Ficus is a genus of plants in the Moraceae family. They originate mainly from tropical areas in East Asia. There are a lot of Ficus plants that are commonly used as houseplants. They tend to be low-maintenance and look great in homes and offices. In this article, we’ll go through common Ficus houseplants, their look, and how to care for them.
Varieties and Names
1. Rubber plants – Ficus elastica: These plants have large, oval leaves. The leaves are glossy, with different varieties producing different coloured leaves.
2. Fiddle leaf fig – Ficus lyrata: These classic houseplants have large, wavy-edged leaves.
3. Weeping fig – Ficus benjamina: Weeping figs form a cascade of small, pointed leaves.
4. Ficus alii: This plant has long, slim leaves.
Most Ficus plants enjoy bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight often scorches the leaves and negatively impacts the plant’s health. Place a Ficus plant about halfway through the room so it’s not too close to a window.
Temperature and humidity
Ficus plants enjoy a humid environment and benefit from regular misting or being near a humidifier. You can also increase the humidity by dusting the leaves with a damp cloth. However, they will still grow well in regular household humidity.
These plants shouldn’t be exposed to cold draughts or sudden temperature drops. In the winter, ensure they’re not too close to a window.
Take care not to overwater your Ficus plants. Wait until the soil is dry to the touch, with the top two inches drying out. Once this has happened, thoroughly soak the soil until the excess water drains from the bottom. Ensure all the excess has drained before you put your plant back in its place. You’ll need to reduce watering in the autumn and winter. If you think you’ve overwatered your plant, check out our guide to saving overwatered plants.
Normal houseplant potting soil will suit most Ficus plants quite well if they are well-draining with plenty of nutrients. If the soil is too dense, try adding orchid bark or perlite to aerate it. Avoid acidic potting soil.
Fertilise your Ficus plants with normal houseplant fertiliser once a month during the warmer seasons. Dilute the fertiliser according to the instructions, or slightly more. These plants can be fast-growing, which is helped by some fertilisation.
Pruning and rotation
The amount you prune your Ficus plant will depend on the variety. For example, you might regularly prune a weeping fig to shape it and encourage healthy growth. Rubber plants, however, don’t need as much shaping as they tend to grow as single upright stems as houseplants. Whatever the variety, however, you’ll need to prune out any dead or damaged material.
Remember, it’s normal for some leaves to die off to make room for the new ones. Wait until these leaves come off easily in your hands before removing them.
Rotate your Ficus plants regularly to ensure each side gets enough sunlight. This is more important when your plants are actively growing in the spring and summer.
Repot these plants when they’ve become very rootbound. However, you may want to leave them rootbound for a while because they are rapid growers. Leaving a while before repotting it can slow the growth, making it more manageable.
Choose a pot that will give two inches of extra room around the rootball. Ensure to thoroughly water your plant after repotting to help it establish in its new pot.
Pests and diseases
Watch out for all common houseplant pests like mealybugs and scale insects. Treat any affected plants with an insecticide and remove any too heavily infested leaves.