Ficus Benjamina Bonsai: You Need One, and Here’s Why!

A ficus benjamina bonsai tree on a sunny outdoor ledge

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Even though the name “Ficus benjamina bonsai” may sound like a foreign language, don’t let that scare you off!

The Ficus benjamina tree boasts a charming, unique shape, and bonsai is a technique for growing trees in miniature. 

So what do those points have to do with each other? A lot, in fact! 

Ficus benjamina lends itself particularly well to bonsai growing. For starters, this tree boasts an easy-going nature that makes it simple to care for, and it also grows at a fast rate. And when you train your Ficus benjamina bonsai properly, the wow factor can be off the charts! 

Intrigued? You’re in luck! The rest of this article dives into some Ficus benjamina background information and bonsai growing tips in deeper detail. 

Let’s get started!

What is Ficus Benjamina?

According to Britannica.com, the Ficus genus includes a massive 900 unique species, most of which grow naturally in tropical regions, primarily those in East Asia. 

Ficus are evergreen trees, meaning that they do not lose their foliage seasoanlly. Some Ficus species also produce the delicious figs you see in the grocery store.

Ficus trees can grow very tall in nature, reaching up to 100 feet high. But they also thrive in miniature form, and they make a beautifully unique house plant.

Ficus benjamina is one of the most popular domesticated species. Otherwise known as the benjamin fig or the weeping fig, Ficus benjamina is a dwarfed, subtropical tree with smooth gray bark, broad leaves, and a canopy of delicate branches.

Not only is it visually striking, but it is also valued for purifying the air inside your home!

Ficus Benjamina Subspecies

Dwarfed versions of Ficus trees, like the benjamina species, are popular since small, cultivated trees make beautiful indoor plants.

There are many varieties of Ficus benjamina subspecies or cultivars (varieties that have been intentionally cultivated for certain desired characteristics.)

Some of these Ficus benjamina cultivars include:

  • Compacta
  • Starlite
  • Twilight
  • Midnight
  • Exotica
  • Oriental
  • Too Little

Each cultivar varies in height, leaf type, branch shape, etc. 

What is Bonsai Gardening?

Bonsai is an art form that finds its roots in Japanese and Chinese culture. It requires understanding a particular plant’s growth and anatomy and deliberate techniques for pruning, root reduction, and grafting.

In return, bonsai offers a space for the grower’s creativity and meditative energy to flourish.

Bonsai trees are miniaturized versions of standard trees, and they thrive in shallow pots. If you’d like to see some examples of gorgeous bonsai pots, visit our post on 11 Best Bonsai Pots

Bonsais can begin as cuttings or seedlings of a variety of woody trees, or you can purchase established trees that are already several inches tall.

Using Ficus Benjamina for Bonsai

Ficus benjamina in general is well-suited for bonsai beginners primarily because they adapt quickly to environmental changes.

Their leaves are small and easy to prune, and their roots strengthen with time. Plus, their vibrant foliage makes them beautiful pieces of living art.

Ficus compacta, for example, boasts a thick layer of shiny leaves and drooping branches. Its shape makes it especially ideal for bonsai, which depends upon bold visual appeal packed into a compact space.

Ficus benjamina grows quickly, making them easy to train as bonsais. Training a bonsai relies on artful pruning techniques that pay close attention to the way a tree naturally grows.

Many bonsai gardeners also use specialized wire to train the tree’s trunk to take a particular shape, often graceful curves or bends. 

To start a bonsai, you can buy full bonsais or starter kits online from a website like Bonsai Boy of New York. 

Bonsai Boy offers what we believe is the best selection of beautiful Ficus benjamina bonsai trees. (And we’re big fans of their reasonable prices!)

Here are a few examples. Click on the pictures for more information:

Oriental Ficus Bonsai - 3 Tree Group<br><i>(ficus benjamina 'orientalis')</i>

Ficus Breeze Bonsai Tree Large - Variegated<br><i>(ficus benjamina)</i>

Ficus 'Midnight' Bonsai Tree- Large<br><i>(ficus benjamina 'midnight') </i>

If someone you know already has a Ficus tree, you can also propagate a new tree from a stem cutting. To do this, take a cutting at least four inches long from the full tree and plant in a pot with fast-draining potting soil.

Taking Care of Your Ficus Benjamina Bonsai

Now that you’ve got a better idea of what a Ficus banjamina bonsai is, what kind of care does this plant need? 

For your bonsai to thrive, you’ll need to provide for the following basic needs:

  1. Environment
  2. Water
  3. Sunlight
  4. Fertilizer needs
  5. Routine repotting

Let’s look at each one in more detail.

1. Proper Indoor or Outdoor Environment

Since they’re native to tropical climates, it’s no surprise that Ficus benjamina prefers mild temperatures (about 50 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit) and high humidity.

You can grow your Ficus benjamina bonsai outdoors, as long as your climate is warm and humid (and even then, consider bringing your bonsai inside during cold months). 

Otherwise, you can nurture a Ficus benjamina bonsai indoors with close attention and care. Remember: Just because weeping figs are adaptable does not mean they don’t need a lot of love!

To raise your indoor humidity to Ficus-friendly levels, consider using a pot with an attached humidity tray, like this one.

If you prefer, you can also use a separate tray under your pot (here’s a suggestion!) or regularly mist the leaves with a spray bottle.

2. Watering

Check every day that your Ficus’s soil is moist, but never oversaturate it. A soil moisture meter can help make your task a lot easier! 

Also, consider watering with purified water to avoid inundating your Ficus with chemicals in tap water (chlorine, fluoride, etc.). 

3. Light

Keep your Ficus tree close to a window, especially in its early stages. A south-facing window is best if you have one, but an east- or west-facing one is your next best option.

Once it gets older, Ficus benjamina can handle a fair amount of shade. However, it grows best in direct sunlight, and you might start noticing leaves dropping if your tree stays in low light too long! 

If you don’t have a sunny window available, an indoor grow light can help your bonsai stay beautiful and healthy. 

4. Fertilizing

Ficus benjamina thrives in well-fertilized soil that is rich in nutrients. 

Fertilizers come in three forms:

Each of these formulas will work well for a Ficus tree, so feel free to choose whichever one you prefer.

Add fertilizer every month in the spring and summer months when they grow the most. In the fall, you can switch over to fertilizer every other month.

Ficus trees go through a seasonal period of dormancy in the winter, so don’t worry about fertilizing the soil during this time.

5. Repotting

Any species of bonsai tree needs periodic repotting, which is a process that involves several steps:

  • Gently removing your tree from its current pot
  • Brushing away excess soil
  • Loosening areas of compacted roots
  • Trimming away excessive root growth
  • Filling the old pot or a new one with fresh soil and settling your tree in its freshened-up home. 

Depending on the bonsai tree species you have, you’ll usually have to repot every 1 to 5 years.

Most experts recommend a full repotting process for your Ficus benjamina bonsai about every two years. However, it’s usually a good idea to take your Ficus out of its pot annually to make sure your tree isn’t becoming root-bound. 

Final Thoughts

For both experienced bonsai growers or beginners, Ficus benjamina is a delight in any bonsai garden. 

With due diligence and careful attention, your bonsai is sure to be both a source of happiness and creativity in your life and a statement piece in your home.

However, although Ficus benjamina is an awesome choice if you’re starting on your bonsai journey, it’s not your only option! Check out our post on the 10 best bonsai trees for beginners to learn more.

What are your thoughts on Ficus benjamina bonsai? Do you have any growing tips to share, or do you have more questions?

Let us know in the comments!

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