Ficus retusa (or Ficus microcarpa) grown in bonsai is called ficus ginseng, because the plant develops a broad and broad stem and large, gnarled aerial roots, and at first glance it recalls the ginseng roots used in herbal medicine, which however do not have nothing to do with ficus, deriving from a species of Panax.
So we can say that the term ginseng in this case is used as a sort of nickname, although in fact we commonly hear of ficus ginseng rather than ficus retusa, perhaps because the term ginseng is more pleasant than the real botanical name of the plant.
It is a large tree, which in nature grows in the semi-tropical wetlands of Asia, in the rain forests; its cultivation as a bonsai is very widespread, above all because the cultivation in the apartment usually takes place with success, and it is therefore possible to admire our bonsai at home throughout the year.
The plant is characterized by a well enlarged and gnarled stem, which makes the appearance of the bonsai old, even when the ficus is still young; the leaves are large and shiny and certainly favoring the development of minute leaves is the biggest challenge facing a bonsaist who intends to grow a ficus ginseng.
It is an evergreen tree, which has a fairly continuous development throughout the year, so we will have to consider the plant as having no vegetative rest period, and act accordingly.
How to grow Ficus ginseng
Ficus, phalaenopsis, areche, anthurium, all these plants are certainly fine in our house as regards the average temperature present, 18-20 ° C night and day, 365 days a year, is more or less the temperature they would enjoy in nature, in the areas of origin, more or less; unfortunately, however, at home the air, although at the right temperature, does not have the correct humidity useful for the life of these plants.
The air conditioner, the heating system, the fireplace, the pellet stove, have the defect of drying up the air of the house, in a constant and very evident way, if not for us, for our plants, which would look good in a rainforest, with regular rains and very high humidity, which often condenses to form large banks of fine mist.
This lack of humidity is often the main problem for plants that live in the apartment, and also for Ficus ginseng, which without environmental humidity will begin to have an increasingly opaque foliage, to develop little and sometimes to lose the leaves.
When we talk about environmental humidity, we are absolutely not dealing with watering, in fact the rain forests are not characterized all year round by rains similar to the Italian autumn rains, which last whole days and completely saturate the soil; the tropical or semitropical plants that we grow in the apartment love to be watered regularly, but they also fear stagnant water and a soil that is always drenched suffocates its roots, which constantly under water, cannot breathe. Then the watering of the ficus ginseng they will be fairly regular, and will moisten all the earthen bread in which the plant is grown; but they will only be provided when the soil dries out, in order to avoid the presence of stagnant water. Surely a ficus ginseng is in better health which is watered less than necessary, compared to the specimen that is drowned in water.
The fundamental part concerning the environmental humidity to be provided to our plants, however, does not depend on watering, but consists in frequent vaporization of the foliage, which must be regularly moistened with demineralized water, to prevent it from staining the foliage; these vaporizations must be supplied as often as possible, intensifying them in case of high temperatures, air conditioner on, heating active.