Currently, many varieties and varieties of ficus have been bred, each of which is widely popular and is considered almost an independent plant. Almost every specialty store offers for sale a plant with an impressive appearance, which is called the Ficus retusa “Ficus Panda”. Sellers distinguish it from the rest, but in fact, this plant is another variety of dull ficus.
This variety looks very elegant and is suitable for growing in both bonsai and other forms. Florists love it for its dense crown, consisting of small leaves. But there are also negative points – the Ficus retusa is quite expensive and extremely whimsical to care for. Its popularity is growing from year to year, and this rightfully gives it the status of an exclusive plant.
Description of Ficus retusa “Ficus Panda”
So, the full name of the species under consideration sounds like this – blunt ficus of the “Panda” variety (Latin name – Ficus retusa cv. Panda). It will not be difficult to recognize it, because it has a characteristic feature – sheet plates of a blunt-pointed shape. If you look closely at them from afar, then their top seems to be rounded. In fact, the leaves are oval. Also, the described variety differs in other significant features that distinguish it from the background of other subspecies.
This ficus belongs to woody and evergreen plants, which is a shrub or a form with many trunks. It is highly branched, has strong stems that tend to lignify quickly. Growing up, they thicken and deform – this allows you to quickly and easily form a bush of the desired shape. Also, the plant has strong and well-visible aerial roots, which make its appearance even more spectacular. The shoots are covered with beige-gray bark, and pale streaks are visible on the young branches.
Small leathery leaves look very nice and neat. The golden color of the young foliage gives the impression that it is emitting light. It begins to grow around the end of February, and more and more new leaves appear during intensive growth. For their color, the plant got its second name – “golden ficus”.
The plant has one more feature characteristic of blunt ficuses. It consists of the fact that fresh foliage is initially covered with light stipules, but over time they turn yellow and fall off. Mature leaf plates become wide and take the shape of an oval or ellipse, their edges are straight, and the apex is blunt.
The length of the leaves can be 6 cm, width – 4 cm. Their color is quite bright and varies from medium to dark green, and the color of the seamy side is more subdued in comparison with the front. The surface of the leaves is very shiny, on it you can see a thin vein of a light shade. There are no dots and other blotches on the foliage, but each leaf has its own tone and color saturation, which creates a harmonious color scheme with smooth transitions.
The leaf petioles are rather short and slender. The leaf plates are arranged alternately, moving in a spiral. The distance between them is small, so the crown looks thick and curly.
Ficus “Panda” has an important advantage – you can see round green fruits on it, beautifully shining between the leaves. The flowering period is almost imperceptible.
This variety of ficus will be the best choice for bonsai decoration. As it grows, the stem of the flower thickens and bends by itself. Thanks to this, it acquires lines that look very aesthetically pleasing. The plant stands out favorably against the background of other ficuses due to the golden young foliage, neat fruits and small leaf plates. The flower is inherent in some watercolor because the green pigment of its sheets differs in saturation.
Ficus retusa “Ficus Panda” care at home
When growing such a plant, one should rely on the general rules for caring for ficuses at home, taking into account the peculiarities of the “Panda” variety. The most difficult thing will be to create a stable environment, keeping the light and temperature at a certain level. The air must be sufficiently humidified and drafts eliminated. If you fulfill all these conditions, the ficus will delight you with its magnificent appearance.
Location and lighting
The plant is so light-loving that even with a slight darkening of the room, its development stops. In the summer, the flower should be protected from direct sunlight, however, it is still required to place the “Panda” in the brightest place. If your windows face south, move the plant there and make the light diffuse. When winter comes and daylight hours decrease, place the ficus in the most illuminated place. Also periodically illuminate the plant with special lamps.
Formed as bonsai ficuses better tolerate shade, they can be freely grown in half-shaded areas. In order to avoid incidents, immediately check with the seller if it is possible to place the flower in the shade.
Ficus “Panda” is thermophilic and needs stability. At room temperature below 8 degrees, it usually dies. If the temperature in the room drops to 14 degrees and below, this will lead to a deterioration in the appearance of the plant. The optimal condition for its growth will be a temperature in the range of 17-22 degrees. If the temperature in the house exceeds these values, take care of additional air humidification.
In summer, it is better to place the flower on a balcony or terrace in order to increase the flow of fresh air to it. The chosen place must be well protected from drafts, otherwise, the ficus may begin to fade. If such a place is not found, the best solution would be to move it to the house.
It should be remembered that for such a plant, drafts are deadly. It is greatly damaged by the currents of cold air and sharp drops in room temperature. When in such conditions, all the foliage falls off the flower. Note that not only the ficus itself but also the soil in its pot should be protected from hypothermia. With the onset of the autumn-winter season, a stand should be placed under the pot or moved to some elevation. Thanks to this, the plant will not come into contact with the cold windowsill.
The flower should be watered regularly, using a moderate amount of water and keeping the soil slightly moist in the pot. In summer, Ficus retusa “Ficus Panda” needs abundant watering. When the top layer of the earth dries up, the next watering should be done. Always make sure that the soil is not waterlogged and does not contain too much liquid. Excessive moisture and complete “drought” should be avoided – both of these circumstances are extremely dangerous for the plant. It is necessary to water the ground only with soft water. It is highly discouraged to use cold water. In winter, watering should be carried out using warm water, in spring and autumn, water should be used at room temperature.
Ficus retusa “Ficus Panda” will feel comfortable in high humidity. To increase its degree, you will either need to systematically spray the flower, or use a humidifier. Only soft water is suitable for moisturizing foliage. An even better option would be to use melted, boiled or distilled water.
Topdressing and fertilizers
Topdressing of ficus is carried out only during its intensive growth (it begins in spring and ends in October), with a frequency of 1 time in 2-3 weeks. It is recommended to do this using special fertilizers intended for ficuses. You can also use complex fertilizers that are fed to ornamental deciduous plants.
“Pande” is suitable for ficus soil, which can be found in any specialty store. A purchased dredge will be the best option, but if you wish, you can prepare it manually. To do this, you need to mix leaf and sod soil, as well as peat and sand, taken in equal volumes. The substrate must be made friable so that it allows as much water and air as possible to pass through. If necessary, the mixture can be supplemented with a loosening agent such as vermiculite. The soil should be neutral in acidity.
Such plants are transplanted only if absolutely necessary. Mature ficuses and flowers growing in the form of bonsai require only an annual replacement of the top layer of the earth. This procedure should be carried out in the first days of spring: during it, the top layer of soil is removed and a fresh mixture is poured. Repotting should only be done when the roots can no longer fit in the pot.
If the specimen is young, it must be replanted annually. During this manipulation, the transshipment method is used, while damage to the earthen ball is unacceptable. The neck should not be buried deep, it should be left at its original level. The bottom of the pot should be lined with a fairly thick drainage layer. For this purpose, you can use crushed expanded clay or brick. At the end of the transplant, the flower should be placed in the shade and additionally humidified the air for it.
The specified flower needs to be formed periodically. It is not recommended to prune ficus under the following circumstances: in the first days of spring (because intensive growth begins), before transplanting (for this reason, the plant weakens), and also during it. It should be formed at the beginning of summer, it is permissible to carry out this procedure in May. Only the tips of the branches are subject to pruning, and only strongly elongated or damaged branches are to be shortened. After you are done, the crown of the plant will become much lusher.
Systematic pruning makes it possible to achieve a strict or any other specific flower shape. The plant tolerates such manipulations well and recovers in a short time. The ficus begins to branch more strongly and grow faster in the places from which the shots were cut. In addition, in these areas, the direction of growth of branches changes, so the silhouette of the plant is transformed.
Pruning one-third or half of a branch is only permissible in situations where the plant is very sick or needs urgent rejuvenation.
If you do not plan to create bonsai from ficus, you will need to tie it up. Without timely formation, thin shoots lose their shape and are strongly elongated.
Diseases and pests
The specified variety of ficus is not resistant to insects that prefer low humidity air. If you don’t keep the air humidity high, pests like spider mites, scale insects, and mealybugs can easily settle on it. If they appear on the plant, remove the insects by hand and increase the humidity in the room. Use insecticidal products for severe infestation.
The most common problems:
- falling foliage due to a sudden change in room temperature;
- shedding leaves in a cold draft;
- loss of part of the foliage due to waterlogging of the soil;
- yellowing of leaves due to too much watering;
- reduction in foliage due to insufficient fertilizer and dry air;
- drying or wrinkling of leaves when exposed to direct sunlight and dry air on the plant.
Reproduction of Ficus retusa “Ficus Panda”
In spring or summer, you can propagate the Panda ficus using the grafting method. After cutting off the cutting, immerse it in water for a couple of hours, then treat it with a growth-stimulating agent. In order for the cutting to take root, it should be placed in a warm place (with a temperature of at least 25 degrees), where the air humidity is high. At the bottom, it is necessary to provide heating, and on top, you will need to cover the handle using a cap or a plastic bag.
If the specimen is large and bushy, you can propagate it using air layers. A longitudinal cut is made between a pair of strong knots. After that, the place of the incision is wrapped using damp moss or substrate. The separation of the shoot from the mother bush occurs immediately when roots appear on it.