The Ficus microcarpa, also known as the Chinese Banyan tree and sometimes as Ficus ginseng, is a striking and fast-growing tropical plant from Asia, often grown indoors as a bonsai tree for its bushy nature and unique aerial roots.
This tropical tree grows large with a wide and dense canopy in the wild, but is uncommon as a houseplant unless grown small as a bonsai. You can grow this tree without using the bonsai process, but it is unlikely to grow taller than 150 centimeters indoors.
As a houseplant, it is quite forgiving but does best in warm conditions with bright light and high humidity, with well draining soil being a must. As a fast growing tree, it is a popular option for bonsai but this does mean that it can require regular pruning to keep it to the size and shape that best suits your room.
If you’re looking for your first plant, microcarpas are a good option that is long-lived with easy maintenance and is very rewarding. If this is the plant for you, read our buyer’s guide below to get your plant delivered direct to you.
Ficus microcarpa in the House & Office
An excellent option for homes and offices, the microcarpa is popular as a bonsai tree and can be trained to grow in to almost any size and shape that you like.
The small and dark green glossy leaves grow in abundance, increasing their surface area and making this one of the best plants for producing large amounts of clean oxygen and filtering out harmful gases, although the small leaves make it a little tricky to clean dust so we would recommend to pair it with several larger leaved plants.
Ficus microcarpa Size
As this tree can grow to a significant size in the wild, it can still become a very large house plant when grown indoors, however it is most often grown as a bonsai.
While it can reach up to 150cm indoors, it often doesn’t reach this size and can be controlled by providing it with less fertiliser and by reducing light, or by pruning it outside of the main growing season.
As a bonsai tree, it can be controlled to grow to the size that you need.
Height: up to 150cm / 59in / 4.9ft
Spread: up to 150cm / 59in / 4.9ft
Ficus microcarpa Care
Light: This plant will thrive in bright indirect light but dislikes strong, direct light from south-facing windows, although, it will survive in lower light if it is slowly introduced to a new environment. Keep your plant within a few feet of most bright windows, but at least five feet from a south-facing window to give it good and bright indirect sunlight that isn’t too strong.
Soil: You should be careful to not allow your plant to sit in water-logged soil as this can cause root rot. To minimise any risk, add 30-40% rough material to the potting mix, such as grit, perlite, clay pebbles or similar to increase drainage. Make sure that the pot has a drainage hole and that the potting soil doesn’t remain waterlogged for any period of time.
Watering: Water your Ficus microcarpa when the top couple of inches of soil feels dry, about once every one to two weeks. Do not water when the soil feels damp or the soil sticks to your finger, as this may drown the plant and cause the roots to rot.
Humidity: The Ficus microcarpa loves high humidity due to its natural tropical climate, but can still thrive in much lower humidity levels like you will find in the average home or office. If you can, provide your plant with humidity levels of at least 50%, but preferably over 60%. Humidity of as little as 40% will still be suitable for your plant if you gradually adjust it, but try to provide a consistent level of humidity where possible. You can increase the humidity by grouping your plant together with others, turning on a humidifier or by sitting the pot on top of a tray of pebbles and water. Keep your plant in a well-lit bathroom or kitchen where the humidity is highest in the home.
Feeding: Feed your tree every two weeks during summer with standard houseplant fertiliser, and just once per month during spring and autumn. Don’t feed during winter as the plant will reduce its growth rate and salts from the feed will build up in the soil, potentially damaging the plant.
Temperature: Your tropical plant will thrive in most indoor conditions, so temperatures of 18-24°C / 64-75°F will be ideal. The microcarpa will be happy at temperatures above and below those levels, if not extreme, but do not allow the plant to reach near freezing temperatures.
Ailments: Ficus plants can be prone to leaf drop, which can happen after transplanting, suddenly changing its environment, or if exposed to strong, direct sun for too long.
Further care: Read our full care guide to help your plant thrive.
Where To Buy Ficus microcarpa Online
- Ebay (UK) / (USA)
- Bloombox Club (UK) / (USA)
- Local Facebook Groups
The Ficus microcarpa, sometimes sold as the ficus ginseng, is not too difficult to find either in garden centres, supermarkets, plant shops or online, but buying house plants online is the easiest way to ensure you get the plant that you want without having to make multiple trips.
The easiest place to find these available will be Ebay and Etsy, where we would recommend that you buy from a well-rated, positively-reviewed retailer online which can show a respectable return policy. But, almost all online plant stores should have this species available.
If you do buy online, you should inspect your plant after receiving the delivery and be sure to not introduce an infected or infested plant to the rest of your plant collection, to prevent any possible spread.
If you are unhappy with the plant you receive in any way, contact the retailer and begin the return and refund process, and never settle for a houseplant that is damaged or otherwise unhealthy.
Is Ficus microcarpa an indoor plant?
While no plant is naturally adapted to being indoors, the microcarpa is widely known for being particularly easy to grow indoors provided that some basic care is given. If given bright, indirect light, good soil that drains well, regular small waterings and warm, comfortable temperatures, it should thrive well. Overall, the Ficus microcarpa is an excellent indoor plant.
Is Ficus microcarpa toxic?
Like all Ficus trees, the sap is toxic. Touching the sap of the plant or consuming any part of it can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, mouth and skin, so it is important to keep the plant away from children and pets who may try to eat it. If the plant is damaged, be careful not to touch the sap and strongly consider wearing gloves.