The Ficus is one of the most beloved tropical plants out there. Ficus is actually a family of plants consisting of over 900 different types of ficus plants. Most commonly found indoors are the Ficus Lyrata and Ficus Benjamina but Ficus Audrey has been gaining popularity lately! Either way, if you're looking for a striking figure that will stand out in your home, Ficus is the way to go!
An Australasian native, the Ficus is also found in moist forests in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. Ficus come in many shapes and sizes such as the Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus Lyrata) or the weeping fig (Ficus Benjamina) which, with his drooping leaves, are the perfect metaphor for movie scenes in which people break up or are ultra sad :'(
Most Ficus plants score high on the purification scale. Not only is your Ficus great at removing chemicals like toluene, xylene and formaldehyde, the Buddha himself is said to have achieved enlightenment while sitting under a Ficus tree! Pity they never changed the plant name to Ficus Enlightenus!
Although not poisonous, the Ficus is highly irritating for pets, children AND adults. Touching the sap can cause both allergic reactions and skin irritation. Be aware of excessive contact with the plant; common symptoms of reactions include itchy eyes, wheezing and coughing. If you still feel the symptoms after a few minutes away from the plant, check with your doctor.
Ficus is fussy about its watering. Moderation and frequency are key here, as too much water can cause as many headaches as too little water. As a rule, make sure the soil is always kept moist - never soaked and never completely dried out. Make sure the pot has been fully drained after watering the plant. In fall and winter reduce watering frequency, and increase frequency in spring and summer.
Keep your Ficus in a spot out of direct sunlight but still bright, and maintain a temperature of at least 16° С and preferably 20° С. In all cases, keep the plant out of drafts and away from air conditioning vents.
Apply high-nitrogen fertilizer every 4 weeks during growth. In spring and summer, fertilize every 3 or 4 weeks if cultivating indoors, and decrease frequency in the fall; do not fertilize in winter, unless your Ficus shows signs of growth.
It's best to repot your Ficus in the spring. Choose a pot one size larger than the current one, and make sure the soil is well-draining. Use a well-balanced liquid fertilizer after repotting, and make sure the plant has enough water once it's settled in the new pot.
In ideal conditions, the Ficus grows fast, which means you'll notice the change in shape and size but won't have to worry about it becoming Plantzilla overnight. Pruning is best when the plant isn't actively growing; which means in the case of an indoor Ficus, winter is best. Use gloves to avoid touching the sap (see Poisonous section), remove dead/broken branches and follow these steps: 1. Find the node where the leaf joins the stem 2. Cut slightly downward and right before the node 3. Cut close to the node, but not into it 4. Leave one node to grow anew on that stem.
Ficus is not overly susceptible to pests and diseases, but the common culprits can still apply: scale, spider mites and mealybugs. Treat for these pests as required.
Other than that: lost leaves may be a consequence of too much or too little water (see Water Needs section), drafts or low light levels.