Ficus Species Guide - Bonsai-En

Ficus Species Guide

What Is A Ficus?

 
Ficus is a genus of plants in the family Moraceae, which includes a variety of trees, shrubs, and vines. The plants are native to tropical regions of the world and are known for their glossy, green leaves and distinctive, often elaborate root systems. There are over 800 species of Ficus, which are known for their adaptability and ability to thrive in a wide range of environments. Some common examples of Ficus species include the rubber tree (Ficus elastica), the weeping fig (Ficus benjamina), and the fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata).
 
Ficus have been introduced and cultivated in many parts of the world. The plants are generally fast-growing and can adapt to a wide range of environments, making them popular choices for both indoor and outdoor cultivation.
 

The History Of Ficus

 
Ficus is native to tropical regions of the world, including parts of Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas. The plants are widely distributed in these regions and are found in a variety of habitats, including rainforests, dry woodlands, and grasslands. Many species of Ficus are also found in human-modified landscapes, such as gardens and urban areas.
 
Ficus has a long history of cultivation and has been introduced to many other parts of the world, including Europe and North America. The plants are popular for their adaptability and ability to thrive in a wide range of environments, making them suitable for cultivation in many different climates. Despite their wide distribution, Ficus is most diverse in the tropics, where a large number of species can be found.
 
Ficus has likely spread throughout the world through a combination of natural dispersal and human cultivation. Some species of Ficus, such as the rubber tree (Ficus elastica) and the weeping fig (Ficus benjamina), have been widely cultivated and introduced to many different parts of the world. These plants are popular choices for indoor and outdoor cultivation due to their attractive appearance and ease of care.
 
In addition to being cultivated for ornamental purposes, Ficus has also been used for a variety of other purposes, such as for rubber production and as a food source. This has contributed to the widespread distribution of the plant and its ability to thrive in many different parts of the world.
 

Common Types Of Ficus

 
Common Ficus For Garden Plantings
 
Ficus is a large and diverse plant genus that includes over 800 species. Some of the most common types of Ficus include:
 
Ficus benjamina, also known as the weeping fig, is a popular indoor plant that is native to Australia and Southeast Asia. It is known for its glossy, green leaves and drooping branches, and is often used as a decorative plant in homes and offices.
 
Ficus elastica, also known as the rubber tree, is a large tree that is native to India and Malaysia. It is known for its thick, rubbery bark and large, glossy leaves. The plant has been widely cultivated for its latex, which is used to make rubber.
 
Ficus lyrata, also known as the fiddle-leaf fig, is a popular indoor plant that is native to Western Africa. It is known for its large, fiddle-shaped leaves and is often used as a decorative plant in homes and offices.
 
Other common types of Ficus include the fig tree (Ficus carica), the banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis), and the strangler fig (Ficus aurea).
 
Common Ficus For The Use In Bonsai
 
Tiger bark ficus (Ficus subulata 'Tigerbark') is a cultivar of the fig tree, which is a member of the Ficus genus. It is known for its distinctive bark that is patterned with tiger-like stripes, which give the plant its name. Tiger bark ficus is a small to medium-sized tree that is native to Southeast Asia and is often used as an ornamental plant in gardens and landscapes. The plant is known for its attractive, glossy leaves and its ability to thrive in a variety of conditions. It is a popular choice for bonsai due to its ability to be trained and shaped.
tiger bark ficus leaves
 
Willow leaf ficus (Ficus nerifolia) is a species of fig tree that is native to Southeast Asia and is known for its narrow, willow-like leaves. It is a small to medium-sized tree that is often used as an ornamental plant in gardens and landscapes. Willow leaf ficus is known for its attractive, glossy leaves and its ability to thrive in a variety of conditions. It is a popular choice for bonsai due to its ability to be trained and shaped. The plant is also known for its ability to tolerate low light conditions, making it a good choice for indoor cultivation.
willow leaf ficus leaves
 
Little Ruby ficus (Ficus pumila 'Little Ruby') is a cultivar of the creeping fig, which is a member of the Ficus genus. It is a small, vine-like plant that is native to Southeast Asia and is known for its attractive, glossy leaves. Little Ruby ficus is known for its ability to climb and can be used as a ground cover or as a trailing plant in hanging baskets. The plant is known for its ability to tolerate a wide range of conditions and is a popular choice for indoor cultivation. It is also a popular choice for bonsai due to its small size and ability to be trained and shaped.
little ruby ficus leaves
 
Ficus benjamina, also known as the weeping fig, is a popular indoor plant that is native to Australia and Southeast Asia. It is known for its glossy, green leaves and drooping branches, and is often used as a decorative plant in homes and offices.
benjimina ficus bonsai
 
Port Jackson ficus (Ficus rubiginosa) is a species of fig tree that is native to Australia. It is a large tree that can grow up to 50 feet tall and is known for its distinctive, gnarled trunk and branches. Port Jackson ficus is known for its glossy, green leaves and its ability to tolerate a wide range of conditions. The plant is often used as an ornamental tree in gardens and landscapes and is also a popular choice for bonsai due to its ability to be trained and shaped. Port Jackson ficus is also known for its ability to attract birds and other wildlife, making it a popular choice for planting in wildlife gardens.
port jackson ficus leaves
 

Ficus As Bonsai

 
Ficus is a popular choice for bonsai due to its ability to be trained and shaped into a variety of forms. The plants are known for their adaptability and ability to thrive in a wide range of conditions, which makes them suitable for bonsai cultivation.
 
There are several species of Ficus that are commonly used for bonsai, including Ficus benjamina, Tiger Bark Ficus, and Willow Leaf Ficus. These plants are known for their attractive, glossy leaves and their ability to tolerate pruning and training. They can be grown in a variety of shapes, including upright, slanting, and cascade, and are suitable for both indoor and outdoor cultivation.
 
Ficus bonsai are popular among bonsai enthusiasts due to their versatility and ease of care. The plants are relatively low maintenance and can be grown by beginners as well as experienced bonsai growers. In addition to their aesthetic appeal, Ficus bonsai also have cultural and symbolic significance in many parts of the world.
 

Tips For Growing Ficus As Bonsai

 
Here are some tips for growing and caring for Ficus bonsai:
 
Provide adequate light: Ficus bonsai prefer bright direct light, but can tolerate lower light levels and live in doors. If placing your Ficus outside in direct sunlight be sure to keep the water levels up. Your ficus will grow much stronger as an outdoors tree if you are wanting a larger bonsai.
 
Keep the soil moist but not soaking wet: Ficus bonsai should be watered regularly, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Overwatering can cause the roots to rot which happens easier with ficus then most other plants, so be sure to check the soil moisture level before watering. Ficus can handle dry spells a lot better then a conifer or deciduous tree can as they have the ability to store moisture in their trunk and branches, but it is good practice to water as the soil becomes dry.
 
Prune and shape regularly: Ficus bonsai should be pruned and shaped regularly to maintain their desired form. Use sharp bonsai scissors or pruning shears to remove unwanted growth and encourage the plant to grow in the desired direction.
 
Fertilize regularly: Ficus bonsai should be fertilized regularly during the growing season. Use a balanced fertilizer and follow the package instructions for the appropriate amount to use.
 
Protect from extreme temperatures: Ficus bonsai are sensitive to extreme temperatures and should be protected from frost. If your temperatures get below 5c then you will need to protect your Ficus during the winter time by bringing it into an un heated room or garage. If your ficus is out in extreme heat then make sure you can provide plenty of water when needed. If you are away too much to provide water place the tree in a shaded area that gets morning sun during the hotter months.
 
Repot as needed: Ficus bonsai should be repotted every two to three years, or when the roots become crowded in the pot. Use a well-draining soil mix specifically formulated for bonsai.
 
You can read a more in depth guide to ficus care here
 

Cultural Significance Of Ficus Bonsai

 
Ficus bonsai have cultural and symbolic significance in many parts of the world. In Japan, bonsai are seen as miniature representations of larger trees and are considered to be living works of art. The cultivation of bonsai is seen as a way to bring a piece of nature inside and to connect with the natural world.
 
In other parts of the world, Ficus bonsai may have different symbolic or cultural meanings. In some cases, Ficus bonsai may be given as gifts to symbolize good luck or to express appreciation or respect. In other cases, Ficus bonsai may be grown for their aesthetic value or as a hobby.
 
Regardless of the specific symbolism or cultural significance, Ficus bonsai are widely appreciated for their beauty and the sense of peace and tranquility that they can bring. The cultivation of bonsai requires patience, care, and attention to detail, which can be a meditative and calming activity for those who practice it.
 

Conclusion

 
So as you can see Ficus are both popular as garden trees and also as Bonsai all around the world. This species makes a great bonsai tree for beginners and is also a popular species for indoor bonsai.
They make a hardy tree with beautiful glossy foliage and are easy to propagate from cuttings. I suggest you get a ficus for your garden or as a bonsai. These trees also make great gifts and can be seen as a symbol of good luck.