Ficus retusa - Tiger Bark Ficus

Ficus retusa are found natively through tropical asia.  As a tree used to competing for light they will tolerate a fair amount of shade but will thrive if given sun.  They make an excellent indoor bonsai!  Ficus retusa develop “stripes” on the older bark, giving them the common name “Tiger Bark Ficus”.  Leaves are oblong and fairly small, about an inch long.  With adequate humidity these ficus will put out a flush of aerial roots all along the branches and trunk.  If left on the tree long enough to reach the ground the roots will quickly thicken and fuse with other roots, branches, and trunk!

Hardiness

These are tropical plants and should not be exposed to temperatures below 40°F.  Outdoors, Ficus appreciate temperatures below 90°F and full sun to part shade.

Water Requirements

Ficus Retusa prefer to have moist – not soggy – soil.  They can be fairly forgiving when learning the watering rhythm  but the goal is to bring them into a cycle of wet to dry always avoiding a completely dried soil condition.  That cycle will most likely change between seasons so be careful not to get locked into too much of a routine.

Fertilizer Requirements

No special requirements.  Any fertilizer you have will work as long as you follow its directions.  When in doubt dilute the stated amount and increase frequency.

Transplanting

As a tropical plant they grow heavily in the summer, after most plants are finished.  They should be transplanted slightly before the new growth emerges, as the buds begin to swell.  In NJ this occurs around June to July.

Pruning And Styling

Ficus retusa can be cut back with the expectation that they will put new growth on old wood (aka back-budding).  They do well when shaped with wire but care should be taken to ensure that scars do not develop from rapid expansion of the wood around the wire used.

Other Notes

Ficus retusa are a forgiving plant and are excellent to learn with.  Be careful transitioning them outdoors as the leaves are prone to sun-burn.  To combat this effect try to position them in the shade and gradually give them more sun.  Just like people!

Ficus retusa Bark and Aerial Roots

Ficus retusa Leaves