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Ficus ginseng is called Ficus retusa (or Ficus microcarpa) cultivated with bonsai, this is because the plant develops a broad and broad stem and large and gnarled aerial roots, and at first sight remembers the ginseng roots used in herbal medicine, which have no nothing to do with ficus, deriving from a species of Panax.
So we can say that the term ginseng in this case is used as a sort of nickname, although in fact we commonly hear about ficus ginseng rather than ficus retusa, perhaps because the term ginseng is more pleasant than the real botanical name of the plant.
It is a large tree, which in nature develops in the humid semi-tropical zones of Asia, in the rain forests; its cultivation as bonsai is widespread, above all because the cultivation in the apartment generally happens successfully, and it is therefore possible to admire our bonsai in the house throughout the year.
The plant is characterized by a well-enlarged and knotty stem, which makes the bonsai look old, even when the ficus is still young; the leaves are broad and shiny and certainly favor the development of minute leaves is the biggest challenge facing a bonsai artist who intends to cultivate a ficus ginseng.
It is an evergreen tree, which has a fairly continuous development throughout the year, so we will have to consider the plant as having no period of vegetative rest, and act accordingly.
How to grow Ficus ginseng
Ficus, phalaenopsis, areche, anthurium, all these plants are certainly good in our home with regard to the average temperature present, 18-20 ° C night and day, 365 days a year, it is more or less the temperature they would enjoy in nature, in the areas of origin, more or less; unfortunately in the house the air, although at the right temperature, does not have the correct humidity useful for the life of these plants.
The conditioner, the heating system, the fireplace, the pellet stove, have the defect of draining the air of the house, in a constant and very evident way, if not for us, for our plants, which would look good in a rainforest, with regular rains and a very high humidity, which often condenses to form large banks of thin mist.
This lack of humidity is often the biggest problem for apartment living plants, and also for Ficus ginseng, which without environmental humidity will begin to have ever more opaque foliage, to develop little and sometimes to lose its leaves.
When we talk about environmental humidity, we are absolutely not dealing with watering, in fact the rain forests are not characterized throughout the year by rains similar to the Italian autumn rains, which last for days and completely saturate the soil; the tropical or semi-tropical plants that we grow in the apartment like to be watered regularly, but they also fear stagnant water and a ground that is always soaked suffocates the roots, which constantly underwater, cannot breathe. Then the watering of the ficus ginseng they will be quite regular, and will go well to moisten all the earth bread in which the plant is grown; but they will be provided only when the soil dries out, so as to avoid the presence of stagnant water. Certainly a ficus ginseng is in better health, which is watered less than it should, compared to the specimen drowned in the water.
The fundamental part concerning the environmental humidity to be supplied to our plants however does not depend on the watering, but rather consists of a frequent vaporization of the foliage, which must be moistened regularly with demineralized water, to prevent it from staining the foliage; these vaporisations must be supplied as often as possible, intensifying them in the event of high temperatures, air conditioning on, heating active.
The fertilizations and the ground
The ficus ginseng cultivated as bonsai love a fresh and well permeable, quite drained soil; it is prepared by mixing the akadama with the same quantity of good quality universal soil; these plants are quite demanding as regards the mineral salts contained in the growing medium and produce a good root system, for this reason it would be good to repot bonsai of young age every year, or every two years, changing all the soil and pruning the roots of about half of their length.
It is an evergreen plant, which is why it tends to develop throughout the year, except perhaps the hottest months of the year and those with the shortest days; therefore we will provide a good bonsai fertilizer throughout the year, halving the dose in December and January and in July and August; we avoid excessively rich nitrogen fertilizers, which tend to favor the development of large leaves.
The leaves of the ficus retusa
The ficus retusa tends to have fairly small leaves, there are also varieties with naturally small leaves, which therefore do not bother the bonsai. A healthy plant tends to produce large, healthy leaves, which must be stapled throughout the year, to prevent them from becoming more and more enlarged over time, becoming similar to those of a ficus benjamin.
It is often used, once a year, in spring, to the almost total defoliation of the sapling, to favor the development of a large number of leaves simultaneously, which will be decidedly minute. To prevent the plant from suffering excessively for defoliation, at least one leaf is maintained for each apex of the twigs.
The ficus do not like drastic pruning, so we proceed by trying to prune only small branches, and only when it is actually necessary; on the market there are many ficus ginseng, often already very well decked, which therefore do not require large pruning of formation, are certainly suitable for beginners, who could definitely ruin a young plant with an imprudent pruning.
Ficus ginseng: Bonsai ficus
When it comes to bonsai ficus one always or almost always refers to the bonsai of ficus retusa. Despite the fact that in nature there are many species of ficus and just as many varieties of this plant, as regards the making of bonsai it is almost always used to use ficus retusa. The ficus trees in our country are plants that are grown as houseplants since in winter they do not tolerate cold and temperatures below zero. The same is true for ficus bonsai, which are to be kept indoors away from cold air currents.
Let us also remember to put the ficus bonsai in a bright area because the leaves of this plant need some light to be able to vegetate correctly. Positions close to light sources, such as a window, a window or a glass door, are fine.