Urban Plant Profile: Bonsai Tree

Ladies, gentlemen, and plants, today we’ve got UPP’s first guest blogger, Ryan Crowe, here to tell us a whole lot about his favorite plant, the bonsai tree. When not enamored by his bonsai tree, Crowe likes drinking Diet Coke, reading comic books and performing improv with his team Drunk Theater. And lest we forget, Mr. Crowe is single ladies! Read on, for tips, tricks, and helpful info on the bonsai!

Short. Thick. Pot-bellied trunk. Needy. No, I’m not describing myself (though, that is a fairly accurate description of me), I’m talking about my new roommate: the Ficus Ginseng bonsai tree.

My new roommate comes from all those vacation places that make you want to say “yaaaas” when your friend sends you a drunk text with a picture of a beach. Think: Malaysia, Taiwan and the rest of those wonderful Southeast Asian countries.

But don’t fret, dear reader. The Ginseng Ficus is a great roommate and starter bonsai tree. It is one of the easiest bonsai trees to grow, because it’ll put up with all your bullshit. Unlike Laura whose cat will claw up everything you own. Christ, Laura, did that thing crawl up out of hell and force you to take care of it?

Sorry… let’s move on.

Making your new roomie, and indoor Bonsai Tree feel at home

“Bonsai” is breeding normally sized trees into mini trees. It has its origin in Japan and China where it has been practiced for a long, long time – and is considered an art form. Voila, now you can tell people you’re an artist. Street cred +2. You grow bonsai in pots, and yes, you take care of them just like a Tamagotchi. Well… not quite the same…

Your bonsai is a living tree, just like the ones that live outside. As it gets older, it will become more and more beautiful. We’ve got some basics for you here, and below, we’ll link to some sites and YouTube channels that go into detail about bonsai care.

Where to put Ficus Ginseng (Spring, Summer, Fall): “521,600 minutes, how do you measure a bonsai’s life in a year?”
When Ficus Ginseng contacted us via Craigslist (yes, this bit is going to keep happening, dammit) it asked for a room with good light and wanted to be near a deck because it likes being outdoors during the spring and summer. At night, if temperatures fall to 45 F or below, your tree should be near a window.

Where to put Ficus Ginseng, pt 2: “Winter is coming…”
If you live in a place where it gets below 40 at night, bring your bonsai inside. Four to six hours of sunlight per day should suffice. If you can provide more, great! Your Ficus can survive without a ton of direct sunlight, but don’t let your li’l tree suffer from seasonal affectiveness disorder (that’s SAD), give it as much sun as you can.

Drinking with your Ficus Ginseng
Drinking water, of course. Water. FG doesn’t need to be watered all that often. Once or twice a week is fine. Keep an eye on the soil to keep a good gauge of whether or not you’re under or over watering. The leaves will also be an indicator of hydration. If FG’s dark green leaves are turning yellow, pass your roomie another cold one, they’re thirsty, fam. You can also spray your bonsai with a water mister. Unlike cats, your Ficus Ginseng will enjoy the attention and moisture.

Oh, god the humidity!
When the weather outside is frightful, for humans, the fire can be delightful. However, your heating system can dry Ficus Ginseng up quicker than thinking about your grandmother during sex. A shallow tray filled with a layer of pebbles with just a bit of water provides the moisture that would otherwise be sapped from the soil by these new-fangled heating systems.

Let’s talk about fertilization without making poop jokes… no promises
Your bonsai roommate got the smallest room in the apartment (the pot, you know?), the soil it sits in needs to have its nutrients massaged every once in awhile. The prevailing care tactic is giving it some liquid fertilizer which is readily available. Try to refresh the soil once a month, and maybe once every two months in winter.

Poop. Sorry.

Take your roommate to get its haircut, or else it’ll look like a tiny member of the Beatles
Trimming your tree is what everyone thinks of when they think “bonsai”. Careful, surgeon-like hands with tiny clippers are indeed a big part of owning and taking care of your bonsai. New growth should be managed but not destroyed. Your roommate doesn’t want to walk around with a buzz cut after all (its head is super bumpy and unattractive, yuck.) Just keep a close eye on the growth and trim it without hurting the tree. Here’s a good video to show you how it’s done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FCJF2_os3E

I hope you like Gryffindor because you’re about to turn into Harry Repotter
Expecto pagrownum! It’s difficult to describe the potting process, but it’s not magic. You can do it. However, we’ll rely on another video so you can see the experts in action. The high-level is: you probably only have to do this once every couple of years (which is longer than I’ve EVER had a roomie, but I digress~). This requires a close look under your Ficus Ginseng’s skirt or kilt. No, these things aren’t Scottish, but bonsais cosplay, too. You’re looking at your tree’s root system, and we want it to be compact. This requires careful manipulation of the soil and roots. If you do it right, 500 points to Gryffindor! Let’s watch the experts do it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-55iSXsw-I

When your roomie gets sick, pho and Pedialyte won’t be enough
Since your bonsai is a tree in miniature, it can be treated for insects and diseases the same as any other tree. If you discover any insects or diseases, visit our website where you will be able to obtain the necessary products to eliminate the problem.

Just like any tree, your bonsai can get sick or have insect infestations. Check out this expansive post by Bonsai Empire that discusses bugs and diseases (and look around the site, it has a ton of useful information!

We did it, fam! This roommate guide is just a high level look at taking care of the Ficus Ginseng bonsai tree. Below are a number of bonsai resources that we used to put together this handy guide. Remember, bonsai tree care is 80% mental, and 50% physical.











Urbanplantproject.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. *Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc., or its affiliates. Additionally, Urbanplantproject.com participates in various other affiliate programs, including VigLink, and we sometimes get a commission through purchases made through our links.