Caring for a Ficus can be difficult because they are so sensitive to their environment. The amount of light, the soil type, the watering frequency – all these things need to be taken into account when deciding how to care for your Ficus tree. To help make this process easier and less confusing, we have created an in-depth guide that covers all aspects of caring for a Ficus!
An Introduction to Ficus Trees
Ficus trees are native to tropical and subtropical areas of the world. The Ficus genus includes both the plants we keep as houseplants and massive fig trees that produce the fig fruit we eat, which showcases just some of the incredible variety found in Ficus trees.
Ficus trees have great variety in their leaves as well, with everything from the smaller delicate foliage of Ficus microcarpa or Ficus benjimina to the massive leaves of the Ficus lyrata that can be the size of dinner plates. Some varieties of Ficus, such as the Ficus microcarpa hawaii, also present leaves with variegated color, which make for beautiful houseplants.
Ficus trees can grow quite tall when they’re in their natural environment. Keeping them indoors in pots stunts their growth, so they stay smaller and more manageable when kept as a houseplant.
Ficus are also frequently grown as bonsai trees because they do very well in pots and grow and propagate quickly.
Types of Ficus Trees
There are many different types of Ficus trees, but some of the most common ones you’ll find in stores and nurseries will be:
Weeping Fig (Ficus benjimina)
The weeping fig tree is a popular type that has long leaves with drooping tips which hang down from branches like curtains or vines; it’s also called “weeping fern” because its leaf shape resembles those plants’ fronds when they’re dried out for use as decoration indoors during winter holidays (hence why this plant gets nicknamed ‘Christmas Tree’).
Fiddle-leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata)
The fiddle-leaf fig tree is a type of Ficus that has large leaves with scalloped edges, which are also called “fiddles” because they resemble the shapes and patterns on musical instruments. Ficus lyrata is native to western Africa, where it grows in lowland tropical rainforests.
Chinese Banyan (Ficus microcarpa)
The Chinese Banyan is another common type of Ficus tree that is native to tropical parts of Asia and Australia. It’s considered an invasive species in North America and South America, where it grows quickly in the warm climates of places like Florida and Hawaii.
What Kind of Soil Does a Ficus Need?
A Ficus tree does best in soil that is well-draining and has a pH level between 6.0 and 6.5. Most standard potting soils will be just fine for Ficus trees, but you could also try cactus potting soil if yours is having trouble draining.
It’s very important that the pH of your Ficus’ soil stay between 6.0 and 6.5. Most standard potting soils will be within this range, but be sure to check the bag. If you’re getting soil from outside, be sure to test it to see if it’s in the correct range.
Make sure not to use soil intended for azaleas or roses, however, as it will be too acidic for your Ficus.
How Much Light Does a Ficus Need?
Ficus trees need at least a few hours of direct sunlight each day to stay healthy. If you’re growing your Ficus indoors, they’ll do best in an east-facing window or near artificial light sources like fluorescent bulbs and grow lamps that emit the same wavelengths as natural daylight (about 6000K). You can also supplement with full-spectrum lights for added effect!
Be sure to rotate your Ficus regularly as well! If you don’t, it may grow lopsided because only one side of it is being exposed to light.
How Much Water Does a Ficus Need?
A Ficus tree needs enough water to keep the soil moist but not wet. If you’re using a potting mix, this means watering it every few days or so (depending on how much light and air circulation your plant gets). The best way to check if your Ficus needs water is to stick your finger in the soil. If it’s dry, you should add water.
If you’re using a self-watering planter or something similar, then just keep an eye on how much liquid has been used and refill when needed.
Ficus generally need to be watered more in the spring and summer than in the winter, so remember to cut back on watering it in the cooler months unless your Ficus is looking a little droopy. The best time to water your Ficus is the first thing when you wake up, because this will help it retain more moisture throughout the day. The sun can dry out the Ficus quickly if it doesn’t have the proper moisture levels.
Should You Mist a Ficus?
While Ficus trees will get the majority of their water from the soil, it’s a good idea to mist them occasionally. Misting your Ficus can help keep the leaves looking healthy and green by adding moisture back into their environment that would otherwise be lost through evaporation from wind or sun exposure (especially in dry climates). It also helps prevent dust build-up on leaf surfaces which is caused when water droplets evaporate off of plant foliage without being absorbed first.
How to Trim a Ficus
The best time to trim a Ficus tree is during the winter, when it’s not growing as quickly. You should use a sharp pair of pruners and make sure to wear a pair of gloves, because Ficus sap contains natural latex, which can irritate skin.
Trim off any dead or dying branches at ground level with your shears so they don’t get infected by fungus spores from other plants nearby (especially if you have pets). Make sure there are no leaves touching soil – this will promote bacteria growth on its roots!
Just make sure not too cut off more than one-third of its leaves at once or else they might start dropping their new growth prematurely as well.
What Kind of Fertilizer Does a Ficus Need?
Ficus trees do best with a regular application of a slow-release fertilizer, such as Osmocote. Fertilize in the spring and summer during the tree’s growing season to give it the boost it needs to grow new leaves.
You could also use a half dose of a general-purpose, soluble houseplant blend applied once a month. Check the label of your fertilizer for instructions on mixing it and halve the amount of fertilizer used in the instructions.
Are Coffee Grounds Good for Ficus Trees?
It is not recommended that you add coffee grounds to your Ficus tree as fertilizer. Coffee is acidic, and Ficus trees prefer Alkaline soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 6.5. Adding coffee grounds would likely kill your Ficus tree.
How to Repot a Ficus
To repot your Ficus tree, you’ll need to remove it from its pot and trim off any dead roots. Next, place the tree in a new container with fresh soil that’s been mixed well. Then be sure to water it thoroughly!
Make sure to pick a container that offers good drainage, as Ficus trees require good drainage in order to thrive so that their roots get enough air.
The best time to repot a Ficus tree is when it’s in its active growth, which is typically from late spring to early fall. This can vary based on where you live and the climate that your plant has been living through up until this point – if there have not yet any leaves or new shoots appearing then now would be an excellent opportunity! If however, they are already growing strongly at present (or even better still) showing signs such as leaf buds forming around their stems/branches etc., we recommend waiting another few months before undertaking anything too drastic with them.
You should generally repot a Ficus every other year, but this can vary depending on the size of your plant. If you are unsure, it is best to consult a professional or ask someone who has experience with Ficus trees for advice if they feel that there may be something else going wrong in addition – such as root rot etc., which would require more urgent attention and treatment!
Ficus Trees and Latex Allergies
Ficus trees naturally contain latex, so those with latex allergies should take precautions when working around these plants, or better yet, avoid having them in their home altogether.
Do Ficus Trees Clean the Air?
Ficus trees, like most plants, naturally make the air in your house cleaner and produce oxygen. The leaves of Ficus trees have natural oils that help to cleanse toxins from indoor pollutants as well so they can be an important part of any healthy home environment. This is why many people choose them for their office space or even living room because it helps keep everything fresh-smelling while providing some much-needed relief during those long workdays when you’re stuck inside all day.