Bonsai - Ficus microcarpa 'Ginseng' - Indian Laurel

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Scientific Name
Ficus microcarpa (fig with tiny fruit) 'Ginseng'

Common Name
Pot Belly Fig, Laurel Fig, Laurel Rubber, Curtain Fig, Strangling Fig, Chinese Banyan, Malayan Banyan

Origin
Native to India and Malaysia

Description
Bonsai trees are not naturally tiny; they are cultivated, pruned and trained to grow in these minute proportions. This species is actually a combination of the Ficus Ginseng, which gets its name since its trunk looks like a Ginseng root, and the Ficus microcarpa, which gives it its stunning, glossy green leaves. Fig trees can grow to be huge, so keeping one small enough to live indoors, let alone to be a bonsai, is no mean feat! Ficus bonsai can produce interesting aerial roots, which can stick out above the soil and create interesting shapes, but are most likely to do this in incredibly high humidity.

Light
The Ginseng Bonsai needs a lot of light, so place it in a bright window, ideally south facing. In winter it would benefit from a grow light too, to make up for the shorter dayllight hours. Make sure it is not too close to a radiator or sat in a draught!

Water
Water when the top of the soil dries out, but make sure it drains and is not sat in a puddle as it will suffer if left with soggy roots!

Humidity
Bonsais like average to high humidity, and like it to be stable. Make sure they are not close to a radiator which would dry them out; they will benefit from misting or hosing down their leaves regularly or the introduction of a humidity tray. In higher humidity Ficus bonsai may produce aerial roots!

Soil
Use a well-draining, moisture retentive mix, for example one with added pumice. Repot every couple of years in early spring. Its root system is tolerant to pruning, which is done to keep the tree small.

Food
Feed every four waters in the growing season, reduce to every six in autumn and winter. Pre-water the soil if using liquid fertiliser to protect the sensitive roots.

Temperature
Temperatures of around 15°C are perfect- make sure it doesn't drop much below this, and take especial care in winter. Your tree will love consistent temperature!

Pet-safe
No, this plant is toxic to pets and small humans.

Sprouts Top Tips
Bonsai trees don't naturally grow this small- if you want to keep it miniature, you'll need to prune regularly. The Ficus Ginseng will respond well to pruning both the branches, becoming bushier, and the roots. If you want your tree to grow in interesting shapes, it may be worth doing further research into bonsai wiring. Lots of time and care go into making these plants look so incredible!