At some point in time, any avid indoor gardener will be faced with the question – Can I grow a Bonsai tree?
I was, and my initial reaction was – No, it is too complicated!
I have since found a delightful tree called a Golden Gate Ficus, which can be grown as a bonsai, It is the perfect tree for beginners. It is a fast grower, hardy, not fussy, and won’t die if you make some mistakes.
This tree is native to jungle-like conditions, so it requires high humidity.
You might consider keeping it in a bathroom or kitchen where the air is usually more humid than the rest of the home.
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Golden Gate Ficus Bonsai Care
Golden gate ficus bonsai grows in well-draining, bonsai-mix soil. Water regularly so that the soil is moderately damp. The tree enjoys bright light but not direct sun. The best temperatures are 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C). Humidity must be higher, at around 75%. It is vital to fertilize regularly.
Golden gate ficus bonsai grows best in bonsai soil. A good mix is 50% akadama, 25% lava rock, and 25% pumice. The soil must be porous and able to drain quickly. Adding sand, crushed granite, or pebbles will prevent compaction. It enjoys a slightly acidic PH of 6.0 to 6.5.
Golden gate ficus bonsai grows best in bonsai soil. This is not your regular potting soil. Bonsai soil needs to be very porous and also able to support the plant.
There are many mixes that you will find at your neighborhood nursery. Some contain high-fired clay particles and finely ground pine bark with added sand and pebbles for drainage.
You will also find mixes that contain akadama, lava rock, pumice, organic potting compost, and fine gravel. A mix that I like is 50% akadama, 25% lava rock, and 25% pumice.
Adding gravel and crushed stone is a good trick, as they prevent the soil from compacting.
Your bonsai will grow for many years in the same pot, so it is vital to get the correct soil with enough nutrients to sustain it for a long time.
Golden gate ficus enjoys slightly acidic soil. By purchasing a home-testing kit, you can easily determine what the PH reading of your soil is. This bonsai wants a reading of around 6.0 to 6.5.
Golden gate ficus enjoys lots of bright light. They also love staying outdoors during the summer months. Do not place directly in the hot afternoon sun. Place near windows facing south, east, and west. North-facing spots will be too low in light and your plant will not thrive.
Golden gate ficus grows best when there is lots of bright light. Indirect sunlight is ideal for your bonsai.
Don’t let it stand in the hot afternoon sun as this will damage the plant. If you have it near a window, try to shield it from direct sunlight by using a screen or curtain.
Choose an indoor spot that is not directly on the window sill. South, west, and east-facing windows will offer enough indirect sunlight. North-facing windows will be too low in light for this bonsai tree.
Many gardeners like to take their Golden gate ficus bonsai trees outside in the summer. Ensure that the spot your choose gets bright indirect sunlight and is not in direct sun.
Golden gate ficus is a heavy drinker. The soil must be kept moderately damp. In summer, water daily using a soft spray that won’t disturb the soil. Ensure that the pot is filled and that the water drains out. In spring, fall, and winter, water when the soil starts to feel dry, every 2 to 3 days.
Your bonsai tree should not be allowed to dry out. The soil needs to be moderately damp at all times. However, it should never be waterlogged. Water must drain out of the pot.
Because your tree is sensitive and probably secured into the pot, you want to water it carefully and not drench it with a flood of water, as you may do with other plants.
Use a hose attachment that gives a rain-like spray. Water it until the soil is soaked. Allow the water to drain out and water again.
Watering should be done when the soil’s dry. Using your fingertip, test the soil and check if the soil’s top inch is dry. If you are unsure, try watering every day in the summer and every 2 to 3 days in the other seasons. For beginners, Golden gate ficus is fairly tolerant of over and under watering, so don’t stress if it takes you a while to establish your watering pattern.
If possible, try to use rainwater as it does not contain chemicals. After many years, these chemicals will build up in the soil and can damage your bonsai tree.
Golden gate ficus bonsai does best in indoor temperatures that mimic its natural tropical habitat of above 65°F (18°C). The best range will be 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C). Avoid standing it in draughts, under drying heat vents, or in front of heaters. It enjoys being outdoors in the summer.
Golden gate ficus thrives in warmer temperatures that range from 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C). Ideally, the temperature should not drop below 55°F (13°C).
Because they are more suited to heat, keeping your plant outdoors in summer can boost its health. Outdoors it can survive in temperatures that reach 100°F (37°C).
Its natural habitat is tropical equatorial regions, where the temperatures are seldom cold. Your bonsai tree should not be allowed to freeze.
Like many plants, Golden gate ficus will be unhappy in draughts. This applies to both hot and cold draughts. Check that you are not keeping it in the draught of an open door, under heating vents, or in front of an air conditioner.
Golden gate ficus loves humid conditions, ideally over 75%. They grow naturally in rainy, jungle-like conditions, so you will probably need to increase humidity in your room. Use a humidifier, open pebble water trays or regular mist spraying. Bathrooms and kitchens offer higher humidity.
You will need to find a spot for your bonsai tree that is more humid than your average room humidity of 40% to 50%. This will be too dry for a Golden gate ficus bonsai.
You want an environment with a humidity of around 75%. Bathrooms and kitchens are naturally more humid than other rooms in the house and could become a home for your plant.
If you don’t like this idea, you can consider installing a small home humidifier. They are easily found at nurseries and online websites and are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. You can also ask about ceramic bonsai humidity trays that are made for this purpose.
Standing open water pebble trays near your plant also increases the humidity. Mist spraying is a great idea. This can be done once a day in hot weather, and gives you an opportunity to attend to your plant!
Golden gate ficus responds well to fertilizing. Use a nitrogen-high mix in spring. Change to a balanced fertilizer in summer and a low nitrogen fertilizer in fall. Reduce feeding in winter. Fertilize once a week in spring and once every two weeks in summer and fall.
Fertilizing your Golden gate ficus is a must. Your plant will remain in the same small pot for many years. Because you are watering a lot, you run the risk of washing valuable nutrients out of the soil.
Golden gate ficus responds well to feeding. Bonsai trees do require more attention than normal plants, and your fertilizing routine is also slightly more complex.
Choose a blend that is higher in nitrogen for the spring season. Look for NPK numbers of 10-6-6. For summer, change to a balanced formula of 6-6-6. In fall, you can decrease the nitrogen. Look for NPK numbers of 3-6-6. NPK numbers indicate the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium ratios in the mix.
Mix your fertilizer according to the package’s instructions. Make sure to drain the excess moisture after watering the plant. Pour in the fertilizer solution. Always pour fertilizer onto wet soil to prevent it from damaging the roots of the tree.
Fertilizing your Golden Gate Ficus once a week in spring. In summer and fall, fertilize once every 2 weeks. Do not feed your Golden gate ficus in winter.
Growth and Pruning
Bonsai trees require regular pruning to shape them and maintain their small size. Use pointed-nose scissors to snip off leaves that are too large. Wiring can also be done to train the branches into the shape you want. Investing in a book on basic bonsai techniques is a great idea.
Golden gate ficus bonsai tree offers a thick trunk that is dark grey with white stripes. It has lovely knotted stems that many people look for in a bonsai tree. The leaves are a deep green and give a great contrast to the stem. This bonsai tree grows fairly fast, making it a great choice for beginners.
Trimming and pruning bonsai trees is an art. When you buy a mature tree, you’ll find that most of the work’s already done for you.
You will need to maintain the shape and possibly wire it so that new branches follow the form you want.
Snip off new leaf growth. The first 2 leaves on a branch are usually the perfect size for a bonsai tree. Trim off extra leaves using a small pointed-nose scissors.
Wiring is a technique that you can use to train new branches into the shape you want. Use lighter gauge wire for smaller branches at the top of the tree and heavier gauge wire for the lower branches. Wrap the wire around and up the trunk, then wrap it around the new branch and bend it into the shape and position you want.
If you are planning on becoming a serious bonsai fan, I would suggest investing in a few books on how to grow and trim bonsai trees!
Your golden gate ficus bonsai requires a pot that complements the shape of your tree. Ensure that it has adequate drainage holes. Use a bonsai mix soil and add crushed granite for added drainage. Trim off roots that are pushing straight down as these will eventually push the tree out of the pot.
A great part of growing a bonsai tree is to have a decorative pot that matches the character of your tree. There are various options on the market, choose wisely! The pot should be shallower, rather than deeper. If you are repotting, ensure that your new pot is larger than the existing pot.
Fill the pot with your bonsai mix. A good formula is akadama, pumice, and lava rock, in a ratio of 50% – 25% – 25%.
Make a hole in the center and water the soil well. Allow it to drain. Remove the tree from its existing container and shake off excess root soil. Look for roots that are damaged and trim them off. Trim off any excess surface roots. Lastly, trim off roots that are growing straight down as they will eventually start to push the tree out of the pot.
Place your tree gently into the soil and fill in the hole. Many gardeners like to tie down their trees with bonsai wire. This will help to support it until the new roots have developed. Do this by placing a screen over the drainage holes and run your wires through the screen to secure the tree.
Water again and add fertilizer. Place into a warm, humid spot in bright light.
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Common Problems with Golden Gate Ficus Bonsai
Golden gate ficus can be attacked by several well-known pests. They are mostly mealybugs, scale, spider mites, and aphids.
Check the leaves for signs of infestation, spider filaments, or small scales. Many of these pests can be removed by spraying with an organic pest-removing solution.
You can also dip a soft cloth into a solution of rubbing alcohol and gently wipe the leaves. The tree is fairly resistant provided that you do not allow the infestation to become chronic.
Leaves Turning Yellow
If your Golden gate ficus leaves are turning yellow, it’s a sign of insect infestation. Check the leaves’ underside for scale, or spider mites. A simple solution is to spray the tree with a mix of 1 teaspoon of dish wash soap to 1 quart of lukewarm water. You can also wipe off the leaves using rubbing alcohol on a soft damp cloth.
Leaves Drop Off
This could be a sign that your humidity is too low. It’s vital to keep the plant in humid conditions of over 75%. Consider installing a small home humidifier or moving the plant into a room that has natural higher humidity.
Dropping leaves can also indicate over or underwatering. Ensure that the soil is moderately damp, but isn’t waterlogged or dry.
Tree only Grows Small Leaves
This could be due to your tree not getting enough light. Make sure it is in a spot with loads of bright light. You could consider taking it outdoors in the summer months. Do this slowly so that it can get acclimatized to the change in light conditions.
Tips to Grow Golden Gate Ficus Problem-Free
- Plant into well-draining bonsai soil
- Do not allow the soil to dry out
- Water regularly to keep the soil moderately damp
- Use a slightly acidic soil (6.0 to 6.5 pH)
- Humidity should be around 75%
- Put in a warm spot receiving bright light
- Prevent too much direct sunlight
- Fertilize once a week in spring and once every 2 weeks in summer and fall
- Trim to maintain its shape
Frequently Asked Questions about Golden Gate Ficus Bonsai
Can Golden gate ficus grow indoors?
Golden gate ficus can grow indoors. This is a great bonsai for beginners and can be grown indoors. You can also move it outdoors in the summer months for a boost of fresh air and sun.
Is Golden gate ficus bonsai a fussy tree?
This is one of the easier and least fussy bonsai trees. Like all bonsai trees, it does require some attention. Once you have the correct temperature, humidity, and feeding routines, you will be rewarded with a very happy miniature tree.
Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.