Care requirements for ginseng ficus

Updated February 21, 2017

Ginseng ficus trees are known for their distinctive, swollen, above-ground roots, which resemble ginseng. Scientifically, these trees are known as Ficus retusa or Ficus microcarpa. Ginseng ficus trees are also called Indian laurel figs or Cuban laurels. While these trees are fast-growing in the wild, they actually grow slowly when cultivated as an indoor container plant, according to Arizona State University. For that reason, ginseng ficus trees are often used in the art of bonsai.


Ginseng ficus trees thrive in warm, tropical and subtropical weather. They grow best in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hardiness Zone 10 and Zone 11, according to the University of Florida. Ginseng ficus trees can grow in full sun, partial sun or partial shade, but they will not grow well in full shade. As bonsai, this species of ficus will tolerate lowlight levels better than most types of ficus plants, but it will grow best if exposed to as much bright sunlight as possible.

Soil and Water

Ginseng ficus trees can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, including both acidic and alkaline soils, as long as they are well-drained. They can also grow in moderately salty soils. These trees can withstand drought conditions and do not usually need supplemental watering. Indoor container trees prefer to be watered only when the soil dries out.


Ginseng ficus trees should only be fed during the active growing season, according to the Bonsai4me website. Stop feeding in the winter or if the plant is showing signs of illness, such as dropped leaves or wilting. Fertilise these trees with a balanced (10-10-10 or 20-20-20) or nitrogen-rich, water-soluble fertiliser twice a month.


Pruning is necessary to maintain a strong support structure for the large, wide canopy of the tree, according to the University of Florida. These trees are known for their ability to recover from even severe pruning, which is another reason why they are often chosen as bonsai. Outdoor trees should be trained to one leader (trunk) and monitored for broken branches and suckers, which should be removed. Bonsai trees should be shaped according to the grower's particular preferences. Indoor ginseng ficus trees should be monitored for common indoor plant pests such as spider mites and gnats, which won't hurt the tree but can become an annoyance.

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