Ficus Techniques : 82

Figs and Tropicals

by Le Ann Duling


During my July 2013 visit to the Washington DC area at the invitation of the Potomac Bonsai Association I was most graciously hosted by LeAnn Duling and her husband Tom. They have a lovely home and a great bonsai collection that I would like to share with you.

LeAnn is an extremely accomplished bonsai grower, president-elect of the Potomac Bonsai Association, volunteer with the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum and a lover of figs for bonsai. She also has a large personal collection of bonsai other than figs.

Her plants are in great health testifying to her growing skills.

Le Ann writes

"I keep my bonsai outdoors during the long and often hot summers in the Washington DC area where they benefit from good warmth, lots of light, and often humidity.

I grow my figs and tropicals in full sun and in a moderately coarse soil mix that allows for good drainage and aeration.

While outdoors I water daily in the summer and every day once brought indoors for the winter or as needed. Smaller trees may need water twice each day. My bougainvilleas are watered every other day as they like to dry out and this encourages blooming during the winter.

I grow several species of figs including Chinese Banyan(microcarpa), and Willow Lea(/salicaria) as well as bougainvillea, elm, juniper and other species.

In late fall as temperatures get down to the 50's the figs and other tropicals are moved indoors to a bright window in the house. Fluorescent lights supplement the window light and the trees winter without losing leaves or vigor. The lights are kept on for a 10 hour day throughout the winter season and then when temperatures are warm enough outside they are moved back to their outdoor shelves.

The bonsai are fertilized with liquid inorganic fertilizers weekly during the summer months and then during the indoor period I decrease the fertilization to every two weeks.

My advice for growers of tropicals in non-tropical climates is to provide good light and proper watering during the winter months to keep them looking healthy and growing.

Thanks LeAnn for a look at your trees and growing tips.





Owners Bob and Todd
Todd on left, LeAnn and Bob at Gardens Unlimited where she works in the bonsai collections


Shohin fig
Recent work on this small Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'

Twisted style
Ficus microcarpa in twisted trunk and fused style

Twin trunk
Ficus microcarpa in the Twin trunk style

Root over rock
Ficus microcarpa root over rock

Willow Leaf
Ficus salicaria, Willow Leaf

Large ficus
Ficus microcarpa, twin trunk, large tree with exposed roots

Bougainvillea slant style

Tall bougie
Upright bougainvillea, uncoventional styling

Bunjin elm


Large bougie
Large sized bougainvillea




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