Bonsai Today

Online magazine for Bonsai lovers


Figs are keystone species in many tropical forest ecosystems. Figs have figured prominently in some human cultures, such as Buddhism, objects of worship and many practical uses. For bonsai they are a great source of material with many style options

Ficus retusa

Majestic appearance

Ficus are exceptionally interesting trees. Their appearance grabs our attention with their growth and majestic stature. They are considered trees that are very adaptable, resistant and energetic. Those who travel to tropical countries can often see old churches, grotto entrances, or houses engulfed by these giant plants. Ficus belong to the colourful botany of the Oriental countries. However, we also find these trees in many other regions from southern America to the Mediterranean.

In nature there are about 2,000 species of Ficus, the majority being consistently green. Typical for Ficus are the long air roots, which start growing downwards from the branches and, over time, create a strange, braided trunk that will contrast with colourful fauna and flora.

One of the highly valued trees at the exhibition. A very fine shaped trunk and nebari
Close up of the Nebari and trunk.

Ficus: adaptive, resistant and energetic

Ficus indica

In your home

Ficus are among the most appreciated of tropical deciduous trees that can be grown very well indoors. If you start growing bonsai in your apartment, we recommend resistant and good looking Ficus retusa. This is easy to propagate as well. If it has enough light, it can easily bear pruning and wiring. Other suitable species to cultivate are Ficus benjamina, F. carica, F. pumila and the varieties of F. retusa such as panda and kimen. The succulents have F. petiolaris, F. palmeri, F. arnotiana, as suitable varieties.

Ficus benjamina


  • Common name: Ficus
  • Genus: Ficus
  • Higher taxon: Moraceae
  • Species: F. benghalensis, F. benjamina, F. carica, F. retusa, F. indica
  • Skill level: Beginners and advanced.
  • Soil type: Likes a soil mix which has good drainage qualities. Volcanic rock or kiryu sand improves drainage.
  • Flower and fruit: Fig plants can be monoecious (hermaphrodite) or gynodioecious (hermaphrodite and female)
  • Foliage: Various sizes and shapes from oval to almost rounded.
  • Bark: In general grey/brown, with shallow fissures.

The mushroom tree

In the Royal Botanical Garden at Peradeniya, on the island Sri Lanka grows a huge old fig tree (Ficus benjamina). The extent of its crown stretches 2,500 m2. From a distance, it looks like a flat mushroom. But when you go under its voluminous crown, you find yourself in an extraordinary thread of old branches, which are growing far and wide from the short trunk.


With cuttings, or air layer.

Plenty of light is a must for the Ficus. It can thrive in extreme heat if its soil is kept moist. When Ficus is grown indoors it is a good thing to put them out in the garden in spring when the night temperatures stay above 15 ° C. In winter, we have to watch the heating, because dry air from a hot radiator will kill all living plants.

Easy to shape with the cut and clip method. It’s really a very vigorous plant and that’s why they can grow back branches really quickly, even if you make a mistake. After each cut you make in the tree it will create a flow of wound ‘milk’. This will stop and the wounds will soon heal over.

Ficus are not demanding of the soil type you use, but it is necessary to use an airy substrate. For this you can try crushed zeolite. Repot the tree at the time of full growth, preferably in April, May.

Ficus likes water. It cannot bear to be soaking wet though, when its roots are likely to rot. It is necessary to water it well, then let the soil drain a bit so that the bonsai is not standing in the water.

Very easy to wire. However, when using wire you need to takegreat care that, because of its rapid growth, the wire doesn’t bite into the bark.

In the Wann Ying Garden, Taiwan you can see this big Ficus tree trained as bonsai
Defoliated Ficus shows a very refined branch system
A double trunk ‘sokan’ style.
A fantastic cascading Ficus in Wann Ying garden Taiwan.
Overview of ficus in the Wann Ying garden, Taiwan.
A huge Ficus, seen from underneath.
To reveal the refined branch setting many of the bonsai are defoliated during a show.
Even the cascade style is seen with some impressive gnarling trunks.
Larger than life, a Ficus in a huge pot.

© Copyright Bonsai Europe Publications


© 2024 All Rights Reserved Bonsai Europe

Related Articles

Tree guide

Juniperus chinensis

The juniper is one of the most popular choices for bonsai. Many species are available with various price tags. There are two types, scale and needle junipers, which have a different growth and cultivation needs…

Tree guide


These shrubs and small trees, known as spindles, grow on all continents except South  America and Africa.

Tree guide

Pinus sylvestris

In the wild, a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) matures naturally into the same style as a bonsai literati with branches spreading horizontally below its flattened apex.

Publication dates

English language edition 2024Publication Dates
IssueE-MagazineEuropeRest o/t World
2024-1 #186 | #209- January /FebruaryJan. 1, 2024Jan. 15Jan. 22
2024-2 #187 | #210- March / AprilMar. 4Mar. 18Mar. 25
2024-3 #188 | #211- May / JuneMay 6May 20May 27
2024-4 #189 | #212 -July / AugustJuly 1July 15July 22
2024-5 #190 | #213- September / OctoberSep. 2Sep.16Sep. 23
2024-6 #191 | #214- November / DecemberNov. 4Nov. 18Nov. 25

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,  consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus 


Shipping: Estimated delivery time:
In Europe 10-15 business days
Outside Europe 10-20 business days

You can cancel your Bonsai Today membership at any time, and you will continue to have access to Bonsai Today through the end of your billing period.  To cancel, go to the “Members” page and click on “Cancel” in My Memberships.