Ficus benjamina is a member of the Moraceae family and is native to the tropical regions of Southeast Asia and Australia. It is a large, evergreen tree that can grow up to 30 meters in height in its natural habitat. The weeping fig has small, dark green, glossy leaves that are alternate, ovate, and tapering at both ends. The tree produces figs that are green when young and turn to purple when they are ripe. In the wild, Ficus benjamina grows in tropical rainforests, but it has been widely cultivated as an ornamental plant and is popular as an indoor plant.
Habit: Indoors plants are grown in the shape of a small tree (standard) or a shrub up to 2 m tall with woody stems and branches bearing solid green or green and white or green and yellow variegated leaves. The tiny little fig fruits are rarely produced on indoor potted plants.
Temperature: Plants grow best between 15 to 25ᐤ C and temperatures below 4ᐤ C may result in the death of the plant. Avoid placing plants in windy or drafty locations which can lead to less attractive plants.
Light Exposure: Indoors, both the solid green leaf and variegated leaved plants will grow well in bright, indirect light to some exposure to direct light. If placed in too dark of a location, leaves will yellow rapidly and fall and the plant will start to decline.
Watering: Weeping fig likes a moist growing medium but not soggy; water only when the top 5-10 cm of soil feels dry to the touch. Always check the soil moisture first but as a rule of thumb watering once or twice a week in the rainy season, once every two or three weeks in the cold dry season and once or twice a week in the hot dry season.
Fertilising: Give plants a well balanced fertiliser once or twice a month during the hot dry season and rainy season but not during the cold dry season when plants are resting (semi-dormant).
Pruning/Repotting: Potting Up: Ficus benjamina prefers to be slightly root-bound, so repotting is only necessary when the plant outgrows its current pot. Remove any yellowing or brown and dry leaves as needed; occasionally small to medium sized branches will die back and dry and these stems should be pruned out.
Weeping figs can stay in the same pot for a number of years if you want to keep the plant from growing larger; if you want the plant to grow larger repot in spring to a slightly larger pot. When repotting, use a well-draining soil mix and a pot with good drainage holes to prevent over-watering.
Pest Control: Ficus benjamina is susceptible to spider mites, scale insects, and mealybugs. Regularly inspect the plant for signs of pests, such as webbing, white or brown spots on the leaves, or sticky residue on the plant. To control pests, you can use insecticidal soap or neem oil spray.
In conclusion, Ficus benjamina is a beautiful and popular houseplant that is easy to care for if you understand its needs. By following the tips outlined in this blog post, you can ensure that your weeping fig thrives in your home for many years to come.