, the tree can thrive in a basic bonsai soil with good aeration and excellent drainage.
The ficus may drop its leaves because of exposure to stress. However, its leaves should regrow quickly when the tree is moved to a better location. Leaf drop may also occur due to overwatering or when its roots are very dry. Lastly, you should inspect the tree regularly and check for pests that may cause it to shed leaves frequently.