How to Grow a Ficus Tree Indoors

Get these tips on ficus tree care and beautify your home with this lush plant.

Ficus

Ficus

Photo by: Courtesy Costa Farms

Courtesy Costa Farms

Ficus species are sometimes called figs. You can find them in many different textures and heights, but weeping figs are among the most popular indoor trees. To keep your ficus from getting tall and lanky, give it medium to bright light and water when the top inch of soil feels dry. Most can be pruned back to keep them bushy, but watch for drips of their milky sap when you snip. Don't worry too much if your tree drops some leaves when you first bring it home. Ficus often lose foliage when they're moved to a new location, but new leaves should appear soon.

A close relative of the fig tree, ficus trees are native to tropical areas and enjoy a long history of decorative and even religious significance: the famous tree under which Buddha received enlightenment was said to be a member of the Ficus genus!

While ficus trees are relatively easy to grow, they do have some special needs you'll need to look out for. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering growing a ficus tree as a houseplant:

Varieties

While there are hundreds of species in the ficus genus, just a few of them represent most of the ficus grown as houseplants. In particular, decide whether you want a trailing, or tree-type ficus. With its small leaves and long, drooping branches, trailing varieties look attractive in hanging pots.  Tree varieties will grow into small shrubs inside the house.

Light and Warmth

Ficus love bright, indirect sunlight and lots of it. Your plant will enjoy spending time outside during the summer, but protect the plant from direct sunlight unless it's been acclimated to it. During winter, keep your plant away from drafts and don't allow it to stay in a room that falls below 55-60 degrees F.

Water 

Ficus plants need consistent, but moderate watering throughout the growing season, with dry spells in the winter. Make sure soil is just moist, not dry or drenched, at all times, but cut back waterings in the winter. Your plant will likely lose leaves during the winter "dry" spell. Trailing style ficus are particularly susceptible to over- and under-watering. Misting the leaves can provide additional moisture during dry spells, with less threat of root rot. Well-draining soil is essential to keeping ficus healthy.

Repotting

Ficus plants grow quickly, and can easily become too big for your home if you re-pot frequently. Limit re-potting to every other year to help keep your plant's growth in check!

Troubleshooting

Ficus can be vulnerable to pests, such as mites and aphids, and have a tendency to drop leaves if not watered consistently. Trim your plant back regularly, keep an eye on the soil, and check leaves regularly for insects to ensure a long and healthy life for your ficus!

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