Ficus ginseng is a superb indoor plant that is much liked for its superb root trunk and its very ornamental foliage.
- Caring for Ficus ginseng
- Repotting Ficus ginseng
- Watering Ficus ginseng
- Pruning Ficus ginseng
- Ficus ginseng diseases and pests
- Learn more about ficus ginseng
- Confusing Ficus ginseng names
- Smart tip about Ficus ginseng
- How to Prune Ficus Bonsai to Make it Thrive
- Quick Facts about Ficus Bonsai Trees
- Top Tips for Pruning Ficus Bonsai
- 1 – Prune Ficus Bonsai Trees in the Winter Season
- 2 – Always Start with a Sketched Plan for Pruning
- 3 – Always Use Sharp and Sterilized Concave Cutters
- 5 – Don’t Forget about Cut Paste
- 6 – Avoid Trimming the Leaves of your Ficus Bonsai
- 7 – Consider the Aerial Roots of Ficus Benjamina Bonsai
- 8 – Be Prepared to Remove about ½ of New Growth
- The Takeaway
- Ficus Bonsai Tree Care Guide
- General Information:
- Tree’s Attributes:
- Insects/Pests & Diseases:
- Ginseng Grafted Ficus (Indoor)
- Ginseng Grafted Ficus – Indoor Bonsai Tree
- Ficus Ginseng Bonsai Tree Care Guide (Ficus retusa)
- 1) Growing Conditions
- 2) Right Watering Technique
- 3) Feeding or Fertilizing
- 4) Leaf and Branch Pruning
- 5) Re-potting and Growing Medium
- 6) Wiring and Shaping Ginseng Ficus
- Final Thoughts
Key Ficus Ginseng facts
Name – Ficus ‘ginseng’
Scientific – Ficus microcarpa
Family – Moraceae (mulberry family)
Type – indoor plant
Height – 16 to 40 inches (40 to 100 cm), up to you
Soil – indoor plant soil mix, well drained
Exposure – abundant indirect light
Foliage – evergreen
Watering – moderate
Difficulty – easy
Leaves grow directly from the large root, producing an amazing effect.
It is easy to care for, and here is how to water it, prune it or when the best time to repot it is.
Caring for Ficus ginseng
Although it is easy to care for, Ficus ginseng does nonetheless require a little care to give it all the chances it needs to survive over a long period and in proper growing conditions.
- Ficus ginseng appreciates the warmth that is customary indoors in apartments and houses, ideally from 60 to 75°F (15 to 25°C).
- It loves having good light but not direct sunlight.
- It fears drafty spots.
- Ficus ginseng doesn’t cope well with brutal temperature variations.
- Repotting every 2 years in spring (or fall) is almost mandatory.
In exceptional cases, if it’s cared for perfectly and environmental conditions are perfect, your Ficus ginseng might even bloom and bear fruit!
Ficus ginseng in winter
- It’s ok to let temperatures drop to around 54 to 60°F (twelve to fifteen degrees Celsius). Don’t let it get any colder.
- Water a bit less in this season.
Repotting Ficus ginseng
Spring and fall or autumn are ideal to repot ficus ginseng, with a slight preference for spring if you’re late in the season. These two seasons are major vegetation phases for the Ficus, meaning leaf and root growth is highest.
- Let the pot dry out without watering for 2-3 days.
- Select a pot that is larger than the previous, ensure it drains well.
- Keep soil from leeching out with mesh wire and gravel or clay pebbles at the bottom.
- Use fresh bonsai potting soil mix to replenish nutrients.
At this point, if you aim to keep your Ficus ginseng cute and small, it’s good practice to trim branches back by about a third.
- Unpot your (trimmed) ficus ginseng and run a cultivator along the roots to remove old depleted soil.
- Cut off about one third or one-fourth of the roots, to trigger root growth.
- Place the root clump level with the top of the pot, showcasing the nicest roots above soil level so that you find it appealing.
- Backfill with fresh soil mix, press down, and water.
Watering Ficus ginseng
Ficus ginseng doesn’t require abundant watering, and it mustn’t come too often, either…
- Water the ficus only when the surface of the soil is really dry.
- In summer, it is often necessary to water a bit more, especially if outdoors.
- Ficus ginseng doesn’t like standing water. Empty the saucer after having watered.
Your ficus ginseng will appreciate having its leaves cleaned often with a rag or a moist paper towel.
Ficus ginseng loves it when air moisture is high.
- You can mist the leaves often with soft water, especially in winter.
- You might also rest the pot on a tray of clay pebbles that can be filled with water, without having the pot touch the water itself.
Pruning Ficus ginseng
If you consider your Ficus ginseng to be a bonsai, and that you want to keep its shape small, you’ll have to prune it regularly.
Snip new shoots off as they appear for the original shape to be preserved or to make it evolve to the shape you wish it to take.
- Pruning the Ficus ginseng on a regular basis will lead it to branch out more.
- Prune winter growth in spring, and if outside, remember to pinch new shoots off as they appear.
- A good rule of thumb is to wait for 8 to 10 new leaves to form, and then remove half of them.
- It will trigger new branches to sprout and foliage will grow more dense and beautiful.
Sometimes the Ficus ginseng comes with small branches grafted on a larger root.
- If ever you notice shoots sprouting from below the graft joint, pinch them off: they’re sometimes not the exact same variety as the initial branches.
Not only would the ficus change shape and demeanor, but grafted branches would be deprived of sap and die off. The grafted branches are from small-leaved varieties, and the vigorous root stock comes from larger-leaf varieties.
Ficus ginseng diseases and pests
Ficus ginseng losing its leaves
It might be that your Ficus ginseng is simply watered too much, that it lacks surrounding moisture or light, or that it is set in a place full of drafts.
- Ensure that you only water when the soil is dry.
- Mist the leaves.
- Check that where the plant is placed matches the requirements described above, lots of light but no direct midday sun.
Ficus ginseng leaves turn yellow or spots appear
This is often caused by red spider mites.
- Simply treat it with organic mite killer sold in horticulture stores.
- Read our page on how to fight red spider mites.
Ficus ginseng leaves show white spots that tend to be sticky if touched
This is usually due to mealybugs or scale insects to which the Ficus ginseng is very vulnerable, especially indoors.
- Read on how to rid your ficus ginseng of scale insects
Larger leaves appear instead of the cute small ones
This may be because the Ficus ginseng is grafted. The root part is from another type of Ficus. Sometimes, branches sprout from this root part (called the “root stock”), and the leaves are different.
- Snip these new shoots off to keep them from taking sap from the Ficus ginseng grafted branches.
Sometimes larger leaves appear because growth inhibitors had been sprayed on the plant while at the nursery. Growth inhibitors slow growth and reduce the size of leaves. When it wears off, leaves take on their natural size.
- If you want smaller leaves, defoliate your Ficus ginseng completely every time you prune (snip all leaves off with scissors). New leaves will grow back, smaller than before.
- Don’t do this more than twice a year. Also, remember to fertilize and repot on schedule because this drains nutrients away from the plant.
Strange branch growing under a twig or from the trunk
Sometimes a strange shoot will come out of the bark. It doesn’t bear any leaves. It starts off as a light-colored shoot but bark gradually appears.
- This is an aerial root. It winds and twists aiming to reach new ground.
- If you want it to grow long and take root, you must ensure the air is constantly moist. For example, mist or spray every day with soft water.
- If the air is too dry, this aerial root will dry out.
Learn more about ficus ginseng
Its small size and thick trunk make it a very decorative plant, ideal for modern designer homes.
The word “ginseng” means root in Chinese, and is attributed to this plant because of the magnificent aerial root. However, its very shiny dark green leaves are equally appealing.
Since it is easy to grow and care for, it is often called the beginner’s bonsai. Its life cycle can span many years, even decades, and the key to a successful life is simply to provide appropriate watering.
A surprising root-like trunk
Ficus ‘ginseng’ is the common name for what is usually called Ficus microcarpa in the scientific community. The name “ginseng” refers to the appearance of the root. Actually the thick, bulbous stem was an underground part of the plant, which was dug out and planted about 4 inches (10 cm) above ground level.
- Read about Ficus microcarpa and how it’s grown and cared for.
Confusing Ficus ginseng names
The Ficus ginseng plant is most often simply a Ficus microcarpa plant. However, due to confusion between production centers, consumer stores and the general public, it also came to be known under the name Ficus retusa.
95% of all Ficus ginseng plants sold are actually Ficus microcarpa, with other varieties like Ficus benjamina, Ficus retusa, and lesser-known cultivars filling in the rest.
Most Ficus ginseng have a cut trunk. This means that when the root was dug out and lifted up out of the soil, the original stem was cut, too.
- Some specimens were treated to have new twigs grow from the sides of the trunk. These are called non-grafted. Cutting the trunk was necessary to trigger branching out, otherwise all you’d get was a tall, spindly stem.
- Others are grafted, meaning branches from other ficus are attached to the cut trunk. The advantage is that grafted branches open up parallel to the trunk, giving the ficus ginseng bonsai a more tree-like look. It’s also possible to select branches from smaller, cuter varieties.
Usually grafts are performed with F. microcarpa branches, but sometimes other species (like Ficus retusa) are used on top of microcarpa roots… yet another confusing practice!
Confusion with other ginseng plants
And it’s also possible to get Ficus ginseng mixed up with other plants, too:
Don’t confuse Ficus ginseng with Panax ginseng, the “original” ginseng plant used for its health benefits.
When only few leaves are visible, your Ficus ginseng might be confused with yet another thick-stemmed plant, Adenium obesum. Telling them apart is easier when the Adenium blooms, because Ficus ginseng plants rarely ever bear flowers and fruits.
- Here is what you need to know about Panax ginseng and its health benefits
- How to care for Adenium, a magnificently flowering bonsai
Smart tip about Ficus ginseng
Ficus ginseng will appreciate spending the winter in a cooler spot, ideally around 60°F (15°C).
- Tips and guidance on how to care for Ficus benjamina
- Growing and caring for Ficus elastica, the rubber tree
- Planting and harvesting figs from Ficus carica
- All there is to know about the Ficus forever
Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Old Ficus ginseng by Ron Frazier under © CC BY 2.0
Leaves of a Ficus ginseng by Samuele Schirò under license
How to Prune Ficus Bonsai to Make it Thrive
The broad term Ficus encompasses a genus of about 850 plant varieties which are not only limited to trees but also include shrubs and vines, among others.
Flourishing in a large variety of environmental conditions, the family of Ficus plant species has also made its way into the art of bonsai.
For anyone looking to grow an easily adaptable and maintainable plant species as part of his/her bonsai journey, knowing how to prune Ficus bonsai to make it thrive is crucial.
But with a little care and attention, a ficus bonsai tree can truly amaze you and reward your efforts with its mesmerizing appearance.
Quick Facts about Ficus Bonsai Trees
There are two major types of ficus plants that make perfect bonsai trees, namely Ficus retusa (Ginseng ficus) and Ficus benjamina.
These varieties are characterized with small, evergreen leaves, vigorous growth, as well as stems that can be shaped in positively stunning forms and styles.
Apart from growing quickly, these ficus plant species are able to tolerate poor lighting and/or soil and humidity quite well. It is through careful pruning that you will be able to maintain their small size and create a traditional bonsai tree with the best success.
Video by Nature – How to grow Ficus Benjamina from a single leaf
Top Tips for Pruning Ficus Bonsai
1 – Prune Ficus Bonsai Trees in the Winter Season
Because of the fact, healthy but heavy new growth occurs with the beginning of the spring season, you need to prune ficus bonsai trees during the winter months.
2 – Always Start with a Sketched Plan for Pruning
A bonsai is an art form as it allows you to apply your personal perception and sense of aesthetic in achieving the shape you are aiming for through pruning.
Before you actually get down to cutting branches and shaping a ficus bonsai tree, take the time to envision the results you want to accomplish. For this purpose, you can spend a week or so in simply contemplating your ficus bonsai and let your creative juices flow.
It’s not necessary to draw a detailed sketched plan of the pruning session – you just need to have the image of what you wish to create in your head. It would be extremely helpful to mark the exact spots where the branches will be cut, though.
Last but not least, it’s highly recommendable to consider creating an alternating branching pattern. This can be done by removing one branch in two when these are formed directly opposite.
3 – Always Use Sharp and Sterilized Concave Cutters
When removing branches, using a non-sterilized tool can bring your ficus bonsai tree in contact with harmful bacteria.
Nevertheless, using cutters that are not sharp enough is also damaging. With this in mind, your choice of high-quality bonsai tools kit truly matters.
Video by Green Plants – Bonsai Defoliation | Ficus Bonsai Defoliation | Bonsai Trees for Beginners //GREEN PLANTS
5 – Don’t Forget about Cut Paste
Ooze will inevitably form, and subsequently sap, on the spots where branches have been pruned.
Especially when it comes to removing large sites, the cut paste will help your ficus bonsai tree recover quickly and successfully.
6 – Avoid Trimming the Leaves of your Ficus Bonsai
When growing a ficus bonsai tree, it is the stems and branches that you want to trim, and not the leaves. Trimmed leaves tend to turn brown and become rather untidy in appearance.
Throughout the entire growing season, it is only up to three leaves on every shot that you want to pinch and/or cut. This isn’t a strict rule, though. In the case your ficus bonsai requires extension in height or filling of empty gaps that ruin the desired appearance, then you want to let some shots keep growing instead.
7 – Consider the Aerial Roots of Ficus Benjamina Bonsai
Called weeping fig for some good reasons, Ficus benjamina bonsai trees will develop a unique aerial root system that can further enhance the beauty of your bonsai tree masterpiece.
However, in order to make the attractiveness of the root system work in your favor, you need to strive for balance in the appearance of the gorgeous aerial roots and the branches.
8 – Be Prepared to Remove about ½ of New Growth
Since pruning a ficus bonsai tree is much like a beauty ritual, don’t be scared about removing branches and helping your tree achieve the desired appearance.
Typically, a good pruning session will end up in removing ½ of new growth on an average. Remember that this is not the final appearance of your ficus bonsai, so stick to your plan and don’t panic.
There is a traditional Japanese proverb highlighting that vision without action is only “a dream” while action without vision is “a nightmare” – and the same rule applies when it comes to learning how to prune ficus bonsai to make it thrive. Take your time, listen to your tree, tune in with the flow of the living nature, and enjoy the ride.
Ficus Bonsai Tree Care Guide
Want more bonsai care information? Visit our official YouTube Channel!
Ficus sp. is a tropical encompassing more than 800 species. The ficus – or fig tree – is endemic to tropical regions all over the world. In its natural habitat, it may reach above 60 feet tall and just as wide.
This is one of the most beloved plants for bonsai because of its potential to become a fascinating visual piece as well as its forgiving nature in the care of new enthusiasts.
There are too many cultivars for an all-encompassing list but these are some of the most popular for use as bonsai:
- Ficus benjamina – Weeping Fig
- Ficus salicifolia – Narrow Leaf or Willow Leaf Fig
- Ficus macrophylla – Morton Bay Fig
- Ficus retusa – Banyan Fig or Indian Laurel
Each ficus species has its own unique properties. Some produce visible flowers – such as the reddish-orange blooms of the Morton Bay, and some have hidden blossoms that can only be pollinated by a specific wasp. The Weeping Fig is one of the most popular because of its lush, dark green leaves and ease of care.
Many Ficus sp., including the Banyan Fig, possess the well-known trait of aerial roots – roots that drop down from the branches and anchor themselves into the soil underneath, creating a visually stunning trunk arrangement.
The ficus is a true indoor bonsai, although it can be brought outdoors in the summer as long as the temperature is above 55 degrees. This bonsai prefers full sun (offer protection from full afternoon summer sun, however) but will grow adequately in less light as well. These plants do best without large fluctuations in moisture levels or temperature; indoor plants prefer a temperature between 60 and 80 degrees F. If placed in a cold or hot draft, the plant may drop leaves. Simply move it to an area with more consistent conditions.
Ficus sp. are very forgiving and have a high tolerance for over or under-watering. Still, they should not be permitted to completely dry out. When it is time to water, fill the pot until water runs out the drainage holes. In addition, they enjoy daily misting for humidity’s sake.
Feed your Ficus bonsai bi-weekly throughout the growing season. You may switch between a general balanced blend, and a high-nitrogen mixture at half strength. Decrease feeding frequency in winter.
Styles – Ficus sp. can be formed into most bonsai shapes. Upright formal is a commonly used style, as well as cascade – particularly with certain cultivars.
Most Ficus bonsai respond well to pruning, although some varieties – like F. benjamina – will suffer dieback if pruned too aggressively. Ficus are in the same families as rubber trees, and so will bleed a milky latex when pruned. This may be alleviated somewhat by using dull trimmers. Branches can be trimmed at any time of the year. To reduce leaf size, trim back to two to four leaves once the shoot has six to ten leaves on it.
Ficus bonsai should be wired before the shoots harden – once the branches stiffen they are difficult to move. Because these trees can grow very quickly during the growing season, the wire must be monitored closely to avoid cutting in.
This plant roots easily from cuttings; specific instructions vary among the different species. The best success with cuttings is typically had in the middle of summer. Air layering is also a viable method and should be attempted in spring. They can be grown from seed, although mold can be a problem with the humidity and heat required for the process.
Ficus bonsai typically require repotting every two or three years, although sometimes there may be enough growth to warrant doing it yearly – just watch the roots and if they begin to grow out the bottom of the pot, then go ahead and repot. While it can be done any time of year, spring or mid-summer are ideal. Roots are amenable to being pruned aggressively, up to half. A general bonsai soil mix such as the Fujiyama potting medium may be used.
Insects/Pests & Diseases:
Fig trees are relatively pest and disease resistant. If they become sick, they could fall prey to scale or spider mites. A systemic insecticide may need to be used and the tree will need to be brought back to good health by addressing the core issue.
Ficus are unusual bonsai in that you can diagnose many different conditions just from the leaves:
- Limp leaves – needs water
- Green leaves dropping – over-watering or not enough light
- Falling buds – over-watering or too cold
- Pale leaves – needs fertilizer
- Yellowing leaves with green veins – needs iron
- Mottled yellow foliage – pest problem
Overall, the plethora of Ficus sp. from which to choose offers newcomers and veterans alike an interesting indoor plant that’s easy to care for and can be shaped into the traditional bonsai forms.
Ready to buy a bonsai? Shop our bonsai trees!
View our other bonsai care guides
This bonsai ficus retusa is perfect for the home, office or gift
This past Chinese new year, we introduced the Ginseng Ficus in a cute round glass container to our product line. The Ginseng ficus tree, also known as the Ficus retusa or Ficus microcarpa, have a distinctive bulbous root that resemble ginseng (Hint the name ;)). These trees have also been called Cuban laurels or Indian laurel figs.
Given its tropical origins, the FIcus retusa enjoys warm, direct sunlight, but can grow in full sun to partial shade. Because of its bonsai nature, this ginseng ficus can still grow in low-light levels. Remember to avoid placing the plant in areas where it is close to the henter vents or drafty windows.
Bonsai Ginseng Ficus plant maintenance
Due to the bonsai nature of the ficus tree, pruning will be required as it grows. It is said to prune at both ends (the roots and the leaves). Pruning the leaves will help maintain the shape and structure of the tree. Should you repot the Ginseng Ficus, pruning at the roots will need to be done as well. The Ginseng Ficus tree may get spider mites or gnats, but it will not affect the actual health of the plant. If you notice these pesky bugs, just spray with a mixture of soapy water twice a day for 2 weeks.
Watering your Ginseng Ficus
To water a Ginseng ficus tree, the soil should be dry between each watering period. Water every 2 – 3 weeks in the Spring and Summer months, and then space out your watering in the Fall and Winter months. This plant can survive drought light conditions, as it does store and soak up water through its roots – so it is better to under water than overwater. Grab a 1/3 of a cup of water, and pour slowly at the base of the plant. Pour slowly to ensure you don’t overwater. Sometimes the soil may need less than 1/3 of a cup. The water shouldn’t “pooled” at the bottom of the glass and should soak up reasonably quickly. Signs of overwatering? The tree will develop root rot.
A FOOLPROOF WAY TO WATER YOUR GINSENG FICUS – Use the Smart Stick Method! Simply insert the Horty Girl Smart Stick found with every plant, into the base of the plant and pull out the stake. Feel/Notice if it feels wet, moist or dry and water accordingly. In this case, if the soil comes out dry – its time to water. If it comes out wet, you should check back in a week or so.
Ginseng Grafted Ficus (Indoor)
Ginseng Grafted Ficus – Indoor Bonsai Tree
Ginseng Grafted Ficus Care Sheet
The incredibly unique Ginseng Grafted Ficus is not only incredibly interesting looking, it’s also incredibly easy to care for (and thus, to love).
This native of Southeast Asia is surprisingly low maintenance and is generally considered to be the single easiest Bonsai to care for.
The Grafted Ginseng Ficus has a thick, pot-bellied trunk with stunning exposed roots and glossy oval leaves. If this Bonsai doesn’t act as a conversation starter in your home then your house is simply too interesting and can’t be helped.
The Grafted Ficus will do really well inside or out. It’s the quintessential Bonsai for beginners and an absolutely exquisite addition to any household.
Medium Grafted Ficus – 4 Years Old, 6 – 8″ Tall
Large Grafted Ficus – 6 yrs. / Height – 8 – 12″ Tall
X-Large – 14 Years Old, 20 -28″ Tall
* The Starter Kit Includes – 101 Bonsai Tips Book, Traditional Bonsai Shears, 2 oz. Bottle of MicroTotal, 2 oz. Bottle of Neptune’s Harvest Fertilizer, Bonsai Wire and a traditional Mudman Figurine.
** Humidity Trays are used to catch the excess water that drains out of the bottom on Bonsai Pots. They’re mostly used for Indoor Trees to protect furniture.
—Pot Color May Vary—
Important Shipping Guidelines:
- We cannot ship to a FPO, APO, P.O. Box or to locations in Alaska, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hawaii or anywhere internationally.
- All Bonsai are shipped direct from the nursery and may ship separately from other items purchased via the Bonsai Outlet.
- Most Shipments of Trees are released on Mondays and Tuesdays only to avoid being held in-transit over weekends.
- If extreme weather is expected, we may delay shipping your Bonsai tree to guarantee a healthy arrival; in such a case we will contact you. We are shipping living trees and must be conscious of the temperature conditions to the delivery address, as well as, while in transit. That said, we reserve the right to hold the tree(s) to guarantee a healthy delivery.
Ficus Ginseng Bonsai Tree Care Guide (Ficus retusa)
Ginseng ficus bonsai trees are very hardy and easy to take care of. Many beginning bonsai enthusiasts choose these trees to raise. They grow dense foliage, and they have very thick trunks. There are many different ficus trees, but only about six species are usually used for bonsai gardening. Ginseng ficus trees are native to Malaysia and Taiwan. These plants usually have several large roots that look like tree trunks.
Ginseng ficus trees have dark green oval shaped leaves. Their roots resemble those of other ginger trees. They have a reddish colored bark, and they can grow well with even a small amount of water. Their thick trunk makes ginseng ficus trees very hardy. While these trees all have oval leaves, their shape can vary widely.
Ginseng ficus bonsai trees or Ficus microcarpa and Ficus retusa are native in Taiwan and Malaysia. They are hardy plants with thick trunks that are easy to grow and maintain. There are a lot of bonsai enthusiasts choosing these bonsai trees to raise, growing dense foliage.
Ginseng ficus bonsai trees come in different types and about six ficus species are used in bonsai gardening, and they have large roots, that appear like trunks of trees.
The leaves of Ginseng ficus trees are oval shaped and dark green, with roots resembling ginger trees.
Their bark is usually reddish colored, and they grow very well even when the water is limited.
|Scientific/Botanical Name||Ficus retusa syn. and Ficus microcarpa|
|Description||This tropical tree is an evergreen. Its extraordinarily bulbous roots are very much like ginger roots. The thick canopy of shiny green leaves sit atop a stubby trunk.|
|Position||The tree prefers a site in full sun. When grown indoors, it should be placed on a windowsill that faces south. It is grown outdoors in tropical regions of the world.|
|Watering||Water the plant once or twice per week. It will need more frequent watering during the growing season.|
|Feeding||Feed with time-released fertilizer pellets, and provide additional liquid fertilizer during the growing season.|
|Leaf and Branch Pruning||The tree should only be pruned during the periods of active growth. The long shoots should be cut back to only a couple pairs of leaves, and this should be repeated on a regular basis while the tree grows in height. Doing so will encourage the tree to fill out.|
|Re-potting & Growing Medium||Re-pot the tree in the spring every other year with a soil mixture that comprises 60 percent aggregates and 40 percent organic matter.|
|Wiring||Setting occurs quickly once the branch has been wired. However, only the thinnest of branches can be styled with wire because thicker branches are quite stiff.|
|Notes||The fruit produced by the tree are actually inverted flowers; they are called figs. It is possible cut off the tree roots, along with the root bulge, and plant the top of the tree in soil. This eliminates the bulbous appearance of the roots. Creative use can also be made of rocks, arranging them in such a way as to make it seem as if the tree is being grown amongst rocks, and the rocks are pushing against the tree trunk. This tree gives the bonsai enthusiast a range of styling options to create interesting and aesthetic-pleasing specimens.|
In this guide, we will share helpful information about Ginseng Ficus Bonsai Trees and teach you how to effectively take care of them. We will be giving you in-depth details about these topics relating to Ginseng Ficus Bonsai.
- Growing Conditions
- Right Watering Technique
- Feeding or Fertilizing
- Leaf and Branch Pruning
- Re-potting and Growing Medium
- Wiring and Shaping Ginseng Ficus
The fruits produced by the Ginseng Ficus bonsai tree are inverted flowers which are known as figs. It’s possible to cut off their roots, along with their root bulge, and plant the topmost part of the bonsai tree in the soil, eliminating the bulbous root appearance.
The creative use of Ginseng Ficus can be made of rocks, by arranging them like growing among the rocks that push against the bonsai tree trunk, providing a wide range of styling options to bonsai enthusiasts for a more aesthetic-pleasing and interesting specimen. So let’s get started with the comprehensive guide!
1) Growing Conditions
Ginseng ficus plants can easily be grown indoors. Bonsai enthusiasts may bring their ginseng ficus trees outside, but this is not necessary. These trees are native to tropical environments, and they thrive in areas where there is lots of heat and humidity. However, they can suffer if they are put in places where the temperature falls below 15 degrees.
Ginseng ficus bonsai trees are easily grown indoors. Some bonsai enthusiasts bring their ginseng ficus bonsai trees outside.
However, this isn’t required. You have to consider the weather and climate in your area because these factors will determine whether you need to place your bonsai indoors or outdoors.
What you need is an observant assessment while doing a visual check to your bonsai trees. Here are some tips when it comes to determining the right growing condition for your ginseng ficus bonsai trees.
Tip #1: Ginseng bonsai trees thrive in tropical environments, where there is plenty of humidity and heat. However, ginseng ficus also suffers if they’re put in areas where the temperature is lower than 15 degrees.
Tip #2: Keep your ginseng ficus bonsai trees indoors so they are protected against direct sun exposure, wherein the leaves will burn if exposed to too much sunlight. They can survive in places that don’t get excessive sun exposure. It is best to keep your ginseng ficus trees near your windows facing the south. You need to ensure that you never put your ginseng ficus too close to the heat lamps. Set at least distance of a foot between the lamps and your bonsai plants. It’s best to turn the heat lamps off at nighttime.
Tip #3: Ginseng ficus appreciates staying outdoors during summer. When it comes to temperature, the most important aspect to consider is consistency. When indoors, the ginseng ficus bonsai should be kept in temperatures between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tip #4: If you live in a place where the temperatures drop lower than 68 degrees, your ginseng ficus tree must be grown indoors. They should be protected from elements and drafts to avoid the occurrence of leaf drop. If they are outdoors, offer protection to your bonsai during hot summer months.
The ginseng ficus tree prefers a good site in full sun. When grown indoors, it should be placed on a windowsill that faces south. It is grown outdoors in tropical regions of the world.
Ginseng Ficus bonsai tree is low-maintenance that can be grown both indoors or outdoors. It can survive without direct exposure to sunlight. It is also a good idea placing it near an area, like a window that will receive plenty of sunlight.
2) Right Watering Technique
Ginseng ficus bonsai plants are responsive to misting. Ginseng ficus trees are perfect for novice bonsai gardeners because they are less sensitive and delicate to watering, as well as resistant to pest infestation and diseases.
Tip #1: Mist your ginseng ficus trees with good quality water from a low-pressure hose with sprinkler or spray bottle every day. The general rule is using a 1/3 of a cup of water and pouring it slowly at the base of your bonsai. Avoid overwatering by checking the bottom of the container to ensure that water is not stagnant.
Tip #2: Ginseng ficus trees are considerably more forgiving as compared to other bonsai species. They can still survive if watering is missed. These bonsai trees grow well if the compost soil is not allowed dry.
Tip #3: Ginseng ficus bonsai trees should be watered regularly when the environment is warm. You need to bear in mind that excessive water may cause the roots of the ginseng ficus to rot. If they don’t get sufficient water they will start turning yellow.
Tip #4: Ginseng ficus trees have high resistance to pests and diseases given the proper care they need.
Tip #5: Misting will only create a temporary humid atmosphere. It is important to be consistent in your misting routine. Be careful though because excess water from spraying or misting will run off the leaves of your bonsai into the soil, creating a soil structure that is continually airless and wet.
It can thrive in mild drought conditions because it stores water and soaks water through its generous roots system. Now you know how to effectively water your ginseng ficus tree using these tips, helping you with the care and maintenance of a healthy bonsai tree.
3) Feeding or Fertilizing
Bonsai fertilizers also come in liquid form, which is considered a professional plant food. The liquid fertilizer for Ginseng Ficus belongs to the latest and new generation of fertilizers. Using liquid fertilizer promotes bright and healthy green leaves, strong bud formation, stable branches, and balanced rooting. It has rapid effects and usually administered to the bonsai root systems as a foliar fertilizer.
Essential Fertilizer Elements
Your Ginseng Ficus bonsai requires three essential elements which are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). They are needed in fairly large amounts for your bonsai plant to grow and properly develop. They are listed on your bonsai fertilizer package as N:P:K ratio.
The balanced ratio would be 10:10:10, wherein a nitrogen-heavy fertilizer would have a 10:5:5 ratio. These fertilizer ratios are indicative of relative proportions, so the 10:10:10 ratio has the same mixture like 15:15:15 or 5:5:5.
- Nitrogen: This element is the first number listed on the label fertilizer ratio. It stimulates the growth of stems and leaves, giving the foliage its beautiful green color.
- Phosphorus: It is the second number listed in the fertilizer ratio in phosphate form. Phosphorus is important and responsible for a healthy growth of a bonsai root system.
- Potassium: It is the third number on the fertilizer ratio. It is usually listed as Potash, and it aids in the production of flowers and fruits, winter adaptation, and cell regeneration.
Understanding Liquid Fertilizers
Liquid fertilizers were developed by bonsai gardeners of different departments, evolving and producing based on the existing knowledge in the field of cultivation and propagation of plants.
Choose a liquid bonsai fertilizer containing the highest quality of chelates and raw materials to guarantee optimal and maximum nutrient absorption. It is a joint project of botanists and gardeners combining many years of experience and expertise in the different disciplines in horticulture.
Liquid fertilizers are the best mineral NPK fertilizers, based on the studies and latest scientific findings.
Advantages of Using Liquid Fertilizers
- Optimal nutrient absorption in the leaves and roots.
- Rapid nutrient availability via effective and complex compounds.
- Perfect nutrient combinations for various bonsai and plant species.
- Effective and rich concentrated fertilizers for faster bonsai growth and development.
- Your bonsai can benefit from the fresh and new mixtures based on the latest bonsai fertilizer standards.
- Liquid fertilizers can be well and effectively combined with pesticides.
Remember to read helpful instructions on each brand of fertilizer. Liquid fertilizers are relatively easy to use, with the dosage taking place with the help of a cap. Knowing the best fertilizer to use is crucial so you can feed your bonsai plants with ease, keeping them healthy and strong.
4) Leaf and Branch Pruning
The main reasons in leaf and branch pruning a Ficus are to inhibit its growth and enhance its shape. A typical indoor ginseng ficus tree has an exposed trunk with a very leafy crown that has a roughly rounded and bush-like shape. It can be easily trimmed and conditioned into a various configuration.
When it comes to nature, a ginseng ficus tree spreads wider with nonconforming lower limbs, owing to its less well-groomed and bushier appearance. The Ficus bonsai is shaped to exaggerate and accentuate its attractive design.
Basic Ginseng Ficus Tree Pruning
Ginseng Ficus trees should be pruned after a new growth stops in early fall and late summer. The typical ficus plant experiences this new and fresh growth during spring and early summer months. Pruning a potted ginseng ficus that is brought indoors in winter is recommended, and pruning it prior to bringing the Ficus into the house is the perfect timing.
Because a ginseng ficus tree is fairly resilient and hardy, pruning is done all year round as necessary, not just during summer or fall. Broken or dead branches are pruned any time.
When pruning a ginseng ficus tree, be prepared with a pair of reliable small pruning shears which are specifically designed for fine and close work as well as narrow stems. They should be sharp and clean for the best outcomes.
Step-by-step When Pruning Ginseng Ficus Bonsai
Step 1: Locate a bonsai node where a twig or leaves join the stem or branch.
Step 2: Before a node, cut a slight downward slant.
Step 3: Cut closer to the node without really cutting into it
Step 4: Leaving at least one bonsai node for fresh and new growth on that branch or stem is needed.
Step 5: Cut a branch to eliminate it just before the limb or trunk, not leaving any nodes
Doing so aims to create a natural-looking and well-manicured Ginseng Ficus bonsai tree.
Because of the hardiness of small leaves and rapid growth, Ginseng Ficus trees as popular evergreens. Like any other bonsai, they need frequent and methodical pruning to maintain their traditional form and desirable size. This practice requires patience and time but the results are often stunning and promising. Learn more by watching this video!
5) Re-potting and Growing Medium
The ideal time to re-pot a bonsai is highly dependent on the tree species and the area that you’re living in. For instance, a Ficus Bonsai is best re-potted during spring. Conifers are best re-potted in the late summer just before the autumn season starts.
Newly re-potted conifers recover faster when the weather is quite warm. New root growth activity is reflected in a strong flush of buds among evergreen trees coming out from a short summer dormancy.
The tools and supplies you will need when re-potting your Ginseng Ficus bonsai include the following:
- Root Shears and Root Cutters – for pruning heavy roots.
- Aluminum Wire (1.5 mm and 2 mm) – to hold the bonsai tree firmly in the container or pot.
- Wire Cutters – to prepare new wires and remove existing wire ties.
- Jin Pliers – To help in the wiring.
- Repotting Sickle – to remove the bonsai tree from the bonsai pot.
- Steel or Wood Spatula – to remove the bonsai tree out of the container.
- Soil Sieves – to strain the right size of the growing medium.
- Potting Mesh – to ensure the soil stays in the pot and keep the pests away.
- Root Hooks Single and Multiple Pronged – for untangling the root ball.
- Chopstick – to ensure that the growing medium gets in between root spaces.
- Tamping Tools – to firmly compact and flatten the growing medium in the container or pot.
- Cleaning brush or Toothbrush – used to clean the pot, and the bark.
- Camellia Oil – it gives the bonsai pot the added shine and cleans for a perfect finish.
- Turntable – serves as a potting turntable.
- Large bowl – where you place the repotted Bonsai tree for watering.
- Fine fresh moss or grated dried sphagnum moss– protects the bonsai against excessive water evaporation.
- Sturdy flat surface – need to be large enough to hold your tools and bonsai tree.
Step-by-step Guide to Re-potting
Step #1: Prepare the bonsai pot. If you’re using the same pot, remove the salt scales by cleaning the pot thoroughly using a brush. Wash then wipe to thoroughly clean the pot.
Step #2: Covering the drainage holes with square mesh is very important to control water flowing from the soil and proper water distribution on the bonsai root system.
Step #3: Wire the pot using an aluminum wire to hold it in place as you re-pot your bonsai.
Step 4: Untangle the root ball then combine out the bonsai roots. Use a single-pronged root hook to untangle the root ball, turning the root ball on the turntable while working. Move deeper until 10% of the root mass is exposed.
Lift the root ball and gently untangle any roots at the bottom of the ball.
Step #5: Using a multi-pronged root rake, comb the all the roots around the root ball. Cut the larger roots.
Step #6: Place the bonsai root-ball back into the pot, determining a suitable position for the bonsai tree in the pot. Pacing the bonsai tree to one side of the pot to emphasize the flow of the bonsai tree. There should be enough room around the bonsai root ball.
If you are expecting to prune the roots vigorously, it is best to leave it after the springtime starts so it has a better chance of healing or recovering from the trauma because the weather warms.
In addition, the sap flows freely and the new leaves produce the needed nourishment for new root development and leaf regeneration.
6) Wiring and Shaping Ginseng Ficus
Wiring is a critical step in creating or shaping a bonsai tree using wires. Many Ficus bonsai trees seem resistant to wiring and they bounce back after removing the wire. Hold the branches in position by being persistent and wiring twice or thrice as needed.
Do not remove the wire by unwinding because just a minor movement of unwinding the wire might break the new wood formed from the time the wire was applied. The newly formed wood is the only thing that holds the branch in place. Roughly unwinding the old wire can break the newly formed wood and the branch won’t hold its desired position.
Let the wire remain longer and even to permit wire “indentation” of the bonsai branch. The indentation should be minor and within a year or two, the indentation will disappear. Don’t leave the wire long because it may produce deep scars that will remain for years.
Wiring is very important to create a beautiful and appealing bonsai. Generally, it should be done with care and patience is the key to avoid frustration. By reading the guide below, you’ll learn the art of wiring and shape bonsai properly, so you can enhance your skills. Basically, you’ll need wire cutters and aluminum or copper wire for this procedure.
Step-by-step Guide to Wiring and Shaping Bonsai
Step #1: You need to stop watering your bonsai a few days prior to wiring the branches and trunk. A bonsai tree that has not been watered will develop branches that can be easy to shape without breaking.
Step #2: Wrap copper or aluminum wire surrounding the branch or trunk of the bonsai tree, starting at the base and wrapping it at an angle of 45 degrees towards the top. Use a wire that should be 1/4 to 1/3 of the trunk’s thickness. Cut the wire with the use of wire cutters when it reaches the branches’ end.
Step #3: Use a wire that is 1/3 the branches’ thickness around each branch that will be shaped. Start by wrapping the wire around the trunk once where the branch joins the trunk, then wrap the wire at 45-degree angle around the branch until it reaches the branch’ end. Do the same step for every branch that needs to be shaped.
Step #4: Determine how the branches and trunk will be shaped before shaping them. Your bonsai might be damaged if it’s reshaped too many times.
Step #5: Bending the trunk to shape your bonsai tree should be done gently and slowly. If there’s any crack or tear, stop bending right away.
Step #6: Bending every branch that you need to shape similarly the trunk should be done gently and slowly, to avoid tearing or break tor cracking the branches you want to shape.
Step #7: Cut the wire off gently or unwrap the wire after the trunk and branches have been adjusted to the desired shape. Fast-growing bonsai trees adopt the shape that was set by the wire faster than slow-growing bonsai trees. You can remove them after a month if the tree was shaped during the growing season and it grows quickly. The wire can be removed after 6 months if the tree is slow-growing or if the wiring was applied in winter.
Bonsai trees that are 3 feet tall or very big bonsai usually take twice as long to adapt to its new shape. A large and fast-growing bonsai needs at least 2 months to adapt to its new shape, and slow-growing and large bonsai require a year to adapt to its new shape.
Now that you have gained knowledge about wiring and shaping your bonsai tree, it is time to apply them and enhance your bonsai growing skills.
Ginseng Ficus bonsai trees are sturdy and resistant to pests and diseases. They are suitable for any type of gardener and the steps in caring them are pretty much the same with other types of bonsai.
Just ensure that wiring and shaping your Ficus should be gently and resistant enough to hold their branches and trunk into your desired shape because of its hard bark. Generally, Ginseng Ficus trees are the fun and challenging type of bonsai species.
Feel free to post your comment below for your insights and share your experiences for others to read. Happy Bonsai growing!
I really didn’t want to write this post as anything other than a straight update and technique post. But I seem to have not only thrown a rock at a hornets nest, but I’ve knocked it down and danced naked on top of it, twerking for the target practice of the hornets.
Great image, right? A big, white ass riddled with livid red welts being swarmed by angry hornets.
My last post has, shall we say, enlivened the debate about how we, as a bonsai community, have been treating newcomers.
I showed my friend Paul Pikel the Reddit forum for bonsai and all the replies from my last post. It is not an exaggeration to say that he was horrified.
First and foremost, most professional bonsai teachers and artists are willing to share their knowledge with beginners. I have observed this many times and the teaching is done with grace and élan.
Secondly, some experienced bonsai practitioners and growers try to project an air of authority that is off-putting. Some, mind you, not all.
This next part is where I’ll get in trouble. Ready?
The third group are the intermediates. They seem to be the worst offenders when it comes to handling beginners.
The main problem is that these intermediates think they are occupying a higher pay-grade than they really are. It’s human nature.
This is really going to sting but…..I don’t care how long or how little you’ve been in bonsai, there are some old timers who’ve been in bonsai for 30 years that are still intermediates and there are some professionals with great art (like Michael Feduccia) who can count on two hands (and still put their pinky out when sipping tea) how long they’ve been practicing the art. Aptitude and attitude counts. It’s a mindset that, even though you can spout out what the C.E.C. of akadama compared to D.E. granules is, or you understand when and how and why to equalize the energy distribution on JBP candles, you still have a lot to learn, that puts you into the advanced category. It’s this knowledge that you don’t have all the answers that makes you more receptive to beginners.
I often categorize myself as a “know-it-all”. I do know a lot, but I realize that I don’t know it all. I probably use reference materials and google searches more than most people because I am unsure of what I know.
Do I consider myself advanced?
Anyone who categorizes themselves as advanced probably isn’t. I’ve done advanced work, I’ve done some small bits of master level work, but I’d consider myself journeyman status. Still seeking knowledge and spreading what I know.
Which brings us to the second theme of this post.
I know, for an absolute fact, that this tree was a “ginseng” ficus.
Yes, I am going there again.
Did it start out like this one?
As an aside and a point to be made, the tree just above is an example of a grafted “ginseng” ficus. Which means that the original foliage was replaced with what looks to me to be the “retusa” or “tigerbark” foliage.
Which answers a question someone had about cutting off the graft and if the original foliage would grow back.
It seems that most people who are anti-ginseng use the phrase “they’re grafted” in a negative way.
Most Japanese pines and junipers are grafted. I have that nugget-of-fact on very high authority.
The grafted ginseng actually have better foliage, retusa or golden coin or some other; dense, close internode, and smaller leaf size. Which makes the grafted easier to develop actually.
And I’ll give you the point that the original, f. microcarpa growth habit is more difficult to work with.
But, if we go back to the black pine example, do you know how hard it is to work on them?
Let me illuminate.
The needles are big.
It has a whorl growth habit.
The bark doesn’t begin to age for ten or more years.
Bud back? Hah! It takes years to ramify a black pine. And only using a specific, timely, and meticulous feeding, pruning, wiring and potting schedule.
And yet! YET! It’s one of the most popular bonsai species.
Oh, did I mention that they’re easy to kill?
And let’s not even talk about junipers.
Maybe a little.
The biggest complaint about the “ginseng” is it’s bulbous, non-treelike trunk.
I totally agree.
But I have a few things for you to think about when considering the trunk of the “ginseng”.
The trunk is actually the root system of a seedling ficus microcarpa that has been raised above the soil to give it a fatter trunk. We do that all the time with trees.
They are young plants. If I showed you this young trident:
Or this ilex:
“Oh, that needs about 5 or ten years in the ground before you can even think about it being a bonsai”.
Or if I showed you this Eugenia:
You’d say that it needs a trunk chop.
Which are both valid, constructive pieces of advice.
All bonsai, mine and yours included, need more time.
Shit, there are some of Ryan Neal’s and Ed Trout’s trees that need time.
But I don’t think your gonna say that to their faces now, are you?
You’re afraid of them, but a noob, yeah, they’re easy prey, fresh meat to pick apart.
Especially if they have a ficus.
It’s easy to pick on ficus bonsai.
So, the look of a “ginseng” is offensive, I’ll agree.
Have you seen the twisted shimpaku junipers that have been showing up lately?
Some of them, I’d say about ten percent (yes, that low) look good.
Like this one.
The one above was on Jim Gremel’s sales table at the National Show.
Most look like frozen piles of dog shit with a green mushroom top on them.
In my honest opinion.
What they need is more time.
They are made, production style, much like the Chinese S-curve elms, ficus and such.
I would show a picture of a bad one but I don’t want to get sued.
Here’s one that died and is now a tanuki in training that I inherited.
In what universe is that messy, coiled, lump of wood considered tree-like in any way?
I would hazard to say that these twisted shimpaku junipers are the ginsengs and S-curves of the high end bonsai crowd.
P.T. Barnum was right.
Or, maybe, the emperor is naked.
So, if only ten percent of those twisted shimpakus are decent, I would say the same about S-curves and ginseng as well.
How do you like this ginseng?
If that were a pine with a trunk like that, it’d be a very high dollar tree.
And this one from the last post.
Or this one?
You’ll notice that the bark color changes to a light cream from the dark brown over time.
I like this “ginseng”. I’d say it’s about 20-30 years old.
My favorite, Bigfoot, a ficus microcarpa with the same leaf shape as the ginseng.
Eighty, ninety years old at least.
If those last two trees don’t convince you that a ficus microcarpa can become a good bonsai I’m not sure what you consider “bonsai”.
Tree in a pot designed to resemble a natural tree (somewhat stretching the definition with some junipers out there but..), can be pruned, wired, styled etc., so that the branching and foliage is in scale with the size and design of the tree.
Is that bonsai? How easy is it to create bonsai using “ginseng”?
I’d say that ficus microcarpa is about the same difficulty level as a trident maple, all things equal. I grow both. The ramification, the trunk growth, the leaf reduction, the budding back; these all are pretty much the same with the two trees.
How about we go back to this tree and let me work on it?
Let me show you instead of tell you.
This was how I received the tree a few years ago.
It was a “ginseng” at one point, the man who I bought it from told me the story of how he got it. It was then that I first suspected that a ginseng ficus was just a seedling f. microcarpa.
The man’s story, along with seeing real seedling ficus at Jim Smith’s nursery, being grown by Jim Van Landingham, are what confirmed it.
All of the seedlings Jim V was growing had caudex-like trunks.
Much like these two seedlings I found growing in some ficus I got at Old Florida Bonsai.
That’s right, vindication!
Why? It’s because Richard Turner doesn’t grow or sell ginseng ficus. He either collects trees from the wild or grows from cutting/seed. He doesn’t import at all.
So now we have the “Aha!” ficus, what did I do?
I chopped it back, of course.
Then I let it grow out and I, yep, you guessed it, chopped it back again.
And wired it.
At this point I also drew a picture of my final goal for the tree.
You’ll see how far I’ve come at the end of this post.
The first step is defoliation.
Let me clarify why I do this and why you should defoliate a ficus too (it seems that people skip over the “why” parts a lot and then misrepresent my work).
First reason: it let’s me see the tree.
Second reason: I will be wiring. Leaves get in the way.
Third reason: I am repotting, if I don’t defoliate, the leaves will fall off anyway, repotting and defoliating at the same time stimulate the tree to grow faster than doing each one seperately.
This I have experience with.
Now, we are talking ficus. Not elm, not maple, not hornbeam etc.
A tropical tree, of which most (not all) respond the same way, especially bougainvillea but not Serissa or bucida spinosa. Or Fukien tea; let them drop their leaves by themselves (which they do whenever you change anything about them, especially moving their location, like from the nursery to home).
Back to the ficus.
It’s begging to be repotted.
I can do this now, I’ll have at least a month of minimum nighttime temps of 60f or higher (it is late September) . I don’t bring my trees inside for the winter like many colder climate bonsai people do, so I have to be careful with my timing. I’ll have nights that get to 33f where I won’t protect the trees. Such is the Florida bonsai life.
If whatever winter protection you use can assure above 60f temps, go ahead and repot now. Just remember that you still need light to stimulate growth.
Speaking of light.
This is the front of the tree, which is also the side facing the sun.
This is the back, or shady side.
This tree was shoved into the greenhouse with most of the back shaded.
What do you see?
More aerial roots on the backside.
The front got more water (higher humidity) but more sunlight. The back got less water (lower humidity) but less light. Can we make a conclusion here? Just maybe.
Now, where was I?
That’s right, defoliation.
I’m also removing the unwanted new shoots, like the one growing straight up on the above pic.
Cut the leaves, strip the foliage, make the tree naked, cut, snip, snip, cut……
Uggggh, it’s endless….who said that these trees didn’t have dense foliage.
Where’s my broom? Damn it, who stole my broom?!
Now what’s my next step?
I’m going to prune for taper.
This branch is too big.
And the apex is a bit tall with some branches lacking taper.
That will make a good cutting.
Next step, repotting.
It needs it.
With a ficus you should do this about once a year.
I rotated the front of the tree about 15 degrees counterclockwise.
I do believe I’m making progress.
It looks like a banyan-style bonsai to me.
The Japanese don’t consider the banyan-style to be one of the “classic” styles or ficus as proper bonsai (even though Kimura has a ficus microcarpa “retusa” in his collection) but it seems to me that, with the waning of bonsai in Japan and the waxing of it in the rest of the world, the Japanese may just become another voice, and not the authority, on what species we use for our art.
To summarize (since about 2/3rds of you only look at the pictures)
The so-called ginseng ficus is a seedling ficus microcarpa that has had it’s caudex-like roots raised to artificially make the trunk look bigger.
It can be grown out (or air layered or cut down) to make it look more tree-like.
This process takes time, like all bonsai development does.
Only half of the ginseng ficus have grafted foliage.
And most importantly, be nice to beginners. We need more people in the hobby, business and art of bonsai. By calling their tree (whether it be a juniper mallsai, an S-curve tree, a twisted shimpaku or a ginseng ficus) a piece of crap and saying it’s not real bonsai is either just ignorant, or stupid. You choose.
We have a name for trees that haven’t been developed yet, how about we use it; PreBonsai.
“Sorry Fred, but, ya know, junipers of that size need a little more growth in them before they can be called proper bonsai”
” Wow Cindy, that ficus needs about 5 or 10 years of growth before the trunk looks like a tree, if you want it to look like a bonsai”
And when these new people say
“isn’t a bonsai just a tree in a pot?”
“Bonsai is actually an art form using small, living, relatively young trees and shaping them to look like large and old trees, employing the principles of line, form, dimensions and scale to create that illusion. Much like how a landscape painting has a sky and trees or mountains and a portrait should have a face, a bonsai should look like a tree”
And that should be that.
It won’t though.
It feels a little like a Peter Warren blog doing this here but, to quote:
People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully
So we’re different colours
And we’re different creeds
And different people have different needs
It’s obvious you hate me
Though I’ve done nothing wrong
I’ve never even met you so what could I have done
I can’t understand
What makes a man
Hate another man
Help me understand
Help me understand
Now you’re punching
And you’re kicking
And you’re shouting at me
I’m relying on your common decency
So far it hasn’t surfaced
But I’m sure it exists
It just takes a while to travel
From your head to your fists
-Martin Gore, Depeche Mode-
Peter would link to the song though.
Aw hell, here you go http://youtu.be/ErnMC7xokQ8