Ficus Benjamina Progression (2018 – Now)

This is my Ficus Benjamina that I started from nursery material. I am trying to grow it as a fusion bonsai and I will be going through its progression below.

It is still needs a lot of development, but the trees are starting to fuse into one.

If you want to watch it in video format, you can watch the YouTube playlist below. The videos show the progression every month throughout the year, sort of like a time lapse.

Just be aware some of my earlier videos are not the best quality, but just like my trees, the quality slowly improves over time, so stick with them and they both get a little better towards the end.

Ficus Benjamina is a common house plant across the world due it to its ability to handle less than ideal conditions. It is also a pretty common tree to use as bonsai. They are fast growing and pretty tough.

You can read more about their suitability in Is Ficus Benjamina A Good Tree For Bonsai?

Page Contents

2018

I bought this tree at a local shop for a few quid. It was actually 3 separate trees in the one pot.

I didn’t have the space to separate them out into individual pots so I repotted them together, this time really close together as I wanted them to fuse into one tree. I actually tied them up with string, so they were touching each other.

Using string is not ideal, and it did cut in a little bit, but it didn’t cause too much damage.

Once they where repotted they were allowed to grow freely, with the hope the trunks would swell and fuse together.

2019

By 2019 the very bottom of the trunk seemed to have fused together, but you can see there are still gaps up the length of the trunk, so I used some more string to pull these areas closer.  Again not ideal, and it did cause some scars, but nothing drastic.

I also give the top a very gentle prune at the start of the year. There were some small branches lower down and I wanted to allow them to get stronger. By reducing the top growth, it should help balance the vigour and allow the lower branches to not get over shadowed by the stronger top growth.

I repotted the tree in spring. It was in a very small pot and ficus are aggressive root growers. I also wanted to make sure it wasn’t growing any parsnip roots. I pruned the roots pretty hard, but it was needed to get them under control.

It was then left to grow and I pruned it back pretty hard at the end of the summer. I pretty much took half the tree off, again so the tree could focus on growing the lower branches, which I wanted to be stronger, to help thicken and fuse the lower trunk.

2020

I started 2020 by trimming the tree back. Really I was just shortening all the long shoots.

Then a few weeks later when the new buds started to push out, I removed all the old leaves at the top of the tree (it’s an evergreen, so they will not drop themselves). This was to try and balance the vigour of the tree and promote the lower growth, which had been left untouched.

I then waited until early summer to repot the tree. It actually grew like crazy after this, but I left it to do its thing.

I then pruned it back at the end of the year. I removed a lot of crossing branches and I cut it back pretty hard in some areas. It was then left for the remainder of the year to recover.

2021

I give the tree a light prune at the start of the year and then repotted it into a different pot once some new buds started to swell. The new pot is still not perfect, but still a lot more space than the pot it was in before.

After the repot it grew really well, so I pruned it back at the end of spring.

It then exploded with growth so I pruned it back again!

It was being extremely aggressive as I had to prune it for a 4th time in early summer.

By the middle of summer it has it gotten very top heavy. so I pruned it back hard. This was now the 5th pruning of the season. I also wired a few very upright branches. I just move them more outwards, which opened up the tree a lot more.

It actually bounced right back from this, but it was left alone for the rest of the year.

2022

By the start of 2022 the tree has grown a lot of aerial roots and the trunks had really thickened up.

It was trimmed at the start of the year and then repotted in spring.

After this it was left to grow until summer.

and this is where we are with this tree.

The plan going forward is more of the same. I will let it grow and prune it back. I want to just keep building that structure and ramification. 

If you also have a Ficus Benjamina and are wondering how I look after it, you can read my Ficus Benjamina Bonsai Care Guide.