Native to Malaysia, Taiwan and other Southeast and East Asian countries, the Ginseng Ficus is an excellent choice for beginner bonsai tree growers.
Sometimes known as the Taiwan Ficus, Banyan Fig or Indian Laurel Fig, the Ginseng Ficus is characterized by the shape of its strong roots and stems and small, alternating oval dark green leaves that grow up the stem. A Ginseng Ficus will normally have two or more large, thick roots that appear to look more like tree trunks than a typical root. Typically, a Ginseng Ficus bonsai is noted for a thick, pot-bellied trunk similar to a Ginseng plant’s root.
The Ginseng Ficus is ideal for first timers or new comers to the world of bonsai growing. It is especially suited to anyone looking to grow a bonsai tree as a hobby, since it is commonly regarded as the easiest bonsai tree to grow.
Although the Ginseng Ficus thrives outdoors in warm tropical or subtropical climates, it requires little sunlight. In fact, this particular bonsai does very well indoors, all year round, away from direct sunlight provided it is watered moderately. The Ginseng Ficus can tolerate low light conditions and excessive sunlight can actually burn the leaves and inhibit proper growth.
When growing a Ginseng Ficus Bonsai, or most bonsai for that matter, it’s important to try to begin pruning early on in the tree’s development in order to limit growth and form the bonsai into a desirable shape. As the bonsai grows, continue trimming with ordinary bonsai shears or sharp scissors to remove unwanted branches and foliage. It can be helpful to use a concave cutter tool to remove tree limbs without scarring the roots and stems. The Ginseng Ficus will naturally grow uneven limbs throughout the year, which are easily manageable and can be made into any number of expressions and shapes.
The Ginseng Ficus should be repotted every two or three years, but can be repotted annually if necessary. During repotting, due to the thickness of the roots it is important to trim back a third of the roots to avoid the tree becoming root-bound. It’s best to repot this bonsai in the spring, so it has fresh soil right before its growth spurt. Once potted in new soil, do not trim this bonsai for the first month in order to prevent shocking it.
Ginseng Ficus Bonsai should be watered moderately, allowing the soil to dry out between each watering session (though not completely); lukewarm tap water works fine. The tree also thrives with regular misting. The Ginseng Ficus is also relatively low-maintenance as far as feeding goes. It really only needs to be fed when most of its growth occurs, from spring to fall.
If you desire a more traditional looking bonsai without too much work, you can achieve this with Ginseng Ficus by potting the roots parallel with the surface of the soil and covering most of the bulkier roots. If only portions of the roots are exposed, the growth can look big and elegant. Bear in mind, however, that the Ginseng Ficus Bonsai should be embraced for its seemingly unusual looks.