The weeping fig tree (Ficus benjamina), also known as Benjamin fig tree or simply ficus tree, is a very popular and easy-to-care-for houseplant. Of all the species in the genus Ficus, this one is the best for indoor cultivation. Learn how to care for a weeping fig indoors in this blog.
Containerized ficus trees look like typical trees, only smaller and more elegant. The graceful branches are thin and arching; on some varieties they droop like a weeping willow. The evergreen leaves are bright and glossy and around 2-4 inches long. Dark green leaf tips end in slender twisted points. Ficus trees have been shown to remove gaseous toxins, including formaldehyde, from indoor air. They may produce light yellow seasonal flowers that eventually turn to berries.
There are several different cultivars of Ficus benjamina to choose from. These differ mainly in the size, shape, color, and variegation of the leaves.
Ficus trees can grow to more than 100 feet tall in their natural habitat in the jungles of Southeast Asia. But, we can keep our indoor ficus trees much smaller (just 4-6 feet tall is typical) with judicious pruning and properly sized pots. You can even grow ficus benjamina bonsai trees!
Ficus Benjamina Care
Here are a few simple guideline to help you maintain a healthy and happy indoor ficus tree.
Ficus Benjamina Soil Type and Fertilizer
Plant your ficus tree in a humus-rich, well-drained potting medium, augmented with one-third cactus potting mix or bark chips to improve drainage. Do not fertilize a new ficus tree for the first six months. After that, apply a balanced indoor plant fertilizer as directed every month or so during the growing season.
Fig tree plants like moderately moist soil. Keep the soil just moist during the summer, and a little dryer in winter. Rainwater, which is slightly acidic, is preferred because ficus trees do best in slightly acidic soil and tap water will cause the potting soil to become alkaline. Ficus trees do not have to be misted as do some other indoor plants, but it doesn’t hurt. You can keep the glossy leaves dust-free and shiny by occasional wiping with a damp cloth.
Ficus trees do well even when their root systems are crowded, and do not need to be repotted until you notice that new green leaves are becoming smaller and there is a general decline in vigor. When it is necessary to repot, choose a container a couple of inches larger until the desired size of your tree is reached. Once the ficus plant is as big as you want, repot to a container the same size every few years, but trim the roots back a little (up to 20%). Be sure to pick a container with a drainage hole, as too much water may lead to root rot. Underwatering and overwatering may lead to leaf drop.
If left in the same pot, ficus benjamina may develop aerial roots. These outer roots will grow outside of the branches on the above ground parts of the fig plant. Once long enough, they will anchor to the ground and start secondary growth.
Weeping Fig Light Requirements
Ficus trees do best in bright indirect light, such as in front of a north- or east-facing window or a window that faces south or west whose light is filtered with a sheer curtain. Ficus trees can get by with less light than almost any other indoor tree. They don’t have to be exactly in front of that window. If artificial light is all that’s available, provide at least 400 foot-candles.
Ficus trees like growing conditions to be warm and high humidity. For best results, provide daytime temperatures around 75°-85°F and nighttime temperatures around 65°-75°F.
Weeping Fig Tree Pruning
Eventually, your ficus tree will need to be pruned. Pinch off the top of the main stem when the tree has reached the desired height. Prune back branches that are too long. You can even cut a ficus tree back to a just a few inches above the soil line, and start training all over again, selecting which new branches to keep. Do any repotting and pruning in spring so the tree will have a whole growing season to recover.
Ficus Benjamina Diseases and Pests
Fig trees are occasionally attacked by insect pests such as aphids, mealy bugs, scale insects, spider mites, or whiteflies. Inspect the leaves and young stems regularly, and if signs of infestation occur, spray or wipe down the leaves with insecticidal soap or neem oil. You can make your own bug killing solution by adding two teaspoons of mild liquid soap such as Dawn® or Castile® to one quart of water.
The ficus tree is one of the most popular indoor plants for floral design. With weeping fig care being relatively easy, it should be a breeze to grow. Try growing one in your homescape!