Ficus ginseng is a superb indoor plant that is much liked for its superb root trunk and its very ornamental foliage.
Key Ficus Ginseng facts
Name – Ficus microcarpa
Family – Moraceae (mulberry family)
Type – indoor plant
Height – 16 to 40 inches (40 to 100 cm), your decision
Soil – indoor plant soil mix, well drained
Care – easy
Exposure – abundant indirect light
Foliage – evergreen
Watering – moderate
Leaves grow directly from the large root, producing an amazing effect.
It is easy to care for, and here is how to water it, prune it or when the best time to repot it is.
Caring for Ficus ginseng
Although it is easy to care for, Ficus ginseng does nonetheless require a little care to give it all the chances it needs to survive over a long period and in proper growing conditions.
- Ficus ginseng appreciates the warmth that is customary indoors in apartments and houses, ideally from 60 to 75°F (15 to 25°C).
- It loves having good light but not direct sunlight.
- It fears drafty spots.
- Ficus ginseng doesn’t cope well with brutal temperature variations.
- Repotting every 2 years in spring (or fall) is almost mandatory.
Repotting Ficus ginseng
Spring and fall or autumn are ideal to repot ficus ginseng, with a slight preference for spring if you’re late in the season. These two seasons are major vegetation phases for the Ficus, meaning leaf and root growth is highest.
- Let the pot dry out without watering for 2-3 days.
- Select a pot that is larger than the previous, ensure it drains well.
- Keep soil from leeching out with mesh wire and gravel or clay pebbles at the bottom.
- Use fresh bonsai potting soil mix to replenish nutrients.
At this point, if you aim to keep your Ficus ginseng cute and small, it’s good practice to trim branches back by about a third.
- Unpot your (trimmed) ficus ginseng and run a cultivator along the roots to remove old depleted soil.
- Cut off about one third or one-fourth of the roots, to trigger root growth.
- Place the root clump level with the top of the pot, showcasing the nicest roots above soil level so that you find it appealing.
- Backfill with fresh soil mix, press down, and water.
Watering Ficus ginseng
Ficus ginseng doesn’t require abundant watering, and it mustn’t come too often, either…
- Water the ficus only when the surface of the soil is really dry.
- In summer, it is often necessary to water a bit more, especially if outdoors.
- Ficus ginseng abhors standing water.
Your ficus ginseng will appreciate having its leaves cleaned often with a rag or a moist paper towel.
Ficus ginseng loves it when air moisture is high.
- You can mist the leaves often with soft water, especially in winter.
- You might also rest the pot on a tray of clay pebbles that can be filled with water, without having the pot touch the water itself.
Pruning Ficus ginseng
If you consider your Ficus ginseng to be a bonsai, and that you want to keep its shape small, you’ll have to prune it regularly.
Snip new shoots off as they appear for the original shape to be preserved or to make it evolve to the shape you wish it to take.
- Pruning the Ficus ginseng on a regular basis will lead it to branch out more.
- Prune winter growth in spring, and if outside, remember to pinch new shoots off as they appear.
- It will help the foliage grow more dense and beautiful.
Sometimes the Ficus ginseng comes with small branches grafted on a larger root.
- If ever you notice shoots sprouting from below the graft joint, pinch them off: they’re often not the exact same variety as the initial branches.
Not only would the ficus change shape and demeanor, but the grafted branches would be deprived of sap and die off. The grafted branches are from small-leaved varieties, and the vigorous root stock comes from larger-leaf varieties.
Ficus ginseng diseases
Ficus ginseng losing its leaves
It might be that your Ficus ginseng is simply watered too much, that it lacks surrounding moisture or light, or that it is set in a place full of drafts.
- Ensure that you only water when the soil is dry.
- Mist the leaves.
- Check that where the plant is placed matches the requirements described above.
Ficus ginseng leaves turn yellow or spots appear
This is often caused by red spider mites.
- Simply treat it with organic mite killer sold in horticulture stores.
- Read our page on how to fight red spider mites.
Ficus ginseng leaves show white spots that tend to be sticky if touched
This is usually due to mealybugs or scale insects to which the Ficus ginseng is very vulnerable, especially indoors.
Larger leaves appear instead of the cute small ones
This is because the Ficus ginseng is grafted. The root part is from another type of Ficus. Sometimes, branches sprout from this root part (called the “root stock”), and the leaves are different.
- Snip these new shoots off to keep them from taking sap from the Ficus ginseng grafted branches.
Learn more about ficus ginseng
Its small size and thick trunk make it a very decorative plant, ideal for modern designer homes.
The word “ginseng” means root in Chinese, and is attributed because of the magnificent aerial root, but its very shiny dark green leaves are equally appealing.
Since it is easy to grow and care for, it is often called the beginner’s bonsai. Its life cycle can span many years, and the key to a successful life is simply to provide appropriate watering.
Don’t confuse Ficus ginseng with Panax ginseng, a plant used for its health benefits and therapeutic value. When only few leaves are visible, your Ficus ginseng might be confused with yet another thick-stemmed plant, Adenium obesum. Telling them apart is easier when the Adenium blooms, because Ficus ginseng plants rarely ever bear flowers and fruits.
Smart tip about Ficus ginseng
Ficus ginseng will appreciate spending the winter in a cooler spot, ideally around 60°F (15°C).
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