Ficus Benjamina: One of the most popular plant for making bonsai

Ficus Benjamina: One of the most popular plant for making bonsai
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Image Source: Ebyabe / CC BY-SA (Image Cropped)

These plants are easy to grow as bonsai. They can get adjusted to any conditions and are resistant to most of the pests and pathogens. They are easy to grow and propagate and require very little maintenance.

Other Common NamesWeeping fig, Benjamin Fig, Ficus tree
Type Indoor/outdoor flowering plant
MaintenanceModerate/ high in case of bonsai
FloweringDuring spring
LightBright direct sunlight, can survive in partial indirect light as well.
WaterWhen the soil is dry
TemperatureWarm humid conditions
SoilWell drained soil
FertilizerAny liquid fertilizer
HabitatAsia, Australia
Common DiseasesLeaf spot
Scientific name Ficus benjamina

Overview of Ficus Benjamina

They are evergreen trees which can grow up to a height of 30 m and belong to the family of Moraceae. The leaves are shiny and waxy. The plants bloom in their natural habitat. They have an ability to adjust to their surroundings. The plants can be groomed to be grown as a bonsai. According to feng shui and vastu, the presence of fig can bring in good luck and prosperity. The different varieties of Ficus can be differentiated according to the colour and shape of the leaves. some of the popular varieties include:

  • Golden King: Have variegated leaves green center and irregular yellow bands at the edges.
  • Starlight: The leaf margins are yellow colored.
  • Natasha: Long narrow dark green leaves.
  • Reginald: Variegated has light green margins.
  • Wiandi: Dark green glossy leaves that curl downwards.
  • Monique: Bright green glossy leaves with undulating edges.
  • Special features: The plants have an ability to purify air and have medicinal properties.
Ficus Benjamina Full Plant (Image Source: J.M.Garg / CC BY-SA)

Usage and Advantage of Ficus Benjamina

They are one of the most preferred bonsai plants.

  • They have an ability to purify air.
  • They have antimicrobial properties.
  • The plant is used in traditional medicine to treat respiratory disorders, cure skin diseases, inflammation, piles, vomiting, malaria etc.  

General Care for Ficus Benjamina

Placing the plant in the right spot:  The bonsai plants can be placed outdoors during summer. The plants require ample amounts of light for its growth. A place with enough direct light in the morning and shade during the afternoon works well for these species of ficus.

During winters, when the conditions are cold, the plant should be shifted indoors to warmer places with ample amount of sunlight during the day.

The variegated varieties prefer direct sunlight. The light helps in developing the white colour in them.

Soil: Any well drained potting soil can be used. The soil should be well aerated as they produce extensive root system, heavy soil can prevent the spread of the root

Watering: The plants can be watered once every week. They prefer soil to be moist so watering should be done only when the soil becomes dry. They can tolerate over-watering and under-watering but regular over-watering of the plant can cause the soil to become waterlogged, harming the plant.

Sunlight and Temperature: The plant prefers indirect bright sunlight. It can also adjust to partial indirect light and shade. They do not show much physical changes when exposed to bright sunlight or shade. They are tropical plants and cannot tolerate cold conditions. The plants prefer warm and humid conditions. The aerial roots develop when the temperatures are warm and humid or mostly during the rainy season. To grow aerial roots, the plant should be provided the optimum conditions.

Special Care:

Pruning, trimming and training:

A shallow pot is used to grow bonsai plants. Under-potting, constant pruning , proper care and training are the keys to grow a healthy bonsai plant.

While growing a bonsai plant, care should be taken to prune the plants regularly and at the right time. Pruning and training the plants are important to grow a healthy and good-looking bonsai plant.

The pruning can be done regularly to remove the overgrown branches and to shape the plants. The unwanted branches can be removed to shape the plants according to one’s need. The tips of the branches can be regularly pinched off.While pruning, few leaves should be left on the branches. Removal of all the leaves from the pruned branches can affect the health of the plant.

The branches can be wired using aluminium or copper wires. The wired branches can be bent to shape the branches. The wires should not be wound very tightly. This can cause marks or cuts on the branches when they grow.

The Ficus can be re potted once the trunk grows 1 inch thick. They are uprooted and the roots can be trimmed to ¼ its height and later potted into a new potting mixture. They are regularly watered and kept in shade or partial sunlight for 2 weeks and fed with an NPK fertilizer every 2 weeks. Repotting can be done during mid-summer or spring. Repotting basically involves the changing of soil and trimming the roots of the plants.

Fertilizer: The plants can be fed with fertilizer ones in a week during the growing period i.e., spring and summer and ones a month during winters. The plants require a balanced fertilizer. a mixture of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus in the ratio of 3:2:1 can be given as these nutrients are essential for the growth of the plant

Pests and other problems for Ficus Benjamina

Diseases: The plants are resistant to pests and pathogens under favourable conditions.

The trees may lose leaves when transplanted. The leaves may fall even when there is excess water in the soil.

They can be attacked by aphids or mealy bugs. It is rare. This can be treated by spraying the plants with soap solution or neem oil.

They can also be affected with bacterial and fungal leaf spots. The infected leaves can be removed immediately to prevent the spread of infection.

Propagation of Ficus Benjamina

The propagation of can be done through stem cutting, seeds, marcotting.

Stem cutting:The stem can be cut off from the parent plant. The leaves at the bottom are removed leaving 2-3 leaves at the top. The cutting is dipped in rooting hormone and planted in a moist soil. It is watered regularly and placed in a place with ample amount of sunlight.

Seeds: The propagation through seeds is easy but availability of seeds can be a problem. The bonsai plants very rarely bear fruits. The seeds can be sown in soil, left in a place with indirect sunlight and watered regularly till the seedlings appear. They can be shifted to a much brighter spot once the seedlings appear.

Marcotting: A healthy stem is selected for marcotting. and 1 cm height skin is removed from the stem. Moist mud is placed around the cut and covered completely with a plastic cover. This helps in retaining moisture. This is watered daily. The stem can be cut and planted separately once the root develops from the cut.



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