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Ficus houseplants: popular species and care tips

Ficus houseplant - plants bank
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Ficus description

Ficus, called also figs, is a genus of almost 800 recorded species. These species belong to the family of mulberry plants or Moraceae. These plants, native to the tropics, especially Africa, Asia and the Pacific, are evergreen except a few deciduous members in nontropical areas. Also, This genus includes many types of ornamental indoor and outdoor plants from low groundcover types to tall trees.

The leaves of these plants are usually simple and waxy, and most exude white or yellow latex when broken. Furthermore, a lot of people grow Ficus plants indoors for a good reason. They are easy to grow houseplants and also very beautiful to look at. In their natural habitat, figs produce unusual fruit structure, known as a syconium. These flowers enclose an inflorescence with tiny male and female, white or yellow flowers lining the inside. However, they rarely flower or fruit indoors. Even if Ficus flowers were produced, fruit production would still be unlikely in large part because of the absence of the necessary pollinating wasps.

Find out in this article the popular species of indoor Ficuses, how to grow and how to care for them! 

Popular Ficus species

1- Ficus benjamina

Ficus benjamina- plants bank
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F. benjamina, named commonly “Weeping fig” is one of the most popular indoor Ficus species native to Asia, Malaysia, Australia, and parts of the Pacific region. This wonderful indoor plant has attractive shiny dark green foliage finely veined, with sharp or attenuate tips. F. benjamina can reach 15 m in height in its natural habitat but just 2 m indoors, so if you are looking for a small Ficus tree to beautify your interiors this ficus houseplant is the best choice for you. Moreover, very ornamental Ficus varieties with white variegated foliage like ‘Variegata’ or ‘Starlight’ are appreciated.

2- Ficus elastica

F. elastica - plants bank
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F. elasctica, named also Rubber plant or Rubber fig, is a popular houseplant belonging to the Fig family and native to India, Malaysia, Burma and Java. This attractive plant can grow over 30 m tall in its natural habitat. However, it’s more manageable indoors and doesn’t exceed 2 m in height. This indoor Ficus tree is more appreciated for its beautiful foliage with large, shiny, elliptical, dark-green leaves tinged with red. There are a number of F. elastica varieties that we can grow successfully indoors such us ‘Tricolor’, ‘Decora’ or ‘Doescheri’ with their beautiful variegated leaves of pink, cream and pale green and also ‘Black Prince’ with large, black reddish leaves. 

3- Ficus lyrata

F. lyrata - plants bank
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F. lyrata, known also as Fiddle leaf plant, is a very popular houseplant which gives a very exotic touch to our interiors. It is native to tropical parts of Africa, where it thrives in very warm and wet conditions. It is characterized by large, leathery, wavy, bright green leaves resembling a fiddle. Fiddle leaf plant can reach 30 m in its natural habitat but doesn’t exceed 2.5 m and keeps a bushy habit indoors. 

4- Ficus microcarpa

F. microcarpa - plants bank
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F. microcarpa, commonly named Ficus ginseng, Indian Laurel, Curtain Fig, or Strangling Fig, is a small evergreen plant generally grown in a small pot to get a bonsai. This popular small tree has a thick, pot-bellied trunk, similar to the Ginseng root and aerial roots. It is among the indoor plants which are great for growing in any home and don’t require any complicated care. Many wonderful F. microcarpa varieties are also used: Ficus microcarpa ‘Green Island’ with small round leaves, Ficus microcarpa ‘Green Emerald’ with small neat pointed-oval leaves, Ficus microcarpa ‘Tiger bark’ with beautiful bark patterns, Ficus microcarpa ‘Moclame’, with with a tree-like stem and bushy leaf ball.

5- Ficus cyathistipula

F. cyathistipula - plants bank
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F. cyathistipula or Africain fig is a vigorous Ficus species widely used as a houseplant to create a calm green atmosphere indoors quickly and easily. This Africain beauty has deep-green, tumbler-shaped leaves, an attractive, luscious, flashy green foliage and dark, flaky bark. Besides giving your home a magic touch,  the large Ficus leaves will help purify the air and even keep the humidity indoors balanced.

6- Ficus pumila

F. pumila - plants bank
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F. pumila, named commonly Creeping fig, is a fast-growing perennial plant native to Southern China, Taiwan, Japan and Vietnam. This species can be grown outdoors and will climb and cover walls, and other structures by adhesive aerial rootlets. Indoors, it will beautify any piece with its small, oval, leathery and dark green leaves that looks wonderful when suspended in light.

How to care for Ficus plants?

Ficus tree care indoor is so easy, just respect these following steps:

Light

Fig plants love bright, indirect sunlight. So, make sure your plant is enjoying a sunny exposition but avoid exposure to bright and direct sunlight, as it can burn the leaves.

Watering

Water moderately and regularly (once a week). Wait until the potting soil is dry before watering the plant again. Don’t keep the soil moist, this excess moisture can cause roots rot. As winter approaches, reduce watering. 

Soil

These plants need a well-drained soil suitable for tropical plants. Use a container with drainage holes to avoid overwatering. 

Fertilizer

We can fertilize Ficus plants regularly during the growing season, from April to October. Fertilize monthly with slow-release pellets and stop fertilizing in winter. 

Temperature and humidity

Regularly mist the leaves to ensure the necessary humidity for the plant. You can also place the potted plant on a bed of clay balls and fill it with water so that the evaporation brings moisture to the leaves or simply run a humidifier to increase humidity. Moreover, Ficus plants thrive better in a temperature above 21°C. 

Repotting

Repot your plant during the spring, every other year. Ficus tolerates root-pruning very well.

Pest and diseases

Figs can be vulnerable to mites, mealybugs, whiteflies, and aphids.

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