Ficus Sp. Care Guide
Why Bonsai A Ficus:
Ficus are fantastic for beginners and pros alike. They withstand over and under watering, are not highly specific of season in regards to pruning and wiring, and can withstand a solid beating. They can be grown indoors, while I once again urge you to put it outside during the Summer when the temperature can accompany it, so many people can have them as indoor bonsai. There are plenty of resources on the web to help you out with Ficus management. Two of the best resources specifically for Ficus that I have seen are Jerry Meislik's website BonsaiHunk.us and the Facebook study group for Ficus that is also moderated by Jerry Meislik. There is countless information and help available through these two resources.
Ficus can handle pretty severe pruning, but can suffer die-back if pruned too aggressively. Ficus will bleed a milky white sap when pruned. It has been said that this can cause itching, but I've never experienced that myself.
Ficus prefer full sun (with afternoon protection) when put outside. They can do with an East or West facing window to get sun if kept indoors year round. It's truly advised to keep it outdoors when the temperature will by above 55 degrees. If kept indoors it is advised to use a grow light if possible. 18 hours on and 6 hours off.
Changing their placement often can result in leaves dropping. This tends to happen when moving from room to room when you don't consider A/C and heating vents, when moving from inside to outside or vice versa, or changing locations outside. Continuing to water regularly will produce leaves again.
It needs to be 55 degrees or higher to be kept outdoors as it is a tropic plant. Keep in mind micro-climates as well. Proximity to house, wind protection, N/E/S/W placement, etc. I don't bring mine inside until I see around 50 degree forecasts since my trees are close to the house and near the ground (My microclimate).
Wiring can be done year round, but you need to take care if wiring during the growing season as the wire can cut into the branch quite quickly. The branches are flexible for quite some time, so no need to be overly hasty when wiring.
Ficus have a high tolerance for over and under-watering. If you are giving too much water or too little the leaves will drop. If you then adjust and water it or let it dry out the leaves will come back.
Ficus can be repotted anytime without killing the plant, but it is ideally done during Summer.
Propagation can be done from air layers, cuttings rooted in water, root cuttings, and from seed, though I'd recommend the former methods before seeds. I was told by Chinese bonsai artist Walter Liew that Ficus cuttings can be dropped on the ground and they will grow. He also lives in Hawaii, so take that into consideration. For more on Walter Liew visit his website HERE
Ficus are perfect for beginners because of their ability to withstand the inconsistency that a beginner might give it. Also great bonsai trees because of their ability to stay inside permanently. This is typically something people look for in bonsai trees.
Growing Indoors: http://www.bonsaihunk.us/Figsindoors.html
Cold Tolerance: http://www.bonsaihunk.us/ficusforum/FicusTechniques/FigTechnique19.html
For care guides on other species head to my Bonsai Information page.