Among the many species of bonsai that you can find, one of the best known, cheap, and easily found in supermarkets is the ficus ginseng bonsai. In fact, it is usual that, every few months, low-cost supermarkets bring them on sale for between 7 and 10 euros.
But do you know how to care for a Ficus ginseng bonsai? How to water it, orient it to the sun, prune it or transplant it? We will talk about all this below.
How to care for a Ficus ginseng bonsai?
Before learning how to care for a Ficus ginseng bonsai, you should know a curiosity about this bonsai that not many know. And is that his name is wrong. It really is not a ficus ginseng. It is a ficus retusa, but it is ‘altered’. What they do is strangle the roots and make them fatten in such a way that the trunks you see in these bonsai are always huge. Why? Well, because that way they resemble the roots of ginseng, and hence they are sold as such. But there really is no such species.
Now that you know this ‘secret’, it is time for you to know how to take care of a Ficus ginseng bonsai because, even if you buy it in the supermarket, the truth is that it is one of the most resistant there is, but it is important to know some peculiarities that you will need to survive.
Is it indoor or outdoor?
The first thing you should know about bonsai ficus ginseng is whether it is indoor or outdoor. Actually, all bonsai are outdoor. Everybody. The problem is that changes in temperature, orientation, etc. cause them not to hold in some areas.
In the case of bonsai ficus ginseng, they adapt perfectly both indoors and outdoors. In stores, they are sold as indoor trees, but it does not mean that they are not used to being outside on a terrace, garden, or greenhouse.
Of course, it is important that, once you put it in a place, you are not moving it continuously. When you bring it home, pick a spot and don’t move it for at least two weeks. It is the minimum time it takes for the plant to adapt to its new home.
And how do you know if it goes well? It is normal for the first few days to be able to throw out the odd little leaf, so don’t be scared; but if you see that its greenery is fading, that the leaf fall is increasing, and that you notice it “off”, it is better to change its location.
In general, the ficus ginseng bonsai needs light, so place it next to a window, a balcony, etc. it would be your ideal place. From time to time you can consider taking it outside so that it is directly exposed to the sun, but always in spring and/or summer (and avoiding the hours of greatest incidence of the sun).
How to water a Ficus ginseng bonsai?
Not all bonsai need to have the soil constantly moist, or always have water on their plate. The ficus ginseng bonsai is one of them. When watering them, it is important that you do it only when the substrate needs it; that is when you see that the earth begins to dry out.
To water it you must have a tray and pour the water there, covering the holes in the pot. In this way, the bonsai will begin to absorb the water from below, nourishing the roots. If you see that the water evaporates very quickly, repeat the filling of your tray and wait an hour or so before removing the excess water.
As for the top part, it is good that you pulverize the earth so that it is also moist. So you will know when it dries.
Depending on the season, you should water more or less. For example, in winter it tolerates watering well once every two weeks (unless you place it in a very “dry” area). While in summer it may need you to water it once a week or even every 2-3 days if it is outside and it gets a lot of suns.
How and when to prune a Ficus ginseng bonsai?
Pruning is necessary to give the tree a design. If she did, the branches would “go haywire” and make the tree grow more on one side than the other, and not be strong or vigorous. Although it tolerates well that you cut the occasional branch from time to time, the best time to do it should be in winter, when the sap is contained and thus you do not make any “wound” to the tree.
You should prune it based on the shape you want it to have, always trying to cut two leaves after the branches have grown, and have between 6 and 8 leaves.
Another way to prune them is by removing leaves, that is, leaving the branches with fewer leaves, or even cutting their size (which helps them stay small.
If the cut you make leaves a large wound, you should use sealant paste to heal that area, especially to avoid that the health of the plant suffers or that it may be affected by pests or diseases.
How to transplant it?
You should know that when you buy a ficus ginseng bonsai unless you buy it in a florist or in a store specialized in these trees (it is rare that they have this type of bonsai), the soil that it will bring is the worst.
In fact, it will look like a lump of compacted earth, of very poor quality. Why do we tell you this? Well, because one of the reasons why many bonsai end up dying in the first months (or weeks) of having it is because of this.
The compacted soil prevents the roots from reaching the water and nutrients, or the water remains stored in the earth and the roots rot. For this reason, it is recommended that, once you buy it, you try to change it pot and, if possible, soil.
We are not referring to doing a “pure and hard” transplant, but an emergency one, removing what you can of soil with your hands and placing it in the new pot with its good quality soil.
Ficus resist a lot, and you are not going to burden yourself for this, on the contrary, you can make it ‘wake up’, that is, make it look more active and start to put more flowers.
Now, every two or three years, in the springtime, you should do a ‘complete’ transplant. This consists of changing the soil, cleaning it practically completely, trimming the roots a little, and placing it in another pot with a basic mixture of soil (akadama and some compost or enriched soil).
It does not have much mystery, because they are very strong when pruning roots. As long as you don’t cut the “mother roots”, nothing will happen and that will help it grow and improve its appearance as a bonsai.
Do you have a bonsai ficus ginseng at home? Surely with this care, you will get a very beautiful specimen. And little by little you can make their appearance change.