Common name: Weeping Fig
Botanical name: Ficus benjamina
Ficus benjamina is also known as the Weeping Fig, but it is undoubtedly not a plant to pity! This impressive indoor tree's delicate and wavy leaves move freely in the air as it adds a distinct touch of nature to any space. Moreover, with bright indirect light and occasional fertilizing, this indoor plant can grow into the tree it wants to be! The braided trunks are woven together when the plants are young and malleable and as the trees grow, you will need to continue to braid the new growth, if so desired! Read more to discover how to successfully grow and nurture this indoor tree!
Light is necessary for all plants, but ficus requires a lot of it. Ficus benjamina enjoys bright light and requires a spot near the bright windows. To enhance its growth potential, place it less than 1ft from a south-facing window. Since the leaves grow the light source, ensure to rotate this plant regularly so that each side gets consistent sunlight. This will prevent the ficus from growing on only one side. Keep in mind that the plant cannot tolerate low levels of light for long periods!
Ficus bejamina trees are sensitive to over-watering and dislike being kept too wet. Allow the soil to partially dry between watering, but if the plant is actively growing, try to keep the soil consistently moist. If you over-water your plant to the point that it rests in water, it will shed leaves, and the roots will rot. Be sure to drain any excess water from the grow pots, or cover pots after each watering! During the winter months, take caution not to water the plants frequently. Wait for the top few inches of the soil to dry out completely first. The leaves can be used to identify whether the plant requires water. If you notice leaves turning yellow, it indicates too much or too little water. Check the soil for further identification of any issue.
Weeping Figs require soil that is rich in organic matter that drains well but not excessively. The roots need time to absorb the moisture from the soil, but not so much time that the roots can drown! You can use any reputable soil mixture containing organic composted material and does not contain water-retentive crystals. Alternatively you can make your own potting soil mixture! Proper drainage is critical for Ficus bejamina as dense, compacted soil will lead to root rot! Ficus are sensitive to mineral build-up in the soil, and leaching (use a steady stream of water for 5 minutes or so) the soil every spring will remove the salts and minerals that have accumulated.
Since Ficus benjamina originates from tropical regions, ficus trees prefer to be warm and enjoy temperatures over 65°F. You can take your plant outside during the warmer months but ensure to bring it back before the nightly temperature falls below 50°F. Warm temperatures and higher humidity levels are the key to generating new growth on your braided fig!
As a tropical plant, Ficus benjamina grows well under extra humid conditions (60% and higher). They cannot thrive under a low or even average range of humid levels. Not providing high humidity will only result in dry and withered leaves. If you live in a dry area, it doesn't mean you can't appreciate the magnificent beauty of a ficus, but you'll need to invest in a humidifier. Another suitable method is to set it on a pebble tray filled with water. Learn about alternative ways to increase the humidity in the air around your Weeping Fig!
Fig trees get all their nutrients from their natural soil outdoors. However, plants that only grow indoors cannot access nutrients without your help! Fertilize Weeping Figs every two weeks during the growing season (when you see new growth) with a balanced and water-soluble liquid fertilizer for faster absorption, and follow the instructions for dilution. There are specific ficus fertilizers that are high in nitrogen (3-1-2) that promote leaf development, but complete fertilizers (1-1-1) work just as well. Alternatively, you can top-dress the soil with organic compost or slow-release fertilizer in the spring. Figs rarely produce new foliage during cold months, so fertilizers aren't necessary and can generate more harm than good.
Variegated Weeping Fig is a fast growing indoor plant and with the right care can produce 1-2' of growth each season and reach heights of 10'+ indoors. Keep them pruned back to keep them full and to maintain its size.
As your Weeping Fig grows you will have to manually bend the new growth to maintain the braid. The braided trunks can eventually girdle each other, chocking off the xylem flow causing one or more of the trunks to wither and die, but this may take many years to happen.
Pet Friend or Foe
Weeping Fig is toxic to pets! Foe
- The majority of the potting soils come with nutrients sufficient for plant growth. Your plant will have grown large enough to require a larger container by the time it has used the nutrients in its soil. Re-pot your Ficus benjamina once it doubles in size or once a year to replenish its nutrients, and to encourage the plant to grow larger!
- Weeping Fig will need pruning from time to time either because the shape is very irregular or dead parts need to be removed. Trimming live growth is best done in the winter or early spring, but you can cut off any dead sections at any time of year.
- Keep the leaves dust-free and use a diluted water and organic soap solution to help remove dust and potential pests!
- Young plants should be re-potted yearly since they can grow quickly and require space for their roots to develop. Older plants will need re-potting on rare occasions. Otherwise, you risk leaf fall.