Lynda Heavrin is the manager of landscape and horticulture at Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at

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Ficus benjamina as a Bonsai Plant
by Lynda Heavrin       #Hot Plants

A newly planted and wired forest of Ficus benjamina.

Ficus benjamina‘Variegata’

Bonsai (pronounced BONE-sigh) plants are one of the fastest selling items in our Botanical Conservatory’s Gift Shop. The plants make great gifts and are small enough that they will fit into any brightly lit space. The bonsai are created by members of the local Bonsai Club who volunteer at our greenhouse. Ficus benjamina is the plant they use for most of their bonsai and recommend for first-timers. Creating a bonsai is considered an art, and the plants require more care than the average houseplant, but with minimal input you will be successful.

Botanical Name: Ficus benjamina

Common Name: Weeping fig

Type: Tropical

Light: In summer, after danger of frost, plants can be grown outside in a part-sun location, preferably morning sun. The rest of the year, they should be in bright, direct light, such as in a south-facing window or under grow lights.

Soil: The soil mix used by the club members is a professional growing mix to which they add Turface (a clay-based soil conditioner) and perlite to increase drainage.

Water: Water daily if outside, three to four times per week if inside, but not less than once per week even through winter. The type of pot used also affects water needs. The soil in clay or unglazed ceramic will dry out much faster than in plastic and glazed ceramic pots.

Fertilize: Since there is very little soil in bonsai pots, it is necessary to fertilize more often than normal. Fertilize with a liquid fertilizer, mixed at half-strength, every time you water spring through summer. Fertilize in fall and winter with the same strength once per month.

Repotting: Check the roots once per year to trim large roots and remove circling roots. It is necessary to change the soil every two years. 

Pruning: Check the plant once a month to expose the main stems and trunk. Prune any crossing branches to open up the inside of the plant.

From Indiana Gardening Volume III Issue VI. Photos by Lynda Heavirn.


Posted: 11/08/13   RSS | Print


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