Ficus ingens, the Red Leaf Rock fig, is an African species that is not very commonly used for bonsai. I have been working with several plants and do not find them the easiest species for leaf size control, and proper density of branching.
Here is one before defoliation with old, tired leaves. The appearance is quite messy and disorganized
The leaves are large, worn and old. So defoliation is undertaken.
Without the large leaves one gets a better view of the branching
After defoliation the appearance is much neater and looks more refined.
The new leaves will be red for a week or two after they grow in, giving it its common name.
Ficus ingens is a fig found in Africa and it is often growing over rocks and is thus called a “rock-splitter”. The leaves are moderately large with a wavy edge and prominent yellowish veins. Its main attraction are the new leaves which come out varying shades of red. The spring flush is a very attractive growth with the tree covered with red leaves.
As a bonsai it is not the easiest of subjects as its leaves reduce but not extremely well. Branching is not dense so the growth tends to be rather open.
The red leaf color seems to be accentuated in bright light.
Leaves are large for this small sized bonsai
Leaves are attractive with a wavy edge and prominent main veins
The bonsai when defoliated shows the beginnings of proper structure for a slant style
Ficus or figs are in a large family of plants showing many interesting and varied characteristics.
One of the most interesting aspects of various figs is the leaf. Leaves can be large, smooth or hairy, glossy or dull and have many, many other variations.
The photo below shows some fig leaves and their variation. The size of the leaves varies from 7″ to about 1″ on the right. All can be used for bonsai of various sizes depending on how much the leaves can reduce with proper culture and care.
Fig leaves from the left are benghalensis, ingens, religiosa, microcarpa and salicaria