The Ficus Ginseng (Ficus Retusa) is an evergreen woody plant, native to the Malay Archipelago and Malesia region. Being a member of the Ficus genus, it belongs to the family of mulberry plants and is, thanks to its modesty, under newbies the most popular Bonsai.
While there are countless varieties of the Ficus, the most commonly used as an indoor tree is the Ficus Retusa. But the popularity of this tree isn’t owed to its humbleness only. Bonsai enthusiasts love its thick trunk, looking much like a Ginseng root (hence the name).
Up to ten meters high outdoors, loved as a tiny Bonsai indoors
Outdoors this rapidly growing tree can reach up to ten meters in height, having a crown of about equal width in diameter. This beautiful tree can form the highly sought-after aerial roots in its natural habitat. To enable the growth of aerial roots, the plant needs a very humid environment (for instance by spraying it with water frequently).
These roots grow down vertically from the branches and when reaching the ground, they turn into strong trunks. Home in warm tropical climate, a single tree can grow into a forest-like structure and cover a huge area over the years.
The Ficus Ginseng Bonsai trees are getting imported to Europe after the impressive aerial roots are grown in China and Malaysia for many years. The growing process is being completed in greenhouses before the trees are reaching us.
Ficus retusa, the “easy care” Bonsai
The great advantage of the Ficus Ginseng (despite its beautiful looks) is that it’s a truly perfect tree for anyone who is interested in a very low-maintenance Bonsai. The perfect care for this plant consists of moderate watering without stocked-up water in the saucer, regular fertilizing and a warm, moist place (indoors or outdoors during the summer season and indoors in winter).
Taking care for a Ficus Ginseng Bonsai tree is even easier when it comes in an “Easy Care” pot.
The fact that this Bonsai is a humble, low-maintenance contemporary doesn’t mean that it can get neglected by its owner completely!
Basic rules for the Ficus Retusa
Here are some basic guidelines that, when being followed regularly, will guarantee that you are going to be the proud parent to a very beautiful Ficus Ginseng Bonsai tree for many years to come:
As the Ficus Ginseng is a tropical tree, it can’t stand cold climate. It can stand outside during summer, given that temperatures are above 15 degrees Celsius day and night. It needs plenty of sunlight, no matter inside or outside. A very shady place will turn this tree into a sad Bonsai.
Keep it warm!
Temperatures should be kept relatively constant. They can endure low humidity due to their thick, waxy leaves, but they clearly prefer very high humidity and need extremely high humidity to develop aerial roots.
Another very stylish way to present a Ficus Ginseng Bonsai tree are these monochrome ceramic pots.
The tree should be watered normally, so it should be given water whenever the soil gets slightly dry. The Ficus Ginseng tree can tolerate occasional over- or under-watering. Soft water having room temperature is fine. Regularly misting in order to keep it humid is advised, but don’t overdo this or fungal problems can occur. The warmer the position in winter the more water is needed. When being kept at a cooler place during winter, this Bonsai only needs light watering.
Fertilize it weekly or every other week in summer, every two to four weeks in winter. Liquid fertilizer is perfectly fine but organic fertilizer pellets can also be used instead.
This is how the leaves of a healthy Ficus Ginseng Bonsai tree should look like.
This Bonsai should be repotted every other year in spring, using a basic soil mixture. The Ficus also tolerates root-pruning very well. Cuttings can be planted at any time of the year, but they’re best done during mid-summer growth. Air-layering will work best around April/May.
We truly hope that this little filed trip into the world of the Ficus Ginseng Bonsai tree was entertaining and informative at the same time!