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Ficus Benjamina: The Fickle, Yet Popular Houseplant

Ficus bejamina, or Weeping Fig, is the most common indoor tree. Even though they're very popular, this isn't an easy houseplant & can be fickle. This gives you care tips.

Houseplant, Ficus Bejamina Tips Care

I’ve always said that if you look at a Ficus benjamina, or Weeping Fig, cross-eyed,  it’ll start to drop leaves.  Actually, many things make this fickle tree defoliate.

Ficus Bejamina Houseplant Care

Here in Southern California they grow outdoors (best to keep them away from foundations, sewer lines & sidewalks by the way) and look full, green and happy as can be but indoors is another story.

So, if you ever struggled to keep 1 looking good in your home, don’t feel bad. You’re not alone!

ficus benjamina

The reason why Ficus bejaminas are so fickle is that they’re very sensitive to any kind of change.  If you move them, they shed leaves.  When the seasons change bringing a change in light and temperature, if you over or under water them, if they’re exposed to a draft or put in front of a heater or air conditioner all signal leaf drop and stress for this very popular indoor tree.

Although the Weeping Fig is the most commonly seen tree indoors, it is not an easy houseplant to keep alive and looking good.  And that is exactly why I didn’t include it in my houseplant care book Keep Your Houseplants Alive.  Good news – If you crave an indoor tree, you will find the easier to maintain Ficus elastica and lyrata in the book.

I’m hanging out in the greenhouse with a sea of Ficus benjaminas:

Light

High. This is an outdoor tree after all.

Water

A thorough watering every 10-14 days. Keep the watering routine as except as possible except in the winter when you back off a bit.

Temperature

Again, as even as possible. If you house is comfortable to you, it will be comfortable for your indoor plants too.

Pests

Most susceptible to mealybugs, spider mites & thrip. You probably see an outbreak of some sort when you turn your heat on.

Ficus bejaminas are exterior landscape trees which can reach 50′ tall and have extensive root systems. Here in Santa Barbara they are look nice and full and are happy growing in the coastal sunshine.

I’ve honestly never seen a Weeping Fig looking fabulous in anyone’s home (now, atriums are a different story) and having been in the interior plantscaping trade, I’ve seen a lot of them.  Caring for them indoors is a different story, but if you like a challenge, give the Weeping Fig a go!

ficus benjamina

Here’s my neighbor’s Ficus benjamina pruned in a lollipop shape.

ficus benjamina

Another Weeping Fig growing here in Santa Barbara.  See how dense & glossy green their crowns get?  Most of them indoors don’t look like this!

Want to grow houseplants like ficus benjamina? Here are some care guides we have for other popular houseplants:

Chinese Evergreen Care and Growing Tips

Dracaena Song Of India Care & Growing Tips

What You Need To Know About Growing A String Of Bananas Houseplant

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2 comments:

  1. I have had a variegated Benjamina for 5 years now. Kept it the inch nursery pot for about 2 years before putting it in a bigger pot. It made a move a year ago to a different home and now sits in a bright north facing room. I transplanted it to a bigger pot, and it’s doing well. It lost some leaves in the move, but not too many, and the new leaves lost their variegation and are solid green. Thaypt happened long before I moved, however and a plant expert told me that this happens and it’s unknown why. I seldom water it, as being in a north facing room, it doesn’t seem to drink much water. It’s now about 4 feet tall.

  2. Hi Lin – Plants in general revert from variegated to solid if the light levels are less than optimum for them. Nell

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