A beginner's Guide to Ficus Plant Care
Common Name: Ficus, Ficus Tree, Fiddle Leaf Fig, Rubber Tree, Weeping Fig
Botanical Name: Ficus lyrata, Ficus benjamina, Ficus elastica
Ficus plants may conjure images of waiting rooms or offices, but these shrub-like plants and trees are ideal for plant styling and can add warmth and greenery to your home. The popularity of the ficus is likely due to their commanding presence and the fact that they become more interesting as they mature. As they grow they develop their own personality and character, making them a true focal point!
Native to tropical climates, ficus is a relative of fig trees, but the houseplant varieties do not bear fruit. The broad leaves can add bursts of lush greenery or deep, reddish tones depending on the variety selected. Ficus plants are commonly used in home design and add effortless style to any space.
Ficus can grow very quickly and if the conditions and care are right, these plants can easily graduate from a tabletop plant to a floor plant or fill an empty corner. In nature, ficus trees can grow to be 70 feet tall, but as a houseplant, expect your ficus to top out around 6 feet tall depending on your ceiling height.
Find a spot that receives lots of bright indirect light for your ficus. All plants need light, but ficus plants need lots of it. They require indirect sunlight for at least 6 hours daily! Make sure to routinely rotate this plant so each side receives consistent sunlight. This will keep the ficus growing upright and prevent it from leaning or developing new growth just on one side.
Let the soil dry out between watering a ficus, but try to keep the soil consistently damp if the plant is actively growing. During the colder months, you can cut back on the water and let the top few inches of the soil completely dry out before watering. Keep an eye on the leaves as a guide to determine if the plant needs water or not. Yellowing usually indicates too much or not enough water, so if you see leaves start to turn yellow, then check the soil to identify the issue.
All ficus love loose, nutrient-rich potting soil. Use a soil medium that can retain moisture but also allows for draining excess water to avoid root rot. Most pre-mixed soils will suffice. Make sure that there is plenty of organic matter, like coco-coir, peat moss, or shredded leaves, and avoid soils that contain moisture retaining crystals. If your soil drains too quickly, we recommend re-potting your ficus into a compost-rich soil mixture, with less drainage materials. Learn how to create your own universal soil mixture for all of your indoor plants!
Feel free to bring your Fiddle Leaf Fig, Ficus benjamina, or Rubber Tree outside for the warmer months, but make sure to bring your ficus back inside well before the temperature turns chilly and keep it in the shade to avoid the intense sun from burning the leaves! Expect some leaf loss when you move your ficus to a new location! This is a plant that originates from tropical climates, so ficus houseplants like to be warm and really prefer temperatures above 60°F. Avoid placing your ficus near any vents, drafty windows, or exterior doors, particularly during the colder months.
Since ficus is native to more humid climates, they need some extra dampness in the air to thrive. High humidity is necessary. Average and low humidity are absolute deal-breakers and a ficus simply cannot thrive in an environment with average or low humidity. That's not to say you cannot still enjoy the stunning beauty of a ficus if you live in a dry climate, but you'll need to bring in a humidifier or place your ficus on a pebble tray filled with water in order to create the ideal conditions for this houseplant. Learn how to increase the humidity for your ficus.
Your ficus will definitely benefit from being fertilized, especially if the plant is actively growing. Typically, plants push out new growth in the spring and summer, but plants that exclusively live indoors may grow on their own schedule. If you notice new growth then consider using a diluted complete liquid fertilizer, a slow-release fertilizer, or a fish/seaweed emulsion. Continuing to fertilize your ficus year-round (if actively growing!) can keep it looking its best, but do not fertilize during the colder months when the plant is not growing.
Pet Friend or Foe
All ficus are toxic! Foe.
- Ficus are the sort of plants that do best when left alone, so if you find a sunny and humid spot for your ficus and it's thriving, then consider making that the permanent home for your plant. It's completely normal for a ficus to lose leaves when moved to a new spot, so don't be alarmed if you notice some leaf drop after moving your plant. Give the ficus some time to settle in and continue to monitor your plant as it acclimates to its new home.
- Prune your ficus to maintain the shape or to keep the plant at a manageable size. Make sure to use clean shears or clippers and cut right above a branching stem or leaf node. This will promote new growth and create a more full canopy.
- Under the right conditions, ficus can grow quickly. Pruning is one way to keep the growth in check, but limiting how often the plant is re-potted is another way to keep a ficus at a more ideal size. Re-potting every other year can prevent the plant from quickly outgrowing your space and most varieties of ficus are completely fine being a bit root-bound.