Native to Eastern Australia, the Rusty Fig is a 30-meter tall Banyan tree with an umbrella-shaped crown, about as wide as it is tall and with columns of aerial roots. It’s 4-20 cm long leaves are waxy, leathery, dark green, with a bold, distinctive lemony yellow leaf stipule and veins. Its bear’s small berry-like figs all thru the year that varies in colour from young green ones to semi-ripe yellow to orange-red ripe fruits that bats and flying-foxes love.
Styles: As bonsai, the large leaves do reduce considerably, but they can still be between 5-10 cm long, and as such is best suited to medium or large bonsai. They are usually grown as upright style bonsai.
Position: In tropical regions, it is grown outdoors and requires a full sun aspect. In temperate parts of the world, it is grown indoors as it does not like temperatures below 6°C. In colder climates, it needs a heated conservatory or greenhouse where day temperatures are maintained at over 15°C temperature and night temperatures above 6°C.
Watering: Ficus like moist soil but hate a waterlogged soil. Water in the morning when it is needed the most and the bonsai will use the surplus water before the night.
Feeding: Use a low potency balanced organic feed. Using inorganic high potent fertilisers may increase growth rates, but it will also lead to larger leaves and coarser branching.
Repotting: These fast-growing trees love to be repotted every year. It is best to ensure that nighttime temperatures are well above 10°C to ensure a stress-free repotting. The Ficus can deal with a variety of methods of root pruning but to be on the safe side, do not bare root and do not reduce the root ball by more than a fifth especially if growing them as indoor bonsai in colder parts of the world. Use a rich well-draining soil, one part well-mulched bark, one part pumice, and 1 part Akadama will provide a right mix of air, water and nutrients.
Pruning: This is a continuously growing species so need to be frequently pruned. Let the growth extend to about 6 or 7 nodes and then pruning back to leave 3 active notes. The Rusty Fig respond well to pruning and ramifies, slowly starting with somewhat coarse branching, but does eventually form a fair level of branching.
Wiring: While the Ficus branches can be wired at any time of the year, remember they are continuously growing species so will need constant vigilance to ensure that the bonsai wire does not scar the branches.