Walmart 'Bonzai'

giselleFebruary 19, 2007

Try not to skewer me toooooo painfully :) but I was looking through the plants at Walmart because I'm starved for anything green at this time of year. I came across what they called "Bonzai" for $10.00 ea but, even though I always wanted one, I knew they weren't real Bonzai. And then... THEN... I got to the 50% off table and there was the very same Bonzai for 50% off!! Why? They had shriveled leaves, spots, most looked hopelessly dead. Except ONE. One only had bad leaves on the ends of some of the branches and the rest of the plant looked okay. I'm a sucker for a plant in need so for $5.00 I have a Walmart Bonzai. I trimmed back the dead/shriveled/spotted leaves which probably took about 1/4 to 1/3 off the plant. Now could someone help me identify it so I can find out how to care for it for real?

And does anyone know what the heck Walmart does to the gravel on the top of the soil to glue it in place like cement?



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Oh, for goodness sakes... PLEASE forgive my horrid spelling. I have no excuse. I know better. REALLY. I wish I could blame it on drinking or something, but I can't. Maybe I'm developing a z/s dyslexia late in life.

I'm going to write BONSAI out a 10000000 times now...


    Bookmark   February 19, 2007 at 5:51PM
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Hi, Giselle

I didn't see any responses so I thought I would.

If you haven't found out already it is a Ficus.
Which one though I am not sure it could be retusa but I've seen "wally world" malsai with other grafts on them.

First step, get rid of that cemented on crap moisten it then pry it off. Next step carefully remove that mush (soil). The best way is to carefully rinse it under room temp faucett water.replant it in good draining Bonsai Soil.

Then let it grow out a little before attempting to trim it.
That buttres is actually exposed roots. I've seen them labelled as Ginsing Bonsai

What you have is not a bonsai but with some work it could be

    Bookmark   February 25, 2007 at 9:36PM
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Thanks, jrough! I got the stones pried off. The soil looks like African Violet mix. Is there a formula I can use to mix my own bonsai soil? I live in a teeny, teeny town in the middle of nowhere, Indiana, and I have no idea where to get Bonsai soil except through mail order. If I can mix it myself, it would probably work better in the long run.

Should I trim the roots at this point or do you think the poor thing has had enough stress for now? It is really root bound.

Thx again,

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 10:04AM
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bonsai_moss(zone 5b northE.)

I too in the past have bought bonsai trees from walmart AND Home Depot, and because of the glued rocks, EVERY single tree I ever bought from them has died.....and that was after breaking up the "glued" rocks that is on the surface of the containers.

Now...Evertime I walk into Walmart and see these "GLUED ROCK" for top soil bonsai trees, I feel sick as I know their destiny is most likely going to be a short one.

I would love to know what the mortality rate is for these glued rocks for top soil bonsai trees. My guess would be a mortality rate of 90% or more.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 1:25PM
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Yes, I was a sucker for the same glued rock "bonsai" :) after I got the plant home the leaves curled up and fell off, I had to do some research because I fell in love with the little fella, I call George :) by some miracle the leaves are coming back, and there are several new ones sprouting, he's looking really good, is there any way I can save my plant, I'm going to follow jrough advise on getting the glued peebles off, and try to locate the bonsai soil @ my local home depot, is there any other advice?....Have Blessed One!

Best Regards,

    Bookmark   April 20, 2007 at 12:32PM
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napapen(ca 15)

I heard several talks by a gentleman from Univ. Calif. and he said he talked with the grower who glues the rocks on and they know they will die. They do not care. And they really are Bonzai sort of like kumzi Kasai pilots! I have complained in the stores about ripping people off and they don't care either
So beware of those with the rocks


    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 2:58PM
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Hi, Giselle, I think what you have could be a "money tree," AKA Pachira aquatica. We saw the same plant as a pseudo bonsai at Home Depot, but didn't buy it because all of the plants had "squishy" roots, even the ones in regualar pots. Here is a link to another thread about the same plant.

Here is a link that might be useful: Money Tree post

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 11:50AM
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toadsrcool(z5 CT)

I bought a few bonsai's from Wal-mart last year for myself and my son. We took off the glued rocks and repotted them. It was fun. They are all doing well over a year later and I REALLY love them so don't be too quick to say they'll die. We have a Japanese Elm, and 2 differnt ficus bonsia's from Wal-mart, all look healthy and happy.
What I liked was the attractive $9 price and for someone like me who is new to bonsai, after coming off a 60 orchid plant room high that got insects so bad I lost all but 2 orchids. So I liked the price tag. The Japanese elm keeps losing its leaves and growing them over and over. That can't be good & I have no idea why that happens.
Anyone know about that?
Anyway enjoy your wallyworld bonsais!!!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 6:57PM
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Hi All,

A couple of you have asked about Bonsai soil. Yes you can mix your own, generally it consists of loam, leaf mould and grit. The quantities of these will vary according to the species being grown. There are now modern bonsai soils such as Akadama, which is Japanese baked clay granules, or as a cheap alternative fullers earth style cat litter! With your bonsai(?) however, as it is a tropical plant and one that might be grown as a houseplant, I think you'd be fine with general houseplant soil.

Anyway, here are a couple of links that might be useful:

All the best


    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 10:08AM
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The links I gave haven't worked as links so you might copy them into normal address space. The last one is here:

Here is a link that might be useful: developing malsai

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 10:14AM
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I bought a Sago Palm bonsai from Walmart, it didn't have the pebbles, green moss and it was $7!!! Is this a 'no care' plant except for watering?? This is my first bonsai. TIA

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 2:27PM
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wal-mart dont care about plants its a tax write off i asked about some plant that was in bad shape and die'in need of some tlc and was told all plants get thrown away
and its done at nite so you dont go dumpester diggin

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 2:32PM
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bushwhacker(6b/7a Ar.)

Home Depot carries these as well but they're not labeled as ficus. The tag reads Desert Rose.

Using "loam" or kitty litter either one will cause drainage problems resulting in "root rot".

The rule of thumb for any component of bonsai mix is that if it won't pass through 1/4" mexh screen, discard it.
If it does pass through 1/8" mesh, discard it.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 1:09AM
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I've bought five of those bonsais over the last year. All of mine have been ficus. Only one died in that time, and it was because I bought it with root rot (which I was able to exchange for another one).

All of mine have been the "ginsing" bonsai, which are actually some sort of ficus.

It is important to get the rocks off quickly. They make taking care of the plant very hard. They will also choke the plant as it grows and kill it. I get them off by misting the area around the trunk heavily (it dissolves the rock glue) and then breaking the rocks near the trunk away so that I can just smack the remaining rocks with a nail and hammer to break it away. Afterwards, since I like the rock look I usually put them in a zip lock with warm water to dissolve away the rest of the glue.

The thing to remember about ficus is that they are extremely sensitive. They are easy to keep, but sensitive. So if you take them home in the middle of winter and they get a blast of cold air from outside the car, they will probably loose all their leaves. Thats okay, just take care of it and keep it in a warm, but constant temperature. They will usually grow back.

I have repotted three of them and left two in the walmart pots. It is important to repot them, but they can last a year or so if you want to wait.

Wait until the soil dries 1/2" before watering, then soak all the way through. Just remember overwatering can kill just as underwatering.

My bonsai mix is about 1/3 perlite, 1/3 gravel, and 1/3 regular planting soil. Always put a layer of gravel at the bottom to give the water somewhere to go that is not in the soil if you overwater. If the soil is the kind with slow release fertilizer, I've waited a few months before fertilizing. Otherwise I fertilize with the fish fertilizer about once a month. (It's great fertilizer for hydroponic bamboo too!)

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 8:35PM
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I have one of these too that I rescued. I found a local Napa Auto Parts store who carries the diatomaceous earth as Oil Dry, part number #8822 and it is working for me. I wasn't sure about it at first so I tested it by wetting it to see if it degraded (became muddy) and it did not. I wired the Ficus into a pot with this and it seems to be doing fine. I am just debating now what kind of shape I want out of the top.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 12:47AM
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justeen_bonsai(z7 VA)

"The thing to remember about ficus is that they are extremely sensitive. They are easy to keep, but sensitive. So if you take them home in the middle of winter and they get a blast of cold air from outside the car, they will probably loose all their leaves. Thats okay, just take care of it and keep it in a warm, but constant temperature. They will usually grow back."

Yep, that's what I was going to say. If the leaves all fall off, especially a ficus, don't be quick to say that it died. unfortunately, I think many of the people who posted above "accidentally" killed their bonsai by thinking it was dead... oh well.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 5:26PM
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drasaid(zone 8)

and it will get some H20 that way.
Take it out and let it drain, then do it again a few days later. The water may (May. Not promising.) help remove the dang glue.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 4:26PM
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Hey there everyone. I have been reading this thread off and on for the last 4 months or so. I too bought two of these poor walmart ficus bonsais a while back. I took the glued rocks off immediately to let them breathe. I have been watering them, misting them, letting them sit in the window sill, and outside on nice days. They have been growing new leaves, the existing leaves have gotten bigger. Some leaves have fallen off but thats okay I guess. Today I gave them a little bit of Shultz's Plant Food, and let them sit in the humid bathroom while I took a shower.

They seem to be doing great! In fact I am probably going repot them this week. I found some very neat pots at a thrift store here and they would look real nice. In fact they are much wider pots so maybe I can help the trees grow more aerial roots off the branches. (There is only one aerial root right now).

Anyway I also have a little Juniper Bonsai which I am trying to save. I left it outside in the sun/heat for too long. I was just an idiot and forgot about it. I have had it for a year, and have seen much growth but I think it is going to die. I have been babying it for the last 3-4 days now. I hope it comes back.

I didn't get the Juniper at WalMart. I bought it from some street vendor when I was in Tacoma WA last summer.

Anyway, the bonsais I got from walmart seem to be doing very well. In fact I kinda of want to got see if they have any more. The ones I bought are about 13-14 years old. (Someone in the past had cut/broken off a big branch and the rings inside count about 13-14). They are about a foot and a half tall. Very cool looking trees. I think with proper care they are going to be around longer than I will.

Here's a pic of the first one I bought. I bought the other one about a week later.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 12:21PM
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What you have is a Gensing Ficus and the glued on rocks are for shipping purposes and must be removed.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 10:18PM
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U have a ginsing ficus bonsai. The balled trunk are roots. The rocks are only on there for traspoting it. Take them off now and switch the soil for a good draining soil. I like to use 70% perlite or builders sand and 30% peat moss. It should live good after this is done. It's a indoor tree so keep it inside with a growing light on it.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2009 at 7:52PM
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Hello everyone!
I purchased one of the Walmart ficus with the glued rocks for Christmas. He has been doing very well since I bought him. I named him Champion, because he was the biggest ficus at the store. lol. I had been meaning to re-pot him and remove the rocks, but I got so busy. And after seeing how well he's been doing with his original pot and gluey rocks I would be afraid of re-potting him and disturbing him. I've re-potted some things in the past and the plants were not very happy with me and died. What I'm saying is that my Walmart ficus has been doing just fine and beautiful. Not all of them will die instantaneously. I bet if I keep him in his glued pot he might die in the future though :(

Is there any advice for me regarding re-potting and not giving my plant shock?

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 3:42PM
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You know I have always hated that idea as well, those damned glued on rocks. As a crafter I hated glued on anything would rather attach things naturally. I can see them glueing them on for shipping purposes and for display..but yeah..what about the plant's health. I was appauled that no one cares from that plant distributer to the store not caring as well. Plants inhabit this planet as well and I have always felt fellow to them.

Good luck with all of your Bonsai..this post was an eye opener and informative.

When I was a kid I used to ask for the half dead plants and back then sometimes they would let you have them...but nowadays they have to send them back they say for credit..and here you say they were just tossing them. If they are going to toss them you would think they would let folks who care have them...grrr!

;-) Earth day perhaps needs to be every quarter not every year!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 4:38PM
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i got a ficus from walmart about 2 years back and its thriving, i of course immediately replanted it in a new pot and fresh soil, but i havent had any problems with it at all, and i have actually taken clippings from it and started growing other bonsai projects. have fun.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 9:43PM
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What's up with your Ficus retusa now? I have one just like it when I bought it and now the base of the drunk is about 5" thick. It's not quite as tiger barked as some other ones and I've heard of people applying oil to the trunk to darken the color that way. Regarding Walmart bonsais I wish they start carrying them again. I bought a couple a month ago and they're thriving beautifully for $10/ each. One is a Seiju elm, it's similar to chinese elm with smaller and denser leafs. The 2nd one is a chinese plum. I'm most excited about ficus. I've taken cuttings from it and make new plants every year and the newest project I got going on is trunk fusion with 3 cuttings wrapped together.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 4:21PM
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tropicalfreak(z10b Ft Lauderdale)

I have the Ginseng Ficus Bonsai. I have alot of top growth and wanna cut it back. Can I do it hard? Will I need to trim the roots as well? What would happened if I used a slightly deeper pot to move it inside? (double the depth the come in)


    Bookmark   December 31, 2010 at 10:39PM
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Hi all:
Well, I figured I might as well put one post for this topic in 2011, although most on the subject has probably been discussed and exhausted. I too have three "rescue" Ginsengs, one from HD and two from WalMart. At least HD is trying to sell you a decent product and waters/maintains its inventory rather well. WalMart in my opinion is plant-Auswitz (sorry)and I therefore love my rescues the more. After removing the glued rock cover, I gave them air, lots of overhead light and a good water regimen and read all I can read about them. They are thriving. My plan is actually to combine the three, tied together by the exposed gingseng roots at interesting intersections, and have them fuse over time. I am hoping this will give me a more massive, Banyan-style base. Will then prune and wire a beautiful apex above it with the three existing crowns.
Has anyone ever fused ginsengs or any experience to share pertaining to this attempt? I will wait till Spring '12 before doing anything.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 4:31PM
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I got a ginseng ficus rescue. Immediately re-potted it and had two. I planted them across the square pot from eachother ad wired two of the branches from each one to span the pot and join wit the other. The speed this thing is growing is insanely fast. Someone was talking about using the branches to create arial roots. Itd b bad ass to have roots drape from the spanned canopy so two questions. How do you do that and how do you get it to drop a few roots over rock?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 6:54PM
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    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 12:58PM
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