Home » Species

Ficus microcarpa

Ficus Microcarpa is a tree species which may grow into 20+ meters tall trees. Alternative names are Ficus Retusa, Ginsen ficus, Chinese Banyan, Malayan Banyan, Tigerbark Fig, Indian Laurel, Curtain fig and many more. A wide range of foliar varieties exist (Such as the Grrn Islang fig), all of which are varieties of the same species: Ficus Microcarpa.

Ficus Microcarpa Bonsai

Ficus Microcarpa as often found

Position is as with most tropical species: Warm, light and moist. The species in nature grows out to be part of the upper canopy of forests and as such deals well with high-intensity light, and prefers as much light as possible. This tree can stand in full sun, once acclematized

Water and soil. All figs appreciate a balanced moisture regime at the roots. Allow the soil surface to dry slightly before watering again, but never let the soil dry out completely. This species is not demanding on the soil; Any soil mixture will do, as long as it does not stay way for long. Fertilize using regular house-plant fertilizer at 50% of recommended strength, once a week during the growing season. Never fertilize when the plant is sick.

Recognizing. One recognizes this tree by the leaves, which are ovate to round, glossy on one side, and slightly leathery. Trunks are smooth. the tigerbark variety has small black spots on the bark. Many garden centre varieties of the f. microcarpa bonsai have thick swollen roots that stand above the ground. Because of the wide range of diffrerent varieties, species may have very small (3cm) of larger leaves (9cm). In many cases a larger leaved variety is used to grow a trunk. On the trunk smaller leaved varieties are then grafted.

Not to mix up with the ficus elastica, or rubber fig. This plant has leaves that grow up to 20cm long. The size of the leaves is therefor much longer. Also, the bark is not so smooth. Furthermore, ficus benjamina has simular leaves. Here the leaves are clearly pointier than for the microcarpa.

Noteworthy. All figs have the tendency to drop leaves when moved from one location to another. The difference in watering, air moisture and light intensity indicates to the tree a change of season, and they will drop their foliage in response. This is nothing to worry about. Within 2 weeks the plant shoudl start growing new foliage.

Ficus microcarpa leaves

Ficus microcarpa leaves


  • Lidme says:

    I recently bought this plant and after 3-4 days it begin to loose many leaves.

    Your note about droping leaves when changing location is very useful. It’s a logical explanation, the amazing logic of nature. Thank you.

  • Queeny says:

    I have just bought my first bonsai, ficus microcarpa. I know that you have to keep the soil moist at all times, but does that means I need to water it everyday?
    Thank you very much in advance for your kind advice.

  • david anderson says:

    I just bought this plant from local supermarket. (Ficus Microcarpa Retusa) It states that it is an indoor bonsai ? is this true ?

    I have kept bonsai before, however all my previous plants were grown outdoors.

    I hope is is very hardy plant, that will give me yrs of joy.


    • JelleFerwerda says:

      Hi David,
      Indoors is somethin which sounds nice for marketeers. However, every plant is by nature evolved to live outdoors. Some species however, are grown indoors part of the year to avoid adverse conditions outside. Ficus is a plant family which predominates in the tropics. So in winter you need to keep them in a frostfree area (Above 16 degrees celcius for slow growth, above 22c for healthy growth).

  • davidanders says:

    I just got a plant, it is in a bonsai pot with twin trunks. It has small but little branches at the moment.

  • Crista says:

    I recently got a ficus microcarpa as a gift from my father. I read your notes and summary of this species and it has proven very helpful! However, I am still a little confused on the soil. You stated, “Any soil mixture will do, as long as it does not stay way for long.” I’m fairly new to plant growing and am not sure what this means. If you could clarify, that would be great!

    • JelleFerwerda says:


      It means that you have to try to get a soil mixture that dries out relatively quickly. Pure potting soild does work, but I would not use, for instance, pond soil or any other substrate with a high clay content. Mine are in a coarse medium of backed clay pellets, mixed with lava granules & ground up bark.

  • Sophie Whelan says:

    Hi, I have just purchased some 5 x ficus microcarpa bonsai. I was wanting to grow a hedge up to 1.5meters and the gardner told me to get this variety as others would be too big. I now am reading that they won’t get that big, is this true? Thanks

    • JelleFerwerda says:

      Hi Sophie,

      Ficus Microcarpa can grow to be some tens of metres tall. Bonsai stay small due to the pots & styling. Not because of the species. So yeah, if your consitions allow for it; go for it. It will grow tall. Just be carefull: The plants may get sun damaged if they were growin indoors, and may need a few weeks of adjusting to the intense outdoor sunshine. Placing them in dappled sunlight (early morning only at first) will help. They are thirsty plants and have strong roots; Be carefull with drainage lines etc.

Leave a reply

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also Comments Feed via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally recognized avatar, please register at Gravatar.

Enter your email address and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 37 other subscribers