All about the Ficus
Ficus plants belong to the fig genus family. They are pretty popular as indoor plants and resemble a small tree with a trunk and a canopy. They can grow up to 60 feet in the wild, but indoors, their growth is slow, yet they can grow as tall as 6 feet. It is native to tropical areas and is used as decoratives, food, and even as religious symbols in some cultures. Ficus plants can be quite demanding to care for, but they can grow for decades if cared for well.
There are four kinds of Ficus plants, all unique with their own characteristics.
- Ficus Pumila or the Creeping Fig is easy to care for and has small leaves and wiry stems.
- The Ficus Lyrate or the Fiddle Leaf Fig looks more like a tree with more giant leaves, growing up to 3 feet tall and requiring caution from sunlight exposure and cold temperature indoors.
- Ficus Elastica or the Rubber Plant, another indoor plant with large green oval-shaped leaves, is far less sensitive than Fiddle Leaf Fig.
- Ficus Benjamina or the weeping fig is the most popular and common as ornamental indoor plants which creates a bush-like appearance.
How to (generally) take care of a Ficus
The Ficus is a stunning indoor plant that enhances your space with tree-like greens. Their different types offer a kind of unique physical appearance, which isn't common to other plants. If you can follow the guidelines properly, you can grow it fairly well without much fuss and extreme care, as long as their environmental requirements are met.
These plants usually require bright indirect sunlight to grow well; however, some plants like the Fiddle Leaf Fig are sensitive to sunlight exposure, requiring caution. Bright direct light to any of these plants can result in leaf loss and scalding.
Most Ficus plants thrive well at an average temperature of 15-24 C. The trees cannot tolerate low temperatures, and cold drafts coming in from windows and doors can harm them. You can place these plants outdoors if temperatures are warm but not in direct sunlight. They should be brought indoors when the weather gets cooler in the evening since they are tropical plants. They prefer a humid environment and would require regular misting or a pebble water-filled tray below.
You should water the Ficus plant evenly in the summer and comparatively lesser in winter. You may need to create a humid environment if your indoor space is too dry, ensuring that the root ball does not dry out. Soil should be kept moist and watered accordingly, while the pot should have holes to let the water drain out into a saucer which you should clean often. Leaves should be washed with a lukewarm shower or using a damp rag.
Soil & Fertilizers
The plant requires well-draining fertile soil that will enable and boost growth with all its needed nutrients. You should avoid soils used for roses and azaleas because they are too acidic for Ficus. It should be kept moist for better care. At the beginning of the growing season, nourish your soil with slow-release pellets. Ficus plants grow rapidly and should be fertilized every month in spring and summer and once every two months in autumn and winter. If your plant begins to drop leaves despite having the best environmental conditions and care, you should consider adding magnesium and manganese to the fertilizer.
Potting and Repotting
Ficus Plants can grow quite rapidly, and it wouldn't be long before they outgrow your pot. How you repot also depends on how you are growing your plant since they are mostly flexible. Repot your plant every other year to slow down growth and keep the size manageable in your indoor space. While repotting, it is recommended to use high-quality potting soil to ensure the plant does not get stressed with the move.
Ficus plants may require essential pruning so that they do not over-grow their assigned space indoors and begin to touch the ceiling and other objects. You need to ensure that you only start pruning when the plant isn't actively growing, usually slower in autumn and dormant in winter. This makes them less susceptible to injury while you prune them. Pruning away dead branches and leaves should be done more often at any time of the year to prevent the spread of fungal infections and diseases.
Ficus plants are not toxic, though they may be a concern to people who have latex allergies. The plant contains latex, and thus, people with these allergies should not be in the same room as the plant.
Propagating a Ficus
The plant is easy to root with root cuttings, even without root hormones. Spring is the best time to propagate when you can also provide the new plant with warmth and moisture. The cutting should include at least two sets of leaves; the lower half should be removed and coated with root hormone if desired.
Place this inside a pot of moistened pea moss, and cover with a plastic bag placed in a bright area with indirect sunlight. You should take care of controlling the temperature and humidity around the plant. In two to four weeks, the roots would grow enough to allow you to make slits in the plastic bag to suit the plant to room temperature. After six weeks, you will have to move the plant to a 6-inch pot, allowing it to grow into a small tree.