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Ficus Tree Plant Care
House Plants & Flowers


An indoor plant care professional for more than twenty years, I have found that house plants are very adaptable as long as changes are made slowly. This even applies to the fickle Ficus tree.

Ficus trees are often difficult to acclimate because they are quite sensitive to environmental changes. Ficus plants will often react to changes by dropping most of their still green leaves quite suddenly.

Ficus house plants care

Ficus Benjamina
House Plant

Having cared for hundreds, if not thousands, of Ficus trees over the years, I have found that once you can get them through the initial process of acclimatization, they are one of the easiest indoor plants to care for if they are provided adequate light and proper watering. I will give you a few tips to help them through the "fussy phase" in a bit.

I would have included it on the list of best house plants if it were not for the problems many people have bringing a Ficus tree successfully through its transition to a new and different environment. Even those of us that work in the interior landscape business know what a "pain in the ivy" a Ficus tree can be.

Ficus Lyrata House Plant Care

Fiddle Leaf Fig
Ficus Lyrata

However, on the positive side, if you know that it will most likely happen (some Ficus trees barely lose a leaf), you may be a little more prepared to deal with it when it does happen.

The most common Ficus around is the Ficus Benjamina or Weeping Fig. It is the old standard but it is one of the varieties that is more likely to do the shedding that leaves it bare and may leave you weeping! It is still a great plant but if taking care of a Ficus scares you a little, you might want to try getting hold of a Ficus Elastica, which is also called a Rubber Tree or Ficus Lyrata aka Fiddle Leaf Fig.

Ficus Elastica and Lyrata are usually (but not always) more tolerant of changes and of the lower light levels often available in the home. They can still do the same as the Ficus Benjamina and leave you with a trunk, some branches and a lot of leaves on the floor but it is much less likely.

If you still really want a Ficus you are a brave soul! You need to have a good lighting situation for it, a minimum of 150 footcandles. I have found that Ficus trees always do better under natural light from the sun. Some sunlight through a window is not going to hurt them if they are properly watered.

Ficus Tree or Plant Care
How To Water

In bright light with some sun, which is what your tree should be in, water the soil thoroughly when it has dried down about 1/4 to 1/3 of its depth. You can occasionally let your Ficus dry a bit more, even almost all the way. With no sun, let the soil dry down 1/2 its depth. Please check out sections on watering and lighting as these most affect your houseplant's health and well being.

Ficus Elastica, Rubber Tree House Plant Care

Rubber Tree Plant
Ficus Elastica

If you have a new Ficus and it starts dropping green leaves, it is most likely due to the change in environment. If you have had your tree awhile, say more than six months, and it has been fine all that time and then it starts dropping green leaves, the cause is likely over watering. Check your watering habits.

Symptoms of under watering would be yellow and/or brown leaves dropping (lots of them) and stems may start to wither. Temperatures for your Ficus should ideally be kept between 65° and 85°F, avoiding very cold drafts.

Ficus Tree or Plant Care
Other Plant Care Tips

Prune your tree as needed to shape and promote new, beautiful growth. Ficus trees are prone to insects, including scale, mealy bugs, mites and thrips. Always inspect new plants thoroughly before purchase and reject any plant that has distorted growth, discolored growth, new growth that is dying or anything that looks unusual. Check the roots too, if possible. They should be firm and healthy looking.

Notes on New Ficus Trees and Care

Helping to Acclimate Your New Ficus Tree - So you bought a nice, healthy Weeping Fig Tree and have brought it home. One thing that can cause this tree to drop green leaves is an environmental change.

  • Your new Ficus tree most likely came from a plant growers greenhouse very recently. Sometimes they acclimate them under shade cloth, sometimes not. Assume that they did not and provide as similar an environment to that greenhouse environment as you can. Warm temperatures, lots of humidity and moisture and most important, lots of natural light.
  • Do not fertilize your Ficus tree. It should have any needed nutrients already present in the soil, enough to last a year or more.
  • Place your Ficus tree near a large window or in a sunroom.
  • Give it a good watering, allowing excess water to drain away.
  • Reduce the watering frequency slowly. It has been used to being watered frequently while in a greenhouse.

One other thing that I have found to make a noticable difference with acclimating a new Ficus. Immediately thin out some of the branches. Do not cut the main trunk but anywhere there is a lot of foliage, look for any crowding and thin out by cutting back branches to the main stem or trunk.

Do this slowly as you don't want to ruin the look of your tree. Your new Ficus tree can no longer support the amount of foliage it had while in that high light greenhouse. So you need to remove some before it falls off on your floor!

When you have finished doing this, and it may take some time to do it correctly, do a little tip pruning. Go around the tree and prune back some of the new growth at the tips of the branches, cutting just above a leaf node. Just a little down the branch, not too far.

That's about it, just be consistant in your watering, slowly changing the amount and frequency of watering as your tree requires. This should help your tree adapt more quickly to its new environment. Good luck with your beautiful new tree!

Ficus Plant Care Questions?

You can send a Ficus house plant question but before you do, please read this information on watering your indoor plants, how to help keep your house plant's root system healthy and lighting for your house plants. These are most important for your house plant's health and this is some of the information I will refer you to when you send an email.

Indoor plant care questions? You can send a plant question or visit the PlantAndFlowerInfo blog for interior plant questions and answers, to post your own comment or questions or share some of your indoor plant wisdom with others. Visit the Facebook Page or Google+ Page, also great places to post comments and questions! Thanks again...

Thanks for visiting and come back soon as plant care information, pictures and more are being added all of the time. I hope that your indoor tropical plants and all of your plants and flowers are happy, green and growing because that is why I started this site

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