Getting to Know Your Ginseng Ficus
The Ginseng Ficus or Ficus retusa is a type of bonsai tree with bulbous roots and a remarkable similarity to the shape of the ginger. It is this similarity which has given it the common name of Ginseng Ficus. The tree is originally from the tropical climates of countries such as Malaysia and Taiwan but is a bonsai that can be grown successfully indoors in places with colder climates also. These trees do not need too much sunlight and need only weekly watering. They have also been found to be fairly bug resistant and for all these reasons they are becoming increasingly popular as indoor plants.
Gardeners who have a passion for growing indoor plants, those who love the drama of the bonsai tree and those who want greenery as architectural embellishment all are likely to find the Ginseng Ficus an exciting choice. The fact that this evidently exotic plant is available easily in many a local nursery, including the chains, has also made it increasingly more affordable.
If this is your first bonsai, you may want to learn a few basic facts about these types of trees. Bonsai trees are actually miniature versions of full scale trees that are grown specifically for shallow containers and small pots. A wide variety of bonsai trees are sold in the nurseries these days and you can choose one based on the shape and foliage that appeal. Most beginner bonsai trees available these days are processed for the owner to take home and to train as they want. This is because a big part of the bonsai experience is shaping your tree a certain way. If you are wondering what that means, bonsai lovers tend to not just grow small trees but create sculptural pieces out of them by pruning and shaping the tree to acquire specific shapes. Some of the most commonly seen shapes are called windswept, cascade, slanting, formal upright, informal upright and bunjin. These are some of the easier shapes to try and are good shapes to try for the new entrant to the world of bonsai trees. Experts say that the idea is to look at the raw tree and pick a shape that it will easily adapt to and to prune and trim to get to that shape. For example, a tree with a straight trunk and well developed branches may lend itself to the cascade shape. This way of shaping the tree does sometimes, unfortunately, involve trimming off healthy parts of the tree.
Pruning helps with the shaping but is also a critical element in making the Ginseng Ficus grow as a healthy specimen. It is recommended that you prune the tree at both ends - the roots and the crown. The root pruning has to happen during the re-potting and this is another important detail that can help you ensure the longevity and health of your bonsai. You should re-pot the Ginseng Ficus at least once every two years. It is worth mentioning here that those who buy their bonsai trees from a neighborhood drug store sometimes find it a daunting task to remove all the glued on ornaments at the base of a tree - so while some of those ornaments are attractive, it may be worth choosing a container with less of those add-on elements if you are interested in keeping your bonsai for a long time. Both pruning and re-potting help the trees grow faster also.
There are some other details that can help your Ginseng Ficus thrive. Given its tropical origins, the tree does well in sunlight and does not handle cold well. Keep it in a warm location with direct sun light. If you have it indoors to avoid the cold, remember to avoid drafty windows also. At the same time, you have to watch out that the plant does not get overly dry and so it cannot be very close to heater vents. This bonsai needs plenty of water but with adequate time between watering sessions. The tree tends to absorb water mainly through its roots but also from its stomata. So experts recommend that you maintain a clean tree with unclogged pores which can help the tree function optimally. In terms of soil, the Ginseng Ficus needs a mix of 70 percent humus and 30 percent of gritty soil. If you can arrive at the right balance of soil, water and sunlight you can enjoy a lush bonsai for a long time.
The one problem that some owners of this plant have reported is an attack by spider mites and one effective solution has been a treatment of commercial insecticides. This is something you can also avoid by placing it in a location which is well ventilated and by caring for the cleanliness of the tree on a regular, even daily, basis.