How to Grow and Get the Best from your Ficus

Ficus makes attractive houseplants
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In this article, we will be discussing how to grow and get the best from your Ficus houseplants from care and varieties to grow. This is a popular genus of houseplant that is often seen in many homes, where they will be noticed.

Ficus makes attractive houseplants
Ficus makes attractive houseplants

There are hundreds of species of Ficus with a handful being commonly found in homes. They are native to Asia, America and Africa and covers plants grow for food and decorative plants. Of course, one of the most famous figs is the fig fruit tree from which the well-known fruits originates from.

In this article, we will find out how to grow and care for houseplant Ficus, what variety to grow and what pitfalls to avoid.

 WHAT IS FICUS?

Ficus is a large group of plants that cover many different growing habits and leaf types that you can think of.   Some have large glossy leaves and an upright habit, whilst others in the family have much smaller leaves and creep along the ground. The one thing that they have in common is that all of the indoor types make exceptional houseplants. They are also easy to care for and are pleasing to look at.

Saying that they are not without problems as they are prone to leaf drop in cool temperatures and that they hate changes in their growing conditions, so do not move the plant unnecessarily once it has settled in.

Ficus benghalensis
Ficus benghalensis

A big problem with Ficus plants is that they respond to any stress it is placed in by losing leaves. It will lose leaves if the growing conditions are not right and it will lose leaves if the plants are unhappy.

You see your Ficus losing leaves then you know it is under stress. The stress could be that the plant has been overwatered, underwatered, too little light, low humidity, temperature fluctuations, draughts, or you moved the plant.

Ficus belong to the Maracaea family, the Mulberry family, where 850 species are known to exist. Of these, as mentioned before only a few a suitable to be grown in a home environment. An intriguing houseplant to grow, where most will grow up to 3m in height depending on the variety grown.

 THE BEST CARE FOR YOUR FICUS PLANTS

 LIGHT

Ficus plants like to be grown in bright, indirect light with some shade. Some plants such as the variegated forms will take more light but not too bright. Any bright sunlight will result in sunburnt leaves and the plant losing leaves.

TEMPERATURES

Ficus prefer average temperatures, anywhere between 10 to 25 degree Celsius, but they cannot tolerate temperatures lower than this (as you have guessed they will start to lose leaves). They are not tolerate of draughts, so do not place them near open windows or doors, as the plants do not like it.

 WATERING
Ficus benjamina
Ficus benjamina

This plant like commonly with other houseplants, do not like the roots to be overly wet, as this will lead to root rot. It is best to water well in summer, sparingly in winter.

It is advised to check before watering the plant. If 5cm below the top of the surface of the compost feels dry when you stick your finger in, then it is time to water. When you water do so until it just appears at the drainage holes.

 HUMIDITY

These plants like high humidity as found naturally in their home environment. Regular misting is required but it may be better to sit the plant on a tray of moist expanded clay balls, as this will moisten the air around the plant.

 FERTILIZER

Ficus are hungry plant and will require a lot of feeding. During the growing months between March and September, they need to be fed with a balanced houseplant fertiliser once every month. During autumn and winter do not feed at all

 COMMON PROBLEMS
Ficus deltoidea
Ficus deltoidea

The most common problem in Ficus is that at some point they will lose leaves, which as said earlier is a standard response to the plant when it is under stress. Check each of the factors mentioned earlier from overwatering, underwatering, too dry air, too little light, moving or repotting the plant, draughts, temperature drops and even pests.

Ficus can be prone to attacks from mealybugs, scales and spider mites. An unhealthy plant is more likely to be attacked, so it is best to keep your plant as healthy as possible and not under stress. Look out for any of these pests and treat the plant quickly as possible with a suitable insecticide.

VARIETIES TO GROW

 FICUS BENGHALENSIS (Banyon Tree)

This is a 1.2m tall plant that looks neat and whilst young resembles a young Ficus elastica (the rubber plant). An easy plant to look after and if you want to keep it compact, then you should not pot on frequently and feed it sparingly.

 FICUS BENJAMINA (Weeping Fig)

This is a graceful Ficus that has fine branches that are divided many times and gives it a tree-like look. On each branch, drooping slender-pointed green or variegated leaves are borne in long stems. A tall plant that can reach 1.8m in height.

 FICUS DELTOIDEA (Mistletoe Fig)

This is a 60cm tall shrubby plant that has small, rounded, glossy leaves on long stalks. All year round pale berry-like fruits appear all over the plant that turns gradually darker as they mature. An easy plant to manage, as restricting pot size will result in bushy plants.

 FICUS ELASTICA (Indian Rubber Tree)
Ficus elastica
Ficus elastica

This is a plant that has one central stem from which appears large, oval, glossy green or variegated leaves. The young leaves and ribs are tinted red. The top layer of the leaves is surrounded by a paper sheath, where the plant can reach a height of 1.2m or more. ‘Decora’ is the plain green variety, ‘Doescheri’ has creamy variegation and pink mid-ribs, and ‘Black Prince’ has very dark green, almost blackish leaves.

These plants tend to be easy to look after as long as they are not exposed to extremes in growing conditions. These plants can grow too large and may need to be pruned in winter to keep the plant down to size. The plant will have a leggy look as lower leaves fall from the plant, which is natural.

 FICUS LYRATA (Fiddle-Back Fig)
Ficus lyrata
Ficus lyrata

This has a similar growth habit to the India rubber plant. It has large violin-shaped, green, glossy leaves but the plant is shorter only growing up to1.2m in height. The leaves are broader at the tips than at the bases.

 FICUS PUMILA (Creeping Fig)
Ficus pumila
Ficus pumila

This is a creeping type of fig, which can be grown as a climber or trailer. It has wiry stems with dark green, heart-shaped leaves with well-defined veins. It can grow 1.2m in height or more but it can be trained up any suitable support. A very easy plant to grow and can be controlled if it is kept in a small pot.

 FICUS RADICANS

This is usually sold as F. radicans ‘Variegata’ that has dainty, cream edged spear-shaped leaves that have slightly wavy edges. A small plant that only grows up to 10cm in height. Not an easy plant in unsuitable surroundings, as wrong growing conditions will result in leaves shedding.

 CONCLUSIONS

In this article, we have discussed the best way to grow your Ficus plants. In particular, we have talked about the way to care for them, the varieties to grow and how to prevent the common problems of the leaves being lost. They are in general, not difficult plants to look after as long as you suddenly do not change the growing conditions.

An attractive plant that will grace any home.

If you have any questions or comments that you wish to make on Ficus, please do so in the comment box below.

Happy Ficus growing.


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