THERE ARE... some 1500 species of Ficus and 800 or so of them being trees, I am not going to list them all, just use general terms that should cover most of the varieties more commonly used for bonsai.

PRUNE... Most species respond well to severe top and root pruning. Ficus have gummy sap (it "bleeds" when injured). I have found that using my duller pruners helps in controlling the bleeding, it's like when you cut yourself with a very sharp knife compared to a dull one. On major cuts I rub the wound with a charcoal briquette to stop the bleeding. Methods for pruning differ somewhat from species to species. With most Ficus new leaf buds should be pinched off ( Green Island, burtt-davyi, microcarpas) while others should be clipped back ( retusa, nerifolia, benjamina varieties). As always, when shaping use directional pruning. Some species such as the nerifolia and Green Island can be completely defoliated 1-2 times yearly to reduce leaf size and thicken foliage. Other species such as any of the benjamina varieties can but it is risky, branches can die back. Instead, remove a few of the largest leaves at a time.

TRAINING... Most Ficus can be wired, with the exception of riandii , it will snap, but be careful of scarring for they are quick growers. Tying the branches down will work, although slower. Most Ficus can be trained in any style. Banyan and root over rock are some of the most popular styles.

WATERING... Most Ficus like to remain moist. Some, like the nerifolia and burtt-davyi, prefer being on the dry side, but others, such as benjamina varieties prefer being moist. Do not allow any Ficus to dry out completely.

LIGHT... Ficus prefer full sun. This keeps the leaves compact, internodes close, and pests away. Caution should be taken however, with our intense sun. Watch for any leaf burn, if this occurs move to a more protected spot, but make sure it still receives plenty of light.

INSECTS/DISEASE... Ficus are resistant to most insects and diseases. Keep an eye out during active growth season for Aphids, Scale, Thrips, and fungus. Your benjamina varieties will probably get Thrips, watch for closed and or curling leaves.

REPOT... Minimum night temperature low to mid 60s. Ficus are fast growing and probably will need repotted every year, two at most. The varieties that prefer more moist conditions, add 5-10% more organics to your soil mix.

SEASONAL... Protect below 40 degrees.
Tree of the Month
Green Island