Ficus retusa


Within this family there is the possibility of finding different species of plants that belong to the evergreen category and that have a typically tropical origin.

These are species that, among the main characteristics, certainly do not include a high height when they are cultivated in pots, since they can reach a maximum height of up to 2-3 meters. If, on the other hand, they are considered with their natural development, then the plants of Ficus retusa can also reach particularly large and bulky dimensions.

Obviously, the bonsai variants of Ficus Retusa do not grow beyond one meter in height.

Ficus retusa is one of those plants that has typical oval-shaped leaves, characterized by a decidedly bright dark green color, with a waxy appearance.

The trunk of the plant, on the other hand, is characterized by having a color that tends to brown-greyish, rather light and smooth.

The Ficus retusa plant, with the passage of time, has the particular characteristic of growing a splendid aerial root system.

The species belonging to this genus that are used most frequently for bonsai are also represented by the Ficus Benjamina and by the Ficus Panda, but the Retusa species is characterized by having a greater resistance to harsh temperatures and by having fewer requirements than to other plants belonging to the same genus.


As for the pruning operations of the Ficus Retusa, we must underline that the most impressive operations must be carried out, in most cases, during the autumn season.

During the spring and summer seasons, on the other hand, it is necessary to top off the shoots: often, the suggestion is to keep about one or two leaves per shoot.

The metal wire, on the other hand, is an expedient that can be exploited throughout the course of the year: it is suggested to use this tool only when it is necessary to take the leaves of the highest dimensions, in order to optimize also the aesthetic aspect of the foliage of the plant.

However, in most cases, Ficus plants do not prefer drastic pruning, especially due to the fact that scars heal with great difficulty.

When the plant develops in health, then it will be sufficient to remove all those branches that tend downwards or the inner part of the trunk or, again, come to cross with the others present on the plant, twice a year.

Exposure and terrain

Ficus retusa is undoubtedly one of those plants that develop excellently when they are placed in rather bright places: certainly, the main advice is to avoid direct sunlight, especially during the summer season, when high temperatures could also do some damage to the plant.

This explains the reason why it is always suggested to place the species of Ficus retusa within a decidedly shaded position.

This plant, among its main characteristics, also has that of not preferring all those areas with a cold climate, since it particularly fears too cold temperatures, but above all it suffers from too sudden variations in temperature, as well as drafts and blows. 'air.

This is why the suggestion is to place the plant in a position rather far from windows and doors.

As for the soil, the advice is to exploit the specific one for bonsai, maintaining an excellent drainage: in case it is considered appropriate, you can also choose to make a compound for ficus obtained using two parts of sand, two of peat and a clay.

Ficus retusa: Watering and diseases

As for watering, it is essential to underline how the Ficus retusa plant is characterized by having the need to receive a high amount of water: this explains the reason why watering must be done frequently.

The advice is to try to preserve, in any case, the soil always with an excellent level of humidity, while avoiding soaking it, since this condition could soon lead to the formation of dangerous water stagnations, which represent a threat of great relief for this species of Ficus.

In fact, it is important to highlight how excessive use of water could quickly lead to noticeably yellow leaves.

The suggestion, on all these occasions, is to vaporize the leaves with distilled water, especially during the days with the highest temperatures during the summer season, as well as in winter, in case the Ficus retusa is stored. in a heated environment.

As far as diseases and parasites are concerned, the Ficus retusa plant can be attacked by caterpillars and, from time to time, by thrips. It is quite rare that it is hit by the red spider, while the danger represented by the fungi is more concrete, which develop when the plant is placed in a warm, not very bright, humid and poorly ventilated place.

Piazza Trento, and the former roundabout

I have already talked about the tree-lined garden, which embellishes the confluence between viale Trento and viale Trieste, in the post dedicated to the lively discussions related to the desire to create a roundabout instead of the garden (post del 9/3/11). Fortunately, this will has returned, and the garden has resumed its ordinary mission, after having quickly healed some wounds caused by the cutting pioneers.

This garden deserves a second episode because it has truly remarkable trees, as I was also pointed out by some kind readers, including Stefano and Pierpaolo whom I thank.

So let's start with an overall view: first of all we notice that the garden lacks harmony, in the sense that the plants are stacked and reflect some idea of ​​disorder.

Having expressed this negative judgment, for the sake of the record, we instead see the beauty of the individual plants and the splendid shading produced.

The garden is surrounded by Ficus retusa, including the huge specimens on viale Trento instead the one I photographed below on the left, small and funny but with a massive trunk, is the one who, naked, in the aforementioned post shouted his anger to the sky.

On the front overlooking Viale S.Avendrace there are some horse chestnuts, large but suffering from the heat (post 1/11/10) and splendid specimens of Ginkgo biloba, which complete the specimens present in viale Trento, but these are much higher.

Inside dominates the large umbrella of a very generous carob tree, and some Magnolias, of which we see a detail below, which highlights an infructescence and the beautiful shiny leaves.

There is also a Cedar, but very suffering and that should be treated or perhaps eliminated, a Jacaranda and even a baby Ficus carica.

Someone should have explained, among those who were struggling to advocate the construction of the roundabout, how all these plants would be recovered, beyond the usual Ficus retusa: perhaps it should have been clearly stated, contrary to what was said, that most of these trees, among those of greatest value, would be lost. Let's not forget these aspects, if the idea of ​​the roundabout were to be revived.

Finally, a tip: if you are in the area enjoying these trees, take a look at the Ficus magnolioides in the adjacent parking-market square: they are truly wonderful!

Ficus retusa & Ficus microcarpa: Bonsai confusion

ABOVE: A dwarf, cultivated variety of Ficus microcarpa known as Green Island with small round thick leaves for sale in Kota Kinabalu. Many different varieties of Ficus microcarpa grown as bonsai are popular throughout the world. F. microcarpa bonsai are especially popular in Taiwan where Ficus microcarpa grows naturally in the wild. These bonsai varieties are often exported from Taiwan and sold in urban markets and garden centers in Borneo under a large number of different names.

In Europe the most important commercial cultivation of bonsai is carried out in the Netherlands.

This is a dwarf variety of Ficus microcarpa sold as a Ficus retusa bonsai. Ficus retusa is a completely different Ficus species. This is a graft of two different varieties of F. microcarpa, one with enlarged roots and another with small leaves, in this case named Ficus ginseng by the hopeful owner. However Ficus ginseng does not exist as a wild species of Ficus.

The mistake probably originated with this illustration of Ficus microcarpa (labeled as Ficus retusa) growing in Java, copied from the Atlas der Baumarten von Java published in 1918 by Kooders and Valeton. The Dutch are not only famous as botanists in SE Asia, they are also some of the worlds most skilled horticulturalists. Thus when Dutch horticulturalists turned their skills to bonsai growing it was an understandable error to name their Ficus microcarpa bonsai as Ficus retusa. Koorders et Valeton (1918) Fig Trees of Java

Ficus retusa:To add to the confusion the Ficus species now called Ficus retusa illustrated above was called Ficus truncata in the Atlas der Baumarten von Java (1918).

Pruning Ficus benjamina

Many seem to say that Ficus trees hate pruning actually, the opposite is true: ficus bears pruning very well. If it has grown too tall, or has invaded your living room, simply prune the ficus tree.

Reach for your hand pruner and follow our advice:

  • You can prune once a year in any particular season.
  • No need to cut the tree back severely, light pruning is enough.
  • It will help the foliage grow more dense and beautiful.

Ficus Retusa - Specifics on Growing / Potting / Soil Mix / Pruning

I have a ficus retusa approx. 6-8 years old. I've had my eye on this plant for a many months now, finally decided to purchase it last week and want to do all I can to help it mature beautifully.

I have read several of the threads on this site and a few of you quickly direct others to Jerry, the "bonsai expert / hunk's" site. I have been there and I have read his sparce forum. His website is NOT as helpful as many make it out to be, which is why I am here. And I would like to have the opinion of all of you.

My questions at the moment have to do with potting the plant. Its current container (about 4 "in diameter) is, I feel, restricting the growth of the trunk and roots. I want the plant to grow at least 4 or 5 times its size right now, eventually expose the root structure and develop extensive aerial roots.

I have read several articles saying two utterly different things and am confused about potting. Should I:

a) increase the pot size (and by how much) to develop the trunk and roots?

b) place it in a shallow (bonsai) pot so that the roots bunch and develop above the surface?

I've read that the greater the space, light and leaves, the faster it will grow. I know ficus are fast growers also. I also know that too much space will lead to root rot and the plant should not be in direct sun.

I also know there are many species of ficus, and I don't necessarily need basic information on how to treat a bonsai. I currently have a juniper bonsai in my yard. What I'm looking for is specific information on ficus retusa - the space it needs, and in what kind of pot I should place it in now seeing as I would like it to grow a little more.

Video: Ficus Bonsai tree

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