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Ficus benjamina

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  • Indoor Plants
Ficus benjamina 'Variegata'
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Normand Fleury)

Onglets

Botany

Origin and description

The weeping fig is native to tropical regions of India, Southeast Asia and northern Australia, where it can reach 30 meters in height. In its natural habitat the weeping fig grows in a variety of conditions, from full sun to full shade. This small tree, two to three feet high indoors, has many flexible, “weeping” branches, giving it a graceful look. Its small leaves are pale green when they are young, and darken with age.

Species, cultivars and related plants

Ficus benjamina ‘Variegata’ has leaves edged with white and needs more sun than cultivars with green leaves. Ficus benjamina ‘Starlight’ has whiter foliage than the Ficus benjamina ‘Variegata’ from which it is derived. Bright sunlight is important, but Ficus should not be exposed to full midday sun. Ficus benjamina var. Nuda has narrower, more slender leaves. Ficus microcarpa has leaves that are more rounded at the end. Some cultivars have variegated foliage.

Toxicity

As a precaution, keep the plant out of the reach of children and pets.

Common name

Ficus / Weeping fig tree

Latin name (genus)

Ficus benjamina

French common name

Botanical family

  • Moraceae
Horticulture

Growing conditions

The weeping fig requires bright light and a few hours of filtered sun per day. It can tolerate less light, but this will reduce the amount of foliage produced. Place it near a window, preferably facing south or west. You can reduce the temperature in winter (15°C minimum), but it will adapt equally well to normal home temperatures (18-21°C) throughout the year. It is preferable to keep the air very humid, especially when the ambient temperature is high.

Easy to grow?

The weeping fig is sensitive to environmental changes. It is easy to grow if the humidity is high enough, if you do not move it and if stable growth conditions are provided.

Watering and fertilizer

Ficus is sensitive to stress caused by irregular watering. During the period of active growth, water moderately and let dry partially between waterings. Avoid excess water. In winter, water only enough to prevent the root ball from drying out. Fertilize every three months during the growing season (April to October) with a balanced fertilizer for houseplants or an all-purpose fertilizer such as 20-20-20.

Pruning and maintenance

Clean dusty foliage in the shower. To control growth and get a bushy plant, prune your weeping fig in the spring. To reduce the flow of latex after pruning, spray the ends of the stems with warm water or cauterize the larger wounds with powdered charcoal.

Repotting

Transplanting is usually done in the spring. Re-pot young trees annually. Transplant again when necessary, usually in about two or three years. Weeping figs tolerate being pot-bound. Use a potting soil for tropical plants that drains well. To limit the growth of a weeping fig, prune the roots to reduce the size of the root ball, then re-pot in a container of the same size.

Propagation

Pests and diseases
Physiological disorders

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