Trees

Complete Guide to Ficus Trees: How to Grow & Care For “Ficus benjamina”

Read our complete guide to Ficus Trees (Ficus benjamina) for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting and caring for Weeping Fig trees.
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The legend goes that when Buddha received enlightenment, he was sitting under the shade of a ficus tree. Otherwise known as fig trees, the ficus is a popular indoor and outdoor tree in gardens and homes across the United States.

You can find ficus in all types of heights and textures, with weeping ficus and fiddle ficus being popular indoor bonsai trees. Ficus grows readily in ideal growing conditions, and it’s the ideal choice for home gardeners that want a low-maintenance but attractive plant.

Ficus in enjoy well-lit areas in the home that are free of drafts. These trees tend to stress when you move them around. Therefore, the best strategy is to leave them in one area for their entire lifetime, the less you move the plant, the stronger it grows.

When ficus experience stress, they start to shed leaves. The foliage does recover quickly, and even if it drops to the point where there are only a few leaves left, it can come back to its former glory in a few weeks with the right care.

Ficus trees are native to tropical regions of the world, with many popular varieties coming from Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Live Ficus Benjaminaaka Weeping Fig Tree, from Amazon

How Do I Grow Ficus Trees?

Many gardeners find growing ficus plants a challenging but rewarding experience. Ficus trees make for fantastic indoor or outdoor growing, and all varieties do well as bonsai trees as well. However, ficus trees can be somewhat picky.

Once you place them in their pot in your home, they don’t enjoy moving. Ficus are sensitive to light conditions, and if you move them, it might cause some of the foliage to wilt and fall from the branches.

Ficus plants are also susceptible to disease, making them prone to insect infestations as well. Ficus trees are a tropical species that enjoy warm and humid climates. When gardeners give their ficus everything it needs, they thrive.

Ficus tend to get leggy if you don’t keep them under control. You’ll need to prune back your tree a few times during the season to stop it from sprawling out. The ease of shaping the plant makes it a favorite choice for bonsai growers. You can braid of shape the branches and trees to create a beautiful bonsai.

The ficus grows quickly in the right conditions. Don’t be afraid to trim back the tree as new shoots appear fast and turn into leaves in a few days. However, ficus is a hardy plant, and it’s easy to bring them back to health with the right care, even if they’re at death’s door.

Weeping Fig Tree – Ficus Benjamina

What are the Light Requirements for Ficus Trees?

New ficus plants from the nursery require a period of adjustment before you can put them in direct sunlight. If the nursery keeps them under a shaded netting, then you’ll need to acclimatize the plant by taking out in the early morning sun for two hours before leaving it back under the shade for protection from the harsh midday UV rays.

Some varieties do better in direct sunlight than others. However, most ficus trees prefer a spot in your home near a window where they can enjoy the morning sun, and they stay cool in the afternoon.

What are the Soil Requirements for Ficus Trees?

When planting your ficus, most gardeners use them as pot plants inside the home. Therefore, chose a pot that’s a little bigger than a half-gallon ice cream container when potting your ficus tree. Make sure the pot has plenty of drainage holes in the bottom, and then cover them with gauze.

Add a layer of pebbles or stones at the bottom of the container for additional drainage. Fill the pot with a high-quality potting mix, and leave a space for the root ball of the plant. Place the roots into the hole and backfill the hole with potting soil.

Press the soil down to remove any air pockets, and then water the soil thoroughly. Let the soil dry out until it’s dry if you poke your finger and inch below the surface. Water again when it feels dry. Give the ficus at least a month to settle in the container. During this period, the roots establish in the soil.

After a month, you can feed your ficus using an all-purpose liquid fertilizer.

How Do I Water My Ficus Tree?

Ficus are reasonably drought-resistant plants. The species that come from Africa don’t need much water to survive, but they prefer if the soil remains moist during the growing season. Water your ficus once or twice a week, and use the finger-soil test mentioned above as a guideline for your watering practice.

When transplanting, it’s vital that you don’t let the root ball dry out. If the roots get dry, the plant starts to stress, and drop leaves. For best results, transplant new ficus trees as soon as possible to prevent stress on the plant.

Ficus tree in a planter
Ficus tree in a planter

What are the Humidity and Temperature Requirements for Ficus Trees?

Ficus trees prefer warm weather for optimal growing conditions. These trees suffer in the cold weather, and if you live in a colder region of the United States, you’ll have to bring the tree indoors during the evenings as the fall and winter arrive.

When positioning your ficus indoors, place them in an area of the home where they are away from drafted and air-conditioning vents. If the plants experience a wind chill, they will drop leaves.

Ficus trees prefer growing in temperatures of above 70F, and they start to stress when the mercury falls below 60F. Ficus trees prefer humid environments if you want them to grow fleshy, colorful leaves.

How Do I Fertilize Ficus Trees?

Ficus trees don’t need much fertilizer during the growing season. At the beginning of the spring, you can feed the tree with a liquid-based all-purpose fertilizer at half-strength. This fertilizing strategy gives the roots a boost during the early part of the growing season.

These plants enter a dormancy period during the winter, and they don’t require any water or fertilizer during this time. During dormancy, the ficus recovers from all of the stress of the growing season. The tree may shed its leaves and even appear dead.

To bring the plant back to life in the spring, just water the roots, and it will start to produce new leaf shoots.

How Do I Propagating Ficus Trees

You can make new ficus trees from your existing plants using the non-woody stem cutting method. Make sure that you only use the non-woody shoots from the tree as your cutting.

Take the cutting at a 45-degree angle, and then dip the tip of the cutting into rooting hormone. Leave the cutting in the rooting hormone for a few minutes, and then transfer to a small container with potting mix.

Ficus leaves
Ficus leaves

Are Ficus Trees Toxic?

Ficus trees are not toxic to people and pets, and they’re safe to have around your home. Some ficus varieties contain latex in the leaves.

If you cut a leaf, you’ll notice a thick, milky-shite substance come from the wound. Some people may have allergies to latex and should avoid getting the latex liquid on their skin.

How Do I Prune a Ficus Tree?

Ficus trees can grow large when left unmanaged. The branches and trunk can get leggy if you leave it alone to its own devices. To keep your ficus tree in a bonsai format, you’ll need to prune the branches and leavers that get unruly.

Prune the ficus in the wintertime before it enters the dormancy period. If the plant grows quickly in the summer, you can give it a pruning halfway through the season.

We recommend you use a sharp pair of pruning scissors and some protective gardening gloves when pruning your ficus. Cut back to the new nodes, and the shoots will start to grow at the tips.

What are the Pest and Diseases Affecting Ficus Trees?

Ficus trees are reasonably resistant to pests and diseases. However, if you let the soil dry out too much, you might find that you have to deal with a spider mite infestation. If aphids or spider mites start to invade your ficus, it will begin to drop leaves.

There are a few diseases that might affect your ficus tree, but as long as you don’t keep it in a drafty location, it should stay disease-free.

What Are the Best Varieties of Ficus Trees?

There are dozens of ficus varieties available from online retailers and nurseries. However, only a few of the types do well as indoor plants.

You’ll need to decide if you want a tree-type or trailing ficus. Tree-types are an excellent choice for standalone-plants in the house. Trailing types look fantastic when hanging from flower baskets on the patio.

  • Ficus Benjamina, or the weeping fig, is a popular indoor variety.
  • Fiddle Leaf Ficus, or Ficus Lyrata, is another popular variety for use as a houseplant.

Both of these varieties grow readily, and if you don’t prune them, they can reach heights of up to 6-feet.

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Hollie Carter

Hollie is a life-long gardener, having started helping her Dad work on their yard when she was just 5. Since then she has gone on to develop a passion for growing vegetables & fruit in her garden. She has an affinity with nature and loves to share her knowledge gained over a lifetime with readers online. Hollie has written for a number of publications and is now the resident garden blogger here at GardenBeast. Contact her at hollie@gardenbeast.com or follow on twitter https://twitter.com/greenholliec

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