The term Ficus refers to about 850 plant varieties, including trees, shrubs as well as vines. Since the Ficus plant species survive in a lot of different environments, it makes a natural choice to be included in the art of bonsai. It is adaptable, and a great plant for beginners due to its ability to tolerate low light, poor soil quality and humid environments. It can be grown indoors, near a sunny window, if you live in a cold climate. 

Ficus retusa (Ginseng ficus) and Ficus benjamina are the two main types of ficus plants that are turned into bonsai trees. These plants have small, evergreen leaves and stems that can be easily shaped. A ficus bonsai looks good at all times, but if you want your plant to look its best, you have to learn how to prune your Ficus bonsai.

How to Prune Ficus Bonsai

For starters, you should prune during the winter season. This is the best time because, with each spring, there comes heavy new growth to replace what you’ve pruned. 

Before you even pick up your bonsai scissors, you should have a plan in mind. Envision exactly how you want your bonsai to look. You can sketch it out so that you have a guide, but it isn’t necessary. At the very least, though, you should mark where you intend the branches to be cut. 

Now that you have a plan, pick up those sharp, sterilised concave cutters and begin pruning. Don’t use unsterilised tools because this can introduce harmful bacteria. Try to cut branches in an alternating, branching pattern. So if they’re formed directly opposite, remove only one of two branches. 

Also, try to avoid trimming the leaves of your bonsai. Leaves that are trimmed tend to become brown, which could affect the look of your bonsai tree. If you’re looking for a loose guide, try to cut up to three leaves per shot you want to pinch or cut. You should definitely use cut paste to help your tree recover from the cuts and wounds. Think of it like having a wound and bandaging it up; cut paste is for preventing sap from leaking and helps the bonsai tree heal.

If you have a Ficus benjamina bonsai tree, consider its aerial root system and how you want it to grow. You want to find a balance between the root system and the branches. In general, you should be ready to remove about ½ of the new growth of your bonsai tree. This can be a little scary at first, but don’t panic! This won’t be the final appearance of your bonsai, as it will still grow.


Growing a bonsai tree in Australia can be a rewarding and meditative experience. If you want the best possible results in terms of aesthetics, follow the tips above. In particular, remember to have a plan of how you want your bonsai to grow so that you have something to refer to while pruning your trees. Enjoy your little tree!
Searching for bonsai in Australia? Check out Bonsai Shop today! We sell bonsai starter kits, pots, tools and accessories for people who want to grow bonsai trees for themselves.