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How to Care for Indoor Ficus: Common Varieties

by | Jul 17, 2023 | Gardening | 0 comments

A long-time favorite for interior foliage, Ficus comes in many varieties, from large specimens to accent plants available in various sizes.

The Ficus genus contains 800 species of tropical and subtropical plants. Growth habits vary significantly between varieties.

From weeping, small-leaved trees to large-leaved, erect bushes, we list below the Ficus varieties we consider best for indoor use.

Soil & Placement

Ficus thrives in rich, well-drained, and aerated soil, like Anewalt’s premium potting soil, and bright indoor sunlight.

Like any plant, your Ficus needs time to adapt to the home environment. It will drop leaves at first, but this should stop once the plant is acclimated.

Fertilizing Ficus

Fertilize frequently and lightly with complete, soluble plant food. To minimize leaf drop after moving the plant, apply a liquid root stimulator per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Watering Ficus

Soil should be evenly moist. Never allow soil to become soggy or dry out completely. Misting helps keep humidity high around plants.

Misting a ficus plant.

Misting a Ficus plant.

Insects

Apply systemic granules to the soil as a preventative insecticide. If insect problems occur, bring the pest to Anewalt’s Garden Center for a correct diagnosis, or use an app like Picture Insect to identify the bug.

Special Comments

Draft and low humidity will cause leaf drop.

Popular Ficus Varieties & Their Characteristics

Most of the following ficus varieties require bright, filtered light.

Council Tree

  • Ficus Altissma
  • From the Malay Archipelago and Philippine Islands
  • Strong, filtered light
  • Broad, flat, oval leaves 6 inches or more in length
  • Forms a spreading head and gives a coarse texture. A popular form is variegated.
  • It can get very large under ideal conditions. It’s a great patio plant, too!

Benjamin Fig

  • Ficus Benjamina
  • From the Malay Peninsula
  • Strong filtered light
  • Most popular of all indoor specimens.
  • Weeping branches drape from a symmetrical dense head. Finely textured, glossy green foliage.
  • Takes pruning well. Benjamina often will drop 50% of its leaves when moved, but can replace all leaves in 6 weeks.
  • Older plants often have aerial roots.
  • Many new forms, including those with twisted, tiny, or variegated foliage, are now available.

Weeping Ficus

  • Ficus Benjamina Var. Nuda (syn. Ficus Stricta)
  • From the Malayan peninsula
  • Strong, filtered light
  • Extreme weeping habit
  • Large leaves and satiny gray trunk make this Ficus highly desirable for indoors.
  • Holds up well in medium light

Wintergreen Ficus

  • Ficus ‘Wintergreen’
  • Selected cultivar
  • A new variety is grown in tissue culture for uniformity.
  • Larger leaves and upright habit make this Ficus popular for interior landscaping.

Mistletoe Ficus

  • Ficus Deltoidea (syn. F. Diversifolia)
  • From the Malay Archipelago
  • Shrubby species, ideal for a tabletop ficus
  • The plant produces many berries resembling mistletoe. Leaves are triangular in shape and small: 1 – 3 inches long
Moving a Ficus plant.

Moving a Ficus plant.

Rubber Plant

  • Ficus Elastica
  • From India and Malaya
  • Leaves are up to 12 inches long and about 1/2 as wide.
  • Oblong glossy foliage
  • Prominently featured on the rubber plant are large, rose-pink stipules that envelop the leaf buds until they open
  • Also available in variegated and burgundy forms

Fiddleleaf Fig

  • Ficus Lyrata
  • From tropical Africa
  • Fiddle-shaped leaves up to 15 inches long and almost as wide.
  • Lyrata bark is rough and dark brown, giving it a mottled appearance.
  • Usually sold as an upright growing to 4 to 8 feet

Sabre Leaf Fig

  • Ficus Macclendenii
  • From Hawaii
  • Long, pointed, dark green leaves
  • Will tolerate somewhat lower light than other ficus species.
  • Has a rather wild, informal look

“Bonsai” Ficus

  • Ficus Nerifolia
  • From Himalaya
  • A small tree usually seen as a Bonsai candidate.
  • Very narrow leaves to 2 to 3 inches long when grown as a Bonsai; much larger leaves otherwise

Indian Laurel

  • Ficus Retusa
  • From the Malay Peninsula
  • Non-weeping tree with stiff blunt foliage
  • Produces fewer aerial roots than Benjamina
  • Leaf drop is not a problem with retusa, which tends to hold up better indoors.
  • Also has a variegated form

FAQ: Caring for Indoor Ficus

Q: What’s the ideal lighting for indoor Ficus?

A: Indoor Ficus plants thrive in bright, indirect sunlight. Place them near a window where they’ll receive plenty of light, but aren’t directly exposed to the harsh midday sun.

Q: How often should I water my Ficus plant?

A: Water your Ficus when the top inch of soil feels dry. This typically means watering once a week, but can vary depending on the humidity and light in your home.

Q: What type of soil is best for Ficus?

A: Choose a well-draining potting mix. Consider adding perlite or sand to improve drainage.

Q: Do I need to fertilize my indoor Ficus?

A: Yes, feeding your Ficus with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season (spring and summer) can promote health and growth.

Q: Why are the leaves on my Ficus dropping?

A: Leaf drop can be a sign of stress due to overwatering, under-watering, or sudden changes in temperature or light. Evaluate your care routine and environment to identify and correct the cause.

Q: How can I increase humidity for my indoor Ficus?

A: Place a humidifier nearby, set your plant on a tray of pebbles with water, or mist the leaves regularly.

Q: What temperature is best for my Ficus?

A: Ficus plants prefer temperatures between 60-75°F (15-24°C) and should be protected from drafts and extreme temperature changes.

Q: How should I prune a Ficus plant?

A: Prune your Ficus sparingly to shape the plant or remove any dead or overgrown branches. Always use sharp, clean shears and cut just above a leaf node.

Q: Can Ficus plants be repotted, and if so, how often?

A: Ficus should be repotted every 2-3 years, ideally during the spring. Choose a pot slightly larger than the current one, and ensure it has adequate drainage.

Q: What pests commonly affect Ficus plants, and how can I treat them?

A: Common pests include spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects. Treat infestations with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spreading.

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